Over the weekend, talk show host Anderson Cooper quietly came out of his closet as a journalist. In a letter to The Daily Beast blogger Andrew Sullivan, Cooper made the unexpected announcement, stating his underlying pride in his up until now well-hidden career choice was the reason he decided to out himself as a reporter:
“Recently, I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something – something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.”
Previously Cooper, who was ranked in the #2 spot of the ‘Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America’ by Out Magazine, has made vague references to being a reporter and has even gone as far as to claim being a self-described news junkie, having been one “since I was in the womb,” but this weekend’s announcement is the first time the entertainer has publicly admitted to his journalistic leanings.
Sullivan, a gay British citizen living in the U.S. who has journalistic aspirations himself, asked Cooper to comment on a recent article in Entertainment Weekly about an emerging trend: gay people in public life who come out in a much more restrained and matter-of-fact way than in the past. In his written email reply Cooper acknowledged his own homosexuality so that he could branch off into making the surprising announcement that he is in fact a journalist, has always been one, and always will be one.
The son of socialite and 1%-er Gloria Vanderbilt , Cooper, who lives with his long-time boyfriend, gay club owner Ben Maisani, in a converted firehouse in New York’s gay ghetto Greenwich Village, began his closeted journalistic career at the age of ‘still-a-blubbering-ball-of-fat’ with an appearance on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, followed several years later with a guest shot on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, his first appearance on a medium he would use later in life to hint at his deeply hidden secret of being a reporter. Six years later he surfaced again as a guest on To Tell The Truth at the age of 9, followed by several years of working for the Ford Modeling Agency and appearing in advertisements for Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Macy’s department store, a career path many young gay men take.
Years later, after graduating from Yale, Cooper dabbled with journalism as many college age young men do while trying to find themselves. Donning reporter drag, Cooper secured a fake press pass, bought a video camera and headed to Burma on his own to cover a student uprising against the ruling military dictatorship. He was ultimately able to sell his home-made news segments to Channel One, which produces a youth-oriented news program that is broadcast to many junior high and high schools in the United States.
Fortunately his brief foray into the underbelly world of reporting passed almost unnoticed, written off as an impetuous act of youth. Still, Cooper’s true colors were plainly evident and he suffered through several years working as a known reported for ABC News before he was able to escape back into his closet thanks to his two-year stint on the reality show The Mole, which worked well in his attempt to quell the rumors that he was a practicing journalist.
But as many closeted journalists have found, keeping your secret while in the media’s eye can be a difficult chore. Cooper has steadfastly tried to his natural inclinations while skirting the edges of the journalistic world. While the news is what spoke to his soul, Cooper hid that part of himself from the public, instead making a name for himself with an appearance of Celebrity Jeopardy and as guest host on Live with Regis and Kelly.
Even today when most Americans assume rumors of Cooper being a journalist are true, he has hidden his true calling behind the mantle of celebritydom, appearing in the Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and tempering his obviously journalistic appearance as an anchor on CNN with his completely irrelevant daytime talk-show.
As Cooper’s career as a celebrity, talk-show host, reality television star, and talking head skyrocketed, he frequently came under criticism for hiding his private passion for the news. “You know, I understand why people might be interested. But I just don’t talk about my personal life. It’s a decision I made a long time ago, before I ever even knew anyone would be interested in my personal life,” he said while telling amusing stories such as the time his mother asked him to proofread her tell-all memoir in which at the age of 85 she described the guy she was dating as the “Nijinsky of cunnilingus.”
Rumors of Cooper playing for the news team have circulated for years and many assumed when his daytime talk show premiered in September of 2011 he would use it as a vehicle to announce that he was in fact a reporter as many suspected. But instead Cooper continued to entertain from the closet, muddying the journalism waters by having personalities such as Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Cooper’s close fiend, BFF, and own fag hag Kathy Griffin appear on his show. Even today, a mere twenty-four hours after admitting he was a journalist Cooper still turned to the safety of entertainment with a segment on Tips for Finding Storage Auctions instead of covering a real news story.
In his coming out declaration Cooper shared with The Daily Beast the reasoning behind his bold move. “I’ve been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible’” he wrote. “I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.”
As for the years he has spent in the closet hiding his true identity as a journalist he said, “I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues. In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted. I’m not an activist, but I am a human being and I don’t give that up by being a journalist.”
Reaction from the news community on Cooper’s brave move have been nil as we’ve recently come to realize their are no true journalists left in the world.
That’s the way it is.
Related Posts You Might Enjoy: