Anderson Hays Cooper (born June 3, 1967) is a Peabody Award-winning American journalist, author, and television personality. During college, Cooper spent two summers as an intern at the Central Intelligence Agency. Although he technically has no formal journalistic educationnote , he opted to pursue a career in journalism rather than stay with the agency after school, having been a self-proclaimed "news junkie" since he was "in utero."
After Cooper graduated from Yale University, he tried to gain entry-level employment with ABC, but was unsuccessful. Finding it hard to get his foot in the door of on-air reporting, Cooper decided to enlist the help of a friend in making a fake press pass. At the time, Cooper was working as a fact checker for the small news agency Channel One, which produces a youth-oriented news program that is broadcast to many junior high and high schools in the United States. Cooper then entered Myanmar on his own with his forged press pass and met with students fighting the Burmese government. He was ultimately able to sell his home-made news segments to Channel One.
Persuading Channel One to allow him to bring a Hi-8 camera with him, Anderson soon began filming and assembling reports of Vietnamese life and culture that aired on Channel One. Branching out from Vietnam, he also recorded news stories for the channel from Bosnia, Rwanda, and Somalia.
His time on Channel One got him noticed, as he had hoped, and he joined ABC, first as a correspondent and then as an anchor for World News Now. But then he left the news business entirely for two years, instead serving as the host of reality television series The Mole.
He returned to serious journalism in the wake of September 11, this time at CNN. After a stint with Paula Zahn on American Morning and another as the channel's weekend anchor, he was given the prime-time slot of 8pm weekdays, for a broadcast entitled Anderson Cooper 360° that runs either one or two hours depending on that day's news stories. Never content to stay in a studio when he could be on location instead, he became famous for his coverage of international humanitarian disasters. 2005 in particular was a breakout year for him; in those twelve months he covered the tsunami in Sri Lanka, Lebanon's Cedar Revolution, the Iraq War, the famine in Niger, and in a series of broadcasts that won him a Peabody, the landfall and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. By the end of the year he was a household name, and in subsequent years he went on to cover — among many others — the Haitian earthquake, the Arab Spring, the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, and the terror attacks which hit Paris in late 2015.
He also serves as the host of CNN's yearly CNN Heroes tribute, and has anchored the channel's New Years Eve coverage since 2002. His close friend (and eternal tormentor) Kathy Griffin joined him on the latter from 2006-2016. Beginning in 2017 his best friend Andy Cohen (of Real Housewives fame) came on as co-host.
Oh yeah, and his mom was a bit famous. Her name was Gloria Vanderbilt.
Media Cooper has been involved with:
- Anderson Cooper 360° (2003—present): CNN
- Katrina: The Storm That Never Stopped (2015): A 10th anniversary retrospective on Hurricane Katrina
- 60 Minutes (2006—present): CBS
- Anderson, retitled Anderson Live (2010—2013)
- ABC News — correspondent (1995—1999)
- The Mole (2000—2001)
- World News Now (1999—2000): ABC
- How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying revival (2011)
- Featured in Fake News Rumble
- Dispatches From the Edge: A memoir of war, disasters, and survival (2006): His memoir of 2005 (Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Iraq, and Hurricane Katrina) interspersed with his own recollections of his childhood and early years as a journalist
- The Rainbow Comes and Goes: and other life lessons I learned from my mom (2016): A collection of correspondence between Anderson and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, begun after Gloria briefly fell ill; combination memoir and inspirational advice
Tropes pertaining to Mr. Cooper:
- Asshole Victim: In his guest appearance on Finding Your Roots, Cooper learned that his 4x great-grandfather was a Southern slaveowner who ultimately was beaten to death by a slave with a farm hoe. Anderson found this absolutely hilarious.Professor Gates: Do you think he deserved it?Cooper: Yeah!
- Adorkable: Just check any video of him cracking up on air.
- Annoying Laugh: His laugh has been said to sound like a dying weasel. Good thing he's so freakin' cute!
- While narrating his mother's obituary for CNN, he included a video he recorded of her in the hospital bed, both of them giggling in the exact same way.
- Armor-Piercing Question: He has a talent for these. Pretty much any video titled some variant of "[bigoted person] OWNED by Anderson Cooper" involves him firing these at the interviewee non-stop.
- Badass Bookworm: Went to Yale and won a Peabody Award for journalism. Spends a lot of time running around in a bulletproof vest. Also, it took all of half an hour for the Internet to declare him the winner of the first 2016 Democratic presidential debate — which he was moderating.
- Badass Gay: Came out as gay in 2012, and is one of the most prominent gay journalists on American television.
- The Big Board: For elections.
- Blue Blood: As far as American money is concerned: He is a son of the Vanderbilts (his mother being Gloria Vanderbilt).
