The Slatest

Watch Anderson Cooper Call “Bulls–t” on Blagojevich in Fiery Interview

Anderson Cooper and Rod Blagojevich are seen on a CNN screen.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviews former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Friday.
Screenshot/AC360

CNN’s Anderson Cooper eviscerated former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich during an interview in which the now-free politician described himself as a “political prisoner” with a straight face. Blagojevich went on CNN on his third full day of freedom after his sentence was commuted by President Donald Trump. The former governor had served eight years of a 14-year-sentence for corruption.

During the interview, Blagojevich pushed back against those who had criticized his commutation. “I don’t think they’ve looked carefully because I am a political prisoner,” he said. “I was put into prison for practicing politics.” Cooper seemingly couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Wait a minute. You’re a political prisoner?” Cooper asked. “Nelson Mandela was a political prisoner. Political prisoners have no undue process and are unjustly jailed, you had a jury convict you.” Blagojevich refused to back down from his assertion. “I bet if you were to ask Nelson Mandela whether he thought the process was fair back in the early ‘60s in South Africa, he would say what I’m saying today.”

Blagojevich went on to blame “a handful of corrupt prosecutors” for his conviction. “They’re uncontrolled and they’re the ones Chief Justice Breyer talked about when he said our country is in trouble because of these uncontrolled prosecutors.” Cooper then seemed to really lose his patience when Blagojevich asked Cooper to join him “in the fight to reform our criminal justice system.” The CNN anchor said it was “a little ironic and frankly a little sad and pathetic and hypocritical” that Blagojevich was talking about reforming the justice system when he didn’t do anything about it when he actually had power. Blagojevich then proceeded to defend himself by saying that he didn’t realize “how corrupt the criminal justice system was” until he was personally affected.

Cooper really seemed to be really tired of Blagojevich’s defense. “You got out, you do have an obligation to at least admit what you did wrong and you refuse to do that and you’re creating a whole new alternate universe of facts and that may be big in politics today but it’s still frankly just bullshit,” Cooper said. Blagojevich stammered a response: “Well, no, it’s not bullshit. I lived it myself. It’s not bullshit at all.”

Many praised Cooper for the interview, characterizing it as an example of how journalists should push back when those they are interviewing utter obvious lies.