Anderson Cooper discussed how he maintains journalistic neutrality in an interview for the Emmy TV Legends series by the Archive of American Television.
In it, the prominent out journalist recalled a moment he experienced while covering genocide in Rwanda in 1994, and how his unaffected reaction to the horror and human rights abuses there led him to “take a break” from the industry altogether.
“I found myself taking pictures on my own camera of some people I found on the side of the road who had died and been out there for I’m not sure how long,” he said.
“There was a little girl and the skin had peeled off her hand halfway, and it looked like when you remove a glove halfway. And I thought, ’Wow that’s really interesting how the skin has peeled off this person’s hand like a glove.’ And I remember taking pictures of the skin that had peeled off the hand, and somebody I was with took a photograph of me…and he sent it to me later.”
Cooper said he only felt affected by the tragedy after the fact, when he viewed the photo of himself taking pictures of the bodies.
“As soon as I saw it, [I realized] I wasn’t viewing that person as a person. I was viewing them as a body,” he said. “In that moment, I remember thinking, I need to stop doing this for a while. And I did.”
The interview was conducted in 2014, with Cooper saying he still had the exact photo hanging on his office bulletin board to remind him to feel on the job.
Last night, the newsman made history by becoming the first openly gay moderator to moderate a U.S. presidential debate.
Check out the interview below: