Unemployed, James Tracy Starts Beef With Anderson Cooper, Wants to Work at CNN
It's been three years since CNN anchor Anderson Cooper called ex-Florida Atlantic University Professor James Tracy’s theories about the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School “beyond crazy.” But Tracy has not forgotten and said on his blog this week that he’d make a better news anchor than Cooper. He challenged Cooper to join him in a "reportorial quest" and said he'll soon be applying to work at CNN.
Tracy, a logic-hating conspiracy theorist who somehow managed to earn tenure as a Florida Atlantic University media professor, lost his job last week. Tracy is a supposed “media critic” who has never worked in media and famously believes that the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook never happened at all, largely because news outlets gave — gasp! — conflicting accounts of the tragedy in the days following the attack.
Despite spouting off about his crackpot theories at a publicly funded university, Tracy somehow held onto his job until this year. The university decided to sever ties with Tracy after the parents of one of the Sandy Hook victims, Noah Pozner, wrote an op-ed in the Sun Sentinel claiming Tracy had been harassing them in his misguided effort to prove that their son never existed in the first place. (Technically, the reason for the firing was that Tracy failed to fill out a "Report of Outside Employment or Professional Activity Form." Tracy has suggested he will sue.)
Besides posting a few op-eds his friends had written in his defense, Tracy himself seemed to be keeping quiet on his blog, memoryholeblog.com, after Florida Atlantic gave him the ax. But Monday, Tracy published his first self-written blog post since his firing, and it is a doozy.
Tracy begins the post complaining that he had been unduly harassed in 2014. The culprit was none other than Cooper, who, Tracy says, sent reporters and camera crews to Florida Atlantic in 2013, after Tracy’s first comments about Sandy Hook hit the national airwaves.
“On January 11, 2013 CNN’s Anderson Cooper sent reporters to my campus office, and later my residence, in an effort to inquire why a professor trained in media studies and criticism would ever publicly question the corporate news media’s reportage of the Sandy Hook massacre event,” he wrote.
(Get that: Tracy harassed the parents of an elementary school student who was shot to death — but does not enjoy being harassed himself.)
On the Anderson Cooper 360 episode in question, Cooper pulled a clip from a South Florida TV news station in which Tracy accuses the media of not working hard enough to expose what “really happened” at Sandy Hook.
“I don’t really know what that means, what he’s saying, or what the words coming out of his mouth mean,” Cooper said on national television. “To suggest that the reporters on the ground didn’t work to find out what happened there on the ground is beyond crazy. Everybody asked questions. It’s what we do.” Cooper then dismantled the rest of Tracy’s ideas — like how the Sandy Hook “victims” were actually paid actors — piece by piece.
Tracy was apparently so incensed by the whole ordeal that he sent Cooper a certified letter in June 2014, the contents of which he reposted on his blog this week: In the letter, Tracy complains, yet again, that "harassment" isn't cool.
Seventeen months have passed since you featured me on your AC 360° program on consecutive evenings to call attention to my commentary and analysis of the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. As you may recall, in the prelude to those January 11th and 14th 2013 broadcasts you sent a production crew to my place of employment that proceeded to pursue staff and administrators on my whereabouts.
Your staff then repeatedly telephoned my residence, later filming in front of my home and disclosing my address to a national audience without my knowledge or consent. This behavior jeopardized my family’s safety and peace of mind, and included a flurry of threatening and abusive communications directed at me. Further, some observers presumed that CNN and other national news media sought to create sufficient controversy that would lead to the termination of my employment. On the other hand, I understand how you may have perceived this as an act of due journalistic diligence rather than coercion.
Tracy then invited Cooper on what would have been a Hardy Boys-style adventure to find out the "truth" about Newtown.
Anderson (if I may), that’s why I challenge you to join me on a reportorial quest to Newtown and Sandy Hook in order to revisit and rigorously question the painful affair that still rests so uneasily on the public conscience—one that is called up in memory with each report of another school shooting. Together let us ferret out and present the relevant information, interview the necessary parties, and get to the bottom of what transpired so that we can put the conspiracy theories to rest!
Anderson (again, if I may), this could very well be a landmark event in investigative journalism. If after a thorough investigation we prove that the event in fact took place as CNN and other major media reported, I will concede that you were in fact correct and seriously consider resigning my post in academe.
We can rest easy, at least, knowing that the whole "resigning his post in academe" thing has been handled for him. But, fear not — in the same blog, Tracy said he'll be applying at CNN in the coming days.
“I will be sending my resume to CNN shortly,” he wrote. “After all, if Anderson refuses to accurately report the news and CNN wants to continue to take itself seriously someone has to step up to the plate.”
Provided, of course, Tracy can prove "the plate" ever existed in the first place.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.