Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Anderson Cooper and Walter Cronkite

Our wonderful ATA reader Lynne has just sent her account of Monday night's lecture with AC and Walter Cronkite. Lynne asked what kind of things would most interest ATA readers. She intended to listen closely for the answers to our burning questions. When she wrote to me today she said "He didn’t talk about any of the things that you suggested that I listen for. He mentioned nothing of his time in the Amazon, where he would be going next, who he would be interviewing next, etc. " I was a bit disappointed until I read the rest of her story. Settle in and enjoy!
(I have cropped Lynne out of the last picture to protect her identity but I just had to post the picture of Anderson. How lucky for her to have such an amazing picture with her favorite newsman.)

The event was at the Gibson Amphitheater, which seats about 5,000 people, I think. It was about ¾ ths full. You weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the theater, and there were no questions from the audience. We had really good seats. We were in the second row of the incline. It was very close, but on an unfortunate angle. Like if he was at 12:00, we were at 2:00. (Luckily when he interviewed Walter, he was facing in my direction, and Walter was facing in the other direction.). A couple of speakers spoke for about 5 minutes each, and then Anderson came out. (!!) He spoke for about fifteen minutes. I personally was disappointed in the speech. There was nothing new. He relied really heavily on his notes/papers, which surprised me. Hasn’t he told these stories a million times already? He talked about finding his “bliss”, the fake press pass, not being able to get a job out of Yale, New Orleans, etc. The audience seemed riveted, so apparently a lot of people hadn’t read his book.

Throughout out his whole talk, I just kept thinking, “Boy, this guy really LOVES what he does.” I guess I always knew that, but seeing him talk about it, it really hit me. I mean, why was he doing this? He obviously doesn’t need the money. He does a lot of public speaking, and why? He could just enjoy his time off and relax or go on vacation somewhere. But instead he does this stuff! I’m an accountant and I can guarantee you that on my days off, you will never find me teaching accounting to people or writing a book about it. When I’m not working, I don’t even want to THINK about it. The fact that he schedules these appearances and speaks to people when he doesn’t have to really impressed me. He truly has found his bliss.

So then Walter Cronkite came out (90 years old), and they sat down for the interview. It went on for about an hour. I really am not interested in Walter, so I just stared at Anderson and watched how he reacted to him and stuff. Walter obviously thinks super-highly of AC and admires him a lot. He kept saying how AC is the first one to go out to trouble spots in the world and how he reports all the facts. You could tell that it was a love-fest up there! Here are some of the questions that he asked Walter (not necessarily his exact wording) . If he did indeed write the questions himself, it probably gives a little insight into his mindset:
- He started out by jokingly asking “So what do you think of Anna Nicole Smith”? You can tell he’s aggravated with all of this tabloid reporting.

- When Walter was on CBS, I guess he was the News Director of his program, or something like that. And he got to choose what aired, and Anderson asked him what it was like to be able to make those choices and to only report on things that he felt was meaningful. Again, you could tell that he isn’t so happy on some of the things he has to report.

- “Do you think that the news today is influenced by the ratings?” Walter went on to talk about the ratings that would come in once a month, and AC said “Once a month?? We get ours TWICE A DAY!” And everyone laughed. He said “I’m serious. It’s terrible.”

- “Were you ever speechless on the air?” (WC: the moon landing)

- “Who do you wish that you would have been able to interview?” (WC: Hitler)
- “What do you think about anchors or networks who give their own views on the air?” (a reference to Fox, I assume.)

- “What president did you most admire?”

- “What was it like the day that JFK was assassinated?”
- “Do you think reporting is harder now than it was when you were in the field?”
- “Would you have liked to have been able to go to Iraq?” (WC: No, not much.)

- “What do you think of the situation in Iraq?” (WC got the biggest applause of the night when he went off on what a disgrace it was that our guys were dying over there for this lost cause. It’s so nice that at his age, he’s not the lease concerned about Bush attacking him or anything. He just says it as he sees it.)

That’s kind of all I can remember about the questions. WC was very articulate and so well spoken, but you could tell that he was very old. He was having a horrific time with his hearing. He kept having AC repeat things and speak louder and stuff. AC was about 18 inches away from his face, and WC kept going “Say that again.” I felt bad for him. And I felt embarrassed for AC that he had to try to interview this guy who couldn’t hear him!

At the end of the interview, Anderson said something like “This man has been doing the news for 50 years, and I can’t imagine doing it for another TWO!” Hopefully he was just kidding about that one! He has found his bliss, after all!

