Must watch: Anderson Cooper asks GOP Florida AG if she’s an anti-gay hypocrite

OMG. CNN’s Anderson Cooper just committed the most wonderful act of journalism I’ve seen in years.

Cooper was interviewing conservative GOP attorney general of Florida, Pam Bondi, about the Orlando massacre. And Cooper expressed a concern many of us have expressed as well — why is it that all of these anti-gay Republicans are suddenly so concerned about the gay community, after bashing us for years?

Cooper went one step further. He quoted Bondi’s own anti-gay court cases back to her, where she had her office claim that gay people were trying to “harm” Floridians.

UPDATE: Bondi is livid, and publicly attacking Cooper over the interview.

Bondi said it was inappropriate for Cooper to press her on her relationship with the LGBT community, especially in front of a hospital where shooting victims were continuing to recover.

“There’s a time and place for everything,” she said. “But yesterday wasn’t the time nor the place in front of a hospital when we could have been helping victims.”

First, Cooper noted several times during the interview that he was simply raising a point made by a number of people in the LGBT community, that it was hypocritical for all of these anti-gay Republican officials to suddenly act so concerned about the lives of gay people. In fact, I wrote about just that topic three days ago. So it was a fair point to raise.

But second, it was also a necessary point to raise. 49 people are dead. When is the appropriate time to consider what killed them, why, and whether the fact that the Republican party routinely attacks gay and trans people had anything do with it, or at the very least doesn’t make it a tad hypocritical for Republicans to now express their condolences. It was North Carolina Republicans who ginned up fear about trans people peeing in their bathrooms. And it was three GOP presidential candidates, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal, who attended a conference, not six months ago, where the host called for gays to be put to death. Is it not appropriate, when considering how the shooter could be this hateful towards gays, to consider the very people who spew anti-gay hatred into our culture?

There are a lot of victims in Orlando right now. Pam Bondi isn’t one of them.

In fact Anderson was correct about Bondi’s anti-gay history:

“Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pamela Jo Bondi, State Surgeon General John H. Armstrong, and Secretary Craig J. Nichols (the “State Officials”), pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b), move to dismiss the amended complaints in these consolidated cases. This Court lacks jurisdiction to consider the claims against all but the DMS Secretary, and all claims fail on the merits. The Court should also deny the preliminary injunction motions because there is no likelihood of success on the merits, there is no immediacy requiring a preliminary injunction, and disrupting Florida’s existing marriage laws would impose significant public harm.” — AG Bondi, Gov. Scott – May 12, 2014

Bondi didn’t know what to do. As a side note, Bondi, who is on her third marriage, once said that gays have unstable families.

And then Anderson came back for more. And more. And more. Media Matters has the transcript and video, below.

If you have ever complained about why journalists refuse to come back and ask a follow-up question when a politician gives a bogus answer, ask no more.

Cooper’s coverage of the Florida tragedy has been heart-wrenching, and first rate. Today’s interview with Bondi continues his flawless coverage.

Thank you, Anderson, for all of us.

ANDERSON COOPER: I want to ask you, I saw you the other day saying that anyone who attacks the LGBT community, our LGBT community, you said, will be gone after with the full extent of the law.

PAM BONDI: That’s exactly right.

COOPER: I talked to a lot of gay and lesbian people here yesterday who are not fans of yours and who said that they thought you were being a hypocrite, that you for years have fought — you basically gone after gay people, said that in court that gay people simply by fighting for marriage equality were trying to do harm to the people of Florida. To induce public harm, I believe was the term you used in court. Do you really think you’re a champion of the gay community?

BONDI: Let me tell you. When I was sworn in as attorney general, I put my hand on the Bible and was sworn to uphold the constitution of the state of Florida. That’s not a law. That was voted in to our state constitution by the voters of Florida. That’s what I was defending. Had nothing to do — I’ve never said I don’t like gay people, that’s ridiculous.

COOPER: But do you worry about using language accusing gay people of trying to do harm to the people of Florida when doesn’t that send a message to some people who might have bad ideas in mind?

BONDI: Anderson, I don’t believe gay people could do harm to the state of Florida. We’re human beings.

COOPER: But you argued that in court.

BONDI: My lawyer argued a case defending what the Supreme Court allowed the voters to put in our state constitution.

COOPER: Right, but you were arguing that gay marriage, if there was gay marriage, if there was same-sex marriage, that would do harm to the people of Florida, to Florida society.

BONDI: That it was constitutional to put that in the constitution.

COOPER: Are you saying you did not believe it would do harm to Florida?

BONDI: Of course not, of course not. Gay people — no, I’ve never said that. Those words have never came out of my mouth.

COOPER: But that is specifically what you were arguing in court.

BONDI: No. No. What we argued was it was in the constitution of the state of Florida. Let me give you an example. Medical marijuana. A 12-year-old could get it if it passed. We took that to the Supreme Court because of that language, hold on. But if that passed, I would defend that, as well, because it’s my job to defend what’s in the constitution of the state of Florida. That’s what it was about.

COOPER: The hotline that you’ve been talking about on television which allows family members and spouses of the dead to get information, which is incredibly important, and I appreciate you talking about it on the air, had there been no gay marriage, had there been no same-sex marriage, you do realize that spouses, there would be no spouses, that boyfriends and girlfriends of the dead would not be able to get information and would not be able probably even to visit in the hospital here. Isn’t there a sick irony in that?

BONDI: Let me take it a step farther. People aren’t right now who are partners and aren’t married officially aren’t able to get information, so we’re trying to assist them in getting information. Because early on we only have 24 people —

COOPER: Isn’t there a sick irony that you for years were fighting that very idea?

BONDI: I was defending the constitution of what over 69 percent of the voters put in the constitution.

COOPER: But the courts, the federal courts said that’s not the constitution and you continued to fight it.

BONDI: No. That’s why we rushed it to get it to the U.S. Supreme court because we needed finality.

COOPER: Well, before the Supreme Court, there was a federal judge and you continued to fight it after the federal judge ruled, and in fact you spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money fighting it.

BONDI: Well Anderson, we rushed to get it to the Supreme Court. You know what today is about? Human beings. Today’s about victims.

COOPER: It is about gay and lesbian victims.

BONDI: It sure is. LGBT victims. It’s about Florida —

COOPER: I’m just wondering is it hypocritical to portray yourself as a champion of the gay community when — I’m just reflecting what a lot of gay people have told me, they don’t see you as that.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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