Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bush Dissed, Ahmadinejad Writes Letters, And The Iraq Study Group Finally Tells Us What We Already Knew They Were Going To Say (Wednesday's Show)

Hi everybody! We kick it off from Jordan tonight with the news that Maliki totally stood up Bush. Oh no he didn't! Major drama. I swear, I don't know if I'm watching the news or some warped WB (oh I guess that's CW now) teen show. Anyway, this Bush diss would be hilarious if, you know, there weren't thousands of people dying. The reality is we are in deep here, people. A piece from Suzanne Malveaux breaks down the situation and Anderson intros it by saying, "here comes the spin." Well, at least we're being warned. The Bush camp is of course denying this was a snub, but it's really hard to pull that off because it's obvious Dubya wasn't consulted. The story is (well depending on who you ask) that Maliki was ticked about a Hadley memo that was leaked to the New York Times that didn't exactly make him look good. The White House is downplaying the memo because that's what they do. If all this isn't bad enough, Muqtadar al-Sadr has made good on his promise to pull his supporters out of the already weak Iraq government since Maliki went to Jordan. So there it is. What a day. Suzanne then joins us live with Anderson and explains that Maliki is flexing his muscle to look good to his people. Anderson wants to know if anything will even come out of a meeting between the two and Suzanne says the only thing we'll really learn is whether the leaders still trust each other.

Next Anderson talks with Hala Gorani who seems to have taken Suzanne's place. What did you do with Suzanne? It's like musical reporters. Hala was with Colin Powell when he gave a speech calling Iraq a civil war. Oh man, he's off the White House Christmas Card list. Powell also did not recommend raising troop levels. For more analysis we have David Gergen and Jeff Greenfield live. The Gerg is gobsmacked (or boggled if you will) about the Bush diss. He's calls it a "very bad blow" and he's not sure how Bush is going to be able to persuade the American people that the US can work with Maliki. Well, to be fair, at this point if Bush told me the time I'd have to check my watch, so there you go. Jeff takes us down a memory lane of lies, laying out everything that the war backers promised would happen with this invasion. They promised us a kind of reverse domino theory and just like the first domino theory, they were full of crap.

On now to a John Roberts piece on Maliki. We learn he rose to power with the promise of bridging the secretarian divide, but we can tell by all the bodies in the streets that that totally didn't happen. In fact, the joke in Iraq now is that Maliki is the "mayor of the Green Zone." All of his plans have been a failure. Back in studio John mentions there is a rumor in Baghdad that politicians are lining up to replace him. I knew it! I'm telling you people, Maliki's political days are numbered...and maybe his living days too.

Transitioning now to a taped interview John had with Christiane Amanpour on a five page letter Iran's Ahmadinejad has written to the American people. The guy writes letters, he blogs, you just know he's got a diary under his mattress. Christiane tells us that Iran believes America's power has been weakened, but he's not really saying much new. Basically he likes to focus on the commonalites between the American and Iranian people. He also focuses on Israel because he has a major following in the developing Muslim world. Don't stay away so long next time, Christiane.

We then move back live with Reza and Anderson to discuss the letter. Reza says the letter is related to Ahmadinejad's style of always framing himself as a populist. Then Reza brings up the kind of shocking point that Ahmadinejad actually has no say in his country when it comes to policy, including nuclear policy. I knew he was controlled by the Mullahs somewhat, but I didn't know he had no say. What the hell is with this whole nuclear standoff then? I mean, it would have been nice for the White House to clue in the American people. Oh what am I saying? I seem to have forgotten for a moment who is running our country. Anyway, Reza says that Ahmadinejad has actually done more than any other president to challenge the real power in Iran. So...if we played our cards right he could be our friend? I'd really like to hear more about all this. Preferably from Reza, since I'm already asking.

Moving on now to BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS! The New York Times has just posted a piece on what the Iraq Study Group is going to recommend. They're going to suggest ASAP redeployment, but no time tables. John Roberts and Anderson both get on this, with John noting that basically the suggestions were widely expected. Retired Brigadier General David Grange then joins us on the phone and he seems a little ticked there are no time lines, noting that it could be a year before even one soldier is moved. Reza is still there too and he says victory is no longer an option and it might be a good idea to move from an offensive position to a defensive position that keeps Iraqis alive. They would probably really like that. Reza also says that if we just pull out there'll likely be a massacre and possibly a regional war. He emphasizes that before going anywhere we must stabilize a central government in Iraq. The Gerg is on the phone too (they've got everybody!) and he calls the study a "classic Washington compromise." However, he notes that Bush won't like the redeployment talk and the democrats won't like the lack of time table.

Uh oh! BREAKING NEWS! CNN is having massive video problems. Anderson gets kicked off and we're back with John who is now fielding all the phone callers. I'd say that John did something to Anderson's feed in order to get more air time, but his is all messed up too. John talks with everyone and suddenly David Sanger of the New York Times is on the phone too (I'm not sure where he came from). It's all pretty hard to follow when your tv is cutting in and out. After a couple minutes CNN gets it together and we go back to Anderson for more discussion. David Sanger tells us he has a sense the diplomatic plan that is yet to come out is more specific than the military plan. Anderson then thanks all the Davids. Bwah! And I thought all the Johns was bad. I bet Anderson is pretty confident he will never share his name with another CNNer. This whole big discussion was pretty good. Too bad we tech problems. The show was good tonight. I'm not blogging the second hour because it was taped and I was distracted worrying about the weather. With good reason apparently. It looks like I won't be leaving my house for a couple of days. I hope everyone else is warm. Don't drive on icy roads if you don't have to. That'll do it. B+

Screencaps by stillife.

Your thoughts on the diss, letter, or ISG?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More Religion And Shooting...And How Religion Can Cause Shooting (Tuesday's Second Hour)

Hello all. We begin the hour with the whole Anderson throws to John and John throws back to Anderson thing, except someone is a little quick with the throwing because Anderson is caught wiping his nose. Oops. It seems Mr. Cooper has a cold or just is cold. How do I know? Because I can hear him snuffing off camera. The wonders of microphones. Joining us for some Pope talk, we have CNN analyst John Allen. John tells us the Vatican won't take an offical position on Turkey joining the EU, but they look positively at Turkey's inclusion. Well that sounds good. And not as likely to tick people off. John thinks the Pope thinks the big clash in the world is not between Christians and Muslims, but rather between belief and nonbelief.

Moving on to a couple of repeat pieces and then we get Reza Aslan live. Anderson wants to know what the radical Islamists want and Reza says they don't know what they want. He also urges everyone not to lump all the groups together. Reza thinks many groups look to religion as a template to get what they want. Interesting.

Transitioning now to John who intros us into a Jason Carroll piece on that shooting in New York. Jason landed an interview with the groom's father, who thinks the incident was more an abuse of power than a racial thing. To delve into the issue of contagious shooting, we have, wait for it...wait for it...Rick Sanchez! There could be no other. Rick goes out to the shooting range where we watch an expert empty two magazines in less than 30 seconds. So this is how CNN is going to get rid of Rick.

Next up we have a Rusty Dornan piece on another police shooting. This time an elderly woman was shot dead by officers who raided her house by mistake. She shot and injured some of them thinking they were intruders (which they sort of were) and they killed her. The officers had a no knock warrant and thought it was a drug house. Now there's all kind of confusion between the officers and the informant on how they got the wrong address. Hmm. So sad.

Moving on now to a repeat Anderson piece and then an Anderson piece on Bartholomew the first. I'm passing on this one because I wasn't paying attention enough to do it justice. It's my blog, I can do that. Okay, next up we have a Paula Newton piece on how Amsterdam wants to ban the burka. They think it oppresses women, but some Muslim women think that's just a stereotype. The whole situation in the city has been highly tense since a filmaker was brutally murdered a couple of years ago. It seems to me they think they're going to stop Muslim radicalization by banning the burka, which is just nuts. It's like how Christians think putting up the 10 Commandments in schools will change student's behavior. As if the Columbine killers would have stopped and said, "Oh, thou shall not kill. I'm glad we read this." The burka is a part of the religion, it's not the religion.

Back to Reza and Delia gabbing with Anderson. Reza thinks the Pope did a good job during this visit and Delia informs us that now he's going to move onto the Christian unity leg of the trip. I'm not sure what that means, but I'm kind of hoping they don't cover it because I'm all Poped out. On another note, I have to say that whoever is directing the visuals tonight is driving me crazy. The camera is all over the place. At one point we're in the New York studio looking at Anderson and Reza talking on screen. Just put the camera on them and leave it there please. And we really don't need all that b-roll, especially when they leave in the sound. Okay, I'm done with that rant. John ends the night with the headlines and once again tries to joke with Anderson. They have an exchange this time, but Anderson still isn't into it. Now that I think about it, Anderson is kind of a banter snob. He only puts out for Erica apparently. And John even wished him a safe trip. Aw. That'll do it. Off to Jordan they go, with Reza in tow. Yay...and I don't know why I'm rhyming.

Should Poland ban the burka?

