Sunday, February 06, 2011

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!: Anderson Cooper In The Field

I'm starting with a short recap of this week's events, for those who may not be up to speed. Anderson headed to Cairo, Egypt last Sunday and was reporting on events of the uprising in Egypt on the ground and anchoring AC360. Things went well Sunday through Tuesday.

Then Wednesday, things took a turn for the worse. Anderson and his crew were set upon and Anderson was punched repeatedly and attacked by a mob of supporters of President Hosni Mubarak.

Anderson opened the Wednesday night broadcast of AC 360 with, "Good evening. Tonight, we are live in Cairo. This is not exactly how we had planned to bring you tonight's program, but the situation changes here minute by minute in Cairo, especially today. But I just want to tell you we are broadcasting from a location that we thought was pretty safe, up until about half-an-hour ago. Then, after that heavy fire, we got a report that pro-Mubarak forces have left the area around Liberation Square, and have now fanned out in some other neighborhoods. And the security situation, where we are, has changed somewhat in the last 30 minutes or so. We have been advised to actually turn off our lights, get down on the floor and try to barricade ourselves in the area that we're in. So that's what -- that's why we're doing this program like this tonight. It's not going to look very good over the next hour, but I hope you bear with us, because what has happened today in Egypt on these streets has been nothing short of extraordinary. The entire situation has changed here in the last 12 hours. People have died who did not need to die and people will die tonight who do not need to die. And there were many people wounded today. And we don't have actual numbers for you. But what we have seen has been nothing short of a pitched battle for the future of this country on the streets of this country, outside the Egyptian Museum and inside and all around Liberation Square." And the broadcast looked like this ~

Then on Thursday, another group of pro-government forces smashed a rock through Anderson's car window while he and his crew were in it. While he had been reporting from the Cairo streets, by Thursday night he had gone to ground. Anderson opened Thursday night's AC360 broadcast with, "We are coming to you live from Cairo tonight from an undisclosed location. I can't tell you where we are, frankly for our own safety. There's a lot of journalists now who have kind of gone to ground here in Cairo. And that's the situation we're facing. Journalists don't like to become the story, but, unfortunately, they have been made the story here over the last 24 hours. Systematically, we have seen journalists attacked, we have seen cameras taken down. We would like to be showing you instead of this picture, this strange image of us sitting on the floor of an undisclosed lighting in dim lighting, we would like to be showing you pictures, live pictures, of what's happening in Liberation Square right now, but we can't do that because our cameras have systematically been taken down through threats, through intimidation, through actual physical attacks. I don't mind telling you I am a little bit scared, because we frankly don't really know what the next few hours will hold. And I think there's a lot of people who are scared tonight in Egypt." And the broadcast looked like this~

Anderson closed the broadcast with, "We don't know where we will be broadcasting from tomorrow night. We don't know, frankly, if we can broadcast from here tomorrow night. We certainly hope so."

While things improved somewhat by Friday night's broadcast and Anderson was back on a balcony with "real lights" things were still not good.

Anderson and his crew were not the only ones in danger. The Committee To Protect Journalists slammed Mubarak officials and state-run media for creating a dangerous atmosphere for reporters in the region. And, The Committee said it has documented at least 114 direct attacks on journalists this week, including on reporters from Al-Jazeera and the Times of London. According to the Anderson made the difficult decision on Saturday to leave Egypt and return to NYC.

This, of course, Got Me Thinking !

The first thing that came to mind was this excerpt from Anderson's book, Dispatches From The Edge. (If you haven't read it, I suggest you do and if you have read it, it may be time to pick it up again.)

SARAJEVO, MARCH 1993. Bosnia wasn't my first war, but at the time, it was the deadliest one I'd seen. It had taken me nearly a year after Burma, but Channel One had finally hired me as a correspondent. I was twenty-five, still shooting my stories on a home video camera, and traveling all alone, but at least now they were picking up the bills.

It was the first year of the war in Bosnia, and Sarajevo was under siege. Serbs in surrounding mountains lobbed shells into the city, mortaring the marketplace where old men sold their broken watched and tried to hold onto their dignity. A shell would land, blood splattered the street. You could feel the impact blocks away. There were snipers as well. Their bullets cut through the air, silent, spinning. No tracer fire, no warnings. Just snap, crackle, pop and a body would crumple to the ground.

Anyone who tells you they aren't scared in a war zone is a fool or a liar or probably both. The more places you've been, the more you know just how easy it is to get killed. It's not like in the movies. There are no slow-motion falls, no crying out the names of your loved ones....

I was afraid to sleep in my bed in my room at the Holiday Inn. I kept thinking some shrapnel might kill be during the night. So I'd lay on the floor, trying to sleep, listening to the dull thud of mortars landing on nearby buildings."

I was able to find the following video from his Channel One days in Sarajevo on YouTube ~


Between 1993 in Sarajevo and 2011 in Egypt, Anderson has traveled to many destinations to report on conflicts, and put himself in dangerous situations to bring us the story. I'll leave you with this video of his Reporter's Notebook from July 19, 2006 reporting on the conflict taking place in Haifa Israel.


And a few pictures of Anderson's field reporting from places of conflict ~

BLOGGER'S NOTE: While I will miss Anderson in the field, I completely understand why he decided to return to the NYC studio. I look forward to his continued coverage on the historic Uprising in Egypt. ~ Wonz.


Anderson will be Piers Morgan's guest tomorrow night~

Back from Egypt, Anderson Cooper on "Piers Morgan Tonight"
Yesterday Anderson Cooper tweeted: "It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to leave #Egypt. CNN continues to have many teams in place. It was a hard decision to leave."

