Anderson Cooper of CNN interviewed R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe on his ‘360’ show on Friday, and later premiered the group’s new video ‘Bad Day’. The video takes a shot at 24-hour cable news and the Bush administration. Read on for a transcript.
COOPER: We’re going to play the entire video in just a bit. Some might
say the new REM song, “Bad Day,” takes shots at CNN and other cable news.
So we thought this program was the perfect postmodern place to premiere
the “Bad Day” video. We’re – as I said, we’re going to show it to you in
just a bit.
Let’s bring in REM lead singer, Michael Stipe right now. The group is
on tour. He joins us from Grand Prairie, Texas. Michael, thank you very
much for being with us.
MICHAEL STIPE, REM LEAD SINGER: You’re welcome. How you doing, Anderson?
COOPER: I’m doing all right. Do you watch a lot of news?
STIPE: I do, yes.
COOPER: What — I mean, there are those who say this video sort of does,
you know, poke — poke fun at or maybe criticize directly mainstream media.
What’s your take on the media? I mean, you watch it a lot. Do you like
STIPE: I like it, and it’s where I get my information, like most Americans
about what’s going on in the world and what’s going on in our country.
I do think 24-hour — American 24-hour news media is a medium that is
ripe for satire and parody. And that’s exactly what we’ve done with this
COOPER: Did you — in order to prepare for the video, I mean, did you
— were there certain — did you watch anchors? I mean, because you —
in it — it’s interesting, you and the other…
STIPE: I watched you.
COOPER: Oh, no, you didn’t. But I mean, you get all the sort of mannerisms.
You know, the checking the earpiece, all that sort of thing.
STIPE: Right. Right. Yes. I watched some. But I watch — you know, I
watch the news all the time, so I kind of have an idea, I think, what it’s
like to be in front of a camera going out live at an anchorman. My job
COOPER: Sorry, go ahead.
STIPE: Go ahead, I’m sorry.
COOPER: No, no. You go ahead.
STIPE: Well, my job — my job was to be the anchorman. Mike Mills, our
base player — his job was to be the jaunty weatherman. And Peter Buck’s
job was to be the kind of bookish expert who has bad fashion sense and
COOPER: There have been some who are critical of the media for their
coverage, say, of the war in Iraq or for their coverage of the Bush administration.
How do you rate the media? I mean, do you think they’re doing a good job?
STIPE: I think we’re living in a time right now when people — Americans
are kind of concerned about how much trust they can place in the government
and in our leaders. If you don’t have them to turn to, then you have the
media. If you start to lose trust in the media in terms of whether they’re
delivering the whole story, then who do we have to turn to?
COOPER: In the past…
STIPE: So, tin a way, this…
COOPER: Go ahead.
STIPE: I was going to say, in a way this song, it’s indicting the current
administration. But it’s also kind of holding the hand of the media over
the flame a little bit. And it’s all in good fun.
COOPER: Is there any danger — I mean, do you feel pressure to be less
politicized, to be more politicized? I mean, there has been such talk in
the last year about artists who have come forward with strong political
positions and been criticized or supported, depending on who you talk to.
But do you feel pressure in any way? I mean, the ’80s, you were very vocal
in a lot of political stances. In the ’90s perhaps not as much so, at least
by my reading of it. Where are you now on it?
STIPE: Well, I’m seeking on behalf of the band — we’re all very political
people. But you have to keep in mind, I’m a singer in a band. I’m not —
I’m not so good at being a talking head.
That being said, when I go to write songs, I don’t — I don’t set out
to write a song that has a political message or nature to it. I don’t think
it’s possible right now to be an American — to be an American and not
breathe politics every single minute. It’s just the world we’re living
in right now. It’s changed a great deal.
COOPER: It certainly is. Michael Stipe, it’s been a pleasure talking
to you. We’re going to go a short break. When we come back from the break
we’ll premiere this video. Thank you very much.