September 13, 2004

CNN Anchor Attends Informal Cook House Dinner

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Before giving a formal lecture Saturday evening at the Statler Auditorium, CNN’s lead anchor, Aaron Brown, attended an informal dinner at the home of Ross Brann, House Professor and Dean of the Alice Cook House.

Over 85 residents of the Cook House responded to Brann’s invitation, but due to limited space, only seven students were allowed to attend. The students, along with Cook House Assistant Dean Jean Reese, were present at the dinner hosted by Brann and his wife, Eileen. Brown, a winner of three Emmy Awards and anchor of CNN’s News Night With Aaron Brown, specifically asked to meet with the students of the Cook House, according to Brann.

Opening the evening with a toast, Brann welcomed Brown as “the very first distinguished guest to dine in the very first house professor’s apartment at Cornell.”

Brown, who never went to college and joked that he was “lucky to get through high school,” took off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves and spent much of dinner asking the students about their own lives at Cornell and their plans after college. Answering questions as to how he knew he wanted to be a journalist, Brown simply responded, “I was born.”

Brown said that he was inspired by a family friend who was a sports editor, and emphasized that he “never wanted to do anything else” but be a reporter. Stressing curiosity and the ability to write as the two most important things that a reporter should know, Brown claimed that “anything else I could teach you in 5 hours.”

Brown also discussed the new phenomenon of Internet Blogs as a news source which he acknowledged do have some value. However, due to the lack of any editorial review, Brown said that Blogs are more often responsible for “information overload.” Brown joked that this often leads to “journalistic gumbalaya,” and noted that in the past journalists “used to be [the] gatekeepers, separating the truth from what was not.”

When asked to reflect on the differences between the news presented on his show in comparison to those on other networks, Brown said he tries to provide viewers with a varied program. He said he is “not in the business of eat your vegetables news,” though he stressed that news programs “shouldn’t just serve dessert.” Commenting on his own show, Brown said that he felt News Night was a “well-balanced meal.”

Before leaving to go speak at the lecture, Brown mused that he was envious of college students, and advised them to “take [their] time in college.”

Those present at the dinner appreciated that Brown took the time to speak with them. Dan Bader ’07 was amazed at how “calm and relaxed” he was. Professor Brann said that he was “particularly struck by how personable and really engaged” Brown was and was impressed by his humanity.

Archived article by Samira Chandwani
Sun Contributor