Pam Bondi strikes back against CNN, Anderson Cooper

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Attorney General Pam Bondi suggested she was the victim of a CNN hit job a day after Anderson Cooper challenged her position on gay rights in a live interview.

Bondi was a guest on WOR-New York’s “Len Berman and Todd Schnitt in the Morning” radio program Wednesday.

Cooper, who came out as gay in 2012, spoke with Bondi in Orlando Tuesday afternoon.

They both were there after Sunday’s shooting in a gay nightclub that took 49 lives. Shooter Omar Mateen’s father has said his son was incensed by the sight of two men kissing during a recent visit to Miami.

“I talked to a lot of gay and lesbian people here who are not fans of yours,” Cooper said. “They said they thought you were being a hypocrite, that you for years have fought … have basically gone after gay people. You said in court that gay people, simply by fighting for marriage equality, were trying to do harm to the people of Florida.”

Bondi defended the state constitution’s same-sex marriage ban, approved by voters in 2008, before a U.S. Supreme Court decision struck it down last year.

But the state’s chief legal officer told Berman and Schnitt she was misled about the nature of the interview.

“The sad thing about it was, Anderson was filming in front of a hospital where people were clinging for their lives,” she said. “We’ve been dealing with price-gouging issues, with potential scams so people could donate to legitimate charities. That’s what they told us they wanted to talk about.”

During the interview, Bondi did mention her office was dealing with complaints of a local funeral home price-gouging a family of the dead.

The interview “was supposed to be about helping victims’ families, not creating more anger and havoc and hatred,” Bondi said. “Yesterday was about unity, about bringing people together.”

Cooper “completely slipped, got into a constitutional issue,” she said. “You know what, there’s a time and place for everything. But yesterday wasn’t the time or the place, in front of a hospital, when we could have been helping victims.

“And Anderson Cooper is the champion for the LGBT community,” she added. “He could have been helping people yesterday … I was extremely disappointed in that,” saying she’s been getting hate mail based on the interview.

Bondi went on to say clips on the internet “cut out” the “helpful” part of the interview, where she gave information about avoiding charity scams.

A CNN spokeswoman could not be immediately reached for comment.

Audio of the radio interview is here. A previous story on the CNN interview is here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.