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Cooper responds to Korina, PNoy; praises Filipino strength

Ayee Macaraig

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Anderson Cooper says, 'Ms Sanchez is welcome to go there and I would urge her to go there'

'GO THERE.' Anderson Cooper urges ABS-CBN anchor Korina Sanchez to go to Tacloban and see the situation for herself. Screengrab from CNN

MANILA, Philippines – CNN anchor Anderson Cooper responded to criticism of his coverage of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), telling Korina Sanchez and President Benigno Aquino III that his network has been accurate.

In his broadcast on Friday, November 15, from Manila, Cooper said he was told that CNN’s coverage has become political, with Sanchez criticizing the network for accuracy. Taking issue with the criticism, Cooper urged Sanchez to go to Tacloban to see the situation herself.

ABS-CBN’s chief correspondent and anchor of its flagship newscast TV Patrol, Sanchez is the wife of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who is helping oversee the relief efforts. Sanchez had complained on her radio program DZMM about Cooper’s coverage, saying he did not know what he was saying. 

Cooper said Sanchez was “under the mistaken impression” that he said there was no government presence in typhoon-ravaged Tacloban City. He addressed Sanchez.

“Obviously, I’ve been on the ground in Tacloban for days. In fact, I had interviewed a very heroic Philippine Navy captain. He’s helping people. I’ve seen the work being done and the work that isn’t being done, perhaps as importantly. Ms Sanchez is welcome to go there and I would urge her to go there. I don’t know if she has but her husband’s the Interior minister. I’m sure he can arrange a flight.”

“Accuracy is what we care about here in CNN, giving information that might actually help people on the ground, help the relief effort become more efficient.” 

To clarify what he actually said, Cooper aired a clip from his report that aired on Wednesday, November 13.

Here is what he said in the clip, “As for who exactly is in charge of the Philippine side of this operation, that is not really clear. I expected on this day 5, I thought I’ve maybe gotten here very late, that things would be well in hand. It does not seem like that. People are desperate. People do not have any place for shelter. It’s very difficult for people to get food. Neighbors are helping out neighbors. Water is in short supply. It is a very, very bad situation here.”

After the clip played, Cooper said, “Let’s remember. I showed you a clinic several days ago at the airport. The doctor said they did not have enough food, they did not have enough water. They did not have enough medical supplies. That’s the clinic at the airport. If any clinic in the entire disaster zone should be able to receive aid quickly, it’s the clinic at the airport and they were not getting it. I certainly pray to God that it is in a better situation than it was two days ago.”

Cooper is an American journalist who has covered major disasters and conflicts. He anchors the program AC 360 on CNN. He arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday, November 13, joining other CNN reporters on the ground who have been there since the typhoon hit.

Besides CNN and media, the United Nations has also expressed concern about the delay in the relief efforts. Yet in an interview with CNN, Roxas said the government is doing its best and “nothing is fast enough.

It has been a week since Haiyan battered Eastern Visayas, leaving over 4,000 dead according to the UN. While the aid efforts have improved in the past couple of days, the victims said they are still in bad need of help. 

‘We honor Filipino strength with every broadcast’

Cooper also addressed news about Aquino advising journalists to be accurate in their reporting. Aquino gave the message in a speech before the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaser ng Pilipinas on Thursday, November 14, that Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma read on his behalf.

Cooper said, “The President of the Philippines has also counseled foreign journalists that they should be accurate in their report. We certainly appreciate that counsel. Accuracy is what we strive for.”

“I read in the paper today, it’s the first time I’ve been able to read the news. ‘The President also said in a speech, the media’s role is to uplift the spirits of the Filipino people – to find stories of resilience, hope, and faith, and show the world just how strong the Filipino people are.’”

Cooper addressed the issue. “All week long, in every report we have done, we have shown how strong the Filipino people are. The Filipino people, the people of Tacloban, and Samar, and Cebu all these places where so many have died.”

The anchor then paid tribute to the Filipino victims of Haiyan.

“They’re strong not just to have survived this storm. They are strong to have survived the aftermath of this storm. They have survived for a week now often with very little food, very little water, very little medical attention.”

“Can you imagine the strength it takes to be living in a shack, to be living, sleeping on the streets next to the body of your dead children? Can you imagine that strength? I can’t and I’ve seen that strength day in and day out here in the Philippines. And we honor them that with every broadcast that we do,” he said.

‘Special favors, babysitting’

Cooper’s comments came as CNN drew criticism not just about its reporting but supposed “special favors” it got.

In a report on Friday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer said “CNN’s coverage of the government’s response to Yolanda was highly critical yet the Atlanta-based network received special favors from the [Philippine] government.”

The report said that on Saturday, Filipino and foreign journalists on a military flight to Tacloban were asked to travel light to accommodate relief and military equipment but “the CNN crew brought about 100 kilos of equipment, the only news organization to bring that much cargo. Other journalists brought only basic equipment and overnight bags.”

The report also said that, “One CNN team on the ground also had Filipinos from a government agency under the Office of the President serving as babysitters to make sure the news team would get the stories it wanted.”

The Inquirer also quoted travelers supposedly angered by the special accommodation given to CNN. They said relatives looking for missing family members should have been prioritized over the journalists in the flights.

Time Magazine also pointed out that “scaremongering” in the media can undermine relief efforts in disasters. 

CNN’s coverage of the typhoon has divided Filipinos on social media, with some praising the network for its extensive coverage and for calling out the Philippine government over the slow relief efforts. Others though criticized CNN for “parachute journalism” and for resorting to blaming the government instead of understanding the logistical problems involved.

What do you think of CNN and media coverage of Haiyan? Let us know in the comments section below. – 

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