Anderson Cooper tends to refrain from giving Pat Robertson much attention on his CNN show, but on Wednesday the televangelist earned a spot on Cooper’s “RidicuList” for spouting a ludicrous theory about gay men spreading AIDS to unsuspecting victims using sharp rings.
“Uh, what?” you ask.
Yes, you read that correctly. On his long-running Christian Broadcasting Network show, “The 700 Club,” Robertson told co-host Terry Meeuwsen, “You know what they do in San Francisco? Some of the gay community — they want to get people, so if they’ve got the stuff, they’ll have a ring, you shake hands and the ring’s got a little thing where you cut your finger.”
“Really?” Meeuwsen asked.
“Really,” he replied. “I mean it’s that kind of vicious stuff which would be the equivalent of murder.”
Robertson shared his bizarre theory in response to a letter from a viewer who had learned that a man she had volunteered to drive to church had AIDS. Though he suggested she was probably safe, the former Republican presidential hopeful blasted “the homosexual community” for putting in place “draconian laws” that allow people with HIV and AIDS to keep their diagnosis private. (You can see the entire conversation in the clip below.)
And that’s when the host chimed in with his dubious jewelry story — one that, despite widespread criticism, Robertson has not retracted. Via CBN, he doubled-down on the AIDS-infected rings theory, but claimed he’d been “misunderstood.”
“In my own experience, our organization sponsored a meeting years ago in San Francisco where trained security officers warned me about shaking hands because, in those days, certain AIDS-infected activists were deliberately trying to infect people like me by virtue of rings which would cut fingers and transfer blood,” he said.
The notion of gay men spreading AIDS via jewelry — whether today or 25 years ago — was simply too outrageous for Cooper to let it pass by without comment.
In a withering segment, the anchor likened Robertson to “an elderly relative who you only see at Thanksgiving” who is prone to blurting out “nonsensical sentences in between chewing on soft foods.”
“A ring that gives you AIDS? I’ve never seen that section at Zales, have you?” he quipped. “I totally get why Pat Robertson is against same-sex marriage. He just doesn’t want to give gay men a reason to wear rings.”
Cooper also noted sarcastically that the supposed infectious ring-wearers lived in San Francisco because “that’s where all gay people live.”
As Cooper pointed out, this is hardly the first time that Robertson has made such outlandish and inflammatory claims. He shared with viewers a “grab bag” of some of the broadcaster’s more outlandish comments, including his suggestion that yoga and martial arts are “demonic” practices and that it’s a woman’s fault if her husband cheats.
“Thank you, Pat Robertson,” Cooper said. “You are a true crusader. And we definitely didn’t consider just permanently changing this segment to ‘The Pat Robertson List,’ although it does have a certain ring to it.”