“It’s easy and tempting to blame the media for heartlessly misplaced priorities. Wolf Blitzer routinely renders himself a convenient target. As our own Justin Baragona recently observed, Blitzer is among “the goddamned worst” in lazy, misinformed reporting. But if we’re being totally honest about our ignorance regarding Syria and other ravaged nations, we have to start by indicting ourselves. Let’s be real, America. Just as we didn’t end up with all-Trump-all-the-time by accident, it follows that the media’s terrorism engagement strategy is an echo of our will.”
God help me, but I adore Elliot Spitzer.
When I separated from my husband in April and moved into my own apartment, a serious decrease in income necessitated a downgrade of my cable services. Goodbye HBO, so long Showtime, and even the basic package I agreed to was a step down from the hundreds of HD channels at my disposal in a former life. No worries. I am a busy and resourceful girl and besides, the network TV stations were in the throes of wrapping up their episodic seasons.
Now that it’s June and my serials are on summer break, options for amusing myself while I eat dinner, clean the house and work out my Power Hoop, have become limited. My go-to for years has been CNN when all else fails. However with the gearing up of the 2012 U.S. Presidential election (particularly the GOP primaries), the continued unrest in the Middle East, the trial of Casey Anthony and the antics of Anthony Weiner, my always more than passing interest has taken on a life of its own.
I need help. I can’t enough of Fareed Zakaria. He may be the wisest man in the world and whether it’s his regular program GPS, or one of his illuminating specials, such as “Restoring the American Dream,” I wish I could empty his brain into mine.
The gay community scored a real coup back in May when adorable and charming weekend anchor Don Lemon came out of the closet. I think a number of my single sisters will join me in finding it terribly unfair that the two most gorgeous members of the CNN news team, including the venerable blue-eyed stallion, otherwise known as Anderson Cooper, are out of our reach. What’s left for us? Wolf Blitzer? Bah!
My love for all things CNN does not extend to John King, who for whatever reason never fails to remind of John Tesh (maybe it’s the whole “Blonde Frankenstein” thing – thank you Howard Stern), and is furthermore, a crushing bore. Ditto Soledad O’Brien, who I have noticed has become increasingly marginalized by the network since her April test in the weekly 7PM slot was deemed “unwatchable” by CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton. So why is she still there?
Wolf Blitzer and Jack Cafferty quench my thirst for curmudgeonly old men who have seen it all. Commentators and panelists David Gergen and Jeffrey Toobin never fail to elicit my interest. Ditto Roland Martin, who is always as excitable as he is intelligent.
Sanjay Gupta, you make me want to contract an unusual disease just so you’ll drop into my living room to do a special report.
And I can’t leave out my favorite CNN ladies. Dana Bash, Candy Crowley and Kiran Chetry – I heart you all.
I started and will end with an explanation of my most controversial CNN crush – Elliot Spitzer. When Parker/Spitzer debuted early this year, I didn’t give it a snowball’s chance in hell. Elliot, the former Governor of New York, remains a political punch line in many circles, and Kathleen Spitzer may be a hell of a writer, but she doesn’t give good TV. At all. The partnership had all the chemistry of a flat Diet Coke.
Mercifully, the brass at CNN realized that their true star is Spitzer. I may receive hate mail for saying so, but he fills the void in my heart left by the death of NBC’s Tim Russert. Spitzer will ask the tough questions. He knows he has nothing to lose and seems grateful enough for this career second act to leave it all on the court every evening. He will ask anybody anything and seems immune to squirming. He truly does not give a shit, and I love it! I am surprised the show is still able to book guests. That’s what I call keeping them honest.
Alright enough because clearly I could go on all day. For variety’s sake, I tried to give MSNBC a whirl last night, but the fit just wasn’t there. If watching CNN until my eyes cross is wrong, then I just don’t care to be right.
While those of us couch surfing at home certainly appreciate the in-your-face, up close and personal gritty bent to Cooper’s quest for truth, I am beginning to wonder if the man isn’t a little touched in the head. The thought first occurred to me on Tuesday night, as Eddie and I hid from the blizzard, watching endless coverage of the Midwest winter storm. When CNN wasn’t breathlessly discussing the impact of “Snowmageddon,” the other big story of the evening, and in fact the last week, has been the populist revolt in Egypt.
What began as a mostly civilized, large scale and diverse turnout of Egyptians demanding immediate regime change has quickly devolved into the worst display of lawlessness and street thuggery. Someone (President Hosni Mubarak) seems to have recruited a brutal gang of armed responders in an attempt to crush the democratic protests of fed up citizens. Therefore instead of reasoned intellectual debate, or even impassioned demonstration, we are seeing images of Moltov cocktails, the resulting fires, beaten and harassed civilians splashed across our television screens. Cultural institutions such as the famed Egyptian Museum are suddenly in peril. The panic and pain of Tahrir Square has been frustratingly heartbreaking to observe.
Keeping more than just an eye on the situation throughout most of the week has been our man in the field, Anderson Cooper. Between dialing in to the network with reports throughout the day, appearing on late afternoon segments of “The Situation Room,” and continuing to anchor his own nightly program, “AC 360,” it doesn’t seem like The Silver Fox has had any time for sleep. And you get the feeling that Cooper is not out courting Pulitzers. His dedication is real. But at certain moments, you have to wonder about the man behind the serious gaze. As I said, on Tuesday night, I began to psychoanalyze A.C. a bit as he sort of carelessly informed viewers of his crew’s precarious situation. He chuckled more than once as he warned, “we may have to flee at any moment.”
So of course when I woke up Wednesday morning to the news that Cooper and his colleagues had indeed been mobbed and beaten in Cairo, my first thought was, “Well that was inevitable, wasn’t it?”
I realize that there are more urgent issues to consider coming out of the crisis in Egypt, such as its long-term effects on the stability of the Middle East region, the succession plan (if any) for President Mubarak, and the possible security fallout in Israel. But in times of great danger, it seems natural to wonder about those who go chasing it. Why exactly is Anderson Cooper the first to raise his hand when CNN needs someone to wade into a hurricane, wander into a war zone or pick a fight with powerful corporate and government interests? Fearless love of humanity or death wish – you decide.
What is biographically known about the famously guarded media darling suggests both Mommy and Daddy issues. His father, writer Wyatt Emory Cooper, died in 1978 when Anderson was 11. His mother, famed socialite Gloria Vanderbilt, paraded her son around on The Tonight Show and kept him occupied with high profile modeling gigs for Calvin Klein and Macy’s. So naturally at age 17, Cooper went to southern Africa in a “13-ton British Army truck” where he promptly contracted malaria and ended up in a Kenyan hospital. This appears to be the beginning of a well-worn pattern for A.C.
So I wonder, though I will never have the chance to ask Mr. Cooper, do you run toward tragedy to escape the pain in your own life? If so, I can sort of relate. Growing up in a terribly traumatizing home, I deflected processing my emotions by becoming the busy caretaker of everyone else. It was often a welcome, if damaging, distraction.
Last night’s edition of “AC 360” featured Anderson and his crew broadcasting from a secret, dark and dingy location, sitting on the floor, voices barely above a whisper. I pray for the safety of everyone in Egypt but I admit to a special concern for my favorite journalist. Because I suspect that even with all his fame, money and repute, he may not care much about himself.