Banter between talking heads on television gets heated sometimes. But the particularly combative relationship between Kellyanne Conway and CNN's Chris Cuomo might stand in a league of its own. On Wednesday evening, the two sparred again, and their interview eventually devolved into a cable news argument over kumquats.
Cuomo began the segment by playing a clip from CNN's town hall with former FBI director James Comey. In the chosen segment, Comey is asked whether or not a memo about Trump that he gave to a friend to pass along to the press constituted a "leak." Comey defended the move, arguing it wasn't a leak because the memo was unclassified and he himself did not give it to the media. The town hall's moderator, Anderson Cooper, challenged Comey on that point.
And so did Kellyanne Conway. She spent a good chunk of her opening remarks detailing the newly uncovered fact that the friend to whom Comey gave the memo — Daniel Richman — was also loosely affiliated with the FBI himself. Cuomo and Conway went back and forth for a while about whether or not this new information was truly relevant.
And then came the fruit metaphors (which get pretty meta). "That is neither an apple nor a banana, that is your opinion," Conway told Cuomo in response to his argument that Comey's decision to announce his bureau's investigation into new emails from Hillary Clinton "without question" impacted the election.
Conway's assertion is ostensibly a reaction to CNN's ad campaign #FactsFirst. One online ad features an enormous pile of bananas while a voiceover narrates that "somewhere buried within it is an apple." The apple represents the truth, the bananas distraction (or "fake news"). The ad campaign casts apples in the role of factual, real news, and bananas as the opposite.
Cuomo wasn't having it with Conway's response. "Everything with you guys is fruit salad, Kellyanne," he said. "Apples, bananas, you guys, you're bringing a kumquat to me half the time." It's unclear what a kumquat symbolizes to Cuomo. (According to blog The Indigenous Bartender, the fruit is a sign of good luck in China...)
While Cuomo made his kumquat comment, Conway talked over him, demanding he, "show a little respect, also," arguing that she represents the president. Cuomo responds, "I know you do, and that's why I respect you being here, but just— filibustering is not making this any better." The whole exchange is well worth a watch.
Wednesday was hardly the first time Conway and Cuomo have traded fiery barbs. In January, the two had a wondrously ridiculous exchange over grammar. As Ed Mazza outlines at HuffPost, Conway complained Cuomo wasn't giving her any questions, just doing one monologue after another. She asked, "Which role is whom?" Cuomo repeated the grammatical nonsense of the question and added, “What is that, is that Trump English? We each have a role to play here.”
Later on in their exchange, Conway again critiqued Cuomo for not formulating a question for her to answer. During his lengthy explication of Trump's immigration policy, Conway told him, "I don’t even hear a question in there. There’s not possibly a question mark coming on. There’s not even a semicolon, let alone a question mark."
She then suggested, "How 'bout we go to break."
The two had another testy exchange in January, wherein they essentially argued back and forth over who mentions Clinton and the election less. Conway's aggravation let itself be fully known in what Mazza accurately describes as an "epic eye roll."
There's almost a sibling vibe to the comfort level Conway and Cuomo exhibit in needling one another. Add this latest bizarre tiff over table fruit to the two's growing collection of cable news spats.