More Pope, Iraq Talk, And The PKK (Monday's First Hour)

Hi everybody. I haven't commented on the intro in a while and I have to say what they're going with for the special is just weird. It's mideast music meshed with the regular over-the-top music. Hmm. We begin with Anderson summarizing what we're about to see and then he throws to John who does the same on his end. Back in Turkey, Anderson tells us that the Pope hit the ground running today. I really doubt that Anderson, the guy's like 78. Oh metaphorically. Gotcha. The first piece is from Alessio Vinci and we learn that the Pope met with a bunch of leaders and one of them took a little swipe, saying that insulting Islam promotes violence. Oh, religious snap. On the streets the reaction runs between skepticism and hope. The Pope isn't taking any chances, opting for an armored limo to get him around. That means no Popemobile. Bummer. That's one of my favorite parts. Sorry, I'm not Catholic, so I don't really have any Pope enthusiasm.

Next up we have an Anderson piece that delves into the Pope's demand for reciprocity, which means that minorites in Muslim countries should have the same rights as the majority. Right now some Muslim countries like Saudia Arabia don't allow their Christian populations to have churches and the Pope would like to see that changed. That seems fair to me, although as some critics point out, it's not really the Pope's place to be sticking his nose in there. Reza Aslan is in the piece and he thinks the Pope is making a big generalization about the Muslim world.

Following the piece we have Delia Gallagher and Reza live and Delia is giving the Pope's visit a big thumb's up. Reza believes the Pope is now recognizing he needs to be careful how he communicates things. Anderson, who keeps hearing people talk about a dialogue, wants to know exactly who it is that's having the dialogue. Reza thinks the debate should be between Christian and Muslim leaders. Anderson wants to know where the big Muslim debate is that he keeps hearing about and Reza is all, "Hello?! Right here." He points out moderate Muslim countries like Jordan and Egypt, as well as Turkey. Delia thinks the Pope will try to nudge Muslims to reform, but he's got his own issues. Yeah, I think the Pope should be worrying about his own house before he starts running to the neighbors.

Next up John intros us into a Nic Robertson piece on Sunni Cleric Harith Al-Dhari, who has fled Iraq because the government thinks he is behind some of the violence. Al-Dhari believes that if the US withdrawls the violence will stop and he wants to give the US and easy way out. Riiiight. I want to leave, but does he honestly think we're just going to go, "Oh this Sunni cleric said the violence will stop, so it's okay now?" Moving on to a Suzanne Malveaux piece on Bush denying there's a civil war. There's really not much to say here other than the fact that our president is spending his time arguing semantics while our troops die. I remember another president arguing semantics, but no one died that time. I'm still waiting on CNN to call a spade a spade.

On now to an interview with the New York Time's (and "Cobra II" author) Michael Gordon, who broke the story that Hezbollah now has their fingers in Iraq. However, first he and John talk about how weak Maliki is and how the US is concerned about the gap between what he says and does. So apparently Iran is now fostering a link between the Mahdi army and Hezbollah. Great. Michael thinks the big question is whether we'll go hardline at Iran or engage in dialogue. Dialogue! For the love of God, please dialogue.

Back to Anderson now and he gives us a piece on honor killings. Apparently they occur in Turkey, which I was actually unaware of. In the piece we meet a couple whose daughter killed herself because she was unhappy in her marriage and wanted a divorce. Unfortunately to some, things like divorce and rape shame the husband's family and is only "fixed" with an honor killing. Sometimes the women are pressured to commit suicide too and suicide rates have climbed. It's unbelievable how it's 2006 and there are still places where women are basically pieces of property. I did find it a little odd though that Anderson didn't mention honor killings aren't just in Turkey. In fact when I hear the phrase I automatically think Saudia Arabia.

Moving on to a Delia piece on how Turkey is a "country of contrasts". That's funny. Anderson blogged about how journalists are always using the cliched and "silly" phrase "land of contrasts." Oh Delia. Anyway, we then get a rundown of Turkey's religious history and learn that today there is a lot of nationalism in the country. In modern Turkey there are actually huge malls and stuff, but the country still has it's slums, which Reza says are breeding grounds for radicalism. Man, Reza is in like every piece. I'm not complaining or anything, but it's like he's everywhere! After the piece Delia joins us live and explains that though Turkey is secular, the government has heavy control over the mosques and this has lead some Muslims to question freedom of religion in the country.

Next up we have a Tom Foreman piece and what does he have for us? Maps of course! We learn that 80% of Turkey is ethnically Turkish and 20% Kurdish. That Kurdish part then spills into Iraq where Kurdish separatists called the PKK fight for their independence. The EU and US have both labeled the PKK a terrorist group. Cyprus is also a problem too. I've been wanting 360 to cover the PKK for some time now and this was too brief. Learning about all these groups and how things are broken down really helps one understand what's going on over there. So if anybody's listening, more of this please. I'd also like to know more about the fight over Kashmir, but I guess that's really neither here nor there. The Shot tonight is a machete versus a gun. Basically a guy tries to rob a store owner at gunpoint, but little does he know the owner packs a big big knife. I know I never leave the house without my machete. John asks Anderson which one he thought would win and Anderson just totally (unintentionally) disses him and doesn't even answer. Poor John needs to learn not to make a joke when operating with a satellite delay. Good show, though I don't think they needed two days on the Pope. I liked learning about Turkey though. B+

What's your view on reciprocity? Is Iraq in a civil war?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Turkey, Excessive Police Action, And Iraq (Monday's Second Hour)

Hi all. We kick off the hour with John, who acknowleges that they're having technical difficulties. Really now? He then intros us into a Nic Robertson piece on how radical Islam is spreading throughout Europe. We learn that cells are getting younger, more converts are getting involved, and women have a more operational role than before. The movement started with the Iranian revolution in 1979 and after going through changes throughout the years it has now moved to the internet. The problem is there is no profile of a radical because they range from the educated to the illiterate.

Moving on to a Delia Gallagher piece where we get the standard "this Pope is more hardline than John Paul" spiel. I think we're good here. Before the next piece John reassures us that Anderson will be back ASAP. I guess they can feel the fangirls getting restless. Poor John. Always the groomsman, never the groom. Wouldn't you love to know what's going on on Anderson's end right now? I see massive use of the blackberry and frantic snapping.

Transitioning now to a Deborah Feyerick piece on a groom that was shot dead at a night club right before his wedding. He was shot 50 times. 50! That seems excessive. Anyway, the guy and the guys he was with were unarmed and the cops were in street clothes. Obviously investigations will ensue. So sad. To talk about this we're joined by officer Lou Cannon. John asks him about contagious shooting and apparently Lou doesn't think that ever happens. John then points out that one officer shot him over 30 times, but Lou falls back on the "I wasn't there" excuse. Well okay, but what is the point of you being here right now? Although I do appreciate him not speculating-even though that's basically what he was booked to do. John then asks if he thinks it could have been racially motivated and Lou of course answers in the negative. What did we think he would say? This inteview is pretty pointless.

Back now to Turkey with Reza live. Reza is wearing just a normal blazer, while Anderson is decked out in a big puffy jacket and gloves. Too funny. They talk about how the majority of Muslims are not actually Arab and can be found in places like Turkey and Indonesia. Reza thinks it would be a disaster if Turkey was shut out of the west because they might start looking eastward, which I guess means more radicalization. Reza says right now Turkey is not a fertile ground for terrorism because the economy is booming and the west should work on promoting more situations like Turkey throughout the mideast. Sorry Reza, our speciality is failed states.

On now to a Brian Todd piece on the meeting between Talabani and Ahmadinejad, which the US is not very happy about. Ahmadinejad is offering Iraq help, but it should be noted that the Iranians have trained a lot of the militias that are behind a lot of the trouble in the first place. Ahmadinejad has major Arab street cred and some think Iran is trying to create a Shia cresent.

Next up we have Michael Ware live. Oh, Michael. It's been a brutal few days, hasn't it? Michael tells us that Iran is seeking major influence in Iraq and is trying to match the US on all fronts. He notes that just because an Iraqi is Shia doesn't mean they are pro-Iran-there is a lot of nationalism. Michael also says that Saddam stopped the Iranian influence at Iraq's borders, whereas we have, well, just made a mess of everything.

I'm just going to fly through the rest of this because I'm short on time. The next piece is from Jamie McIntyre and it focuses on our ever shrinking list of allies in Iraq. Before long the US is going to be all alone on the dance floor. The exploding dance floor. Anne Marie Slaughter of Princeton then joins us to discuss the violence in Iraq and whether or not it's a civil war. I'd like to take this opportunity to give props to NBC/MSNBC for making the decision to officially start using that phrase. They're about a year or so too late, but better late than never I guess. Ball's in your court now CNN. I'm waiting. The last piece is a repeat from Anderson and then he and Delia talk live about the Pope's schedule. Lastly, John gives us the headlines and tries to joke with Anderson about Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock, but Anderson ain't having it. Poor John, he tries so hard. That'll do it.

Screencaps by sherynroyce.

Turkey, The Pope, A Russian Spy, And Pesky Technical Difficulties (Monday's First Hour)

Hi everybody! I'm all excited to be back reviewing. The break was great, but this morning I found myself talking away at the O'Brien twins, so it's about time. Because you see, if you talk at the television you're crazy, but if you just put all your thoughts in blog form, well, then you're just a part of the times. See how that all works out? I was very excited to see Anderson from Turkey tonight, but unfortunately the Gods were not smiling on Mr. Cooper. Let's just say that somewhere there is a CNN techie that is quietly weeping. Problems galore. A couple of times Anderson's mouth didn't match up with what he was saying. I thought he was going to go all bad Japanese action movie on Delia Gallagher, which, BTW, would have been awesome. The Faith and Values Correspondent could use to get taken down a notch is all I'm saying.

