The cable news host told ITK the town hall — which brought together guests such as Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence President Dan Gross, former National Rifle Association President Sandy Froman and former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) among others — was meant to be an “actual discussion.”
“It’s so easy to have these kinds of discussions and end up with people just yelling at each other and doing talking points,” Cooper said.
He added of the special, which rather ironically was taped at the George Washington University auditorium where CNN’s now-defunct fiery debate show “Crossfire” used to be filmed, “It’s important to have light as well as heat. You know, all too often there’s a lot of heat and not necessarily a lot of light. I think it’s good to have actually people listening to one another and responding to one another as opposed to just talking past each other and yelling at one another.”
Although the tone of the show was serious, the chatty anchor was able to get a few laughs out of the packed audience, filled with college students. Following a segment on universal background checks for gun owners, Cooper was heard talking out loud to a producer who was speaking to him in his earpiece. He jested to the crowd, “Sorry, people are talking in my head. Which is why I would not pass a background check.”
Cooper, 45, later claimed to ITK that he hasn’t played the game since 8th grade, saying bashfully, “I was a total geek.”
The newsman, sporting a purple tie as he stopped to pose with fans and former interns backstage, also weighed in on the Beyoncé lip-syncing controversy. Cooper defended the entertainer, who will headline Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime act, on an earlier show. At a Thursday press conference, Beyoncé admitted to singing along to a backing track at the presidential inauguration.
“I think people need to get off her back on the whole lip-syncing thing,” he exclaimed to us. “It was her voice. It wasn’t like it was Milli Vanilli.”
Saying he’s not a “football guy,” Cooper admitted he’ll likely record the Super Bowl on Sunday and fast-forward to the halftime show to catch the pop star in action. “Who doesn’t love Beyoncé?” he asked with a smile.
The “Anderson Cooper 360: Guns Under Fire” town-hall episode airs at 8 p.m. (EST) Thursday on CNN.