Friday, February 09, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith Dies, Iraqis Arrest Health Minister, No Justice In NOLA, And Herbert Gettridge! (Thursday's First Hour)

Hi everyone. Well, what can I say? This is one of those days when I wonder why I do this blog or why I even watch cable news at all. Anderson comes to us from New Orleans tonight, but you wouldn't know that watching the majority of the first hour. As I'm sure you all know by now, Anna Nicole Smith has died. And apparently the country is riveted. I was a little sad when I found out. I have the feeling that under that slutty exterior she was a pretty nice person who was most likely a bit exploited in her life and is now most definitely exploited in her death. I knew 360 would be all over the story and I really can't throw all my wrath on them because even my beloved Keith Olbermann led with Anna's passing.

The coverage begins with a John Zarrella piece that lays out what happened. Well, he's just getting great material these days isn't he? Anyway, Anna was found unconscious in a Florida hotel and her bodyguard did CPR. It sounds like she was dead on arrival at the hospital. This is basically all that's known, but they pad the piece with things like tastelessly interviewing witnesses at the hospital. After this we get a profile piece on Anna from Gary Tuchman and then move into an interview with friend John James and Jennifer Saginor, author of "Playground: A Childhood Lost Inside the Playboy Mansion." There's no reason to blog this. I had some snark ready, but I didn't realize the guy was her friend, so we're moving on to Sanjay Gupta who talks about what might have happened. But you know what? He doesn't know any more than I do. Let's see how many minutes of "news" we can fill with speculation.

We're also joined by Dr. Cyril Wecht, who did the autopsy on Anna's son Daniel. More speculation. After that we've got Jeffrey Toobin and Anna'a former attorney Lenard Leeds to discuss the custody issues regarding Anna's infant daughter. At this point I am hit with the realization that this could turn into a long drawn out sensational cable ratings bonanza. Oh God. The only thing that even caught my attention here was Anderson saying, "And Jeffrey, forgive me, I haven't been following this case perhaps as closely as some cases, but what is the paternity issue?" Anderson never apologize for something like that. I would be upset if I though you were following this case closely. Okay, so that was thirty five minutes of my life I'll never get back. We could be bombing Iran right now and we wouldn't even know it. Seriously, I shudder to think of what the adminstration is doing while they have all this media cover.

Transitioning now to some actual hard news. We've got Michael Ware live to talk about the fact that Iraqi forces just arrested the deputy health minister. Whoa. Michael says this is a big deal. Hmm. Like perhaps top story worthy big deal? We're told that the Iraqi units that did the arresting answer to US forces and not the Iraqi government, which basically means this is a US detention and that raises issues regarding Iraq's sovereignty. Anderson asks if Maliki knew this was coming and Michael's not sure. But what he can tell us is that the Iraq government is nothing but a bunch of militias that have carved up all the ministries. The Ministry of Health is one that Muqtadar al-Sadr got. So this could defintely get interesting. Let's see, thirty five minutes on Anna Nicole and about three minutes or so on a major development in Iraq. Yeah, sounds about right to me.

Next up we have a Randi Kaye piece on how the justice system in New Orleans is overwhelmed. Oh yeah, we're in New Orleans aren't we? I must have forgotten. Can't imagine why. In the piece we meet a woman who's son was shot in the head and killed. Someone saw it happen, but is afraid to come forward. By law, prosecutors have only 60 days to charge someone, so if witnesses are intimidated for more than 60 days, the criminal can't be charged. They call it misdemeanor murder and that's exactly what happened with the case of the woman's son. That's incredibly messed up. It sounds like it's getting like Mad Max down there. After the piece Anderson says that the French Quarter is now cleaner than he's ever seen it in his life. I guess they're trying to combat bad publicity by making everything really shiny.

Finally tonight we have a taped interview Anderson did with Herbert Gettridge. Herbert! I'm sure some of you noticed the donate button that went up on this blog about a week ago. We're trying to raise money to help Herbert complete his house and the details can be found here. So far the results from this blog have been fairly disappointing. Besides my own donation there has only been one other, though I have to say that one was very generous. Those two combined with the donations from the other community now have us at $400 for Herbert. I hate to be a pest, but c'mon people! Let's get Herbert back in that house! No amount donated is too small. $5 is fine if that's all you've got to spare. The donate button will remain up through this weekend and then my friend will be buying a giftcard on Monday.

