By now I’m sure most people have seen this video of Anderson Cooper describing his travails in Egypt today.
I’m sure it was no picnic getting punched in the face, although from the look of him none of the punches landed. What a harrowing experience to be in the middle of that giant scrum with no way to defend yourself. I’m glad he and his crew are okay, obviously.
But I do have questions.
* When you’re an American journalist taking a camera (even “a little Flip” camcorder) into an angry mob, what do you expect will happen? A hug?
* Is it essential for a TV news person to place himself/herself in harm’s way in order to cover a story?
* Would it not have been prudent for CNN to surround its anchor not with members of his film crew but with actual bodyguards?
* Will tonight’s ratings for “AC 360” go through the roof because people will want to hear more about his personal brush with danger?
* Will Anderson go back into the crowd tomorrow or will he remain on the sidelines from now on? (Three guesses.)
I don’t mean to sound cynical. Brave journalists – especially those who place themselves in the center of the storm – have been our long-standing tradition, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their reporting. My raised eyebrow has more to do with Anderson himself. I watch his show every night, so it’s not as if I’m a detractor. But he does go where the action is – from Katrina to Haiti, from earthquakes to tsunamis, from cholera epidemics to Times Square with Kathy Griffin on New Year’s Eve. All that and he’s launching a syndicated daytime talk show to try to fill Oprah’s slot.
I realize that all the network anchors have been in Egypt. But there’s a reason they call it a “broadcast booth.” In other words, maybe the anchors should stay in it.