Anderson Cooper’s Buff Arms + Pecs Threaten to Overshadow the Real Haitian Disaster

Do you know what Haiti needs right now? Coverage of how the earthquake is affecting fashion! But while we’d love to beat up on Guy Trebay for reporting on the most irrelevant of topics coming out of a disaster scene, he is the Times fashion scribe, and at least the conversation is not about how the deaths of tens of thousands will impact YSL’s collection. Rather, he’s talking about how it’s impacting what America’s newsmen are wearing on screen. And Anderson Cooper, ever the trend setter, is setting the standard in his black, bicep-revealing tees.

While watching CNN’s live coverage at the gym, the sound was muted, and there were no closed captions, so yeah, we were staring at The Coop’s arms, and noticed how they were stretching the fabric of his tight black T-shirt. But Cooper’s casual style while reporting live from ground zero of a nightmare isn’t new; he also, sensibly, ditched his normal monkey suit for simple polos while reporting from New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

And now, according to Trebay, Cooper is inspiring legions of fellow reporters to do the same. Or, at least one: CNN’s Jason Carroll, pictured. (Tabloid Prodigy also points out Fox 5 “meteorologist/sexy bish” Mike Woods is a fan of the look.)

You could call it the Anderson Cooper effect. Mr. Cooper has rarely missed an opportunity to showcase his buff physique (as anyone would know if he or she remembers his stripping to a bathing suit to quiz Michael Phelps). But Mr. Cooper isn’t the only CNN correspondent with a self-conscious taste for form-fitting charcoal T-shirts, accessorized with a tiny microphone clipped at the neck.

Looking somewhat sheepish about it, a newly sleek Dr. Sanjay Gupta moved through Port-au-Prince wearing a snug gray T-shirt, his hair styled in the obligatory CNN crop. His colleague Jason Carroll, reporting on Wednesday’s aftershock and looking like a guy who had done 20 quick pushups before going on air, wore a T-shirt so snugly revealing it called into question whether a disaster zone is the place to flaunt one’s gym physique. A spokeswoman for CNN declined to comment, but in journalism, as in most things, old standards of decorum are clearly on the wane.

The look is getting plenty of play: Cooper’s pecs-hugging tee was his uniform for moving that little boy out of harm’s way the other day.

But is everybody following suit? Not quite. We’ve still got plenty of blue button downs on parade as Haitians await any real display of aid.