Anderson Cooper, whose career has encompassed everything from reporting on global disasters to co-hosting New Year's Eve coverage with Kathy Griffin, shared some of his experiences before a receptive crowd at Tuesday night'sSimon Benson Awards dinner, at the Oregon Convention Center.
Cooper, who anchors "Anderson Cooper 360" on CNN, and contributes to "60 Minutes"on CBS, was keynote speaker for the gala event, created by Portland State University to honor the region's notable philanthropists, as well as distinguished PSU alumni.
In his opening remarks, Cooper recalled his formative days as a do-it-yourself global journalist, as well as early sartorial advice offered by his mother, socialite and designerGloria Vanderbilt: "Wear vertical stripes, they're slimming."
Cooper then sat down for one-on-one conversation with Peter Bhatia, editor of The Oregonian. Bhatia asked Cooper about a pivotal moment both in Cooper's career and in media coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. After being on the ground for days, witnessing the incredible destruction and the bodies of the dead, Cooper let his emotions break through in his coverage. Most telling was Cooper's angry questioning of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, in which he took her, and other political leaders, to task for their inadequate response to the disaster.
Recalling those events, Cooper said he wasn't terribly concerned about suggestions that he might have crossed a journalistic line of neutrality. Viewers who saw him were watching him behave simply as a "human being," Cooper said.
Other topics touched on were some of the tough spots Cooper has found himself in, such as being arrested in Iran. "Believe me," Cooper said, "if you're gay, you don't want to be arrested in Iran." Cooper also expressed his unease with being a celebrity, which he regards as "weird." He compared celebrity to a cancer that spreads, a phenomenon that feeds a sense of entitlement.
-- Kristi Turnquist