Along with the rest of CNN, Anderson Cooper’s ratings have collapsed. So he’s trying something new–a live show.
We were at the Time Warner centre this afternoon, where Anderson Cooper interviewed Dr. Jack Kevorkian, aka “Dr. Death,” in conjunction with a two-part conversation on Anderson Cooper 360 that concludes tonight.
It’s all tied to the new HBO film “You Don’t Know Jack,” in which Al Pacino portrays Kevorkian, who spent eight years in prison between 1999 and 2007 for assisting in the suicides of some 130 terminally ill patients.
The mood of their talk was light for the most part. Cooper and Kevorkian cracked jokes throughout the interview, which touched on everything from methods of assisted suicide to religion to prison and the legal system.
Here’s our live blog of the event:
2:03 – Cooper and Kevorkian just walked onstage with CNN president Jon Klein.
2:05 – Klein just cracked a joke: “It is the safest way to overdose on Jack Kevorkian.” He said Kevorkian is “as sharp and provocative as ever.”
2:07 – Cooper: “Do you mind being called Dr. Death?” Kevorkian: “No!”
2:12 – Cooper is asking Kevorkian about his “death machine.”
2:17 – Kevorkian: “If Christ can die in a barn, I think the death of a human in a van is not so bad.” (On his well-known patient Jana Adkins.)
2:23 – “My last words to her were, ‘Have a good trip.’ She was unconscious in eight seconds.”
2:26 – Cooper asked him how many patients he helped to die. Kevorkian: “We never kept an exact count.”
2:28 – Anderson keeping the mood light! “I read that you said one of the benefits to carbon monoxide is the corpse has a rosy glow afterward,” he said, to some chuckles.
2:31 – Kevorkian said “the way it should be done” is by a doctor injecting a patient because “it’s a medical service.”
2:31 – Cooper: “To those who say you’re playing god?”
“Any doctor is playing god,” Kevorkian replied.
“But most doctors make a distinction between giving [patients] a greater does of morphine … or stopping food intake, and actually taking that next step, which you did,” Cooper asked next. “Do you think they’re cowards?”
The conversation got sidetracked before he replied.
2:35 – Cooper: “Would you do it again?” Kevorkian: “When there’s no chance of my being thrown into the slammer again, yeah.”
2:36 – The Q&A portion started and someone just asked Kevorkian what he thought of the “death panel” debacle. He said it was used as a “fear mongering” tool. He also said he supported palliative care.
2:42 – Someone asked him if he believed in the after life. “I hate to say this, but I’ll repeat it: After death, all we know that you do is stink. [laughs] Anything after that is mythology. And all religion is is mythology.” Cooper: “I take it you’re not going to church on Sunday.”
2:50 – Another guy asked him why his legacy isn’t “broader” in terms of states legalizing assisted suicide. “Because they’re scared to death,” he replied. “Fear controls you.”
2:53 – And then another: “Why do you think these laws exist?” Kevorkian: “The aim of law has only one purpose. A Supreme Court justice said this: ‘A law just stops you from doing something you wanna do.'”
2:54 – Kevorkian said he’d want his life ended if he got to a point where he was terminally ill. He’d want it to happen in his living room with lots of friends around, he said.
2:57 – Second to last Q: How does he feel about mental illness and mental pain? Kevorkian: “I’ve seen schizophrenics who are so hopeless, you couldn’t cheer them, and their lives are miserable and they end up as suicides. That’s not right.”
3:02 – Cooper concluded by asking him if he had any regrets.
Kevorkian: “No, why would I? I wouldn’t have started if I thought I was gonna regret it. I knew what I was stepping into. I knew I was getting into one of the most illegal things in the world. It was the right thing to do … That doesn’t mean I’m stronger than most people. It just means I’m loonier … What’s praiseworthy in my character is honesty. I do not like lying at all. The president lies, the courts lie, politicians, students, teachers lie. That’s what’s wrong with this society, and that’s why it’s incorrigible. We’re too far along that we can’t correct it. But in the meantime, make it so that the choice to end a life in this in society is available when it’s justified. That’s all i want.”
3:10 – And there’s Patrick McMullan, snapping photos and mingling with the doctor!
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