Anderson Cooper’s Orlando Ranting Is Bad For America

Anderson Cooper’s Orlando Ranting Is Bad For America

Anderson Cooper's bullying of same-sex marriage opponents isn't tough journalism but an example of media cowardice in the face of Islamist violence.
Mollie Hemingway
By

Many members of the nation’s elite media and political institutions have not exactly covered themselves with glory in the days following the ISIS attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Early on Sunday morning, a Florida man who repeatedly explained that his terrorism was in support of ISIS, an Islamist terrorist organization, murdered 49 of his fellow Americans and injured several dozen more at a gay nightclub.

This is the second extremely successful ISIS attack on American soil and the biggest U.S. terror attack since Al Qaeda bombed the United States with four airplanes in 2001. The December 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino was also done on behalf of ISIS, whose model encourages independent action against Western interests and people. Information and encouragement are provided generally over the Internet, and independent members pledge their support only upon commencement of their terrorism.

As The New York Times’ ISIS reporter Rukmini Callimachi has explained, the “lone wolf” strategy employed by the San Bernardino and Orlando terrorists was conceived at least six years ago by Al Qaeda but executed best by Islamic State, which is better at social media and inspiring mentally disturbed individuals such as Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen. Of course, Daveed Gartentstein-Ross notes that authorities can overdo “lone wolf” designations, thereby failing to see ISIS network connections that aren’t immediately obvious.

ISIS readily accepted Mateen’s pledge of support, and the group’s social media accounts have been pushing the Orlando shooting as a model for other lone wolf jihadists to follow. Far too many in the media have decided that the reality of what transpired and what it portends is too difficult to deal with and challenges too many of their strongly held assumptions and political positions. Instead, they chose to use this tragedy to target their own political enemies.

Far too many in the media have used this tragedy to target their own political enemies.

Based on information we have as of now, Mateen was a longtime supporter of terrorism, having cheered 9/11 — on 9/11! — according to his high school classmates who witnessed his response. He was married twice and had a son but also propositioned men on gay dating apps and in real life, according to some reporters. In fact, he was a longtime Pulse patron, witnesses say. He had cased Disneyland and other populated places before deciding on Pulse. He’s a radicalized Muslim who scared former colleagues with violent rhetoric and claims of terrorist ties. The FBI repeatedly investigated him, but nothing came of it. He was a domestic abuser, according to his ex-wife. He was a registered Democrat and son of an anti-American politician.

Despite all that, the media and others on the Left decided to cover this terrorist attack by going after people who support self-government and its Second Amendment; people who pray to God in times of tragedy; people who believe the definition of marriage is the union of one man and one woman; people who accept the biological reality and implications of distinct sexes; people who are Republican; people who are traditional Christians; and so on and so forth. The media followed up by cheerleading this incivility.

It is probably most charitable to view this process as a reflection of the media’s inability to deal with its own grief. This is a general societal problem, as the recent shooting of the gorilla Harambe showed. We don’t have the vocabulary for expressing sadness in the fallen world, resorting immediately to blame and politicization of tragedy to help us cope and feel more secure.

This Is the Media’s Religious Response

The religious ritual the media is most devoted to post-terrorism (or other shooting incident) is the liturgical plea to restrict the Second Amendment. Sometimes there are additional rituals. Insofar as victims are from the same side as the media in a culture clash, they use tragedy as a means to bludgeon people on the other side of the clash. So here, where the victims of the Islamist terrorist were at a gay club, we have seen the ritual denunciation of anyone who opposes the declared writ and doctrines of the sexual revolution. There’s a Muslim-sized loophole in this denunciation, by which I mean that Muslims are silently (if deafeningly!) excused from the media’s opprobrium. We’re learning post-Orlando that this is the case even when the sole perpetrator of the terrorism is himself Muslim.

This is not an exaggeration. The Daily Beast was quick out of the gate with a Paul Ryan-is-the-real-monster-of-Orlando approach. The New York Times ran a lengthy editorial pinning the blame for Orlando on Republicans for their views on marriage redefinition. Really. Stephen Hayes’ critique of the editorial, which did not mention Islam, is worth a read:

The entire editorial is an extended non-sequitur, a paroxysm of partisanship unworthy of publication in America’s paper of record — unworthy of publication, for that matter, in Salon or even the comments section of a left-wing website. It’s an utter embarrassment.

And yet even in this context of pious displacement of reality, CNN’s Anderson Cooper stands out. On Tuesday, he “absolutely grilled” Florida attorney general Pam Bondi. Her crime? She was helping victims of the terrorism, even though she had defended Florida voters in litigation against redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. Florida’s very constitution defined marriage as the union of man and woman, and she wrote court briefs explaining the harm caused by redefining marriage into something else.

