Let's face it. Television is a visual medium and Anderson Cooper looks great on TV. In this sense he is very appealing. Beyond that, the reasons to admire someone can be many and varied. To pinpoint that reason can be clear and easy or profound and complicated. My admiration for Anderson Cooper falls into the latter category.
I started like everybody else: I saw a pretty face, a cute smile, beautiful blue eyes... Oh, and some talent to report the news. Then, the more I admired him the more I realized I wasn't his only admirer, not even one of a small group, but that there were dozens if not hundreds of web pages and groups devoted solely to him. And twice as many blogs discussing his whereabouts, his impeccable clothing, his gray hair. Oh! and yes: whether he is gay or not?
When it comes to Anderson Cooper, thousands of people all over the world, like me, are infatuated with that person who pops up here and there on television: during the hurricanes in Florida, for the tsunami in Indonesia, to report about the war in Iraq, during the floods in New Orleans, at the mine disaster in West Virginia. Wherever there are important news to report, there you can see that close-cropped head of gray hair with a microphone near his lips interviewing somebody related to the event.
It takes a few seconds, perhaps a few minutes — and for some people it takes days and even months before they can pass through their initial surprise of seeing Anderson on their television screen before they can pay attention to the news.
I've heard Anderson announcing the news since about the time he started at CNN in 2002, which was also about the time People magazine named him one of the sexiest men alive. But I must admit that I really, really didn't hear the news coming from his mouth until about 2004.
What happened at first was infatuation, next came admiration, then envy, and finally a tremendous desire to understand the fascination with this seemingly normal — beautiful, but normal human being.
Then it was my turn to start thinking — or rather, I was able to pass the exterior and start looking to what might be inside the mind and soul of Anderson Cooper.
I have never met Anderson in person but I feel I know him by observation and by reading the many articles that have been written about him, his family and how he came to be one of the most respected and admired reporters/anchors on television.
I began to change my admiration for Anderson Cooper from "teenage" adoration (and I am a 55 year old man) to regarding him as an authentic and reputed reporter when I learned that he lived in the Chelsea area of New York City, but I saw him reporting from all over the world, often at a moment's notice, and all the time his demeanor was very professional. I started thinking that if it had been me I would have been very angry with my boss or bosses for sending me all over the world when there were other reporters to send. I would have needed some home time sooner than later. But Anderson kept going and showing up wherever he was needed. Then I realized that by the way he was reporting, so effortlessly, so professionaly, so in charge and for such long periods of time, that he was actually enjoying himself; or at least enjoying his job, if not the news he was reporting.
From a young age — when his hair was still dark, and when, according to legend, he bought his own video camera and went to Burma and Somalia to freelance his first job, he was so comfortable being himself that his effort turned out to be very productive. From what I've read about Anderson, I understand that this remarkable quality to be at ease doing what he loves most, reporting, has translated into an appealing trait that most people see as attractive and sexy, as friendly and professional. It's not that he isn't all these things but that he IS all these things because of the comfort that transpires from doing his chosen profession.
One more testament that he is very comfortable with himself is the fact that nobody really cares whether he is gay or not. As I mentioned above, there are hundreds of web sites and blogs dedicated to this debate — some agreeing some disagreeing; but all united in one fact, whether he is gay or not they all still like him.
His easy smile, his painful frown, his contagious laugh, his sincere handshake when he is trying to assure somebody that his thoughts and prayers are with them is unmistakably natural, honest and adept not only to the people he is interviewing but to the public at large as well.
The reason I admire Anderson Cooper most is twofold: because, at such young age he has accomplished a milestone that most people can't accomplish in a lifetime: to do what he enjoys doing most and getting paid for it. And because he is so comfortable in his own skin that whatever he does looks effortless — and for him, it probably is.
Oh, and one other thing. He really does look great on TV!