We begin live with Anderson in Istanbul and we're informed that Turkey is a pro-western/pro-democratic country that is 99% Muslim. Anderson then throws to John Roberts in studio and he basically throws right back. I guess CNN wants you to know that if you don't like Turkey there's something else waiting for you. The first piece is from Anderson and it's basically just a recap of the controversy over the Pope's speech. We know the story: the Pope gave a speech in which he quoted a 14th century emperor that dissed on Muhammed and said Muslims spread faith by the sword. Then Muslims everywhere reacted like someone drew a cartoon or something and lots of things ended up on fire. Even Al Qaeda got into it, although really they're always sending their videos out. At this point I'm surprised we didn't get one in reaction to the Britney/K-Fed break-up. The Pope eventually apologized, but only for the reaction and not what he actually said, which is so not an apology.

Next up we have a Delia Gallagher piece on the Pope and his relation to the church. When he was picked some were shocked because he was seen as very conservative. A lot of people thought he was going to bring about a kind of Reagan revolution in the church. However, now that he's in the position he's revealed himself to be more moderate. He's still against gays, abortion, and contraception though. You know, I just don't get the whole Pope thing. When John Paul came to St. Louis years back there were people in line to kiss his ring and I just didn't get it. He may be the leader of the Catholic Church, but he's still just a man.

On now to Delia and Reza Aslan live with Anderson in Turkey. And yes, I got all excited when I saw Reza. Didn't you? It's pointed out that while there are people protesting the Pope's visit, their numbers are smaller than expected. Reza says people are basically meh about the whole thing and kind of have a been there, burned that effigy mentality. Okay, I'm being a bad recapper here. What Reza actually said is that they care more about the economy and getting into the European Union (EU) than they do about the Pope's speech. Delia thinks that while people in Turkey see Europe in economic terms, the Pope actually sees it in cultural terms and thinks Turkey does not belong. She also notes that this Pope is not on the peace train like John Paul was and would rather have frank dialogue. Hey, dialogue is cool, but don't let stubborness get you into a big middle east mess. For reference on what not to do in terms of stubborness, please see: Bush, George W.

Reza thinks the Pope doesn't really know much about Islam and then he relates his argument to the EU, which the Pope doesn't think Turkey should join. Delia then tries to kind of defend the Pope by saying that he has said in the past that he admires a lot of things about Islam. He should probably lead with that next time. Reza then states that this is a very Eurocentric Pope who is all about a European Christian revival. I guess that's why he doesn't want Turkey to be a part of it. I can't see that turning out well, especially if it results in Turkey failing economically. All I know is we really don't need any more unstable mideast countries, so the Pope needs to tread lightly. As we go out to commercial we learn there are 70 million people in Turkey. And apparently someone left the prompter up because, God love him, Anderson just keeps on reading way after he should have stopped. Too funny.

Back from commercial we have another Anderson piece, this time focused on 2003 attacks in Istanbul that were attibuted to Al Qaeda. Anderson interviews the attorney for those accused of the attacks and he's pretty freaky. The guy thinks Bin Laden is a freedom fighter and he condemns any Muslim that doesn't have his interpretation of the Koran, which basically includes all non extremists. Reza is in this piece, but they kind of cut it off. I think there might have been technical difficulties.

Moving on to a Randi Kaye piece, we're told that the presence of US troops in the holy lands of Saudia Arabia during the 1991 gulf war gave birth to Al Qaeda. Finally! It's nice to see this actually being reported after years of peddling the whole "they hate us for our freedoms" nonsense. They don't hate us for our freedoms. They hate us for specific reasons. Whether these are legitimate reasons is up for debate, but freedom is a cop out. Randi then concludes the piece with a recap of all the blood shed between Muslims and Christians over the centuries. Man. And religion is suppose to be peaceful. Back to Delia and Reza now and they're discussing how some Turks think there's a kind of crusade going on against the Islamic world. Anderson then adds some confirmation to this thinking, stating that a man he talked to believes there is an alliance between the Pope and Israel against Islam. Everyone is so paranoid. I think all religions feel oppressed, whether they are or not. It's kind of built into them.

Transitioning now to John in studio, who just kind of appears after commercial. I guess Anderson is having more problems. John intros us into a Paula Newton piece on Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, a newly dead critic of the Russian government. Litvinenko went to a hotel to meet with another ex spy to go over evidence he believed linked the Kremlin to a terrorist attack. He then went to a spy catcher who told him the Russian mob was after him and shortly thereafter he got sick. For a while no one knew what was wrong with him, but it turned out to be radioactive plononium. On his death bed Litvinenko fingered the Kremlin for his murder, saying they were silencing him. A friend of the murdered spy thinks Russia is drifting into a dangerous state. Okay, you know what? No, Russian can not be drifting into a dangerous state. We have enough of those right now, so they will just have to wait their turn. Besides, didn't Bush says something completely retarded like he looked in Putin's eyes and saw he was a good man or some nonsense like that? What happened to that? Also, this is totally reminding me of Ukraine's Victor Yushchenko. Remember that guy and his poor face?

Next up we have a Matthew Chance piece on Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was gunned down by, most likely, a hired assassin. She had been working to expose government human rights abuses and Litvnenko believed he had evidence that linked her murder to the Kremlin. Wow. This just gets more and more interesting. But I really hope it all blows over.

Moving on now to an Anderson piece on Turkey. Istanbul is the only major city in the world to actually be in Asia and Europe. I did not know that. Apparently I learn my geography through wars and international incidents-just like a good American. Turkey is actually fairly westernized. They've adopted a policy of secularism and have all the western fast foods and shops. They're a part of NATO, but would really like to be a part of the EU. Some in the country think the westernization has gone too far because they're not allowed to wear their head scarves in certain places. I actually do think that's a little too far. Why would they ban them? Anyway, the Turks will be listening to the Pope to see where he thinks their place should be in the world.

We're still apparently having big tech problems because we go right back to John and we're shown b-roll whenever Anderson is talking live. Bummer. John then gives us the headlines. There's a story from Missouri and John says it right. Yay John! The Shot tonight is Iraq's Talabani and Iran's Ahmadinejad giving a warm greeting with kissing and everything. Geez, get a room. Okay, I probably could have come up with something more clever, but it's late. The show was a little shaky tonight because of the problems, but I'm not holding that against anyone. Good show. A-

Screencaps by stillife.

Should Turkey be let into the EU? Do you think the Pope will make the situation in that country better or worse? Anyone fear Russia is going to become our next problem?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Media Bias

Hi everybody. I hope you're having a nice weekend. Mine has been great so far. Except for the spiders. I'm being invaded here, people! I swear I feel like I'm in that movie "Arachnophobia" and I so did not audition for this role. I don't know what's going on. I guess it's because we're having freakishly warm weather right now for this time of year or something. But seriously, if any of my readers are spider experts I could use some tips because a few hours ago one of them literally just appeared on my keyboard as I was typing. Eeek! Okay, I actually didn't set out to make this post all about my battles with Charlotte and her friends. While I've got the time, I'd like to discuss media bias. A little while ago this quote from Anderson caught my eye:
No, I don't wear my beliefs on my sleeve. I like not taking sides. To me, the mark of success is when half of the e-mails I get [after a show] are telling me I'm a communist liberal bastard, and the other half are telling me I'm a stooge of the Bush administration.
Anderson is not the first reporter I've heard echo this kind of sentiment. In fact, it almost seems like some sort of memo went around because I'm pretty sure they all feel that way. However, to me the reasoning seems flawed. Someone who would write the phrase "communist liberal bastard" (or something similar) almost surely already has a preconceived notion about Anderson, CNN, or the media in general. It's no secret that many on the right refer to CNN as the Communist News Network. It's also no secret that there has a been deliberate campaign to get the public to believe the media has a liberal bias. Check out David Brock and Eric Alterman for more information.

The point I'm making is that Anderson could do a piece that undeniably slants right and people will still accuse him of liberal bias because it didn't slant far enough. Of course the reverse is also true. I'm on progressive blogs a lot and I see a lot of references to reporters being "shills" for their "corporate masters". Obviously the mainstream media is owned by corporations and I do think there is a certain kind of bias that goes along with that, but I find it frustrating that whenever any reporter really holds someone accountable, there are some on the left that brush it off as just a fluke in between shilling.

I think it's a big mistake for any journalist to judge how well they're doing by viewer criticism because, quite frankly, those people are never going to be happy. If a journalist is going to judge how they're doing based on who they tick off they should be looking at people in power, not viewers. Obviously journalists can't burn bridges so bad that they have no sources, but it's always a good sign to me when a politician, or executive, or some other powerful person is ticked off at a reporter because that means that reporter has been doing a good job holding people accountable. Extreme viewer opinions shouldn't have much to do with it.

It should also be pointed out that people who are okay with the content of a news program don't generally email to say they thought everything was fine. It's the people that are upset that make the noise. That's why I make a point to send in feedback of praise and not just criticism, especially when I know they're getting criticism from the other side. In the case of CNN and the sniper video, imagine if only those that had a problem with it sent in feedback. CNN might not be so brave next time around.

Sometimes I think we're all too hard on reporters. They're just people too. Everybody has bad days at work, but a bad day at work for a journalist can come off as having bias. And as much as they probably don't want to admit it, even to themselves, they do want to be liked. It's human nature. I'm not saying it will cause them to be biased in their work, but things get under their skin just like everybody else. Take for example the Angelina Jolie interview that Anderson did. They took some hits in the press for it and it obviously bugged Executive Producer David Doss so much that not only did he blog about it, but he also linked to one of the articles that ticked him off.