In the interview Herbert tells us the house rebuilding is going good. Anderson asks him about insurance issues and Herbert says, "The insurance, I'll tell you like I told Charlie the last time I seen him. If I did it to the flood insurance, I had no trouble with them. But the homeowners, the homeowners wanted to put everything on the floodwaters." Would that be Charlie Moore, awesome field producer and rare blogger? Aw, they're old friends now. Oh, and insurance companies suck. Herbert tells us that there is one other family living in his Ninth Ward neighborhood and he also tells us that people have been sending him stuff since he last appeared. Apparently if everything goes right, he should have his "old lady" back with him in three to four weeks. Herbert referring to his wife as his "old lady" completely cracks Anderson up. When they're done Herbert again tells them to be good just like last time and also just like last time he totally starts walking away while still wearing the mic. Anderson scrambles, "Actually, wait. Hold on. This is what happened last time, you walked off right before. We need to get your mic off there." Adorable.

The Shot tonight is a poor stranded kitty in a frozen creek. Don't worry, they save him. The show tonight...had such potential and completely disappointed me. I get that they don't control the news that happens, but they do control what to cover. Lou Dobbs made the choice not to cover the Anna Nicole story at all. 360 could have just done one quick piece on it and spent the rest of the time on NOLA and Iraq. I mean, why the hell fly down there anyway? It's not just to rack up Anderson's frequent flier miles. This reminds me of when the Katrina anniversary played second fiddle to the Warren Jeff's arrest. C+

Your thoughts on the Anna Nicole coverage? Did you donate yet?

Screencap by stillife.


Anonymous ivy said...

@eliza -- They had to cover Anna Nicole. Death is a big event. Unlike what they covered the past 2 days. I guess the astronaut will be left alone for quite some time, you think? Now that will be replaced by autopsy and paternity test speculation, then results, then speculation about what they mean, on-going court case, potential custody battle. And on and on and on. Oh, I'm sure they'll be milking this ratings cow.

I agree they could have spent just 15 minuts on it, instead they tried to make psychics out of MDs. I'm sure Anderson made that remark about not following the case 'cause of frustration how much airtime had to be given to this story when he had very different plans for the show.

3:56 AM  
Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

"And Jeffrey, forgive me, I haven't been following this case perhaps as closely as some cases, but what is the paternity issue?" I noticed that he at least looked sort of sorry that he didn't care....

And um, no, I saw a few episodes of Anna's realty show a few years back (don't ask me why, I don't know). The woman was already brain-dead. I know that's rude considering she died, but, she was truly a dimwit. And her speaking voice drove me nuts. I agree with you though, it seems that mostly they drag in experts and speculate about all sorts of things to fill space. Why can't they go, 'we don't know, but we'll tell you when we do?'

I made happy squee noises when I saw Herbert. I knew you'd be happy. I laughed my head off when Anderson started laughing (almost hysterically) at how Herbert called his wife "my old lady". Anderson was like, "your old lady? you call her that?" hahahahahaha..... yeah, that part was great. And I liked that they showed Anderson chasing after him and trying to take his mic off. I like it when they show people being normal. It's great.

7:08 AM  
Anonymous Dannie said...

I found the extensive and highly speculative coverage of Anna Nicole Smith's death very distaseful, and even somewhat ghoulish. Unfortunately, we haven't heard the last of this...

Didn't Michael Ware look like absolute hell? Does the poor bloke ever get any sleep? His eyes were so blurry and unfocused, I just wanted to get him all tucked up in bed!

Ah, Herbert — he's one of a kind! Do you think 360 will go back to visit in a few weeks so we can meet his old lady? I bet she's quite a character too!

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

I noticed that a couple of days ago that Michael looks like hell. It's probably a combination of jetlag and stress, plus he has to stay on our timetable all the while trying to do stuff over there on their time. Poor guy.