Cooper believes very strongly that it’s hypocritical, in any way, to support the idea that marriage is ontologically the union of man and woman while also believing that gay people should not be murdered by Islamist terrorists. So he took issue with her advocacy of victims of the terrorism. Bondi repeatedly tried to return the interview to the subject of what was being done to help victims while Cooper said things like, “Well it is gay pride month; you’ve never tweeted about gay pride month.” (Really.) He further said that legal arguments about the “harm” of redefining marriage were actually claims that “gay people are harming” Florida. He said she’d “gone after” gays and sarcastically asked her if she really thought she was a champion of the gay community. Then he repeatedly suggested that this meant she had incited the terrorist in Orlando. He was belligerent and insulting and childish.

He ended by saying he’d gone ahead and checked on her Twitter history for a year (a real life version of Seinfeld’s Wear The Ribbon sketch) and had seen no indication that she had shown proper deference to gay rights. Cooper then suggested that, in the future, she better get into line and show proper fealty to gay rights. He spoke for most of the “interview,” turning it into a petulant lecture about the importance of conformity to media elites.

Instead of asking questions in search of truth, Cooper chose to bully and dominate. Instead of an exchange of ideas — even if journalists aren’t supposed to be advocating their personal views — he tried to impose his doctrines and shame the non-conformist.

Other Media Cheer

Other media outlets ate it up. The Washington Post had a piece detailing the exchange as did The Hill. An editor at The Daily Beast thought the line of questioning was “nice.” The Daily Beast was super jazzed about the story, running several pieces on the exchange, including one from Lloyd Grove who gushed that Cooper was “uncompromising.” Indeed he was, if by uncompromising we mean “showing an unwillingness to make concessions to others, especially by changing one’s ways or opinions.”

As part of his post-grilling tour of triumph, he told a thankful New York Times with a straight face that “I’m not trying to push an agenda. I’m not here to be an advocate, railing at the top of my lungs at injustices; that’s the role other people have.” Yes, arguing repeatedly that you can’t oppose jihadist murdering of gays if you do so much as acknowledge the definition of marriage on which all societies have been based isn’t advocacy at all. Are you freaking kidding me?

A person must share the sexual groupthink of media elites to express solidarity with victims of a jihadist murderer? You’re not allowed to mourn or offer sympathies for the dead and wounded unless you support redefining marriage? That’s idiotic.

Do CNN Reporters Wish Death on Their Political Opponents?

No member of the media asked anyone opposed to religious liberty if they were hypocritical for decrying Dylann Roof’s murder of Charleston churchgoers. There was no introspection about whether CNN and other media outlets’ constant denigration and mockery of religion and religious belief had played a role in spreading the view that religious people needed to be snuffed out. New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters took time off of running interference for Nancy Pelosi to complain that Republicans weren’t mentioning that Pulse was a gay nightclub as much as they should have been. He added:

Except that you might recall when the black Christians were shot inside a church in Charleston by a racist, the media moved right past the victims — their religious identification and their forgiving families — in order to spend weeks obsessing on … Confederate flags. In this terrorism aftermath, no member of the mainstream media has told a single Muslim leader he has no business speaking on the Orlando tragedy given his religion’s views on sexual ethics, much less berated him and told him he would be hypocritical to do so. That type of journalism would be unthinkable.

Destroying Civility

If you want to talk about harm to America, Anderson Cooper is harming America by politicizing our present tragedy in such a grotesque fashion. He’s saying that the country can’t come together and mourn the loss of life unless they share his sexual ethics and advocate for them.

Anderson Cooper is harming America by politicizing our present tragedy in such a grotesque fashion.

How shameful that Cooper would seek to elevate identity politics over shared values during a time of national loss. Longtime media guy Lloyd Grove giddily wrote that “Anderson Cooper Is the Anchor We Need Now” because he “pulverizes conservatives.”

That’s not what we need right now. How juvenile and stupid to say that this is needed ever, much less now. My brother and I were talking on Sunday about the horrific terrorism in Orlando. He recalled how some media had tried to say Christian victims might have been partly responsible for the San Bernardino terrorism. Making the point that it would be even crazier to pass blame in this attack, he said he’d just like to see them try to transition blame. I guess our media showed him! Beginning within hours, the Left and their media allies turned an Islamist attack on hundreds of gay Americans and their friends against conservatives and Christians. It’s appalling, but at this point it’s not surprising.

As some media figures have admitted, they’re too scared to critique Islam. It’s easier to pick fights with Christians and the those who support traditional values than discuss, much less confront, Islamist violence or even just Muslim intolerance of gays. Americans don’t need groupthink encomiums in praise of Cooper or totalitarian conformity of thought, word, and deed. Cooper’s journalism is boorish and beneath him. Cooper’s little performance, and his defensiveness of same, is typical mainstream media cowardice being presented as tough journalism.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter at @mzhemingway
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