Another example is Anderson himself following the Sago Mine disaster. Poor Anderson, being the hardest working television reporter there is, was the last man standing on that horrible night and therefore took the brunt of the criticism. In this case he had absolutely nothing to apologize for, but that didn't stop him later from being so unbelievably careful with the information he was reporting that it bordered on the comical. You didn't need to be a genius to see that the criticism had gotten to him.

Bias is also a funny thing in that sometimes the reporter doesn't need to say anything and bias still comes through. Body language, voice inflection, and the questions asked in an interview go a long way. The secretive Mr. Cooper may think he's a blank slate, but the truth is he's giving away a lot more than he thinks. This is why I'm not sure it's even possible for a reporter to be completely objective. What do you think? I know this post has kind of been all over the place, but I'm really interested in this subject and would love to have a discussion on all this stuff. My next post will be Monday's review. Apparently Anderson will be in Turkey for the Pope's visit. Should be interesting. Even if things go well I'm guessing we're still going to see things on fire. Just a hunch.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Freedom '06

Hi everyone. I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. I'm too full of tryptophan to write an intelligent post, so I'll let youtube do my work for me. Check out Freedom '06, a "political short film by Kelly Gallaher and seen on the Huffington Post. The mis-adventures of King George set to the oddly appropriate music of George Michael." It's pretty cool. And upsetting. Oh, and yeah, I know that tryptophan thing is probably a myth.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Obama, More Draft Talk, Rumsfeld On Trial, And Oh My God Are We Really Still Talking About OJ? (Monday's Second Hour)

Hi everybody. This hour kicks off with the Dan Lemon piece on Barack Obama that was previewed last hour. Of course the big question is will he run and that remains to be seen. He's achieved rock star status in the democratic part, but his lack of experience might hold him back. I've seen him speak and can attest to the rock star thing. As far as experience goes, Obama points our that Cheney and Rumsfeld have great resumes and look how well they've worked out. Ooh, good point.

John Roberts continues with the topic, giving us a recap on Obama's short rise to stardom and bringing up the Hillary factor. Right now she's leading him in the polls, but I'm guessing that's just a name recognition thing. I wonder if she's mad at him because he kind of stole her thunder. One big plus Obama has over Hillary is that he's been against the war since day one. I'm still iffy on whether Obama has the experience yet to be president, but I think he would be great as vice president. That would give him a whole lot of experience for 2016. Since Feingold is out, I'm really leaning toward John Edwards. He's been doing some great things lately; really focusing on poverty and the situation in Uganda. Check him out. Also, the other day I was complaining about the focus on GOP candidates with no coverage of dems. Today they did a dem. See, CNN? I notice and give credit where credit is do.

Moving on to a Bill Schneider piece where we get some polls. But you already knew that didn't you? Apparently most Americans don't think we're winning or that we will win in Iraq. Bush thinks it's because Americans are impatient. Well, we are impatient, but this war has gone on longer than WWII. I don't thing we're the problem here. Bill says the people will be patient as long as they know the US is on the way out of Iraq. After this piece we have a repeat of the Michael Gordon interview and Joe Johns piece.

On now to an interview with military draft expert Charles Moskos, who is very gung ho about reinstating the draft. He thinks the military is too small and we need more people to not only fight over seas, but also do things domestically like guard our borders and ports. John wonders if those domestic duties would run up against Posse Comitatus. Hey, good question, John. However, Charles says that shouldn't be a problem. He also says that if we don't reinstate the draft we're going to have to start recruiting foreigners to fight for us and in a way we kind of are already since we sometimes give citizenship in exchange for service. Interestingly, Charles claims that studies show draftees are statistically better than volunteers and he seems to imply it's because draftees come from better socioeconomic backgrounds. Hmm, I don't know what I think about those implications, but it would be interesting to read some of these studies.

Transitioning now to a Nic Robertson piece on the lawsuit against Rumsfeld for war crimes. As reported before, Germany has universal jurisdiction and therefore the case is being tried there. Well, if it ever got to trial, which it won't. The strongest part of the case comes from Gitmo detainees who have reported being abused. There is also a paper trail that tracks the abuse right to Rumsfeld's desk and CNN shows us a memo that is currently a matter of public record. Janis Karpinsky, the Brigidier General who was in charge of Abu Ghraib, will be testifying against Rumsfeld.

We then move onto an interview with Karpinsky and learn that she was demoted down to Colonel due to her role in the situation. She has come forward to testify because she believes the offical story if inaccurate and it was not just seven out of control individuals. Karpinsky states that the torture was endorsed by the highest levels and the pictures don't even show what went on in the interrogation room. She doesn't believe the appropriate individuals have been held accountable. I think it should be pointed out that the original pictures from the abuse scandal that have been all over the media are not the only pictures. In fact there were many more that the government fought to keep under wraps because they were well aware what hadn't come out yet was much worse. From May 2004:
"The American public needs to understand we're talking about rape and murder here. We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters after Rumsfeld testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Earlier this year, Salon obtained a lot more pictures as well as video and those can be seen here and here. It is unclear as to whether there are more pictures/videos under wraps.

Up next we have Jeffrey Toobin and Lisa Bloom to discuss OJ. Again. Toobin is really surprised that News Corp dropped everything, but Lisa could see it coming with all the momentum growing. Well good for you Lisa. Toobin then calls Judith Regan crazy again and says she is "on one side and the currently explored universe on the other side." Ah, this side of Toobin will never get old. Toobin points out that the book has already been printed, so it's not going away and some independent publisher is sure to snap it up due to public demand. He calls this a "sad statement on parts of this country." You're preaching to the choir Toobin, you're preaching to the choir. The hour then ends with a repeat of the Brooke Anderson piece.

So how long do you think until OJ's book makes it's way into the stores? Do you think Rumsfeld and other will ever be held accountable for their roles in the torture scandal?

Some Housekeeping:
This will do it for the reviews until probably Monday. I've got family coming into town tonight, so won't have the time. However, I do plan on doing a few newsy posts between now and then, so don't stay away! I'll be checking the comments too, so no need to miss me.

Iraq, Draft Talk, A Jihadi Spy, Kramer's A Racist, And News Corp Gets A Clue (Monday's First Hour)

Hello all. Looks like Anderson is taking the week off. That slacker. Okay, I suppose he deserves it. John Roberts is back from his month long Iraq banishment and he's holding down the anchor chair for us tonight. We begin on the subject of Iraq and apparently it has been determined that the only three options left are to go big, go long, or go home. Options one and three have been deemed unacceptable, so it looks like we're going long But seriously people, it's not a freakin football toss. In a piece from Jamie McIntyre we learn that a strategic dialogue group has been formed and General Pace will take their recommendations to Bush. We also learn that Henry Kissinger told the BBC that we can't win a clear military victory, but we can't pull out either. So, uh, we just stay there and lose forever?

To talk about Kissinger's statements and more, Michael Ware joins us live from Iraq. Michael agrees the US is not achieving victory right now. John mentions Ramadan as a reason for increased attacks and Michael explains that while it's true the violence is better this month, no one is reading that as the insurgency being curbed. John lays out the new plan to increase forces in the short term and Michael brings it all into perspective. He tells us that 20,000 extra troops would only make a dent in the insurgency because commanders are telling him that they need 15,000 more troops in Ramadi alone. As I've posted before, if we want to make any change with extra troops we're going to need at least 100,000, not 10,000 and we just don't have them.

Moving on now to an interview with "Cobra II" author, Michael Gordon, who believes there is no one solution for Iraq. He suggests a temporary surge of forces in Baghdad, diplomacy with Iran and Syria, and a step up of Iraqi army training. That stuff sounds good, but haven't we tried it all before? Minus the diplomacy of course. Because we all know we don't do that. John then brings up that democrats want out of Iraq and Michael thinks that says more about American politics than Iraqi politics and taking out troops removes all leverage the US has. The Iraq Study Group, which is beginning to become like the Holy Grail of Iraq solutions, is also mentioned. Everybody seems to have their eggs in this group's basket and for all we know they got nothing.

Transitioning now to a Joe Johns piece on representative's Charles Rangel's proposal to reinstitute the draft. Rangel is a decorated Korean war veteran who is against the Iraq war. No other democrats are on board with the idea, so it's obviously just to make a point. Rangel believes with the current talk of increasing troop levels the country needs to have a conversation about how this war is disproportionately effecting the poor and minorities. Rangel tried this before too, but it's getting much more coverage this time around due to the democrats recent win and the fact that the public has turned away from the war, making it safe for the sometimes cowardly media to cover this kind of stuff. I have to admit, my first reaction to this news was purely political and it went a little something like this: "What are you doing, man?!" Stuff like this is fodder for the Right. Although I do tend to agree with him that if everyone might be sent to Iraq, a lot more people would take an interest in what's going on over there. However, I have a 20 year old brother, so for that reason I'm against a draft. Yeah, it's a selfish reason, but it is what it is. It's not like either one of us ever supported the war.

