In my opinion, the ability to love another person is one of God's greatest gifts, and I thank God every day for enabling me to give and share love with the people in my life. I appreciate your asking me to weigh in on this, and I would be happy for you to share my thoughts with your readers. I still consider myself a reserved person and I hope this doesn't mean an end to a small amount of personal space. But I do think visibility is important, more important than preserving my reporter's shield of privacy.
Anderson Cooper has been one of the most
respected journalists of his generation: going where many feared to tread, he
brought the realities of disasters and wars into our consciousness more than
most media. He's often opined that going to "hotspots" has been a
self-destructive addiction. No other major journalist fought to cover the
one-year anniversary of Katrina as Cooper did, focusing on the still-ravaged
New Orleans. No other journalist helped identify the washed-ashore bodies of the
great Asian Tsunami disaster.
Respect for Cooper as a journalist has always been, indeed, universal, but as a
media personality, that respect has always been tempered by scrutiny of his
private life: his sexual orientation was the biggest "open secret" in
the media. It was the butt of jokes and speculation that, for years, kept the
rest of the media wondering not IF, but WHEN?
Forbes touted Cooper's event as Anderson Cooper Comes Out As TV's First Openly Gay Prime Time Anchor, parsing words in the title carefully, because there have been openly gay people in the media - like Rachel Maddow - but not one as a NEWS anchor. The piece seemed to indicate that, with the force of Cooper's admission, other media might follow*
In what has been considered one of the most well-written, reasonable and heartfelt missives to date, Cooper stated to respected writer and blogger Andrew Sullivan that he is gay... and that he has never in any way let it affect his role as a journalist:
But I've also wanted to retain some privacy for professional reasons. Since I started as a reporter in war zones 20 years ago, I've often found myself in some very dangerous places. For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people's stories, and not my own. I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist.
The reactions to Cooper's email to Sullivan have probably been the most voluminous and swiftest on record: newspapers and blogs' page views have spiked dramatically with a curious mix of outrageous quips and tweets bearing both congratulations and ... contempt:
"So proud of you @andersoncooper. Always have
been, always will be," tweeted Kelly
ESPN radio personality Colin Cowherd continued in the comedic vein, taking a potshot at Fox News' Sean Hannity: "After Anderson Cooper's big announcement today, Sean Hannity just announced he's ..... boring," Cowherd tweeted.
Limbaugh guessed that Cooper's announcement might be "the best ratings move CNN's made in I don't know how long," pointing out how well President Obama's "evolution" did for fundraising. He then slyly pointed out that CNN would take any boost they can get.
The head of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell, however, was not as restrained:
The reference to "teabagging"* was meant to be as snide and contemptuous as possible, and Bozell is already getting flack for it.
"Porno Pete" LaBarbera of the hate group Americans For Truth About Homosexuality tweeted:
This is probably the tack the Christian Right and Cooper's critics are going to take in the upcoming weeks: gay newsmen should not be allowed to cover gay stories because of bias: from now on anything related to gay issues that Cooper covers will be suspect.
Some may consider the analogy to be like saying that female
reporters cannot report on women's issues, but the fact remains that whatever
issues Cooper covers, the Right will try to put some form of gay bias on it.
Will Romney object to a Presidential debate hosted by Anderson
*Shep Smith (FOX) - what's keeping you?
**During the 2008 election, when responding to CNN's David Gergen's comment about the Tea Party not having "found it's voice" yet, Cooper quipped "It's hard tpo talk when you're teabagging. "Teabagging" is a colloquial term for an oral sexual practice involving male testicles.
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