Anderson Cooper is hitting back at Pam Bondi’s claims that his interview with the Florida attorney general in the wake of the Orlando shooting was edited. “She’s either mistaken or not telling the truth,” Cooper said.
Bondi criticized the CNN anchor in a Wednesday sitdown with WOR’s Len Berman and Todd Schnitt in the Morning. The AG claimed that she was brought on Anderson Cooper 360 under false pretenses, stating that the was under the impression the two would be discussing donation scams for the victims and their families.
“When he posted the clip, he cut out the entire first portion that discussed people donating to legitimate sites,” Bondi said.
She further lashed out at Cooper for using his platform to “encourage anger and hate,” especially considering that the interview was conducted in front of a Florida hospital treating many of the victims of the horrific violence.
“There’s a time and place for everything, but yesterday wasn’t the time nor the place in front of a hospital when we could have been helping victims,” she said.
Cooper dismissed that assertion, claiming that her office was aware of the interview’s intention in advance. He also said that while an edited version appeared on the cable channel’s website, the version that aired on CNN Tuesday night was the full exchange.
He said that Bondi’s concerns weren’t really about editing but that he questioned the AG on her LGBT rights record.
“Let's be real here,” Cooper said. “Ms. Bondi’s big complaint seems to be that I asked in the wake of a massacre of gay and lesbian citizens about her new statements about the gay community and about her old ones. For the record, my interview was not filled with any anger. I was respectful before the interview, I was respectful during the interview, and I was respectful after the interview.”
Prior to the Saturday massacre that claimed the lives of 49 at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, Bondi fought against the marriage rights of same-sex couples in Florida. Bondi claimed that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry would “impose significant public harm” to the state of Florida.
“Florida’s marriage laws, then, have a close, direct, and rational relationship to society’s legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units,” wrote Bondi in a 2014 brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
Following the shooting, the AG has markedly changed her tune, selling herself as an advocate for LGBT equality.
“Do you really think you’re a champion of the gay community?” Cooper asked in the Tuesday interview. “I have never really seen you talk about gays and lesbians and transgender people in a positive way until now.”
In last night’s address, Cooper defended that line of questioning.
“I don’t think it is unfair to look at their record and see if they’ve spoken that way publicly before, which I never heard her say,” he said, adding: “Ms. Bondi is championing efforts to help survivors, but the very right that allows gay spouses to bury their loved ones, that's a right that wouldn’t exist if she had her way. I think it is fair to ask about that. There is an irony in that.”
Watch Cooper respond to Bondi's claims below.