Now back in New York, Cooper will sit down for a lengthy interview on "Piers Morgan Tonight" Monday to talk about his experience.

Reader Request~

Anderson was mentioned in two segments on Saturday Night Live this week~

SNL - Weekend Update


SNL - Regis & Kelly skit


And Anderson was also mentioned on The Soup this week~


All content, unless otherwise cited, is © All Things Anderson and may not be used without consent of the blog administrator.


ACAnderFan said...

@Wonz, I really like the post and that you were able to incorporate a passage from "Dispatches". I think Anderson made the right decision by coming home. His interview on Piers Morgan Tonite should be interesting.

judy said...

While I don't care for Piers Morgan, and have not watched him since he began, I will make the exception to my rule and watch because AC will be his guest.
Thanks for the SNL downloads.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou Wonz, for this whole story about Anderson and the places he has been, the reporting he has done.
I defended him fiercely on the Huffington Post blog where a discussion was going on about him leaving, but I left it after a while. Some people don´t know anything, and/ or are just plain stupid.
Great mini documentary, because that's what you made! about Anderson. THANKS!

N.from N

Anonymous said...

Wonz, you did a great job recapping the week in Egypt and tying in his past experiences.

I hope Anderson is able to give us the whole scoop as to what happened over there on Piers Morgan and give us some good insight as to why he felt like he needed to come home.

Thanks for all the extras today, especially the picture of him in the glasses. I was the one that requested that.

Thank you

aries moon said...

Great post. It is true that a lot of the criticism about Anderson comes from people who have some general negative idea about his merits as a journalist but who clearly haven't actually spent much time watching his reporting or his show--there was this argument out there that Anderson did nothing in Egypt but make the story "all about him" after the attack on him and his cameraman and producer. Yes, he mentioned that incident a few times, but these people act as though that he deliberately made that subject the dominate focus of his reporting throughout his remaining days in Egypt--you can't really be watching his show if you come to that conclusion--there were plenty of other reports on the situation in Cairo by AC and his colleagues but that tends to be conveniently forgotten in the rush for some to label AC as some sort of self-promoting fraud.

Jack said...

Ah, Anderson Cooper, and Joel McHale, my two favorite TV people. Anderson seriously needs to do a spot on “The Soup.” I remember Joel did a bit featuring Anderson making a remark about Snooki and then featured a doctored photo of Joel’s head and Anderson’s head and two bodybuilder bodies standing with Snooki. I know it was fake but the image of a shirtless Anderson Cooper and a shirtless Joel McHale TOGETHER was pretty much my wildest dream come true! Anderson has a great sense of humor!

Wonz said...

@N.from N - Thank you for understanding the underlying reason for my post. I, too, am amazed at the personal attacks being lobbed at Anderson on Twitter and blog comments. I don't understand it.

Constructive criticism of a program is one thing, personal atttacks are something entirely different. I have a feeling most people making the attacks are unaware of his body of work/accomplishments, jealous or just filled with hate for some reason. I seriously don't understand reading a blog post about someone unless you respect them/their work - the vitriol boggles my mind.

Anonymous said...

@wonz & N. from N - AC can't ever win with some people. For the first few days of the Egypt story, they whined that he wasn't there. Then he gets there and they whine that he should be letting the foreign corespondents handle it. He gets attacked and they say he shouldn't have been allowed out among the people. Then, they say he didn't get hurt enough. In most cases, these are literally the same people picking a new way to attack him.

I'm glad he went. It brought new attention to the story. The high profile attack on his team put a face and added attention on all the journalists being attacked.

I'm glad he wasn't hurt too badly. I also understand why he came home - both from a security perspective and because the big dramatic scenes seem to have died down. I know Ben and Ivan and others will continue to bring important reports.

Thanks to Wonz for adding the perspective.

Anonymous said...

I believe you are right about his critics having no idea about his past. Lately I have referred to Anderson's long career covering wars and people really have no idea he is a "real" reporter, has been so since he was 24 and not just an anchor. I have been promoting his book every chance I got so hopefully a few people check up on facts before writing the brush off comments.

Still the right wing nutbags simply hate him for being on CNN and I'm afraid no amount of explaining will cure their case of heartburn.


Tedi B said...

I've stopped reading comments about him. There are just some people that enjoy bashing him (and other people) because they like to annoy and upset others. Then there are the people, as others have said, that don't really know jack about him and his past.
The problem is if you read any comments on most sites even ones like HuffPo, Aol and entertainment sites some commenters are rude and sometimes down right sick when talking about almost any article. That is how the Internet is if there are no moderators. Those types are cowards because we all know that they would not hop a plane and report in Egypt or do 1/2the things Anderson has done. It's easy to sit behind a keyboard in the safety of your home and make immature, rude and thoughtless remarks. If we were all face to face none of them would have the guts to say that stuff to his face or in front of others. Cowards!I just save myself the grief and frustration and not read any comments (except here). Life is too short and I don't need to get upset over people that have no lives.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it was my error, but wasn't AC supposed to be a guest on Morgan's show?
Was that changed for some reason?
Personally I found it a conflict of interests, since they are on the same network, but was still surprised by the no show.

Wonz said...

@Judy Last night Piers tweeted that Anderson would be a guest and the link to the Piers Tonight webpage (that I linked in my extras) that asked for questions for Piers to ask Anderson. They received well over a hundred questions. I watched, and no mention of why Anderson wasn't on "as advertised." Piers eluded to the questions in the hand off to Anderson for AC360, but nothing more was said. Not sure what happened.