Yeah. I cannot wait to meet Herbert's Old Lady- and listen to Anderson giggle everytime he says it :)

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Dannie said...

@sharla: I'm sorry if my comment about Michael sounded flippant; it was far from my intent. I have nothing but admiration and respect for the man, and I am aware that, like all other CNN warzone correspondents, he is submitted to extremely difficult conditions (including constant stress and lack of sleep). The time difference means that their work schedule practically extends over 24 hours a day. I guess my mothering instinct just got the better of me...

11:41 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

@ivy-sure it's news-entertainment news. How long does it take to say that someone died? Certainly not 35 minutes (and that's just the first hour). This was blatant ratings exploitation.

@sharla-Why can't they go, 'we don't know, but we'll tell you when we do?'

If only! The speculation is infuriating.

@dannie-yeah, Michael's looking a little ragged, but I probably would too if I was in Iraq and not sleeping. It's gotta be a rough gig.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

@dannie- I didn't think you sounded flippant at all. He looks heinously buggy-eyed and sort of in a permanent dazed state. He's a wonderful reporter, actually, he's right up there on top of my favorites.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just have to ask that everyone refrain from using phrases like "tucking him in bed" when speaking about Ware, because it sends my mind directly to the gutter! JK, all...sorry!
Anyway, I'm a little disappointed in all the Anna coverage- you're exactly right Eliza- Dubya could be invading Iran and CNN wouldn't give us a clue. IMO, issues such as these should be left to Entertainment Tonight and whatever that other show is, not "the most trusted name in news".
And "ol' lady" is very common here in the South, only you don't pronounce the d. "How's the ol' lady?" or "Your ol' lady know you're here?"

3:24 PM  
Anonymous gissou said...

I agree. Death is a big event. 3000 Congolese die every day. Death occurs in every corner of the world. Children die of abject poverty, of AIDS. Iraqis die everyday in Iraq, hundreds of them at a time. Why is it that CNN and other North American media focus so much time and energy on the death of one person? What was her significant contribution to society? I think we're becoming increasingly more tolerant to blurring the line between hard line news and sensational stories. Interesting to note that BBC world news, which is a 30 minute show, even covered her death. It was just a one liner which in my opinion was one line too many.
Sadly, CNN is like a dog with a new bone when it comes to stories like this.Ain't gonna let go of this bone for a while.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

Yeah! New Bone! Exactly. I say, change the dang dog treats.

Except, of course, that so many people continue to watch this TRIPE.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous ivy said...

@gissou - I do agree with you. Don't forget that BBC is sponsored by government, and if CNN loose audience -- they go off the air. Spending 45 min covering her death is ridiculous, if they spent 15-20 min it's not so bad as covering Karr, OJ or astronaut as they did. What did ANS do for society? Helped release a lot of men's tension, I guess? You're putting some dirty thoughts in my head-)

Why they thought her death touches a lot of people (which must be true)? She just was in a spotlight after her son's death, and she was a symbol of sorts, she was young, her "larger-then-life" blond airhead image and death is quite a shocking combination and attention grabber. Unfortunately, I have to agree that we might not have down out about start of new war till afterwords.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Dannie said...

@anne: I assure you I meant that in a motherly, and completely non-sexual, way... ;-)

@sharla: Yep, Mick's right up there on my list, too!

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

GIRL, I am becoming obsessed with your blog :) I come back umpteen times a day to read comments and respond.... this is the ONLY blog I read about Anderson. Yesterday, I poked around on some other ones and felt the urgent desire to take a shower and wash the ICK off from the experience. OMG. Okay, um, I really hate seeing "OMG! I THINK I'M IN LOVE!" which is a direct quote. GAG me. You can't love someone you DON'T KNOW, get it? Obsess, maybe. Anyhow, I like that we're not all shallow over here (well, minus the occasional comment)....

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Lori A. said...

