In Praise of Anderson Cooper

Great column today by Thomas Friedman, recounting a whopper of a story that went viral until CNN’s Anderson Cooper debunked it.

This is how you properly debunk a story, or a claim (as opposed to a person). Not by declaring again and again that someone is the most debunked person in the universe.

9 Responses to “In Praise of Anderson Cooper”

  1. lucia says:

    Imagine, Thomas Friedman didn’t even use the word “debunked” in that article.  He and Joe Romm must had had different writing instructors.

  2. harrywr2 says:

    Having done business internationally, I’ve learned to be very mindful of what currency we are talking in.
    The exchange rate from an Indian Rupee to an American dollar is about 45 to 1.
    5 million US dollars a day for an international presidential trip with full entourage is in the ballpark, so is 200 million Indian Rupee’s.
    To properly debunk  propaganda one needs to acknowledge the ‘grain of truth’ in order to avoid ‘he said, she said’.
    Anderson Cooper countered mis-information with more mis-information.
    I.E. the 200 million figure was made up out of thin air when it’s actually a pretty good estimate if one is talking in Indian Rupee’s.

  3. Keith Kloor says:


    Please. It wasn’t Cooper that propagated the $200 million figure. In U.S. dollars.  That’s what he was shooting down. Are you saying the Rush and Beck and Bachman were talking in Indian Rupees? C’mon.

  4. Dean says:

    This seems like the progression to me:
    1. Since this all started in an Indian newspaper, which presumably was using the local currency, can anybody see if any Indian paper misprinted US dollars?
    2. If not, who was the first person in the US who transposed dollars for rupees?
    3. Did anybody who publicized this know that the original was indicating rupees (I’m assuming that for now, I don’t know it for a fact).
    Given the way media works for partisans, once it gets out there widely, the partisans who don’t like Obama will believe it, and they mostly don’t watch Anderson Cooper. So from there it has a life of it’s own. Unless Rush or Beck or Bachman are willing to do the correction prominently, it becomes a partisan truth (like it or not, people do have their own facts these days).

  5. harrywr2 says:

    KI onced tipped a US waitress 1 million turkish lira as i knew she likeeith Kloor Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 10:57 am
    “Please. It wasn’t Cooper that propagated the $200 million figure.”
    Keith, I know it wasn’t Anderson Cooper propagating the $200 million figure.
    To quote Friedman –
    “It is hard to get any more flimsy than a senior unnamed Indian official from Maharashtra talking about the cost of an Asian trip by the American president. ”
    To quote Friedman quoting Cooper –
    “It was an anonymous quote,” said Cooper. “Some reporter in India wrote this article with this figure in it. No proof was given; no follow-up reporting was done.”
    The reality is that
    200 million Indian Rupee’s/day would be a fairly accurate estimate of the cost of a US presidential state visit with all the trimmings.
    What is the more plausible story-
    A )Some Indian Official quoted a figure of 200 million and some journalist assumed dollars rather then Rupee’s and then  various loud mouthed propagandists repeated the 200 million dollar figure without bothering to check the currency.
    B) The 200 million dollar story was conjured  out of thin air with no basis.
    Cooper and Friedman both  imply B.
    A is the more plausible explanation.

  6. Jim Allison says:

    When I first heard the story, it seemed like a simple math problem. The trip was going to cost $200,000,000 a day because 2,000 people were going and staying at five-star hotels. So divide $200,000,000 by 2,000 people, and you get $100,000 per person per day. Maybe the cost would be about right if they were buying five-star hotels instead of just renting rooms for the night.
    The numbers were so obviously ridiculous that I don’t think tracing the origin of the story was even a necessary part of “debunking” it. The real question is how could anyone have believed it in the first place.

  7. PolyisTCOandbanned says:

    The 200 mil per day sounds silly.  That said, I know that it is incredibly expensive and that most people would be surprised to know of the 5000 people on Clinton’s visit to Africa or the like.  It’s a big enchilada (I’m basing this on talking to a buddy who carried the football.)  I guess somehow we could estimate the costs.  Military support costs with trasnpport and such can be substantial.

  8. Tim Lambert says:

    Well, you sure beat the hell out of that straw man.

  9. P Murrane says:

    Cooper’s ‘debunking’ piece is interesting and Robert Gibb’s denial predictable but I still want to know. How much did the trip cost?

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