Then it was time for the dessert reception. I naively thought that there would be about 40 or 50 of us that had paid extra for the reception. Well, there were about 200 ! It was outside in a tent, and it was packed. At first I was like “Screw this….we’ll never get to meet him. There are way too many people here.” I was ready to give it all up and go home, quite frankly. But then we noticed that people were actually forming a line. And then it became clear that there were two separate lines: one to meet Anderson and one to meet Walter. It was all organized and formal and stuff. You line up, you meet him, take a picture, move on. Not at all like I expected. I thought he’d be mingling and stuff. This was more like a book signing kind of thing. Of course I came totally unprepared. I should have brought his book to be signed. My friend knows that I like his work and have read his book, so that all would have been cool. But I had nothing. So I gave my friend the camera and told her to take pictures. There were two young, 20-ish girls in front of us, and they were freaking out. They obviously loved him and kept saying “He’s so beautiful!” and all this stuff. It was cute. So when they got to him, they had the book for him to sign, pictures, and all sorts of stuff. Then they took several pictures. The people around AC kept saying to the girls “Okay, that’s enough. We’ve got to keep moving.” But they were so excited. And AC was so NICE and so considerate and so INTERESTED in everyone. He really has a special way about him. Again, why does he spend his time doing this?? I certainly wouldn’t! He’s genuinely a good guy. I’m more impressed with him than ever.

So then I got up to him. I didn’t think I was too nervous, but then I just sort of froze! I shook his hand and said “Hi, I’m Lynne.” He said hello and reached for my program which he autographed. And then he went right into the posing-for-picture mode. My friend took a picture, and that was it !

I SAID NOTHING TO HIM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing about the Amazon, nothing about the frog, nothing about what an interesting evening it was, nothing about how much I admire his work, NOTHING !!!!!

I was so mortified with myself !

So that’s it ! I’ve included much too much detail in this recounting, because only Anderson fans would probably be interested in it! I needed to get it off my chest! I hope some of it was partly interesting. Fans definitely should go to his public appearances in the future. It was actually totally easy to meet him. No work at all. You need to do it next time.

Thank you so much Lynne for sharing your experience with us. I too think I would be mortified if I was to meet Anderson. Either that or I'd babble so much he's call for Security. You did a great job and we're all grateful for your account. Thank you again.


sydney said...

Thanks so much for that account, Lynne. Those of us who haven't had the pleasure of meeting him have to live vicariously though you lucky ones!

Don't feel bad, I would've frozen, too. I probably couldn't have even gotten out the "Hi", so you did well. :-D

Anonymous said...

Lynne great report. AC is truly special.

Cyn said...

Lynne, thanks so much for sharing your story! It sounds like a fantastic night.

I'm old enough to remember watching Walter do the news, the body counts from Viet Nam, the night he pretty much told us it was a lost cause. He WAS the news in those days. For him to admire Anderson's work is an enormous compliment.

I really feel for newsmen trying to do their work in the twice-a-day ratings situation. News should be about news, not popularity. It's appalling that this has happened, and it just keeps getting worse.

I really wish I could have seen this interview. I am green with envy but so glad an ATA'er was there to enjoy it and kind enough to share it with the rest of us!

The Original Miranda Lane said...

Thanks for the report, Lynne. That was awesome! I don't know if I'd know what to say either if everybody was around and there was a line. I think I'd be so aware that other people were waiting that I'd politely go thru the motions and keep it moving. Thanks again - the report and pics are super cool!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your report! I would have loved to have been there. Anderson clearly has tremendous respect for Walter Cronkite and I can only imagine what a thrill it was for him to do this interview.

And, congratulations on meeting Anderson. He really is so kind and has impecable manners. Glad you had such a nice experience.

Anonymous said...

Hi Phebe & Lynne!

Thanks for sharing the post and experience. That's quite an experience and it is really cool!

I don't know if I'll ever get to meet AC but I'd likely be in either one of the two scenarios you guys have already mentioned ...

But then again, if ever, and knowing that I'll only have once chance ... I'll dig up whatever little ounce of courage I have to give the guy a bear hug and a kiss on the cheek (of course, I'll ask his permission before security really comes after me!) and say TQ for all he has done for human kind with his stories.

Have a great week people!

Anonymous said...

Poor Anderson, he looked exhausted! Maybe this lifestyle is finally catching up with him.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much to Lynne for sharing her experience with all of us.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your story with us Lynne. I really enjoyed it and the pictures!

xtina said...

