Home » » The media wheel turns on Anderson Cooper. Meanwhile, real reporters, such as Ashley Webster, just do their jobs.

The media wheel turns on Anderson Cooper. Meanwhile, real reporters, such as Ashley Webster, just do their jobs.

Written By mista sense on Monday, February 14, 2011 | 9:31 AM

Anderson Cooper is one of those media figures more beloved by the chattering classes than by ordinary folks.   The CNN host has never enjoyed good ratings, but he has always had great bi-coastal buzz.   His former boss at CNN, Jon Klein, seemed to think it was worth keeping Cooper around--indeed, exalting his role through expensive ad campaigns--mostly because being Cooper's boss gave Klein his own entre into fancy Manhattan parties. 

But the problem with being a media darling is that eventually, media tastes change.   In the fast-changing mediascape, where a single Tweet can be your downfall, it's hard to stay popular--maybe impossible.  (That's why viewership metric; regular Americans, out in the Heartland and thus oblivious to trendy chatter, tend to settle on someone they like, and stick with him or her--see, O'Reilly, Bill.  O'Reilly gets his share of bad press, mostly ideologically based, but he doesn't care: He's got the folks.)  But now Cooper, not similarly blessed with a genuine following, starting to lose favor with his base in Manhattan and West LA.  

A case in point is the way that the LA Times' James Rainey slapped Cooper around the other day--over, of all topics, Cooper's Egypt coverage/commentary.   Rainey even compared Cooper to Sen. Al Franken, another figure that mediaites grew tired of.  For her part, The Cable Gamer admires reporters who go get the story, wherever the story might be.   And so back on February 2, TCG took note of Cooper's physical courage in being in Tahrir Square when government thugs were there, too.   Cooper wasn't hurt--it's not even clear that he suffered anything more than a shove or two--but still, he gets credit. 

But then Cooper tried to go to town on his little moment: He went on David Letterman to talk about it-and to talk it up.  It sure seems as if Cooper is trying to make the most of that moment, converting himself from, uh, straight newsman to opinionated commentator.   If so, then Cooper must be judged in a whole new light.   Indeed, his Letterman appearance provoked criticism from conservative commentators, and yet now those criticisms have been joined by the liberal MSM.  Here's the LAT's Rainey:

It’s not often that American television news figures accuse government officials, foreign or domestic, of lying. But CNN’s Anderson Cooper made up for that, big time, this week. He heaped the pejorative on Egypt’s leaders 14 times in a single “Anderson Cooper 360.”

Though the Big Picture knows of no record book for declarations of mendacity, that must have been some sort of new high -- at least for mainstream American news. Cooper's accusations of “lies” and “lying” got so thick on Wednesday’s show that the host seemed to be channeling comic (and now U.S. Sen.) Al Franken’s 2003 book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.”

Once again, a comparison to the loudmouthedly obnoxious Franken is the kiss of death in the chattering circles.    So that's the story of La Anderson--If you live by media enfatuation, you die (in career-terms) by media disenchantment.

Meanwhile, real reporters just do their jobs.   For instance, there's Ashley Webster, a reporter for Fox Business Network--who has been covering Egypt, too, and risking his life as well.   The Nashville Tennessean's Jessica Bliss caught up with Webster, by e-mail and phone,  and put together a brief but compelling account of Webster's experience:

He, his producer and his photographer were greeted warmly when Webster first arrived in Egypt. Protesters wanted to say why they were demanding the removal of President Hosni Mubarak.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 1, the mood changed. A group confronted Webster, worried that his crew was taking pictures for the regime. The situation became frightening as the mob grew and demanded proof that Webster was not a government agent.

The next day, violence broke out on the square. Webster watched from his hotel balcony. After several hours, plainclothes security personnel burst into the room and grabbed film equipment, worried that the camera would create more danger. Government supporters began turning their anger toward the Western journalists.

"It is very disturbing to have an angry mob outside your window baying for blood," Webster said in an e-mail earlier last week.

Together with a Fox News crew, Webster's group hunkered down in a dark room, barricaded the door with equipment and sat silently. They heard constant gunfire outside and tanks firing warning shots. It took several hours, but the army finally gained more control.

What comes across is Webster's modestly.  He just told the facts.  No drama, no histrionics.   Just what happened.  That's the difference between Cooper and Webster.  This is Webster, below:

TCG hopes to see, hear, and read more from him.  But she will be happy to see him on FBN, doing his job, not swanning around for the benefit of the Manhattan Mafia.

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