May 13th, 2011
02:19 AM ET

AC361: Cooper's office filled with memories, memorabilia

Editor's note: AC361° is a behind-the-scenes look at CNN's Anderson Cooper 360°. On AC360.com, click on the AC361° tab to learn more about Anderson Cooper, his staff, and the production of AC360°.

New York (CNN) - If there were a chemical or biological attack in New York City, Anderson Cooper would be prepared.

"I have a full-on Tyvek suit," said Cooper as he reached for the gas mask sitting on his windowsill. "There’s only a handful of us in the building who have this suit so I'm not sure who would shoot for me, or why they would think I would stay alive," he joked incredulously. "I also think frankly everyone who doesn't have this suit will try to break into my office and kill me and take the suit."

The gas mask and suit aren't the only field gear Cooper keeps in his office. Next to his gas mask is his Kevlar helmet – battered and dusty from his travels in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But what stands out in his office isn't the war gear. Instead, it's the little trinkets and mementos that tell the stories behind the stories, the reminders of his reportage.

Cooper's window view of Central Park is lined with the typical keepsakes of journalism: Emmys, pictures and gifts from fans. But tucked in between the trophies of his accomplishments is a winding line of soldier figurines, some have been knocked over. A mangled license plate from a car that he saw blow up in Sarajevo. Half of a steel street sign with the name of the former dictator Mobutu from Zaire. A wooden hand-carved bus. A small yellow doll. A poster of Hosni Mubarak with a large red X painted across his face.

“It's all damaged because people were beating it with their shoes,” said Cooper “It’s got a certain authenticity to it. It tells a story – the poster itself.”

Back in 2006 before Saddam Hussein was executed, Cooper visited his prison in Iraq.

"This is a ‘Saddam box’ that you can buy anywhere," said Cooper picking up a wooden box with Hussein's picture on the lacquered lid. Inside was a blue handkerchief.

"Saddam was obsessed with cleanliness, and he had all these handiwipes so this is one of Saddam's handiwipes."

Also rolling around in the Saddam box are a couple seeds.

"In prison Saddam had a little garden where he planted seeds and these are two of Saddam's seeds that were in a Cocoa Puffs cereal container."

Cooper joked that it took him years to start decorating his office.

"I've worked in news for 20 years and this is the first time I've put things on the wall because I always figured I was going to get fired at any moment so I never actually nailed things to the wall."

Today, collages of his press passes hang on the wall along with pictures of his family and hand-painted signs from the Congo. It’s a museum of his travels, a space filled with both memories and memorabilia from two decades of broadcast journalism.

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soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Heidi

    A few years ago, some students in my high school visited the CNN headquarters. I want to do that so bad! More importantly, I want to meet Anderson!

    May 13, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  2. Marisol Gomez

    Happy to hear family pics are on the wall! Moments of a lifetime... Love u Anderson Cooper 🙂

    May 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  3. Barbara A. Church

    Loved the chance to look at Anderson's Office and his daily lunch
    . Also side note to Anderson – Love you and your comments regarding crazy/stupid Mom giving Botox to daughter. Keep up the good work.

    May 13, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  4. Jaime B.

    I love it! Anderson Cooper helps me stay a wake @ work. I work 3rd shift and he has great up to the minute serious stories from around the world but some how his personality comes through so positive!

    May 13, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  5. Ashley Siloac

    Hahahaha "I've worked in news for 20 years and this is the first time I've put things on the wall because I always figured I was going to get fired at any moment so I never actually nailed things to the wall."

    Legit awesomeness, Anderson Cooper is THE BEST. More tours!

    May 13, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  6. Debbie

    Wish i could stop by your office and see them in person. Read your book, it was awesome! Stay safe in your travels! You're the best at what you do! :):)

    May 13, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  7. Jennifer - Michigan

    Hmmmm....I always wondered what Anderson's office looked like. Interesting video there – I especially like the barber shop picture painting for some reason, the faces. Also, the picture of Anderson and his dad in the western setting is very nice. Really enjoyed his book Families....one of my many favorites – I tend to read it every so often. The turkey lunch looked so yummy! That was fun to watch – thanks for sharing.

    May 13, 2011 at 8:05 am |
  8. Greg Flick

    When I was in middle school, every day around lunch time we watched Channel One with Anderson and Lisa Ling. It's amazing where people's career paths take them

    Congrats...I enjoy watching your tv show each night...

    May 13, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  9. easton tuti

    AC, I love your reporting and always make I don't miss the podcasts too. Keep the AC360 Flag flying. God Bless you.

    May 13, 2011 at 3:38 am |