You did a wonderful job of recalling every detail, Lynne. Nice writing! You and your friend took very good pictures, too. Thank you for the report!
p.s. Anderson probably didn't want to talk about the frog-in-a-bag, anyway. ;)

Anonymous said...

Lynne, thanks so much for telling us about your fabulous evening.

I too, would probably not know what to say to him, but I do envy all of you that have met him. Oh to stare into those blue eyes, I think I would just melt.

Anonymous said...

I loved your accounting of your evening Lynne, thanks so much for sharing it. I myself would have been shaking so much when I got up to him he'd probably called the paramedics thinking I was having a seizure...lol

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for such a detailed account on your meeting with Anderson, it sounded like a fantastic evening overall.
I want to meet Anderson!!!!!!!

BookAsylum said...

Lynne- thanks for letting us know how the evening went! The report was great!

If it had been me, I probably wouldn't have remebered to take the book or the camera with me- I would have completely blanked after saying "Hi".

Anonymous said...

Given the choice between meeting Anderson and meeting Walter Cronkite....damn, that's a tough call! (I think I might have gotten on that other line afterward, and made it a two-newsman night!)

Thanks for sharing your experience, Lynne!

Sheryn said...


Thanks for your wonderful recount! I loved every word!

I have to make you feel better by admitting that I have been rendered speechless by Mr. Cooper as well. At least you said your name. Me, NOTHING! I mumbled my name and shook his hand.

And you are right, he has impeccable manners and is always engaged in what each person is saying to him.

Thanks again for being ATA's roving reporter! You done good!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experience Lynne. That was so awesome!!
May I say you are NO DOUBT the most envied gal on the planet right now. ,)
Thanks again. *hugs*

Quitty said...

I appreciate you taking notes and posting your account. Great details!

How gratifying it must have been for Anderson to hear WC to talk about his admiration for Anderson.

Is he wearing the same black tie he wore at the Oscars?

Anonymous said...

Lynne, what a wonderful story you told. Thanks so much for sharing! I would be so nervous, also, and froze up or I'd say something totally stupid! Would have really loved to have heard that interview. Walter Cronkite, now here's a legend!! Anderson must have been thrilled to have interviewed him. I would have had to get in both of those lines if I had been there to meet Anderson and Walter Cronkite!! I grew up watching Walter Cronkite and if he reported it you just knew it had to be true. He was that trusted. I would love to see this interview and see the answers he gave Anderson. Does anyone know if it was filmed? The questions Anderson asked sound very personal and he had made up the questions himself. It is sad that the news has gotten so competitive and ratings conscious and I hate to say, sometimes, tabloidy. Cyn, I too, remember the body count reporting of Viet Nam and hate to say I think of just that when I hear the same of Iraq. It was a sad time in history. I am thrilled for Anderson to have gotten to interview Mr. Cronkite and what a great honor that he likes him !!!!!

Roonie said...

Lynne, you ROCK!!!

Me, I'm 21, so I totally know how those girls in front of you must have felt. I wouldn't know how to act, but I'd certainly be anxiety-stricken inside!

I do know that I would have shelled out 300 bucks for a ticket and dessert in a heartbeat.

Awesome pictures!!

Anonymous said...

That's a very good report, thanks Lynne, and thanks to blog owners for sharing all this with anderfans. Anderson seems to be a very genuine person, I've never met him in person before, but from what I've read about him (his book) he seems to be special. What a good news reporter we have!
We're so lucky to have him around.

lori said...

*HEY... HOO-OO... HEY.....HOO-OOO!* Give it up ATA people for our LYNNE!!!

Thank you so very much for sharing your experience with AC and WC! :D I'm doing cartwheels over here in NC! Now, mind you, I pulled the back to Rachel's "jungle boogie" earlier this morning, but was able to cartwheel for you!

Honestly if I were ever to meet AC in person I'd freeze or puke on his tie or striped suit. or wet my pants! Pictures were great as well! Thank you for sharing with us! :D *├╝ber-cyberspace hugs*

Anonymous said...

Just saw Anderson on LKL and he looks fabulous.....I think he has a new updated version of the YR tie on......I really like this one and it looks great with his pin stripped suit.....oh I am so glad to be home I have missed Anderson so :)

PS my vcr did not tape AC 360 on tuesday or wednesday for some strange reason. If there is any way to get the segment with the spider on video that would be so awesome and totally appreciated.....thanks

Anonymous said...

Oh Lynne, that was sooo interesting. A first had account! It was so great to hear that Anderson is so genuine. I've read that before and it looks like it when you see photos and he is making eye-contact, but then I always think...yeah, but there is a camera and he knows it. How nice to find out he REALLY is that nice.