Keeping on the same subject we have a taped interview with Charles Rangel himself. He tells us that those in charge are playing checkers with human lives and everyone needs to sacrifice. John brings up the fact that some cynics would say he's just trying to scare people to get out of Iraq. Rangel counters that if Kissinger is saying there's no military victory to be had in that country, why is the military there? Following this we have a snippet of a Dan Lemon interview with Barack Obama. Dan asks if Obama thinks a black man can be elected president and Obama says "absolutely". There's more of this in the second hour.

Transitioning now to a Nic Robertson piece on Omar Nasiri, a spy for French, German, and British intelligence inside Al Qaeda and author of "Inside the Jihad." Maybe it was just my cable, but it seems like the first part of this was kind of messed up. Anybody else get that? Anyway, Nasiri believes that Al Qaeda wanted the US in Iraq and that Ibn Sheikh al-Libi lied to the US when he was captured in 2001. Many will remember that it was al-Libi's claim that Al Qaeda was working to get chemical and biological weapons from Saddam that was used as evidence for going to war. I always assumed that al-Libi lied under torture telling his US captors what they wanted to hear. This is probably true, but it's horrible to think that not only did our leaders lie us into this war, they also allowed themselves to be manipulated into the war by the very people that are our enemies. Nasiri also states that he had contact with Abu Zubaydah and even wired money to him, but in the end he became frustrated because no one was paying attention to the intelligence he was collecting. So many missed opportunities.

Moving on to a Brooke Anderson piece where we learn that, hey, that lovable goof Kramer from Seinfeld is actually a big old racist. Michael Richards was performing at the Laugh Factory when he was heckled by some African Americans. This then proceded to set Michael off and that's pretty much the biggest understandment I've ever made. This guy lost it, screaming and spewing the N-word all over the place. I think this is the fastest amount of time I've ever lost complete respect for someone. During Monday night's Letterman taping, Seinfeld was the guest and Michael came on to apologize via satelite. We're shown a short clip where he claims he's not a racist. Um, duuude, that kind of crap doesn't just happen. People who aren't racist don't go around screaming the N-word. Sorry. So anybody wanna take bets on how soon we'll hear about his stint in rehab for alcohol? I hear tell from a certain Mr. Mel Gibson it apparently makes you a racist. Or maybe he'll go the prescription drug route and blame it on Ambien.

On now to an interview with Sinbad. Hey where's he been lately? Anyway, Sinbad was there and he informs us Michael wasn't even being heckled all that bad. He also mentions that even before the racial slurs, Michael was bragging about how he's rich and could have the police follow the hecklers around. Geez, he's sounding like Bill O'Reilly and his Fox News police. John then asks Sinbad about the N-word and how whites aren't allowed to say it, but blacks do. Sinbad doesn't agree with rappers using it and basically thinks no one should say it. I agree. It should be said by no one. Blacks of today know racism, but they don't know the violence that word once brought. I wonder if half of them even know what Billie Holiday was referring to when she sang about strange fruit. Back in the interview, John wants to know if Michael's career is over. I think it is. Sinbad thinks America will forget as soon as the next person does something stupid. Eh, he's got me there. I guess I don't mind that they covered this (even though it's really sensational and more entertainment than news), but this was a good opportunity blown to talk about racism in America.

Our last piece tonight is from Jason Carroll and guess what? The OJ book and special are history. Whoopee! News Corp has bowed to pressure and what a lot of pressure there was. A total of 12 Fox affiliates had refused to air the special and big names from Fox News like Bill O'Reilly were also bringing the outrage. When O'Reilly and I both agree about something you know it's bad. There was also a petition started by the Goldman family. I love that a public outcry stopped this vile trash from going out onto the airways and into bookstores, but I kind of wish the public would outcry on some more serious stuff too. Not that this wasn't serious, but my God, they got rid of hapeas corpus and nobody made a peep. Of course I guess the public would actually have to know in order for there to be an outcry and that would require the news to stop focusing so much on celebrities and actually do their job. I won't hold my breath. Anyway, Simpson's already been compensated, so he makes out either way.

Joe Johns doing the headlines again and one bit of news he brings us is that the government is doubling the Avian Flu vaccine, so now we have enough for 6 million people. Great. Just 294 million to go. Yeah, we're all gonna die. The Shot tonight is a Nascar gas tank explosion that leaves the car on fire, but its driver walks out to safety. Can someone please explain Nascar to me? Cars driving in a circle. I just don't get it. That'll do it for the hour. B-

Would you support a draft? Is Michael Richards career over?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

It Helps To Laugh: Comic Relief For Katrina

Hi everybody. This review will be a little different due to the special circumstances. First off, there will be no grade because the interview itself wasn't very newsy. However, I never would have known about the special without it and since I ended up watching and donating (as I'm sure did many others), the hour served its purpose. Anybody else watch? If you did I really hope you got to watch it on HBO because watching on TBS totally sucked. Why must comedians cuss so much when one of the networks has to mute all of that out? The TBS guy with standards and practices must have been having a heart attack. I know this post is long, but please check out some of the great pieces that are linked near the end.

Anyway, as I'm sure you all know, this 360 was an interview with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and Billy Crystal to promote their Comic Relief special for Katrina. The trio has been doing these Comic Relief specials for the past 20 years and they've got an interesting relationship. This recap is going to be kind of schizophrenic because with Robin Williams there the interview went all over the place. I mostly like the guy, but oh my God sometimes I just wish he'd shut up. Anderson does a lot of laughing throughout the hour. A lot. He begins by asking one of his favorite questions: do they think Katrina has been forgotten? They all agree that in a way it has. Someone brings up the trailers and Anderson laughs, "don't even get me started on the FEMA trailers." Man, wouldn't it be cathartic to sit down with Anderson and just bitch about the Katrina response with him for an hour?

When we come back from break we're shown a clip of Bush's speech from New Orleans. Whoopi cracks up as she watches it and I really can't blame her. It was a joke. The thing is, when I watched him give it I remember it broke my heart a little because I knew it was a lie. I knew that nothing he was saying was going to happen and he was going to sweep out of there and all would be forgotten. However, it killed me because though I knew he was lying, there were other people watching who believed him. I knew that there were people who just had their lives destroyed and they believed him because they wanted to. Because they needed to. And to know that down the road they were going to be devastated by their government all over again was heartbreaking. Whoopi mentions how Bush went down their and lit everything up like it was a Hollywood set. She's right. I remember Brian Williams blogging about how the lights went on 30 minutes before the president got there and then off again an hour after he left.

Next the group talks about the images that they remember, such as the old woman in the wheelchair. There are so many I remember: the man recounting how he lost his wife, the little girl standing by the car stuck in the water and screaming for help, the mother who couldn't get her baby to hardly wake up. These are just the ones that popped into my head while typing this. There are so many more that are forever imprinted on my brain. The truth of the matter is that I believe in the end I will remember the specifics of what I saw and heard concerning Katrina better than I will concerning what I saw on 9-11 and the days after. Don't get me wrong, the planes hitting the towers and the towers falling will be with me until the day I die, but during 9-11 I did not watch news in the same way I do now. Once I realized how corrupt the adminstration was and what a horrible job the media was doing holding them accountable, I began to not just watch the news, but analyze and categorize it. I turned my brain into a filing cabinet. Now instead of just vaguely remembering a story I saw on the news, I know what network I saw it on, the reporter involved, when it aired, and any other information I can. I try to do this with print too.

In May of 2005 I went to a Media Reform Conference and one of the speakers there told us that we weren't like normal people; normal people didn't watch the news like they were trying to decode the matrix. I remember hearing that and thinking, "OMG, that's exactly how I watch the news." Obviously I have a human brain, so things aren't perfect, but I will never forget Katrina. At the time of the storm I was only working part time at home, so I basically did nothing but work, watch the news, and read blogs. I barely even slept. In fact, that Thursday night I didn't sleep. I've got hours upon hours of Katrina footage stored in my brain.

The interview turns serious for a moment as Billy ponders what might we not be ready for next. That's a question that keeps me up a night. If you'd like to be kept up too, you should check out this dailykos diary about how the US infrastructure is falling apart. A fair warning, readers of this blog might just want to ignore that third sentence. Hey, Anderson can't be loved by everyone. Anyway, I don't know about the rest of you, but to me, Katrina was shocking to watch unfold, but not surprising that it occurred. It was no secret Bush had stacked his cabinets with political appointees. It was no secret a good chunk of the National Guard and their equipment were in Iraq. It was no secret the Bush Administration and Republican led Congress didn't give a crap about the poor. It was no secret that natural disasters happen. And if you want to see how much normal citizens were informed about the hurricane two days in advance (as opposed to our idiot president who proclaimed no one could have predicted levee failure), you just have to check out this dailykos diary. Robin then gets all serious for a moment to talk about great politicians, which does not include Bush. Robin really is a smart guy; I wish he'd take it down a notch more often.

Coming back from another commercial we're played the infamous Nagin chocolate city clip. Anderson takes the opportunity to talk about what turned into a quest to get an interview with the mayor. Nagin would often agree to talk, only to cancel at the last minute. On one of these occasions his reason for canceling was an emergency meeting, so 360 decided to track him down. As it turns out, the "emergency meeting" was taking place in a bar. Anderson and producers then had the reporter in New Orleans (I think it was Sean Callebs) stay at the bar to wait for Nagin to come out. I remember watching this broadcast and laughing my butt off, saying, "OMG, Anderson is stalking Ray proxy." It was hilarious.

