Thursday, May 31, 2007

More TB Talk, Raw Politics, Secret Earmarks, NJ Teen Dies In Africa, Fred Thompson, New Orleans Update, And A Spelling Bee (Wednesday's Show)

Hi guys. I'm just going to combine the two hours since I'm blogging them both at the same time anyway. We begin tonight with the tuberculosis scare and Anderson brings us up to date with what we know so far. He tells us that the man with the TB is an Atlanta lawyer who knew he had drug resistant TB and even though his doctors told him not to travel, he did anyway. Then he was told to get treatment in Rome, but he refused. Okay, already I have issues here. First of all, yesterday we were told that the man didn't know he had the extreme form of drug resistant TB until he was "halfway through his trip to Europe." Also, the way they're wording it kind of makes it sound like he didn't want to get treatment, when really he just didn't want to get treatment in Rome. And as far as what his doctors (or even the CDC) told him, some of the messages seemed to be a little mixed. I'm not defending this guy, but someone needs to play devil's advocate because already the tone is way one sided.

Next up we're joined by Sanjay Gupta and Anderson asks if this whole thing is overblown. Sanjay tells us this is potentially a big problem, but for only a small number of people. We also learn that the World Health Organization has no record of cases ever being transfered on a plane. Anderson wants to know why the man is in isolation then. Sanjay explains "it's one of these things in medicine where you -- you -- you hope for the best, and you prepare for the worst." He also notes that to spread TB a person needs to be coughing and so far this guy isn't symptomatic like that. Anderson then reveals he's going to be paranoid about his flights now. Dude, he practically lives on a plane. If he hasn't caught the plague yet I think he's good to go. If anything, he should be worrying about deep vein thrombosis. Move those legs, Anderson! Sanjay tells us that to take precautions against picking up something on a plane we should ask the pilot to turn on the air pack for extra circulation, stay hydrated, and wash our hands. Sounds simple enough.

Moving on now to a Rusty Dornin piece that kind of lays out the whole TB story. Right now the man is under armed guard at Grady Memorial in Atlanta. We're told that he was warned not to travel, "but he insisted his marriage and honeymoon plans were non-negotiable, saying he would wear a mask while flying." Okay, but I don't think the mask was his idea. I'm pretty sure officials told him if he did travel he should wear a mask and that's a huge mixed message right there. Also, he told a reporter of the "Atlanta Journal Constitution" that he didn't turn himself in in Rome because "he was very concerned that this would make it impossible for him to have some cutting-edge treatment in Denver that was planned. And -- and he -- he said he feared for his life." So it's not as black and white as saying he refused treatment.

For the legal questions of the case we're next joined by Jeffrey Toobin. Anderson asks if the CDC got this right regarding the public's right to know vs. patient privacy. Toobin doesn't think they did get it right and believes they should have named the man. I totally disagree (and I realize at this point he's already been named). That's a slippery slope I don't want to be walking on. As a friend noted, if we do stuff like that, why don't we have a public database of everyone who has HIV/AIDS? It's hard to tell where that line is, but it's not like we're in the movie Outbreak or anything. Also, Toobin states that he thinks the guy consciously flew to Montreal and then drove to Atlanta in order to avoid the law. And you know, he's probably right, but at this point can we please wait for all the facts to come in before saying something like that? As for the legal aspects, Toobin says there could be manslaughter charges if someone were to die from catching TB from this guy. However, suing the CDC would be much more difficult. Anderson then brings up a very good question: "Aren't people less likely to come forward if they feel that the government is then going to print their picture in the paper and say, this person has this dangerous disease?" Exactly.

