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Profile of Anderson Cooper, Journalist and CNN Anchor


Anderson Cooper speaks onstage at Together To End AIDS: An Evening To Benefit amfAR and GBCHealth at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on July 21, 2012
Paul Morigi/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Anderson Cooper, CNN Lead News Anchor:

Anderson Cooper is a journalist, CNN lead news anchor and contributor to CBS News' 60 Minutes. His acclaimed CNN series, "Planet in Peril," premiered In October 2007.

With his taste for on-site reporting, Cooper embodies advocacy journalism. His electrifying 2005 coverage of post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans first lifted him to national prominence. In July 2007, Cooper moderated the first presidential debate using YouTube technology.

Cooper's coverage of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill was marked by impassioned advocacy for that region. On February 1, 2011, Cooper was beaten while covering the Egyptian uprising.

Anderson Cooper in New Orleans:

In a live 2005 exchange with Sen. Mary Landrieu, Cooper emotionally interjected "Excuse me...to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other... there are a lot of people here who are very upset and very angry... It... cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours."

In 2010, Cooper spent far more days in Louisiana than any other journalist, covering the ugly aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, remarking "There aren't any small people here."

CNN President on Anderson Cooper's Appeal:

CNN/US President Jon Klein says of Cooper, "He's got a refreshing way of being the anti-anchor. He's not quote-unquote reporting at you. He's just being himself. He's asking the questions you would like answered. He's getting involved the way you might. You feel that he's a regular person that you can trust talking to you. He brings such a passion to the storytelling that's infectious."

Anderson Cooper's Early Career Years:

In 1990, after working six months as a fact-checker for Channel One, 22-year-old Cooper secured a fake press ID, bought a video camera and headed on his own to Africa to cover the crisis in Somalia. Channel One eventually made him chief international correspondent.

In 1994, Anderson Cooper became a reporter for ABC News, then co-anchored ABC World News Now. After a two-year detour into reality TV, Cooper moved to CNN in December 2001.

Anderson Cooper at CNN:

Since joining CNN in late 2001, Anderson Cooper has anchored most major breaking stories, including the war in Afghanistan after Sept 11, the start of the Iraq War, the DC-area sniper story and the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion.

On his own program, this high-energy journalist has traveled the world, reporting on top stories from tsunamis, Iraqi elections, the death of Pope John Paul II, and various disasters including the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the post-Hurricane Katrina debacle, both on the Gulf Coast.

Awards and Accolades:

  • Silver Plaque from the Chicago Film Festival for his report from Sarajevo on the Bosnian civil war
  • Bronze Telly for his coverage of famine in Somalia
  • Bron Award from the National Education Film Festival for a report on political Islam
  • Outstanding TV Journalism Award from GLAAD for his 20/20 report on gay high school athlete Corey Johnson.

Personal Data:

  • Birth - June 3, 1967 in New York City, to designer/heiress Gloria Vanderbilt and her 4th (and last) husband, writer Wyatt Cooper. His father died of a heart attack when Cooper was ten years old.
  • Education - BA in Political Science/International Relations from Yale University, 1989. Studied the Vietnamese language at University of Hanoi.
  • Family - Single, except for his dog, Molly, a Welsh Springer Spaniel
Cooper has frequently been publicly involved in supporting gay and lesbian issues.

Growing Up As a Vanderbilt:

Though born into wealth, the teenage Cooper worked summers as a waiter. He pursued his first job, at age 11, as a Ford model because he "wanted to...be financially independent." Cooper's older brother (by two years) committed suicide in 1988 by jumping from Vanderbilt's 14th floor apartment in New York. Before then, Anderson was on track at Yale to enter foreign diplomatic service. After his brother's death, he took a year off, then pursued a job in TV. Anderson Cooper is mildly dyslexic.

The Anderson Cooper Persona:

One online biography describes Anderson Cooper as "intelligent, sexy, ambitious and young." The New York Times dubbed him "an anchor who reports disaster news with a heart on his sleeve." Cooper is known for intense immersion into news stories.

Said producer David Perozzi, who worked with Cooper at ABC News, "He's really intense. He could care less how he looks, his hair and makeup. If there's no cameraperson, he grabs the camera....He's all human. He's not putting it on."

Memorable Quotes:

On Covering Post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

"This is life and death. This is not some blow-dried pundit standing outraged for some ratings, which is what cable news often boils down to....I have been tearing up on this story more than any story I've worked on...It's hard not to be moved."

On Covering the Iraq War

"To me, there is value in bearing witness to what is happening to people who are living their lives with great dignity in the face of horror. People have asked me why I would want to go to Iraq. To me, it's a privilege to be able to do that."

On Traveling

"I'd always been interested in travel and dark places on the map. I wanted to see these places and learn things about myself, as well as the people in them. So what I started doing was going to wars with my video camera."

On Elitism and Cooper's Parents

"Neither of my parents believed in joining clubs or being involved in anything that reeked of elitism or exclusiveness. Growing up,'elitest' was the worst thing you could say about someone."

On Yale University

"I've never been asked what my grades were at Yale. … Nobody has ever asked me about my senior thesis, and I've never gotten a job because I was on the lightweight crew team. All those things were hugely important to me at the time, but right now, in truth they are dim memories for me. … When you graduate the slate is wiped clean."

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