He may have left the Philippines last week but the devastation brought by super typhoon Yolanda (international code name ‘Haiyan’) is still on Anderson Cooper’s mind. The multi-awarded CNN news anchor talked about his experience in covering the disaster during his appearance on the David Letterman Show last November 19.
During the guesting, Cooper repeated most of the comments he made while in the Philippines. “I think the figure now is close to 4000 but they don’t have any idea. There’s no accurate report.”
Yolanda’s death toll became the focus of media attention after President Benigno Aquino III told Christiane Amanpour, Cooper’s colleague at CNN, that the 10,000 casualty estimate is “too much.” Shortly after, Elmer Soria, the police official who gave the initial estimate was removed from his post.
When Letterman asked him about the lessons learned from Yolanda (a “breaking storm,” according to him), Cooper raised the importance of preparing relief supplies early on. Watch an excerpt of his sit-down with Letterman through this link.
“It is easy for reporters to come in and be critical because relief is never going to be fast enough. That said, if you know that the biggest storm ever to hit is going to hit, the Philippine government talked about prepositioning supplies. Well clearly, whatever supplies prepositioned was not enough. Nobody food and nobody had water,” he said.
He went on to say that the relief effort in Japan in the wake of the 2011 earthquake in the Tohoku prefecture is “much more organized.” “They had soldiers out the next day (after the disaster). There was none of that for five, six days (in the Philippines),” he said.
That specific comment of Cooper earned the ire of TV Patrol anchor and radio commentator Korina Sanchez. In one of her live shows last week, Sanchez slammed Cooper for not really knowing what’s really happening on the ground. Sanchez received flak from netizens for her remarks.
“The Philippines is a poor country, and the government is not set-up to give relief in this kind of way. But it was upsetting to the people there who were searching for their children not to have sustenance. There were people coming up to us asking for water,” he related.
Cooper then related to Letterman what reporting from the Philippines meant to him. “I honestly think it’s an honor to be there and to be able to give to people who don’t have a voice and don’t have access to power,” he said.
“There’s nothing sadder to me than to see a person living a good and decent life whose family ends up dying on the side of the road, dissolving into nothing, and nobody even notices their passing. And nobody in authority helps in the search for them and nobody tells their story,” the 46-year-old Cooper said.
“I don’t believe (my reporting) changes much but I believe in the power of honouring their passing, learning their names, learning who they are, and the life they lived,” Cooper said, receiving applause from the live audience.
- Korina Sanchez vs Anderson Cooper and journalism ethics (filipinoscribe.com)