Anderson Cooper

Indignant Eyewitness

During a televised interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu praised some of her colleagues’ relief initiatives. In response, Cooper unleashed an emotion rarely expressed on national newscasts: genuine, full-bore indignation. “When [people] hear politicians slap [one another on the back],” he noted, “it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now. Because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats.” His flare-up channeled the disbelief and animus of local residents, viewers at home, and fellow journalists infuriated by what they had witnessed. The outburst signaled a media watershed of sorts. many in the audience (after years of watching news personalities tow the party line in the wake of a different deadly crisis) felt release as Cooper vented. During this tragedy, they wouldn’t tolerate spin business as usual. Says Cooper, who occasionally teared up during his anguished dispatches, “The anger’s here. It’s not frustration. People are not frustrated – people are dying. I am lucky. I can ask people questions.”

– Vanity Fair, November 2005


Photographed on Carondelet Street, in New Orleans, on September 7, 2005