Did he seemed flattered that the giggly girls wanted to spend more time, or was he embarrassed? I've heard others say that they were tongue-tied too. I don't think I'm ever going to see him in-the-flesh, but it sure is exciting to hear others talk about it.

I'm thinking you aren't as old as me, since you don't think of Walter Cronkite along the lines of "Father, Son, Holy Ghost and Walter Cronkite." He's the one who told us President Kennedy died, he was the one who narrated the first man on the moon. When our world felt like it was falling apart, we turned on the TV to hear Uncle Walter make sense of it. The Cuban Missle Crisis, the Cold War, the VietNam War. He got us through it all.

I don't think Anderson would mind having to repeat himself, I think his love affair with news probably made him feel honored to be sitting with him regardless of how many times he had to repeat himself. Anderson was probably so thrilled that WC thinks so much of him.

I can't even imagine being in the presence of such greatness. The news idol of my youth, and the news idol now. I've said it before, Anderson is the Walter Cronkite of the future, he just has something in him that makes him stand head and shoulders above the other news people.

Leigh said...

how cool lynne! Sounds like it was a good time, I don't know what I would have said in your situation! Very Cool!

copperfish said...

Hi! Lynne, thanks for the awesome report of your experience. Girl, you're one hell of a lucky individual to be able to meet him in flesh and blood. I can't blamed you if you got tongue tied, that's OK I think you just did great. :-)

Anonymous said...

Amazing! Lynne, you did a GREAT job recounting that! A+ !

Yes, we super hard-core Anderfans love EVERY detail we can get, and I think you satiated even the most distinguished of apetites with that awesome piece.

And those pics are definitely one-of-a-kinds.


Anonymous said...

Awesome account--thanks, Lynne!

imagine said...

Great job telling everybody what happened at the event! I was there too! I too was a bit disappointed in his speech, because it was everything from the book and things he's already said before in other interviews. But I will add, I was very lucky because I couldn't afford extra money to go to the reception, but I was determined that I was going to get in. So when I got there, I just went up to the table and told them my name, insisted that my name was supposed to be on the list, and they gave me a wristband!!! So I got in to meet Anderson!!! Like Lynne said, he was so nice, so polite, so genuinely interested in other people, and completely enamored of Walter, it was awesome!!!

Anonymous said...

@ Pixie, I wholeheartedly agree about Uncle Walter and what a good evaluation! He reported on so much profound history! And I would have loved seeing Anderson interview him. He's a living legend!!

Anonymous said...

@ Pixie,

I was too thinking I would have to be in both the Anderson and the Uncle Walter lines.

I just love Walter and glad he is doing well enough to be on stage. Heck, at 40 the eyes go and by 80 most people have hearing problems.

I just love Walter then again I like Mike Wallace too. These old guys remind me so much of growing up. I turned on 60 minutes on Sunday and was looking for Ed Bradley and his earring. :)

My dad always had Peter Jennings on. The day Peter announced he had cancer, my friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was at her house about 7:00 PM and she told me Peter made the announcement today and then looked at me and said, "I wonder who will go first."

Both of them are gone now leaving a rich legacy -- one around journalism and the other around family and motherhood. I guess I am the lucky one, I got my news from what I believe was an honorable man and I had a 10 year friendship with an amazing lady that taught me about being a mother, a daughter and a leader.

As far as the anchors and broadcasters of the new age, I sure like Anderson's delivery of the news. As far as 60 minutes, I am all about Scott Pelley. His dispatches are great!

Pixie, I think we have a new abbreviation --- OMB -- Old, Married Blogger! :)

Anonymous said...

Imagine: I think you're only "imagining" that that's what happened !

Anonymous said...

@ pixie & anna: thanks for your insights on Walter and AC, and sharing how very good friends have touched your life.

although i don't know Walter is like in his younger days but if AC is a reflection of him, i'd have to agree that we've all got great news coverage from people who are passionate about news.

Onnaday said...

Thanks Lynne for sharing your experience and Thank You ATA for posting it. It's great to hear first hand account on how a nice person Anderson is.

Anonymous said...

I too was at this event, but being a highschool student I was only able to afford a ticket for the second to last row, nevertheless it was arguably one of the best nights in my 18 years!!! Unlike yourself, I am also a huge fan of Walter. Mostly because I majoring in journalism next year and have a scholarship to the Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU. So it was perfect, two of my favorite reporters together. I am incredibly jealous about the dessert part!!! Hopefully he'll still be doing this sort of thing when I can afford it.