Veteran writer-activist Larry Kramer takes CNN's Anderson Cooper to task for the 360 host's hour-long AIDS special, which aired last night. Read Kramer's comments below:
"Anderson Cooper did a special last night (January 14, 2011) about 30 years of AIDS. For the most part it was a pretty lackluster and bloodless affair, with the exception of a magnificent appearance by Elton John and a moving one by Mo'nique. the rest of it was pretty much pablum, recycled stuff from eons of too familiar footage, and appearances by people with nothing new or challenging to offer. While the producer spoke to me for hours to pick my brains, he made it plain from the beginning that I was not going to be asked to be on the show because of my outspokenness (and because I threatened jokingly — yeah right — to ask Anderson when he was going to come out and be seen with his boy friend publicly), which, when I heard the cast of who was going to appear, was fine with me. Instead, I was invited to write this opinion piece to say what they would not welcome on the show.
"What troubled me most about the show was Anderson himself. It was a noble gesture for a reporter, closeted or not, to put on an AIDS special, but did he have to be such a wimp on it himself? Reporters are meant to ask questions, and good questions (Anderson once had a reputation for doing just that; what in the world has happened to him?); the questions Anderson asked were puerile beyond belief. He challenged no one with anything. Is that what good reporters do? He had America's leading AIDS doctor, Anthony Fauci, on: how could Anderson not challenge him with some of the points that I made below (in a piece Anderson's folks asked me to write for him)? or indeed to raise one single point anywhere else on the show that I write about below.
"The most honest part of the program came at the very end when he asked Elton (whom Anderson kept fawningly deferring to as 'Sir Elton'; even Elton gave him a look as if to say, enough of that already, boy), if he was positive about the future. Elton, after a long pause, a very long pause, where you could see this great man deciding whether to say what he really thought, which was 'no I am not hopeful about the future,' mumble some painful words along the lines of 'after thirty years we are still here talking about the same things!' And then he too offering up a platitude of hope, disingenuous in the extreme.
"One wonders why Anderson put on the show at all. At least he gave me the chance to write this piece. It appears to have had a goodly number of Facebook recommendations (evidently the be-all and end-all of today's pulse taking) along with some thousand of the nastiest, most hateful comments imaginable. I am told this is usually the case with posted comments: the nutcases are ready and waiting to pounce. Still it is always disheartening to see in black and white the visible manifestations of just the hate I speak of in my article."