Okay, so I'm a little surprised at how slanted 360's coverage was of this whole story. I'm missing tons of angles here. Yeah, this guy was really stupid not to listen to what his doctor told him. But here's the thing; there will always be that guy. You know, the guy that doesn't listen or doesn't read the directions or is selfish and does what he wants get the picture. But shouldn't a functioning government expect and be able to handle that guy with no problems? Is it just me or does anyone else kind of get the feeling that the CDC and other officials were caught with their pants down? I don't even have a clear picture yet of exactly what happened. Does anybody? This should freak us all out because lest we forget, the adminstration is more than happy to remind us every five minutes there are people out there that want to do us harm. They want to do us harm with maybe an engineered supervirus. You get my drift. Why are we not more prepared for this stuff?! And regarding 360, why isn't the bulk of this coverage focused on that? What's the plan? What resources are in place? How are we communicating with the international community? And so on and so on. C'mon guys.

Transitioning now to "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman. First up we learn that Clinton has landed her the endorsement of LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. While telling us this, Tom uses the phrases "saddle up" and "in the corral." Um...Next we learn that application fees for immigrants are doubling, but Bush also wants to double the money for AIDS relief in Africa. Damn, he's doing something good. Record the moment, people! We also learn that Giuliani celebrated his 63rd birthday by asking for lots of money and finally, Cheney just gets scarier and scarier. "Newly released legal documents show that Vice President Cheney wants to keep all records of anyone who visits his home strictly confidential." So he does believe in civil liberties-just, you know, only for him.

Erica with the headlines now and she ends with news on those wayward whales. This gets Anderson talking about some scene in "Broadcast News" that even though I saw the movie, I cannot remember at all. Dang, that's going to bug me. Damn you Cooper! In tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" we learn that some poor Wendy's manager got shot because he wasn't giving out enough chili sauce. What the hell? "How much chili sauce do you need?" asks Anderson. Seriously. Erica thinks it had to be about more than chili sauce. Oh, naive Erica. Spend a few years in retail and then get back to me. We once had to call the cops due to a mini brawl that broke out over a shopping cart. People are stupid, what can I say?

Transitioning to a repeat Drew Griffin "Keeping Them Honest" piece on earmarks. This is followed by a new Drew piece on an earmark that was slipped into the intelligence bill by democrat John Murtha. The earmark was for the National Drug Intelligence Center that basically does the same stuff that the DEA and FBI are already doing, so it's a waste of money, but brings jobs to Murtha's district. That's how it works, folks. A republican congressman proposed shutting it down, but then Murtha went all Sopranos on him and threatened to eliminate earmarks in his district. After being called out on his tactics, Murtha apologized. Okay, I always love it when those in power are "kept honest" (even the democrats-and Murtha has a reputation for this kind of stuff), but I've got me some "backseat bloggers" who are really ticked about this piece. The argument being that yes, the democrats are in power now, but where is the context in regards to how horrible the republicans were with pork? My backseaters have a good point. It's great 360 is on the ball now, but for the longest time the republicans got a total free pass (from the majority of all media) and some context would be nice.

Moving on now to a Randi Kaye piece on high schooler Felicia Moore's school trip to Ghana. She never made it home alive and now the question is, what happened? Her body was found in the hotel pool the day after she arrived, but there was no pruning of her skin, meaning she probably wasn't in the pool overnight. We're shown a video of the kids at the pool the night they arrived and it's noted that Phylicia left the pool area alone to go to her room, but never made it there. The kids say there was no alcohol or drugs on the trip, but they think the chaperoning was lax and the roommate didn't even report her missing. Apparently there were no bed checks or anything. Ghana's ambassador to the U.S. is working on the mystery, so I guess we'll see. I've been both a student on a trip and a chaperone and the thing that sticks out to me is the roommate not reporting her gone. That doesn't seem right. Also, no bed checks?! You've gotta have bed checks because kids are always up to something. Trust me, I was a kid who was up to something. After the piece we have Randi live and Anderson is really upset. He notes that they continued with the trip after she died. What?! That's messed up. Randi tells us, "They wanted to continue the mission in Phylicia's honor." "Oh c'mon!" says Anderson. Seriously.

