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About (Late) Last Night: Anderson Cooper tells David Letterman about Egypt attack

February 10, 2011 |  8:42 am


When Anderson Cooper and his production crew were assaulted by a gang of Hosni Mubarak loyalists, the attack made headlines across the world. Now, after broadcasting from an undisclosed location, CNN's Silver Fox is back in America, safe and sound. Kathy Griffin, and Cooper's other adoring fans, can breathe a sigh of relief.

Cooper stopped by "Late Show with David Letterman" Wednesday night to talk about the experience and, more important, to discuss the ongoing turmoil in Egypt. Cooper explained that the vast majority of protesters in and around Tahrir Square were anti-Mubarak, and that the pro-government forces were not civilians spontaneously taking to the streets to voice their support of the Mubarak regime. "They were thugs. Some of them were probably secret police," he said. "I have no doubt it was organized."

Cooper poked fun at his response to the attack: In a panic, he confused the word "inshallah" ("god willing") instead of "salam" ("peace"). He also joked that, famous or not, he sticks out in the Arab world. "I'm like a newt who's emerged from underneath a rock." Kidding aside, it was clear that the experience left him rattled.

It's unfortunate that CBS hasn't posted the entire interview, because the segment was unusually substantive for late-night TV. Cooper didn't mince words when it came to the subject of the Mubarak regime, noting that the Egyptian security services "are known for their brutal tactics" and that the U.S. has sent prisoners to Egypt for this very reason. "When Dick Cheney says that Mubarak's a friend of ours, what he's saying is if you need somebody tortured, Hosni will pick them up at the airport?" Letterman joked.

Cooper avoided making such personal broadsides, but he did warn about the dangers of waning international interest in the story. "If the world stops paying attention, these people are going to be picked off one by one," he said, referring to the anti-government protesters.

Still, the anchor was optimistic that the uprising will lead to regime change. "If they continue to come out in these huge numbers, something's got to give," he said.

-- Meredith Blake