"A few of you have e-mailed us, not many, but a few, saying the pictures we've been showing you are too graphic," he said at the end of Anderson Cooper 360 last night. The anchor continued:
"Now I understand the sentiment, but I hope you know that we don't want to show you these things.
"None of us wants to see them. A parent silently screaming over the body of their lost infant. A child lost, searching for parents who may or may not be alive. Rows of bodies being cremated. No one wants to see this.
"When I first became a reporter I worked mainly in war zones in Somalia and Sarajevo and Rwanda, places where you got used to seeing images that no one should see. Innocent, men, women and children cut down for no reason whatsoever, their bodies piled like cordwood.
"Yes, these images are terrible to look at, but look at them we should, because these bodies, these people are us. Death has defaced them. The water has done its worst, but in life they were like you or me, teachers and shopkeepers, students and parents, bakers and doctors. People struggling, as we all struggle.
"And so very many of them died alone anonymously. They'll go uncelebrated, unremarked on, picked up by bulldozers, buried in pits. They will simply disappear.
"And that is why we think, hard as it is, we must make ourselves look. Otherwise, for so very many, it will never -- it will be like they never existed at all."
Cooper has anchored special extended editions of his programme during CNN's extensive and critically praised coverage of the dreadful events in Asia. Having previously been a war correspondent and an award-winning chief international correspondent for Channel One News, during which time he earned awards for his reporting on famine in Somalia, war in Sarajevo and the politics of Islam, he has added a depth and meaning to CNN's coverage that other American news channels have been utterly unable to compete with.