Anderson then asks Robin about a blues musician that he channels. Oh Anderson, don't encourage him. It's too late though because Robin is off on a tangent. Once Anderson is able to get a word in edgewise again he mentions that Whoopi took a bus to Vegas. Apparently flying really freaks her out, so she doesn't do it. Flying freaks me out too (It's not natural not to have anything underneath you-unless you're a bird!) , though I guess not as much as Whoopi. Anderson tells her she's not missing much because all the pilots think they're comedians now and crack jokes the whole flight, which apparently annoys Anderson a great deal. I find this all very ironic seeing as though he's sitting with three comedians who are completely cracking him up with jokes that sometimes aren't all that funny. Polite laughing perhaps? At this point I start to wonder where the heck the interview is going because we seem to be all over the place. Anyway, somehow we end up learning Anderson liked Battlestar Gallactica. Anderson then tries to throw to commercial, but he can't stop laughing because Robin won't shut up. Robin is having fun with this and cracks a Ryan Seacrest/Brokeback Mountain joke that makes Anderson lose it so bad he clutches his chest and almost falls out of his chair. I gotta say, I'm laughing more at Anderson's reaction here than I am the joke itself. Poor Anderson barely makes it out to commercial.

When they return, the subject transitions to the mideast. Anderson mentions that the last time he went he bought a bright blue burqa for his mother and she proceeded to put it on and walk around New York City. Gloria is so cool. Anderson then asks what they thought about the midterm elections and Robin says that now Dubya has to play with others. He also says that with Clinton nothing was too small to be investigated and with Bush nothing is too large to be ignored. Amen brother. Anderson then brings up the phrase "Katrina fatigue" and how much it annoys him. I'll never have Katrina fatigue. Honestly they could cover it every night and I'd be okay with that. However, what I do have is stupidity fatigue because we've had a whole lot of that lately. Whoopi thinks everyone is just overwhelmed because everything seems to be falling apart lately. She's right. Life has been hard these last few years and while most people feel for the gulf coast, many are just trying to get by themselves.

Our last clip of the night is of a man Billy met in the lower ninth ward. He's rebuilding his house and he's literally the only one living there. I can't imagine what it must be like to be living all alone surrounded by devastation. The determination is astounding. Anderson mentions all the college kids that have gone down to help and Robin mentions the church groups. I know a group of kids from my own church went and I was happy to participate in one of their fundraisers. I would love to go and be able to help out on the ground. Unfortunately my job, lack of money, and fairly severe back problems are standing in my way. But maybe I'll try if God forbid they still need help next summer. Anderson points out that there is still no plan to rebuild and Whoopi states that she is convinced they've left the ninth ward to rot on purpose so people won't want to come back. I agree with her. I think sometimes we confuse what looks like incompetence with what is actually criminal negligence and a plan to purposely do nothing. Next there's some talk about Robin being in rehab. Robin was in rehab? I guess I'm behind on my Entertainment Tonight viewing. Anderson then laughs us out. I thought it was an entertaining hour.

At the top of this post I promised you some great links. I've read a lot of stuff related to Katrina and some of it has really stayed with me and I'd like to share. First off, there is the piece "Being Poor Like the Nolas" by Boyd Blundell, which imagines New Orleans as the equivalent of a family (the nolas) living in a very affluent neighborhood (Bush Gardens). We follow the nolas through their trials and tribulations and end with their heartbreaking suspicion that there is no neighborhood. Another tearjerker is "They Are Not Coming...A Katrina Diary" from luckydog at dailykos. This is but one of many personal stories. Then there is this post from Bob Geiger, titled "I Know This Little Boy in New Orleans", which simply points out that the children of New Orleans are the same as all our children. Keeping with the tone, Times-Picayune reporter Chris Rose recounts how his Katrina induced depression brought him to the brink in "Hell And Back".

Then there is this diary on dailykos that recaps the Aaron Brown broadcast (with crawl) in which I and many others learned just how bad things were. And if you'd like to get your outrage on, here is a compilation of idiotic and offensive quotes said by our leaders and others in the days surrounding the hurricane. If animation is your cup of tea you should check out this from Mark Fiore, which was posted on September 7, 2005. And finally there is the music video The Saints Are Coming by U2 and Green Day, showing how it all should have been.

Back in July of this year, St. Louis was hit with two unbelievably strong storms within two days of each other that brought hurricane force winds and knocked power out to half a million homes and businesses. To make matters worse, the area was also under a severe heat advisory. A state of emergency was declared, The Red Cross set up shelters, and FEMA was sent. It was the worst disaster the city had seen in a long, long time. If you're wondering why you didn't hear about this, it's because it happened at the same time the Israel/Hezbollah war was starting. Anyway, there was no where to get food or supplies because most everything was closed at first and the roads were dangerous anyway because the lights were out and there was debris everywhere. Some people didn't have water service and some that did were under a boil order (including me), which is hard to do without electricity. I'm telling you all this because as I sat by candlelight listening to a mother call into the radio desperate to find somewhere to buy diapers for her baby, I couldn't help but think of New Orleans. What St. Louis went through isn't comparable at all. The heat wave lifted quickly, the debris was picked up, and in a little over a week everyone had their power back. But it was a reminder how easy it is for a city or town to suddenly find themselves in a heap of trouble and needing someone else to help. If we abandon New Orleans then that means any city can be abandoned. And if we let that happen then those nolas in Boyd Blundell's piece are right, there really is no neighborhood.

Please help:

Comic Relief
Red Cross

Use the comments to tell your own Katrina memories, share a piece, or add another charity to donate.

Screencaps of the show by liberation337. Other pictures from Google images.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Politics, An American Wrongly Detained In Iraq, More OJ (Seriously?), and Scary Laughing (Thursday's Second Hour)

Hi everyone. We begin the second hour with a repeat of the horrible Dana Bash piece. After it's over Anderson mentions that whether it's fair or not, Republicans don't have a reputation for infighting like the democrats. No, it's not fair, Anderson. Maybe you could do something about that perception. We then move on to a Candy Crowley piece about McCain pandering to conservatives. He's just given a speech in which he mentions Reagan 10 times and Bush not at all, though he does make sure to make negative references to to him. Interesting. Even though this piece was kind of negative, I still have to ask where the piece is on a democratic 2008 hopeful? Maybe it's just because no democrat has done anything official towards running yet. I guess I could understand that then. See, I can be reasonable.

On now to a Bill Schneider piece that does actually cover both parties. Bill decided to flip things around and find out which politician the parties most fear. The republicans most fear Barack Obama and the democrats most fear Rudy Giuliani. That might be a pretty good race. And neither one of them is crazy. So big plus there. Other contenders mentioned include McCain, Edwards, and Romney.

To discuss this further, joining us we have republican strategist Anna Perez and Jennifer Palmieri of the Center for American Progress. Anna thinks Hillary can't win, but she would give the republicans a really good run for their money. Jennifer is unsure if Obama will run because he's cautious and you really need a fire in your belly to go for the presidency. Anna thinks Obama is great, though probably wouldn't vote for him. Interestingly, Anna believes Giuliani is a one note candidate and she wants to know what he's done lately. Good question. According to Jennifer, McCain seems to be the candidate the democrats fear, though she stresses that 2008 is a long time away. Yes it is. We could start another war or lose another American city before that election rolls around.

Next we have a repeat of the Rick Sanchez piece and then we move onto a Randy Kaye piece on Cyrus Kar, an Iranian American who was detained in Iraq at Abu Ghraib prison for 55 days. Cyrus was in Iraq to do a documentary that had nothing to do with the war. One day his taxi was stopped at a checkpoint and forces found washing machine timers, which are often used in bomb making. Later the driver confessed that they were his, but at the time Cyrus was accused and taken away. He showed his passport and veteran card to no avail. Eventually he was proclaimed innocent and released, but not until after undergoing what he claims was abuse at the hands of his US captors. Now he is sueing Rumsfeld and others. I'd like to believe this guy is lying and I'd like to be able to say I haven't heard this kind of thing before. But I can't. I know the terrorists are trained to say they were abused/tortured, but this man is not a terrorist. He's an innocent American and this never should have happened.

Transitioning now to a repeat of the Ted Rollins piece and then we have Jeff Toobin and Lisa Bloom again for more OJ talk. Like last hour, Toobin again goes after Murdoch, Fox, and Harper Collins. He's really disturbed about the corporate complicity going on here and he thinks it really says something about their corporate values. It's all about the mighty dollar, Toobin. He also thinks Judith Regan is crazy and muses about bringing in a CNN psychiatric analyst. Do they have one of those? I guess they'd just get Sanjay. He knows everything! Anyway, listening to Toobin I can't help but crack up because I have never seen him like this. A written recap really doesn't do it justice. Anderson mentions that he's getting emails from people that are angry they're even talking about OJ at all since it gives the book/special publicity. It wasn't me this time, I swear! Anderson's reasoning for the coverage is that people should be informed before they buy or watch. Okay, but we could have been informed with just the facts in a three minute piece. How do you explain all the rest of this? I mean, you had people call in for crying out loud. Lisa doesn't think they have to apologize because it's a legitimate news story. Uh, maybe on your network. You're not on Court TV right now Lisa, you're on CNN. I really, really hope that this is it for the OJ coverage.

Up next we have a Sanjay Gupta piece on laughter yoga, which is basically just people forming clubs and laughing together. Laughing can actually do all kinds of good things like decrease stress hormones and boost the immune system. I completely agree that sometimes laughter is the best medicine. Whenever I'm in a lot of pain I'll usually try to laugh about it because it does work a little. However I never laugh like the people in this footage. Freaky. Anderson agrees, calling it the "scary footage of people laughing."

Finally tonight we have another preview clip from the Friday night special. I'll be blogging the special later this weekend and will be including several great Katrina related links, so stay tuned.

Screencaps by stormi0611.

Do you believe Cyrus Kar?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Killer Weather, Iraq Kidnapping, Hoyer's Win, Bush In Vietnam, More OJ, And Yukking It Up For Katrina (Thursday's First Hour)

Hi everyone. I hope all the readers are of legal age because we're kicking the night off in Vegas, baby! Okay, yeah, it's actually not going to be as fun as it sounds because we start tonight with a killer tornado that hit North Carolina. Rick Sanchez is on the scene and we get the requisite "it sounded like a train" quote from a survivor. I actually never believed that until I heard it myself. It really does sound just like a train. I've never actually been in a real tornado that touched down, but believe me, the downbursts are just as scary. I was so freaked out that I actually drove all the way home without even realizing that my back windshield was gone and I was sitting on glass. Yeah, my car was totaled. Still ran though. Anyway, the town that took the worst hit didn't even have a warning siren. You'd think they'd have one of those.

We then have a piece from Rob Marciano that breaks down the wacky weather we've all been experiencing. Wednesday in St. Louis it literally rained all day. I was about to start gathering up two of every animal. Now that I see what some people got I feel bad about complaining. Anyway, the storm went through the gulf states and then up the east coast, dropping tornados and rain. As we move on to a David Mattingly piece we learn that one of those tornados flattened a skating rink that had a daycare inside. Initially it looked as if all the children were dead, but as it turns out none of them even have any serious injuries. Now THAT is awesome news.

Transitioning now to Iraq and Michael Ware joins us live to inform us that approximately 14 security contractors in a supply convoy were kidnapped when they stopped at an Iraqi checkpoint. Four of the contractors are Americans. We learn that the kidnapping occurred in a Shia dominated territory and therefore Michael thinks it was paramilitary. Anderson wants to know if they're still beheading people over there. Thinking about your trip, Anderson? As it turns out, yes, they are. Beheadings are the speciality of the Sunnis, while the Shia prefer to just drill you to death. Lovely. Michael states that there are three kinds of kidnappings: for ransom, politically motivated, and sectarian motivated. Are you sure you want to go back over there, Anderson?

Next up we have a piece from Dana Bash that I can only call extremely biased. Steny Hoyer beat out John Murtha for majority leader and some in the media have taken this as something catastrophic for Nancy Pelosi since she backed Murtha. The spin and rhetoric here is simply amazing. Dana is throwing around phrases like "stinging defeat" and "major strategic blunder". If I only watched CNN I'd think the house democrats were in tatters and about to implode. Thank God I get my news from other places too. Earlier I was watching Keith Olbermann's show and he covered it quite differently. In fact, the reporter on his show didn't seem to think the situation was a big deal at all.

Some of you reading right now might be thinking, "but that show is liberal." And you'd be right. But here's the problem, I know Countdown leans left now (when I first started watching it was pretty objective with hard news). I'm not stupid. I catch the leading questions and know that a lot of the analysts are picked because they often reinforce a certain view. 360 is suppose to be my objective news program and it wasn't with this story. It was the opposite of Countdown, meaning they took a turn to the right. There are over 200 democrats in the House and every one of them has their own viewpoint about what happened in there. And I'm betting there's not one reporter that talked to every single one of them. I don't think Dana and CNN consciously did a biased piece, but they bought into the conventional wisdom spin and then tried to sell it to we the viewers. Meanwhile, the republican senate just elected Trent Lott as minority whip by a margin of one vote. We do remember why Lott got kicked out last time, right? So why was a story on that not aired along with this negative Pelosi story? For a show that often promises to give us "all the angles" they missed a really big angle tonight. Anyway, after her piece we get Dana live and she tells us that some of the newbie House members were asked to switch their votes to Murtha, but they wanted Hoyer, so they refused. Good for them. I wanted Murtha, but you should never vote for someone or something you don't want or believe in.

Up next we have an Ed Henry piece on Bush's trip to Vietnam. Hey, does this count toward finishing his service? Maybe they'll keep him. One can only hope. Bush is there to talk free trade at a summit, but it's kind of awkward for him to be there now because of the parallels between Iraq and the Vietnam War. At least Ed gives the impression that it's awkward or weird. For all we know Bush has thought about nothing but cheeseburgers since he got there. Keeping with the Vietnam parallels we have a Jamie McIntyre piece that ties in the generals. Some are now saying that General Abizaid should be replaced. If he's advocating stay the course I tend to agree he should go.

On now to OJ coverage again. Oh yay! Because you can never get too much of a murderer who is making money off his crime. In a Ted Rollins piece we learn that even OJ's own lawyer thinks the book is in bad taste. We also learn that both ABC and NBC turned down the television special. TV networks with standards. Who'd a thunk it? I'm actually feeling pretty good right now because those are the two networks I watch most, besides CNN of course. Already the book is climbing the charts at Amazon and major book stores plan to sell it. Though ironically, Murder Ink, a small store specializing in the crime genre, doesn't plan to sell it.

Jeffrey Toobin and Court TV's Lisa Bloom are back again, this time to discuss a statement that has been put out by Judith Regan, the book's publisher. It goes a little something like this: blah blah...I've been a victim myself...blah blah blah...Katie Couric did it too...blah blah's okay because I paid through a third party...blah blah blah...Nicole and Ron are in my heart...blah blah blah. Toobin claims this is the "single most deranged statement" from a corporate figure he's ever heard. He reminds us that this isn't just a deal with Judith Regan, it's a deal with Rubert Murdoch's company and Harper Collins. I wonder how Anderson feels about his book being connected to evil like that. Lisa points out that while Judith is obviously immoral here, OJ might have actually done something illegal. Please let it be something that doesn't involve a public trial. Anderson then discloses that the 360 team debated whether they should even cover this at all since it kind of gives OJ publicity and Anderson says he himself wrestles with the question. Well I guess I should be happy that they're at least thinking about these things. I still think it's way too much.

On to something more fun, we have a taped interview with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and Billy Crystal. The trio are on what Billy dubs the we "still have our own hips tour" in order to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Whoopi is loath to say it, but she believes that the response would have been different if it was mostly white people and Billy agrees with her. I'm not sure I do. To me it was more of a class thing, as well as a timing thing. After all, there were plenty of white victims in Mississippi, they just didn't get as much coverage. It's not that Bush is racist, it's that he just doesn't care about anything or anybody that doesn't benefit him politically. If Katrina hit in August 2004 I bet you anything Bush would have been there on the ground with help surrounding him. And the whole time he would have been thinking of all the great photops that he could then use during the election. Unfortunately the hurricane hit in an off year and Bush just didn't care enough to even watch the news. This is what happens when you elect people to run the government that don't believe in government. Anyway, as I mentioned before, Robin Williams is also there, so even though this is an interview in name, Anderson doesn't actually have to ask any questions. Robin of course interrupts everyone through the whole thing and Anderson yuks it up, which is basically the only thing you can do in that situation.

Joe Johns doing the headlines tonight for a change. It's nice to see them giving him a shot at the anchor desk. I like Joe. Gary Tuchman's another fave if anyone in power happens to be reading this. The Shot tonight is a guy doing a slam dunk for $100,000 for charity. Kind of meh, but they can't all be laughing babies. The show tonight could have been better. The OJ story is getting way too much coverage and the political coverage is slanted. C-

Screencaps by stillife.

Anyone ever been in a tornado? Do you think race played into the Hurricane Katrina response?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bin Laden, Al Jazeera, More OJ, and Sibling Genetics (Wednesday's Second Hour)

Hi guys. The second hour begins with a rerun of all the General Abizaid coverage and then we go into a Brian Todd piece on the democrat's plan for catching Bin Laden. One of their ideas is to double the amount of special forces, but it's pointed out that special forces are only one component and you need intelligence first. The piece then proceeds to knock down the rest of the democratic ideas. I guess the lesson here is that reality is more complicated than talking points. Color me surprised. Now why exactly have I not seen anything like this regarding the republicans and their lists of talking points?

Up next we have a Tom Foreman piece on a new West Point study that has found Bin Laden is having less and less influence on jihadists. Apparently clerics have more power now and his big network is being replaced with smaller independent cells that communicate through the internets. "Jaw Breaker" author Gary Berntsen and William McCants (connected to the study) then join us to discuss this development and Anderson urges everyone to read Gary's book. He also brings up the "The Looming Tower" and endorses that one too. Dude! That's three books I'm suppose to read just from one show! I'm having enough trouble keeping up with my magazine subscriptions. Blogging takes time y'all. Anderson doesn't know what he's doing to me. I've got a book problem. They're like crack to me. And now Anderson is playing the part of my dealer. ANYway, Gary disagrees with William that the internet is of main importance now. He points out that Bin Laden set up the camps and people aren't being trained on the internet. Gary also wants the US to start dealing with Iraq's neighbors.