- Brain Bleach/Too Much Information: Poor guy's reaction was this when his mother told him in the most explicit way possible about her storied love life. Especially since the name of their shared memoir is Nothing Left Unsaid
- Breather Episode: This is why, in 2010, Anderson hosted a daytime talk show for two seasons — while still anchoring AC360, no less! He described it as a chance to catch his breath and have some fun, in contrast to the humanitarian disasters he usually covers.
- He also described his stint as the host of The Mole as this. He felt disillusioned with the tabloid fodder and fluff pieces that was being assigned to him to cover so he briefly quit to host the show.
- Broken Bird: Dispatches reveals that losing his father at age ten and his brother to suicide at age 21 did some serious damage to his psyche; he relates that he ran off to war zones in order to help himself "feel again". Fortunately, after Hurricane Katrina, he was able to start patching himself back together.Africa was a place to forget, and to be forgotten.
- Camp Gay: Rarely apparent, but when you get him started on Madonna, Lady Gaga, and trashy reality TV....
- Corpsing: Reporting on Dyngus Day as well as during several Ridiculist segments. Who can blame the guy? Even Wolf Blitzer has to tell him to knock it off.
- Crazy-Prepared/Properly Paranoid: He admitted in an interview that he's so concerned about surviving daily life or events like bio-attacks that he actually keeps a Tyvek suit in his office at CNN.
- Cuteness Proximity: See Anderson Cooper. See Anderson Cooper meet an adorable animal. See Anderson Cooper devolve into a cooing mess.Anderson: [cooing to Snooki the sloth] You know where Surinam is, don't you, girl? [smooch]
- Dead Line News: Nearly decapitated by a flying street sign while reporting on Katrina. And getting malaria in the middle of South Africa.
- Deadpan Snarker: For all his levelheaded and mostly-neutral news coverage, when he decides to break out the snark, you'll get dehydration just by listening. Prime examples include every RidicuList segment he's ever done, including this one about Heidi and Spencer.
- Going for the Big Scoop: Death and destruction anywhere in the world pretty much acts as a summoning beacon for this man. He is, by his own account, terrible at taking a vacation and always itching to go where the story is hottest. It's paid off.
- Heh Heh, You Said "X": The usual culprit for the above-mentioned cracking up.Anderson: ...I have the sense of humor of a twelve-year-old.
- Heroic Bystander / Badass Normal: Lots of journalists are content to merely record the events of wherever they go. Cooper, not so much.
- Intrepid Reporter: Whatever developments he's reporting on, from Hurricane Katrina to a Lebanese revolution to a tsunami in Sri Lanka, it's a fair bet that if Cooper can report from in the thick of it, he will be. There's a reason he won a Peabody for his Hurricane Katrina coverage, folks.
- The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Anderson Cooper, Peabody Award winner and one of the most respected broadcast journalists in the world, squees like a high school fangirl about getting pulled up onstage to dance with Madonna during her "Rebel Heart" tour.
- Lampshade Hanging: of Reality Show Genre Blindness, during his run on The Mole.Don't you guys know how this game works? If you say you don't like to cook, you know you're going to end up cooking. You say you like to cook, you don't get to cook!
- Manly Gay: Comes with being a serious news anchor.
- Manly Tears:
- He nearly broke down on-camera during Hurricane Katrina at the sight of a young man in a pickup truck carrying a salvaged American flag — he was visibly fighting back tears and only just able to pull himself back together enough to go on. He notes in his memoir that amid catastrophic governmental incompetence, starvation, wholesale destruction, and the sight of dead bodies in the streets, it was just too much.
- He could barely hold his composure on-camera as he covered the aftermath of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting. He's clearly struggling to keep himself together as he read out the names of the 49 victims of the tragedy.
- Again in early 2018, responding to Donald Trump's characterization of Haiti as a "shithole country." As he recalled the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, in which he personally helped rescue people - and offered a stinging rebuttal to Trump - he struggled mightily to maintain his composure and not break down in tears.
- Towards the end of his mother's obituary, you can hear his voice begin to slightly crack up while talking about how she had an extraordinary life.
- Non-Idle Rich: Again, his mother was Gloria Vanderbilt. (As in Little Gloria, Happy at Last). Not only that, he's even stated that she disinherited him from the family fortune because she and his father wanted to teach him the value of earning his own money.
- No-Sell: Even in the face of the most bigoted, vitriolic rants known to man — up to and including personal attacks — Anderson maintains a look of polite, curious interest while gently but firmly asking the ranter to please answer the question. This is one of his most-praised talents as a journalist. Of course, the same cannot be said for accidental or deliberate innuendo. Or toilet jokes. Or insults to his basil office candle.
