Anderson Cooper Gently Explains to Alec Baldwin Why a Certain Slur Is Anti-Gay

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Photo: Michael Buckner/2011 WireImage

To hear Alec Baldwin tell it (in this very magazine), he was "labeled a homophobic bigot" by Anderson Cooper, "the self-appointed Jack Valenti of gay media culture," after his use of terms "toxic little queen" and "cocksucking [whatever]." But on the radio with Howard Stern today, Cooper insisted, "I didn't really speak out against him. I sent maybe two tweets." After stressing that he has "nothing against the guy," the CNN host then carefully, somewhat nervously explained where he was coming from. And yes, he said the word.

"When he called the person a ... a ... cocksucker," Anderson stammered, "and then said he didn't know 'cocksucker' was an anti-gay — I mean, what adult does not know calling a guy a 'cocksucker'— " Stern then interrupted to admit that he, too, uses the word, and Cooper gamely tried again.

"The worst thing you can possibly think of to say, which is what this situation was, to talk about a sexual act between two guys as being the worst thing you can possibly think of," he said. "That seems to indicate— but I never said he was homophobic. I have no idea what's in his head."

Starts and stops aside, the explanation is fair, accurate, and even gives Baldwin the benefit of the doubt. Hear the whole segment here: