Anderson Cooper Defends Pam Bondi Interview

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Shortly after the deadliest shooting massacre in U.S. history, Anderson Cooper conducted an interview with Florida attorney general Pam Bondi.

The Q&A went viral because Cooper challenged Bondi to reconcile her reaction to the tragedy that took the lives of over 50 men and women inside a gay nightclub... with her previous stance on the LGBT community. 

Anderson Cooper and Pam Bondi

Back in 2014, Bondi was a strong opponent of gay marriage.

She actually said in court at the time that LGBT individuals who were fighting for marriage equality were trying to do "harm" to the people of Florida.

Now, in the wake of this horrible tragedy, Bondi has been championing her efforts to set up a hotline that allows spouses to learn information about their husbands and wives, who may have died or been injured in Omar Mateen's terrorist attack.

That's a great thing to do.

But if Bondi had her way, gay and lesbian people would not be permitted to marry... which means their significant others would not have the legal right to learn private, medical information such as this.

"Do you really think you're a champion of the gay community?" Cooper asked Bondi on Tuesday.

Watch the full interview here:

In reaction to what she felt were cheap shots, Bondi claimed in a radio interview with WOR 710 in New York on Wednesday that she was led to believe her chat with Cooper would focus on donation scams for the victims and their families.

Instead, "when he posted the clip, he cut out the entire first portion that discussed people donating to legitimate funds," she said, arguing that all the interview did was "encourage anger and hate."

(CNN has since put the entire conversation on its website.)

On air yesterday, Cooper responded to Bondi's objections.

"For the record, my interview was not filled with any anger," he said.

"My job is to hold people accountable, and if on Sunday a politician is talking about love and about embracing 'our LGBT community,' I don't think it's unfair to look at their record and see if they have ever actually spoken that way publicly before, which I've never heard her say."

It may be rare for the public to see a reporter actually hold a politician accountable for his or her words and actions, but that is clearly what happened here.

"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," Cooper continued.

"She spent hundreds of thousands in taxpayer money, gay and straight taxpayers' money, trying to keep gays and lesbians from getting the right to marry."

Cooper also made headlines on Monday when he had to fight off tears while reading the names of those who died in the weekend's Orlando shooting.

In this case, he concluded explaining his side of the Bondi interview as follows:

"Good people can and do disagree on [gay marriage] - everyone has the right to their own opinion, thank goodness - but Miss Bondi is championing right now her efforts to help survivors.

"With the very right which allows gay spouses to bury their dead loved ones - that's a right that would not exist if Miss Bondi had her way. I think it's fair to ask her about that.

"There is an irony in that."

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