Getting an exclusive interview May 12 with now notorious 80-year-old Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, CNN’s 46-year-old Anderson Cooper did exactly what Sterling’s girl-Friday V. Stiviano did: Baited him into looking like a fool. Sterling’s pathetic interview with Cooper exposed what his 79-year-old wife Shelly claimed in her interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters that her estranged husband suffered from “onset of dementia.” Cooper’s extended interview that he segmented into laughable, humiliating and degrading vignettes of the once powerful Los Angeles real estate mogul and philanthropist, showcased Sterling’s unmistakable cognitive decline, something Cooper was quick to dispute. While admitting he’s no expert in psychiatry or neurology, Cooper insisted his interview was proper because Sterling showed some coherency during the interview.
Cooper acknowledged that had he known that Sterling was demented he wouldn’t have subjected the octogenarian to the interview. Helping Sterling bounce off-the-walls, Cooper methodically asked Sterling the same kinds of questions as “V” in her secretly recorded tape that was promptly given to Hollywood gossip site TMZ Sports April 25. Listening to Sterling advise “V” that she shouldn’t associate or bring blacks to Clippers games exposed not Sterling’s racism but his undeniable cognitive decline, whether or not it’s diagnosed as Alzheimer’s or some other type of dementia. CNN and Cooper pounced on the chance to interview Sterling, exposing more of his cognitive impairments. Egged on by Cooper, Sterling spent most of his mea culpa ripping Magic Johnson, something bound to backfire. Sterling’s handlers-if he has any-threw him to the wolves.
As soon as Cooper saw Sterling alternate between lashing out at Magic and sniveling, begging the public and the NBA for forgiveness, he should have told his bosses it wasn’t suited for public consumption. You don’t prey on the disabled to sell advertising, something CNN did with impunity. “He lulled me into waiting a week, do you know what I mean? He says, ‘Don’t do anything,'” Sterling told Cooper. “Don’t do anything. I know the girl. Don’t do anything. ‘I will help you.’ I’m waiting and I’m waiting and I’m waiting,” said Sterling, showing the kind of incoherency that should have prompted CNN to abort the interview. Instead, Cooper-like Stiviano-milked a disabled old man for everything he could get. He let Sterling rant about Magic Johnson’s admitted “womanizing” that his press agents attributed to contracting the HIV virus, announced publicly Nov. 7, 1991.
Cooper cleverly kept Sterling talking in what’s called “perseveration” in folks with various types of brain damage, letting their brains fall out of their heads. Cooper kept Sterling talking, letting him incriminate himself more not about his racism but his obvious cognitive impairments. Trashing Magic Johnson made Sterling look more out of touch with reality, making the most outrageously political incorrect statements. Only age-related cognitive decline could account for Sterling’s self-destructive public remarks. “What has he done, can you tell me?” asked Sterling, questioning Magic’s philanthropic work. “Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?” Sterling ranted to Cooper. “He got AIDS. Did he do any business? Did he help anybody in South L.A.?” Sterling ranted, exposing more irrationality. “Well I think he has HIV. He doesn’t actually have full-blown AIDS, but . . ” Cooper said smugly.
Setting up some with cognitive impairments is no different that what “V” did to Sterling, baiting him into a politically incorrect tirade. Sterling’s endless rant about what Johnson does or doesn’t do for the black community, once again proves his judgment has been dissolved by age-related cognitive decline. He’s not suited to own an NBA franchise or any other business that requires analysis, judgment and appropriate decision-making. Putting him on national TV hit a new low in yellow broadcast journalism. Once Cooper and CNN reviewed the interview, they should have declined to broadcast it in deference for Sterling’s condition. Cooper told his CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” audience that he believed Sterling was lucid enough, admitting he knows little about psychiatry or neurology. His own disclaimer admits that if Sterling were impaired, broadcasting the interview would have been unethical.
Making a blithering fool of Sterling on national TV shows how low networks would go for buzz and national headlines. Instead of determining whether Sterling was racist, Cooper’s interview proved he suffers, at the very least, from age-related cognitive decline. Capitalizing on Sterling’s weakness, just like V. Stiviano, proved just how vulnerable the cognitively impaired are to exploitation. Taking millions in real estate, cars, jewelry and other gifts from Sterling shows the dangers of garden-variety con artists. Sterling lost it on national TV, weeping about his “love” for lady-friend, while she took him to the cleaners and wrecked his NBA career. “I’m not a racist,” Sterling insisted to Cooper. “I made a terrible, terrible mistake . . ” referring to his racist rant to “V.” With the help of CNN, he’s made another big mistake exposing this age-related cognitive decline on national TV.