Sometimes a pox on both their houses is in order. A Crooks and Liars contributor reports
Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz suggested on Sunday that CNN's Anderson Cooper had provided biased coverage of the recent Orlando nightclub massacre because he is a gay man like many of the victims.
"Do gay journalists feel a special anguish over the senseless slaughter of 49 mostly-gay Americans?" Kurtz asked on his Media Buzz program, noting that Cooper had "choked up" while reading the names of the victims and had "grilled" Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi over her record of opposing rights for LGBT people.
Presumably, gay journalists such as Cooper do feel a special anguish over the senseless slaughter of 49 mostly-gay Americans. The trick is to act as a professional journalist, even relentless inquisitor, while maintaining objectivity. Kurtz continued
"I respect Anderson Cooper and I think he's generally fair," Kurtz told Fox News contributor Guy Benson. "Do you think he was acting as more than just an aggressive journalist?"
"He seemed like an activist," Benson agreed. "Of course, I only watch Fox all the time. But I've heard that he's very good at his job, he's a versatile journalist [but] in this circumstance, I thought the line of questioning for the attorney general of Florida, under the circumstance and given the context of what had just happened in that state, it was a bizarre non sequitur."
"It seemed like he was browbeating her for unrelated political thought crimes in her past," Benson added, "which did not relate to the to the task at hand, which is roundly condemning the horrific atrocity that happened."
It is not completely clear what Benson, who identifies himself in the video above as gay, meant by "unrelated political thought crimes in her past," but it unfortunately appears that he was referring to the confrontation over same-sex marriage. That's ironic because inquiring, even "grilling," Attorney General Bondi over the effort of her office to stymie same-sex marriage was appropriate, even professional, unlike the other topic Cooper raised. Same-sex marriage has been a big and controversial issue (too big in my opinion, but nonetheless....) and Bondi was on the side contrary to the interests of gay people.
But then Cooper went off the rails (transcript from Media Matters):
COOPER: It's just that -- I will say I have never really seen you talk about gays and lesbians and transgender people in a positive way until now. I read your Twitter history for the last year, and I saw you tweeting about, you know, national dog month and national shelter dog appreciation day or adopt a shelter dog month. It is gay pride month. You’ve never even tweeted about gay pride month.
Cooper must be aware that an Attorney General would tweet about the likes of national dog month, national shelter dog apreciation day, and adopt a shelter dog month precisely because they are not controversial. Even cat lovers will understand that a public official has to give a plug to dogs; there appears to be even a National Hug Your Cat Day, which is a little hard to believe.
Gay Pride Month is on a different order, and not only because it celebrates sexuality and a status conveyed by nature (not nurture), which is an accident of birth, not unlike heterosexuality. It gets worse, however, as the interview unfortunately proceeds as
BONDI: Well actually if you look at my website now, we have hands clasped together, all different colored rainbow hands, people.
COOPER: So you just put that up now.
BONDI: Yeah I did, after this horrible tragedy, absolutely. The only thing I'm championing are human beings whose lives were lost to terror.
COOPER: So that’s your message to gay and lesbian people here. Because again, I'm telling you what people have been telling me to ask you, moving forward, do you see yourself as being a vocal champion for gay and lesbian citizens in this state?
Different colored rainbow hands clasped together is a little hard to take, especially when it appears only in the wake of a horrid tragedy and crime. However, a state Attorney General is expected to enforce the law and the state constitution, not to "champion" people on the basis of their sexual preference.
Additionally, Cooper's preference that she be a "vocal champion" suggests that he is really little different than Bondi in one important sense. "Today," Bondi stated, "you know what today is about? Human beings. Today's about victims."
Two days later, Bondi would complain to Fox News "to incite anger and hatred was not the time nor the place in front of a hospital." The Attorney General, as politicians are wont to do, wanted to use the interviewer as a pawn in a public relations effort. Cooper himself wants her to pursue a public relations offensive. He just doesn't want to be a part in her effort.
He wants the Attorney General to put on a public relations offensive- only for gay individuals, not her preference. "The two parties," Politifact observes, " as we see it, are essentially talking past each other." They have two different agendas which they were pursuing, one person for the state and herself, the other for journalism and a cause.