Anderson Cooper: Pam Bondi Is "Mistaken or Not Telling the Truth" in Criticism of CNN Interview
"The very right that allows gay spouses to bury their loved ones, that's a right that would not exist if Ms. Bondi had had her way," said Cooper. "I think it is fair to ask her about that."
On Wednesday night's Anderson Cooper 360, the CNN host defended himself against claims Florida attorney general Pam Bondi made that he had misled her on the subject of their high-profile Tuesday interview and had edited their conversation to portray her in a bad light.
Cooper said Bondi's claims are "factually incorrect" and that "she's either mistaken or not telling the truth."
Cooper was referring to complaints Bondi voiced in a radio interview in which she criticized Cooper for calling her out on her history of fighting against LGBT rights, contrasting it with her support of the LGBT community in the wake of the Orlando shooting. "I have never seen you talk about gays and lesbians and transgender people in a positive way until now," said Cooper in the live CNN interview.
Bondi said CNN told her she would be talking about price gouging and potential scams that might affect the Orlando shooting victims' families. Cooper said his interview notes from a CNN producer did not mention anything about scams. He said that when he and Bondi talked before the interview, she mentioned she wanted to talk about potential scams so he brought them up at the beginning of their conversation.
Cooper also explained that the clip on CNN.com focused on her public statements and past record but that the interview itself aired live and unedited. CNN shortened it, as they routinely do for online videos; however, they later published the interview in full. Bondi was upset about the abbreviated online version.
"Let's be real here," said Cooper. "Ms. Bondi's big complaint seems to be that I asked in the first place in the wake of a massacre of gay and lesbian citizens about her new statements about the gay community and about her old ones."
Bondi said that Cooper's questions encouraged "anger and hate" and didn't use the opportunity to bring people together.
"For the record, my interview was not filled with any anger," said Cooper. "I was respectful before the interview, I was respectful during the interview, and I was respectful after the interview." He said that he doesn't think that Bondi "has hate in her heart," but he did want to address her comments in the wake of the shooting when she discussed "embracing our LGBT community."
Cooper said he doesn't think "it is unfair" to look at her record and see if she's "actually ever spoken that way publicly before." He added, "The fact is that Attorney General Bondi signed off on a 2014 federal court brief that claimed married gay people would 'impose significant public harm.'"
"Ms. Bondi is championing her efforts to help survivors, but the very right that allows gay spouses to bury their loved ones, that's a right that would not exist if Ms. Bondi had had her way," added Cooper. "I think it is fair to ask her about that."