BY JEANETTE LENOIR
This is not going to be a popular opinion. Most of us have already seen the disastrous interview between CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Las Vegas Mayor, Carolyn Goodman, an independent politician in her seat since 2011. The title of the show down, “Anderson Cooper presses Las Vegas mayor over wish to reopen” gives you an idea of what’s to go down. Unfortunately, what is seen is Cooper using all his journalistic might to antagonize and corner the mayor into sound bite news that have taken on a life of their own. And, making matters worse like a bona fide snitch, Cooper brings his phony assertion of what he desperately tried to get out of the mayor’s mouth to her boss: the Governor on Nevada, Stephen F. Sisolak. He gave Cooper his next big ticket interview to ensure the people of his state that no one will be forced to kiss the Coronavirus like the mayor clearly suggested.
This display of so called journalism is exactly what’s wrong with the media today. You see, Cooper was not interested in informing people about Las Vegas’ plan to reopen after the Covid-19 shutdown, but to create havoc for ratings. Unfortunately, these attempts for high numbers only confuse and hurt the very people he’s pretending to work for. His behavior during the combative interview serves no useful purpose as far as public information is concerned. It’s certainly entertaining similar to YouTube videos that depict animals acting like humans, cats playing pianos or neighborhood brawls caught on camera. At the start of the video Cooper asks, “You assume everyone has the virus and is just asymptomatic. You want casinos open, Vegas back in business, is that a responsible call to make?” The mayor answers, “That wasn’t the call that I was really making. It was to get people back to work. We have so many in our hospitality crew. We’re 2.5 million people down here in Southern Nevada and we have so many out of work because of the casino shutdowns…” Goodman was then interrupted with Cooper’s laser-eyed death stare that showed his clear intent to take this woman to task using her own words against her. Never mind that she answered him clearly when first asked, that she was NOT calling for the city to open the next day, but expressing her desire to open her city sooner rather than later. Let’s not forget these are the same media tactics that have been used to demonize black people and even the continent of Africa, even to this day. “They take one little word out of what you say, ignore all the rest, and then begin to magnify it all over the world to make you look like what you actually aren’t,” Malcolm X said during a speech in Detroit the day after his house was firebombed by the Ku Klux Klan. He was talking about being condemned as a racist when he advocated for black people to fight back against their oppressors and lynchers.
Whether one agrees with her or not, Goodman does not have the authority to act unilaterally to reopen her city. And, frankly, she’s wrong to want to rush reopening during a pandemic, especially against the advice of health officials. But what makes Cooper the bad guy in this interview is his shameful and blatant attempt to bait Goodman into saying what he wants her to say, which can then be used as a weapon to further raise tensions in an already tense world. He brought fire and water to this interview and used each bucket for his needs; inflame, rescue. Cooper is an excellent journalist. I was incredibly proud of his powerful interview with former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich after his release from prison. He held him to account and didn’t let him get away with lying to the public, or even himself. It was epic. Unfortunately, that’s not what he did with his interview with Goodman. He cornered her, chastised and pushed her to perform exactly as he needed her to. And unfortunately, she did. How does this make us a better more informed society? What did we get out of the interview? Absolutely nothing, other than a dose of reality TV that should have been titled: When Journalists Attack.
Media darlings like Cooper are known for their hard-hitting questions. He’s loved and valued for holding powerful people accountable. But who will hold the Anderson Coopers of the world accountable when they commit a foul? Take this similar circumstance out of the media arena and anyone with common sense would have stepped in to say, “Back off!” It’s important that in this era of Fake News that we take our time to really process the information we’re being served. We can no longer afford to take anyone’s word at face value, or depend on a headline for clues. The title for his combative and nasty exchange with Goodman suggests that he really did something to help The People stay informed, when in actuality, he exposed himself as part of the problem with today’s media business. I listened to the interview. I heard exactly what she said and tried to explain. I understood what she was trying to do; getting people quickly back into the swing of life again. I don’t agree with her. But I understood her position. There’s no fight here. Just Cooper yelling “Fire” in a crowded movie theater, while his camera crew film people’s reactions as they flee for the doors. Anderson Cooper’s interview with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is exactly what media manipulation looks like. And we must call it exactly what it is: Fake News.