- Older Than They Look: It's a bit of a running gag now that he simply appears to have not aged since the late '90s, to the point where John Oliver actually callednote the Middle East "the Anderson Cooper's face" of international affairs because it never changes. For reference: Anderson Cooper, 1999 vs. Anderson Cooper, 2015◊. In the former picture, he's 31. In the latter, he's 48. Yes, really.
- Only Sane Man: The Daily Show seems to see him as this. Jon Stewart has never pulled his punches about his disgust with CNN, but never once have any of those punches been directed Cooper's way, and Stewart has expressed honest respect for his fair, neutral journalistic integrity and called himself a "big fan".Jon: ...for me, that's the toughest thing, when I see you in a dangerous place, it makes me — I just want to give you a big old hug, 'cause, you know, we're big fans of yours.
- Open Secret: Cooper's sexuality was pretty well known before he came out, but he decided to make it official in 2012.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Anderson has built his reputation on calm, level-headed, evenhanded journalism. So when he went after Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — when he had spent days in amongst the rubble and bodies and unspeakable human suffering — it really got people's attention, and spoke volumes about just how angry the situation had made him.
- Similarly, he became visibly choked up when recounting the strength and dignity of the Haitian people after the 2009 earthquake, a few days after Donald Trump derogatorily referred to it as a "shithole country." Cooper's CNN team had been the very first news coverage team on the ground there and the trauma he'd seen had affected Cooper very personally.
- Pass the Popcorn: While airing clips of the Rod Blagojevich... mess.
- Picky Eater: Doesn't like hot foods or drinks.
- Platonic Life-Partners: He's close friends with Andy Cohen and were actually set up on a blind date back in the 90's, but that never panned out. Thanks to sharing mutual social circles, they're often seen hanging out together and even have sporadic live shows around the country where they just talk and joke around on stage. Hes also Cohens son Benjamins godfather.
- Please Put Some Clothes On: Enough exposure to Kathy Griffin has taken him from baffled horror to resigned amusement when she starts stripping down to her underwear in public. By this point he knows she's not going to listen to him, but he makes a valiant effort anyway.
- Redshirt Reporter: He seems to be under the impression that the best place for him to be reporting from is wherever on the globe he's most likely to be killed or maimed in any given week. This is quite intentional. Hence all those hours in a bulletproof vest.
- "Sesame Street" Cred: Appears in the Season 38 finale of Sesame Street, which is itself a parody of high-end TV journalism.
- Silver Fox: He's one of the page images. By the time he made it big, he had already gone silver; his hair was almost fully grey by his mid-twenties.
- Shamu Fu: He was one of the truly alarming number of celebrities hit in the face with a fish in the "Salmon Cannon" segment of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver's first season finale. Sadly, the camera didn't stick around long enough to show the probably-inevitable giggle fit.
- Socially Awkward Hero: Self-admitted. Andy Cohen once said that when they went on vacation together to Brazil with a group of their friends, he went back to their hotel to nap instead of joining Andy in soaking in the atmosphere.Im painfully shy. Im the person at the party who hides in the kitchen, holding a beer and leaning against the refrigerator while talking to one or two people max that is, if I even decide to go to a party.Andy Cohen: [Anderson] gets bored in two minutes. He's like "Nope, I'm just going to go take a nap."
- Squee!: The only accurate word for Anderson's reaction to meeting a real live sloth, with which he is self-admittedly obsessed.Anderson: [holding Snooki the sloth] This is basically the happiest I've ever been.
- Star-Making Role: While he began garnering major attention with the Indian Ocean tsunami in late 2004, it was his coverage of Hurricane Katrina that truly put him on the map as a journalist.
- Straight Man and Wise Guy:
- He tries to be the Straight Man to Kathy Griffin's ridiculous antics during their New Year's Eve broadcasts, but... it doesn't usually work. She tends to get him laughing about two minutes in, and he doesn't really stop for the rest of the evening.
- He also has the same dynamic with Andy Cohen, with Andy supplying the jokes and snark while Anderson valiantly trying not to giggle and snarking back.
- Two First Names: For extra points, "Anderson" and "Cooper" are both more common as last names than first names, though both common.
- Vitriolic Best Buds / Odd Friendship: Serious Cooper and cheery Kathy Griffin. Their New Years' Eve coverage (which mostly foregoes musical guests and coasts primarily on the two of them riffing on each other) is a thing of beauty.
- The War on Terror: Reporting on 9/11, which brought him back to serious journalism after his stint hosting The Mole.
- What Beautiful Eyes!: The only feature more raved about than his hair is his eyes◊. Including by Stephen Colbert. Holy wow!!
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Not pleased to be endorsed by Chris Dorner.