Did anyone see Countdown tonight? Anderson was mentioned as one of today's Worst Persons in the World.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

WHAT?! for what, I wonder.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

Hmmm... I went and read the Countdown page and the only thing I can find is back on Jan.30 when they were talking about Anderson being compared to Paris Hilton. The nominee was the publicity department of Faux News, not Anderson himself that I can see. Is that what you're referring to?

9:48 PM  
Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

LOL! Eliza!! The young Republican tie has returned!!

10:02 PM  
Anonymous lori a. said...

Keith was referring to a comment that Anderson made in the Men's Journal article where Anderson said that doing 22 minutes of news a day at an anchor desk wasn't for him.

Keith said that the first time Anderson has 22 minutes of actual news on his program they should declare a holiday.

Also said Anderson was less a journalist and more an experiment in mass marketing.

10:05 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@lori-I turned over to PBS in the middle of the show because I wanted to catch NOW, so I missed Worst Person in the World, but I'll catch the repeat tonight. My boyfriends are fighting! Oh noes!

10:12 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@sharla-I love that you love my blog. :)

10:13 PM  
Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

LOL- your boyfriends are fighting..... all I can say to THAT is, "those who feel threatened tend to say mean things about the other person", ahem.

10:17 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

Okay, I just watched the repeat of Countdown. Keith you're breaking my heart! lol So CNN is already doing battle with Faux, I wonder if they'll get into it will MSNBC now.

12:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the producers at Anderson 360 believed if they didn't follow the Anna Nicole Smith the audience would turn to another network and perhaps not come back, at least that evening. They should have more faith in their audience. How much speculation can we all take?
I thought Anderson did a great job of very subtly letting us know 'he was not 'up' on the ANS story line'.
I cannot believe it was his choice to cover the story especially at that length. I felt he was very uncomfortable. I expected no coverage from Lou Dobbs and he didn't let me down.
Although the last thing we need is another award show; I wish there was an award show televised that honored courageous journalism; not necessarily speaking about the war; or at least ethical non posturing day to day journalism. The kind we grew up on.
Call it the EDGAR as in Murrow (did I spell that right) They could also honor 'truthiness' a la Colbert.
It could keep things more honest and perhaps bring more accountability.
For instance if FOX never won ANYTHING journalistically speaking pwehaps to get an award they would change their style....I can dream can't I?. How can Greta work for them? But I digress...the award may send a message about poor coverage. Sort of the equivilent of the Pulitzer Prize for honesty and integrity. Using journalist and people both living and dead who would you have on the selection panel? Perhaps they could give an award for the worst media coverage too. There are endless possibilities. I missed the passing of Molly there was a woman who could use humor and honesty when she wrote. She will be missed. This is my first time responding to anything online.

1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only way I could leave a comment was to go the 'annymous' route.
As a first time responder guess I need to sign up for a blog so they will 'accept' my comments. Sorry, not trying to be subversive etc

1:12 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

Jannie-Welcome to the blog and online commenting! If you click on the "other" option when you post you will be able to simply type in your name.

I really hope you're right and Anderson didn't want to cover the story. Unfortunately it's what people want to see I guess. Their ratings for the broadcast were huge. It's really a sad commentary on us as a society.

As far as awards for news go, there's already the Emmy, Peabody, and Edward R. Murrow award, along with I'm sure others. I like your idea about having an award for bad journalism-kind of like the Razzies for film. Somebody should start giving those out...and they can start with Faux.

1:50 AM  
Anonymous jr said...

You all might be interested in this online article:

It compares the network and cable news and how many minutes devoted to Anna Nicole over the Iraq war. It's interesting to say the least.

I'm betting that the AC360 team had quite a debate on whether to cover the Anna story and for how long....

4:22 PM  
Anonymous ivy said...

@jr -- and I bet the producers won

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

Wow, that's utterly embarrassing for the media. I wrote a nice poem and sent it to them to tell them to shuttup already.

My best friend had a theory that I haven't yet heard one person say: she said that she thinks that Anna Nicole's son was the father of her baby and so he killed himself; that's why she wouldn't get a paternity test. Then, she was so distraught over his death that she killed herself. WHATEVER. It's the most interesting thing I've heard yet, and I REALLY DON'T CARE!!

8:43 AM  

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