The CNN TV personality has been garnering a lot of praise for his interview of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich where he really dragged him across the coals. Blagojevich was one of the well-connected people Donald Trump pardoned recently when he was serving his sentence for trying to sell the Illinois senate seat that became vacant when Barack Obama became president. In the interview, Cooper strongly challenged Blagojevich’s attempts to rewrite history in self-serving ways.
Can we have this version of Anderson Cooper all the time? pic.twitter.com/8In01O63Gp
— David Doel (@daviddoel) February 22, 2020
As I said, Cooper is being widely praised for it. But color me unimpressed. What this reveals is not journalistic toughness but something else entirely. Blagojevich is now a widely reviled figure of fun, ridiculed for not only his venality but also for being so stupid that he could not successfully carry out the kind of routine selling of favors that politicians do all the time without getting caught. He is now a ridiculous, pathetic, and powerless figure.
Journalists in the mainstream media love to be aggressive with such people because it enables them to pretend that they are tough journalists, ‘speaking truth to power’ as the cliché goes. But that is not what happened here. This is really an example of the ‘kiss up, kick down’ cliché, where you attack the powerless while cowering before the powerful.
So no, Cooper is no journalistic hero. Let me know when the treats a prominent current unprincipled politician who still has some clout (say Lindsey Graham) the same way he treated the hapless Blagojevich.