Next up we have a preview of the David Mattingly special that airs Thursday. The Shot tonight is a firefighter coming headfirst out of window of a burning building and then kind of sliding down a ladder. Whoa. Okay, so we're at the halftime point now and this hour kicks off with a Candy Crowley piece on a possible presidential run for Fred Thompson. She begins with, "It's taking on the feel of a political striptease, inch by inch he's getting there and the audience cheers him on." Um, ew. You know, some of us have a snack at the top of the hour and could do without that image. Anyway, Thompson is running third in the polls-even though he's not technically running yet. This is most likely due to conservatives not being happy with McCain, Giuliani, or Romney. After the piece we have discussion with Candy and John King, but I'm going to skip that to try to shorten this up. Next we've got repeat TB coverage.

Transitioning now to some NOLA coverage (Yay!) and we're live with Susan Roesgen for the latest on a recent Mayor Nagin speech. We're told he touted some progress and then blamed the feds and the state. However, the hook here is that then he went off script and suddenly seemed to cast himself as the Robin William's character in a warped version of the climax from "Good Will Hunting", telling New Orleans over and over, "It's not our fault!" Is New Orleans going to cry now? Oh wait, they've been crying for 21 months. Susan has the reality check for us: they're still at less than half of pre-Katrina population, 40,000 still live in FEMA trailers (down from 90,000), 20,000 out of 140,000 applicants have gotten Road Home money, four out of eight hospital have reopened with the number of beds down by two-thirds, they're down 400 officers, and murder is up-78 so far. Unbelievable.

Next up we're joined by Julia Reed, New Orlean's resident and senior writer for "Vogue". She tells us the whole speech was just a bunch of exaggeration and optimism and she notes that any good things he touted didn't come from his office. Anderson asks if the state is turning its back on the city. Julia says yes and she points out that there's a $3 billion surplus in Baton Rouge that could be used to help the city, but they seem to have forgotten. Anderson brings up how all the progress he sees seems to come from individuals stepping up. Julia agrees and then talks about how Nagin is never in the city. She also says his speech was like a "tent revival meeting" and though the hurricane wasn't NOLA's fault, it exposed problems that were already there. Finally, Julia says the only way the speech would have been great is if Nagin would have resigned. Heh, yeah, keep dreaming. Guys like him don't resign. They cling on, Alberto Gonzales-style.

Moving on now to a repeat of the Gary Tuchman piece on the murder of Irene Garza. Judging from the searches to this blog, this piece was pretty popular, so I guess that's why the rerun. Afterwards we've got blog comments. Then we're on to a Tom Foreman piece on Samir Patel and his last shot at Spelling Bee Champ glory. See, Samir's been trying for five years now to bring home the trophy, but never comes in first. This is his last shot, so let's hope he makes it. Although I'm kind of disturbed a 13 year old can spell so much better than me. You know what I blame? Spell check. It made us all go soft. Afterwards Anderson tells us, "You should see a documentary called "Spellbound," if you're interested. It's a great documentary about what it's like to be in the spelling bee." Wow, full service news. Recommendations and everything. And thank you, Anderson, for reminding me I wanted to rent that.

Erica with the headlines again...except...oh noes! There's a problem with taped Erica. "Whoa. Whoa. Let's bring her back. Where did Erica Hill go? What happened there? A little technical snafu. A little late at night technical snafu. Nothing better than that for live television," says Anderson. Well, it does keep it interesting for us. And now I'm imagining Erica sitting at home going, "hey!" Anyway, Anderson doesn't end up having to stall for three minutes because they fix it...and they're still talking about that pig. Which, BTW, doesn't that thing look like it belongs on the tv show "Lost"? Okay show tonight. I think they could have done the TB stuff better. Oh, and where was the Greenland stuff that Anderson promised in his blog post in which he recounts the unhygienic time he spent there? And if anyone wants to let me in on what not brushing your teeth has to do with being cold, I'd be much obliged. Boys are so gross sometimes. He's lucky he's cute. Or, er, I meant he's lucky he's an amazing journalist. Ahem. B-


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