When President Donald Trump's notorious Twitter post calling numerous media outlets as "FAKE NEWS" and "enemy of the American People" flashed across a large screen inside Macky Auditorium on Tuesday night, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper quickly chimed in:
"Oh, did he tweet in?" Cooper joked to the audience, which was allowed to send in questions via Twitter. "That's so nice!"
Cooper, an award-winning journalist and host of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," quickly admitted that he no longer gets the president's tweets.
"I've muted him," he said. "That's not a political stance. ... Frankly, I don't look at Twitter anymore. It's gotten so toxic."
Cooper went on to tell the full house that while a lot of people don't like the media for one reason or another, he doesn't know of another profession that tries as hard to "get it right," and correct itself when it makes mistakes.
"I've had friends who died in the line of reporting," he said. "None of them were 'enemies of the American People.'"
He added that he has followed the coverage by not only CNN, but also the Washington Post and New York Times — media outlets that are often the source of Trump's rage. With the exception of a handful of stories, he said the coverage has been "spot on" and aided by a White House that "leaks like a sieve."
Cooper said that what has been called the 24-hour news cycle has — particularly in the past week — started to feel like the 24-minute news cycle as, for example, Trump has seemingly sided with the National Rifle Association, then Democrats on gun control and then seemingly with the NRA again.
"Personally, I'm exhausted," he said. "In terms of breaking news, this week feels like a month ago."
During his nearly three decades as a journalist, Cooper borne witness to the horrors of war and famine the world over. He started his career as a freelance journalist in Burma, a country plagued by civil war, and soon covered conflicts in African countries.
While it's important for a journalist to do his or her job and report the story, he said, it's equally important that a reporter not become "immune to the sadness."
"If you do, I don't think you have any business being in the field," he said. "You can't compare one tragedy to another. You have to see it with a fresh set of eyes. You have to be able to walk in someone else's shoes."
Cooper said that while he has interviewed many celebrities — particularly while he was on "60 Minutes" on CBS — he said he's never found them as interesting as ordinary people. He gave as an example, a woman named Angela in eastern Congo, a country wrecked by conflict.
He said that a gang of soldiers came to Angela's village and raped her, then killed her brother when he wouldn't participate. The soldiers threw one of Angela's children on the fire, and when her husband returned home, he was so mortified that he tossed Angela out of the village with her other children.
"She woke up every day and took care of her children," he said. "She is someone who to this day before I go to sleep I think about where she is and what became of her."