Anderson Cooper hit the ground in Florida almost immediately following Sunday’s Orlando nightclub shooting. Since then, the general media narrative has progressed into a muddled motive search while authorities still lack conclusive answers into how Omar Mateen’s on-the-radar, unhinged ways continued until it was too late. Both harrowing and heroic stories have surfaced throughout the ordeal. All the while, Cooper has covered this story for CNN and nearly reached a breaking point on Monday night when he fought back tears while reading victims’ names on a live broadcast.
Cooper recovered overnight and got back to business. Most notably, he grilled Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has never been known as an advocate for LGBT rights. Gay couples struggled for years against the state’s ban against same-sex marriage, which finally became legal in Florida in January 2015. However, this didn’t happen without a protracted fight from Bondi, and Cooper now takes issue with her sudden claim of advocacy. After the massacre, she addressed the media by vowing, “Anyone who attacks our LGBT community, anyone who attacks anyone in our state, will be gone after to the fullest extent of the law.” In response, Cooper went in hard during an interview with Bondi and cut right to the core:
“You’ve said in court that gay people, simply by fighting for marriage equality, were ‘trying to do harm to the people of Florida. Do you really think that you’re a champion of the gay community? … I have never seen you talk about gays and lesbians in a positive way until now.”
Bondi wasn’t prepared for this line of interrogation and seemed flustered. She now uses Florida voters — who previously approved a same-sex marriage ban in the state constitution — as an excuse:
“When I was sworn in as attorney general, I put my hand on a bible, and was sworn to uphold the constitution of the state of Florida. That’s not a law. That was voted into our state constitution by the state of Florida. I’ve never said I don’t like gay people, that’s ridiculous.”
Bondi said she’d do the same to uphold a medical marijuana law, but Cooper wasn’t buying her argument. He wanted to know why Bondi’s Twitter account was littered with tweets about “National Dog Month” and “National Shelter Dog Appreciation Day” while she completely ignored “Gay Pride Month.” He also pointed towards the “sick irony” of knowing that only the Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage allows LGBT people to visit their ailing partners in the hospital.
Bondi eventually backed off and promised to uphold LGBT rights because “they are citizens just like anyone else.” However, Cooper’s point was already made. You can see watch the damage go down in this video.