Anderson Cooper spent a good chunk of his show tonight responding to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who this morning accused Cooper of editing an interview with her in the wake of the shooting death of 49 patrons of a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Bondi told talk-radio’s WOR she thought they were going to talk about helping victims, price gouging, and donation scams. But Cooper also asked Bondi whether she was a “champion for gay and lesbian citizens” in the state despite her stance on gay marriage.
She accused him of cutting out all discussion warning people about donation scams when the interview was subsequently posted online.
“There’s a time and place for everything, but yesterday wasn’t the time nor the place, in front of a hospital, when we could have been helping victims,” Bondi said today. Bondi called Cooper “the champion for the LGBT community” and said he could have been helping people, but instead encouraged “anger and hate.”
“Ms Bondi’s big complaint seems to be that I asked, in the wake of massacre that targeted gay and lesbian citizens, about her new statements about the gay community and about her old ones, Cooper said tonight on AC360.
In the radio interview Bondi complained she’s been getting “horrible hatred emails and texts now, based on Anderson’s story” which she described as “filled with anger.”
“For the record, my interview was not filled with any anger. I was respectful before the interview, I was respectful during the interview and I was respectful after the interview,” Cooper insisted on his show.
“It’s my job to hold people accountable. And if on Sunday a politician is talking about love and embracing “our LGBT community,” I don’t think it’s unfair to look at their record and see if they have actually ever spoken that way publicly before. Which I never heard her say.
“The fact is Attorney General Bondi signed off on a 2014 federal court brief that claimed married gay people would “impose significant public harm.” Harm. She spent hundreds of thousands in taxpayer money, gay and straight taxpayer money, trying to keep gays and lesbians from getting the right to marry.”
Cooper said “good people can and do disagree on that issue” because “everyone has a right to their own opinion, thank goodness.”
But, he noted, Bondi is now championing her effort to help the gay community, including attack survivors, with “the very right which allows gay spouses to bury their dead and loved ones” which he said, is “a right that would not exist if Ms. Bondi had had her way. I think it’s fair to ask her about that. There is an irony in that.”
He said he did not condone sending “angry, mean messages to her, or anyone else.”
He said the interview first aired live on CNN, then did air in a cut-down version on CNN’s web site, but was posted in its entirety on the site after hearing from Bondi, where it runs in its entirety now.
And then, Cooper’s show re-ran the entire interview (see video above).
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.