Washington, D.C. – President Barack Obama has nominated CNN’s Anderson Cooper to be the next U.S. ambassador to the Philippines. The White House announcement on the nomination came on the heels of Cooper’s live reporting on the aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan which has devastated many cities and towns in Central Philippines. He is the host of the popular CNN news program, AC 360. His reports from Tacloban, the worst-hit among the cities in the province of Leyte, gained both praise and criticism.
Many Filipinos, including expatriates from all over the world, have praised Cooper’s early coverage of the devastation in Tacloban and the Philippine government’s rescue and relief efforts which he described as lacking in coordination and clear strategy. On the other hand, Cooper earned the ire of Philippine President Noynoy Aquino who asked for “greater accuracy” in reporting on his government’s relief efforts and to focus on the strong spirit of the Filipino people in facing this calamity. Cooper responded on his news program that accuracy has been his hallmark as a journalist and that his reporting had always pointed to the enormous strength and fighting spirit of the Filipino people.
A Filipino news anchor, Korina Sanchez, speaking from her air-conditioned broadcast studio in Manila, also criticized Cooper for his reporting on the government’s less than stellar response to the needs of Haiyan survivors. Sanchez said Cooper did not know what he was talking about. Cooper then challenged Sanchez to do her own reporting at “ground zero” in Tacloban. Sanchez is the wife of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas who is supposed to lead government relief and rescue operations.
In nominating Cooper, Obama said that the CNN journalist is fully qualified for the job and brings with him extensive knowledge and experience with political, social and other issues plaguing foreign governments, including the Philippines. Obama said that Cooper has also proven himself to be fearless, independent, and sensitive to the interest and needs of both the U.S. and its long-time ally the Philippines.
There seems to be bipartisan support in the Senate for Cooper’s nomination. That in itself is a rarity in America.