Anderson Cooper Saves CNN From Itself

It’s been 2012 for a week already and this blog has roundup duties to take care of, but I just gott sneak this in before the Republican presidential freakshow exhibit moves on from New Hampshire and thus renders the results from Iowa even less significant: Is there a better reason to watch election night coverage than to see the elegant and sensible Anderson Cooper make fun of the inanity of his CNN colleagues’ so-called “analysis” (oh, the sanctimoniousness of self-described centrists!), and the network’s grating hangup on slick-looking but ultimately useless digital data-collection tools? Well, no. (Fortunately, Wolf Blitzer doesn’t invoke the phrase the best political team on television nearly as often as he did four years ago. Good on him, since the core of that team still is David Gergen, probably the dullest and most risk-averse pundit in the history of televised punditry.)

The presence of Cooper on CNN doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t rather watch Rachel Maddow outshine and outsmart her liberal blowhard colleagues on MSNBC (is it me, or is Lawrence O’Donnell becoming more unbearable than Keith Olberman ever was?), but when CNN is what you’re stuck with, he’s still an oasis of reason and good humor. Case in point and the main reason for this whole post, a moment late in the Iowa election night coverage, pointed out by the site Mediaite. The Romney-Santorum race is as undecided as ever, and Erin Burnett is supposed to show us something on the electronic wall-thingy she’s operating. Something goes wrong, however, and the thing breaks down. So CNN’s completely redudant social media person breaks in and wants us all to focus on a graphic charting the Twitter buzz for the different candidates. It was uninteresting the first he showed it to us, and barely comprehensible at that, and now Anderson has had it with him: “Again with the social media screen? This is the third hit and I still don’t understand what the hell this thing shows!” As the whole show threatened to unravel, I was laughing heartily and ready to kiss him through my TV screen for finally injecting some humor into the self-important proceedings.

It’s seems that’s kind of his thing. Earlier in the evening, when Blitzer was showing off some other useless digital vehicle, meant to illustrate the difference between the “first and second wave” of caucusgoers (or something), Cooper seemed to sense the absurdity of it all – or maybe he just remembered how the network was savaged for the hologram debacle of 2008? – warning viewers that they could watch the no doubt impending Daily Show send-up instead. I was thinking the exact same thing. I hope Anderson appreciates his employer more than I do, but other than that, I honestly think we are soulmates.

Apart from being a good journalist with the ability to drive the national conversation (witness his anti-bullying coverage), he also is a good sport about his status as a silverfoxy lust-object of gay (he’s a surefire contender for my next ’20 over 30′ edition of the SMA). Of course, that won’t satisfy some people, who won’t rest until he gives a defintive statement on his sexual orientation – and something tells me anything less than a straight up ‘I’m gay’ just isn’t going to cut it – but as long as people are gay-friendly my impulse is to grant them some privacy on the question. And my man Anderson sure knows how to charm his audience. When AfterElton named him to their Hot 100 list in 2010, Cooper commented thusly:

I was very humbled and flattered to be number 11 on your list, until I was reminded I was number 9 on it two years ago. Is it my wattle, or the bags under my eyes? Despite my rapid decline, thank you very much. My trainer is also very thankful, because you have just guaranteed his employment for the coming year.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m super-psyched about this political season, but when you’re forced to have it curated for you by CNN, thank heavens Anderson Cooper is there to make it less intolerable. Also, I advise magazine writers to take their eyes off Brian Williams for long enough to pen a piece about the humor of Anderson Cooper. That one I’d read.

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