Moving on to an Anderson piece on the new channel Al Jazeera English. They've hired a lot of people from all over (including CNN and ABC) and they'll be doing international news with a presentation that Americans are used to. Unfortunately not many of them will get to see it because no cable provider will touch the channel. As of right now you can only watch them on the internet. That's a shame because I'd watch it. I think Al Jazeera has gotten a bad rap due to a lot of lies. First off, they've never shown anyone being beheaded, though Rumsfeld has said they have. Plus the US actually used to like Al Jazeera because they're independent and would critically report on their own region. However once they started critically reporting on the US they fell out of favor. I urge everyone to see Control Room , a great documentary about the channel. The most compelling person in the movie is Lt. Josh Rushing because you literally get to watch him kind of mentally process the war as the invasion occurs. What's funny is he didn't even know really what the cameras were for and had no idea he was the star of a major documentary. Rushing has left the military and now works for Al Jazeera International.

Continuing on this topic we have a taped interview with new Al Jazeera English employee David Marash, formerly of ABC. He states that a lot of charges against Al Jazeera have no grounds and nothing ever goes on the air unedited. See? Anderson wants to know if terrorists will actually be called terrorists. The answer is yes, but on our way to yes David goes through a long explanation that's probably going to leave some people skeptical. At the end of the interview Anderson wishes him luck, but not too much luck since he's a competitor. Uh, they're not even carried by cable, I think you're safe.

Transitioning now back to OJ. This is way too much. I appreciate that the coverage is anti-OJ, but it's still giving him publicity and probably getting some people interested in watching the special, so...stop it 360. Joining us for an interview we have prosecutor Christopher Darden. He tells us that he normally doesn't even think about OJ, but this was all too much for him and he had to come on and ask people to boycott. His mind if really boggled by all this too and at one point he literally becomes speechless. From this we go back to our previous OJ panel for a call in segment. Every once in a blue moon Anderson likes to pretend he's Larry King, just without the suspenders and somewhat charming cluelessness. I usually like the call ins, but I'm just really not into this whole topic. There are five calls. Two of the callers are outraged like the panel and want to know what they can do to stop it. Another caller talks specifics about the glove and the two remaining are hanging onto the notion that OJ is innocent. In regards to the latter, Toobin practically throws his hands up in the air and cries, "I can't work with these people." Okay, not really, but that's what it seemed like.

Finally tonight we have a piece from Sanjay Gupta, proud owner of a new baby blog. The piece focuses on twin brothers who were separated at birth and then reunited 24 years later. One brother had a hard life and the other brother had a much easier one. The interesting thing is that both brothers are equally happy. It's been found that 80% of personality is genetic. I can believe that. My siblings and I have similar weird, snarky personalities. Anyway, we then get some headlines and that'll do it.

Screencaps by sherynroyce.

Anyone seen Control Room?

Iraq, The Majority Leader Race, And...OJ? Oh Here We Go (Wednesday's First Hour)

Hello everyone. We begin tonight with the grilling General Abizaid just got during a hearing on Iraq. A Jamie McIntyre piece breaks it down for us. General Abizaid believes phased redeployment would make things worse, but adding troops wouldn't help either. Basically he wants the troop levels to stay the same. Tell me how this isn't stay the course? For once the democrats and republicans are both in agreement: they're not happy about what the general is telling them. Jamie then joins us live and indicates that though the White House has said they would listen to the Iraq Study Group, they never said they'd follow through with their suggestions. Now it seems like the new plan is only to tweak existing policy. This is not what the American people voted for last week.

Moving on now to a Dana Bash piece where it's pointed out that the GOP actually was asking the tougher questions during the hearing. McCain accuses General Abizaid of perpetuating the status quo. However, Hillary gets her two cents in there too, claiming, "Hope is not a strategy." Suddenly Anderfans all over the world yell, "Hey, that's Anderson's line! And you're quoting him wrong." Following the piece we're joined by "Cobra II" author Michael Gordon and upon introducing him, Anderson urges everyone to read his book. Michael thinks redeployment is not realistic due to the security situation. Anderson wants to know why the US can't just force the Iraqis to stand up, but Michael believes the militias want us to leave. Anderson also points out that the Abizaid plan sounds suspiciously like stay the course. Thank you! That's what I'm saying. You know, I don't think anyone thinks we can just leave and everything will be okay over there. There will be a bloodshed. The thing is, there's bloodshed now and nothing is changing. Prior to the war all these analysts and experts thought they knew exactly what was going to happen and as it turned out they knew nothing. So how can we believe them now? I say keep a small force in Al Anbar to fight the jihadists and redeploy the majority of the troops left to Kuwait or somewhere close so that if a massive bloodshed begins they can go right back.

On now to a Joe Johns piece on the House majority leader race and it's getting interesting. Apparently a quarter century ago John Murtha got caught up in what is known as Abscam, which was an FBI sting operation to expose public corruption. Now there's an FBI tape making the rounds of Murtha being offered money in return for political favors for a sheik. Now, Murtha actually turned down the bribe, but if you watch the tape, it doesn't seem like he was completely against it. This tape is coming from the American Spectator a far right publication that obviously wants Steny Hoyer to win majority leader. The magazine claims that what Murtha did may have been legal, but it wasn't ethical. This is hilarious coming from what is probably one of the most unethical mags out there. Read David Brock's "Blinded By The Right" and you'll see what I mean. Anyway, I've heard whispers of Murtha possibly having ethics issues before, but I think I still want him over Hoyer. Nancy Pelosi is just going to have to watch him and make sure he stays in line. Because if she doesn't, I'm sure the republicans will. And if they do expose true corruption then I'll say good for them because we shouldn't put up with that regardless of party.

Next up we have a mini round table with Candy Crowley and John King. Anderson states that Murtha's district doesn't seem to have a problem with Abscam, but John counters that Murtha is not running in his district. He's running for the number two seat in a party that ran on the topic of ethics. So it's kind of different, especially since the majority leader controls the day to day leadership of the house. Candy thinks Hoyer has the votes. Interesting. Then Bill Schneider pops in. Been napping and miss your cue, Bill? You're a little late. Bill points out that the ballots are secret so someone could think they have the votes, only to be anonymously betrayed. The round table also retreads a lot of the Iraq coverage with John pointing out that General Shinseki was right. Hasn't everyone pretty much known that for a long time now? Bill closes it up by saying that the voters made it clear that the status quo is unacceptable.

Big transition now to a Randy Kaye piece on OJ Simpson. He's the news. Oh goodie. If you can believe it (and I still kind of can't), OJ has actually written a book titled, "If I did it, here's how it happened" and the book goes into great detail of him killiing his wife and Ron Goldman. You know, if he did it. Sick, sick, sick! Randy takes us on a little trip down sensational news memory lane, recapping the whole saga from the white Bronco to the media circus. I was 15 at the time and even then I knew the coverage was ridiculous. I did my best to not pay attention and I never even had an opinion as to whether he did it or not. The whole thing was a spectacle that could not be escaped.

Up next we have an interview with Fred Goldman, Ronald Goldman's father. I cannot imagine what he must be going through. To lose a child alone is horrific, but to lose a child in such a brutal way and the killer is not only not behind bars, but he's writing books about it? I don't even know how this man can function. Even the perpetually objective Anderson is making it quite clear how he feels about the whole situation. As if the book itself isn't enough, Fox is airing a two hour special in which the publisher, Judith Regan, interviews this...this...I can't even think of a word to describe what he is. Fox and Regan are disgusting. And I'm sorry, but any of you out there planning to watch or read this book are pretty disgusting too. Fred wants everyone to boycott and since I actually don't watch anything on Fox, I'm already on board. What's sad is that a month from now I'll probably have to stop myself from hurling when I see the book on the New York Times best seller list. Because you know people will buy it. Not people like me because I actually have standards and integrity, but judging by what gets ratings lately, many people do not. Anderson's mind is boggled regarding how OJ could do this to his own kids. I make fun of Anderson saying that phrase all the time, but it really is mind boggling. Anyway, it was good of 360 to give Fred a voice and Anderson treated him really well.

Moving on now to...well actually we're not moving on. Oh, I guess this is the part where 360 stays with a story way too long. They do this every time with these sensational things. You covered it, you're done now. Except they're not done. Joining us we have Lisa Bloom from Court TV, Jeffrey Toobin who wrote a book about OJ (I didn't know that), and forensic guy Lawrence Koblinsky. Toobin majorly has his boxers in a twist over this. He calls OJ a "replusive, hideous guy." You bring it Toobin! He and Lisa both flat out say OJ is the murderer. Anderson is upset the family can't get the book money, but Lisa thinks there might be a way. Toobin on the other hand is sure OJ has it hidden in some offshore account or something. So okay, everyone is getting their chance to proclaim how horrible OJ is, but really, what's the point here? The fact that Toobin thinks OJ is repulsive is not really newsworthy. At the close of the panel we get to find out who will be watching the special. Anderson is the only one that says he will not watch. Good on you Anderson! And I'm not just saying that because you're my favorite. I cannot believe these other three. For shame. And just because you don't have a Nielson box, Lisa, doesn't mean it's okay. Some things are still wrong even when no one knows you're doing them. This is why I hate people sometimes. They're so disappointing.

Anderson then strikes a pose (it's like clockwork people!) to intro us into a kind of "Where Are They Now?" piece regarding the OJ trial players. Where are they now? I didn't even care where they were then. And what is this, VH1? So, so pointless. Well that will do it for the first hour. I have to admit that I sort of found the show entertaining, but I don't grade for entertaining. C-

Screencaps by stillife.

Any thoughts on General Abizaid? Murtha? Okay, okay, talk about OJ if you must.
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