Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Missing Pregnant Woman, Taliban Graduation, Raw Politics, Calling Congress, Unneeded Planes, And More Lake Chad Coverage (Monday's First Hour)

Hi everybody. Well, I meant to do Thursday's second hour...and then I didn't. That's the way the blogging ball bounces sometimes. We've got Anderson Cooper back hosting tonight and we're beginning with BREAKING NEWS that has the potential to turn into Laci Peterson 2.0. In an Anderson piece we learn that Jessie Davis, ninth months pregnant, has disappeared from her home. Jessie, BTW, is white, pretty, and probably not the only woman in the country missing right now. Just saying. Anyway, after trying to reach her daughter all day Thursday, Jessie's mother went to her house on Friday and found Jessie's two year old son all alone. Not only that, but the house was ransacked, her comforter was gone, and there was bleach all over the carpet. That last part is particularly disturbing. Also disturbing is that the poor two year old boy keeps saying "mommy's in the rug," and Jessie's mom states he's referring to the comforter. So, yeah, not looking good. After Anderson's piece we have Jim Acosta live and then he intros into a piece of his own that hits on a lot of what we just heard, but also goes into a bit of detail about the father of the two year old. He's a police officer and just had his home raided by the cops, but they stress he's not a suspect. Well, he's about to get tried in the press either way. After this there's an interview Anderson had with Jessie's mother and sister.

Next up, it's graduation season! The speeches, the gowns, and mom and dad with tears in their eyes. You gotta love it, right? Well, normally yes, but the ceremony takes on a whole new meaning when it's Taliban fighters doing the graduating, as well as pledging to fight and die in the west. And a new tape shows exactly that. For discussion about this we're next joined by Peter Bergen. Anderson points out that the tape is propaganda and wonders if we should take it seriously. Peter says we should take the suicide mission part seriously, but is skeptical that they can launch many attacks in the west because most don't speak english. Anderson wonders why the Taliban let a journalist record the ceremony and didn't just do it themeselves like usual. Peter isn't sure, but thinks maybe they were going for more credibility. Anderson notes that one guy on the tape does speak english and Peter indicates that the leader of the London attacks trained on the Afgan-Pakistani border, so some of the guys maybe do have their sights on the west. Anderson then asks about Mansoor Dadullah, the man running the graduation cerremony. Peter tells us he's Mullah Dadullah's brother and he's taken over since his brother was killed. So now we still get to say 'Dadullah'. Terrorism's depressing, people. I gotta have my fun somehow.

Transitioning now to some "Raw Politics" with Candy Crowley and we begin with a couple of mea culpas. Obama is sorry, so sorry, that his camp circulated a paper on Clinton calling her the senator from Punjab because of her fundraising ties to the Indian community. So much for a new kind of campaign, huh Obama? On the other side of the aisle, Sam Brownback phones Romney to say sorry for forwarding an "e- mail from an interest group asking help fact-checking negative statements about Mormonism." Candy also tells us that the Clintons will be spending the 4th of July in Iowa. Hmm, I wonder why. We also learn that Fred Thompson continues to kick butt not campaigning for his non campaign. Man, at this rate he'll have the whole thing in the bag...as long as he doesn't actually do anything. Finally, we're told that during a commencement speech, John McCain confessed to graduates of having a discipline problem while in the Naval Academy. Candy says that students thanked him by giving him "what every 70-year-old wants..." Nap time? I kid. It was an Ipod. Yeah, I'm sure that's useful.

Moving on now to Anderson telling us that over the weekend Christiane Amanpour "was named a commander of the Order of the British Empire by the queen of England for her services to journalism." Yay Christiane! You continue to be awesome. Not long ago, Christiane was CNN to me. That was back when Anderson was just a gray-haired guy who liked to stand in hurricanes. Heh. And speaking of the gray-haired guy, next we have a clip of Anderson interviewing Angelina Jolie, though I shall save that for the special. Though I am pondering why he basically asked Angelina Jolie how to solve terrorism.

Next up Anderson tells us CNN has been doing some congressional investigating to find out where our money is going (regarding earmark requests). In fact, they called every member of the house-435 calls. Their fingers are bleeding! Drew Griffin breaks it all down for us in a "Keeping Them Honest" piece where we learn that those phone calls were actually pawned off on interns. Ha! Okay, so what did the slave labor produce? Thirty one sent in their requests, 67 refused, seven said they didn't have any earmark requests, and a whopping 330 never even responded. And some were mean! Congress? Noooo. Apparently word got around that CNN was calling and some offices didn't even let the interns finish their sentence before shutting them down. I love to see 360 really investigating this stuff, but I do kind of find it funny how they're sort of patting themselves on the back for doing something activist blogs have been doing for years now. Okay, so 360 is probably not going to be able to change that 330 number because the representatives don't feel they owe the media anything, but maybe individual constituents can change the number. If 360 was comfortable with that level of advocacy journalism they could urge the viewers to call themselves if their rep is one of the 330 and urge them to release the requests on the web or to 360. If a bunch of people make calls it could work. And of course viewers should also email 360 if they actually get a 'yes' or 'no', so then CNN can follow up. It's maybe not doable, but, hey, worth a thought, right?

Continuing with Drew Griffin keeping people honest, we move on to the tale of the C-17 cargo plane. The Air Force has asked for two more of these planes, but members of Congress have slipped an earmark in the defense authorization bill for 10 planes. Why? Well, surprise, surprise, the members that slipped it in have parts of the planes being made in their districts, two from my state of Missouri. It's the military industrial complex, baby! Oh Russ Carnahan, not you! He's not my rep, but he's well known around here. The other rep from Missouri actually tries to argue that he's helping out the Air Force because they really want more, but they just apparently don't want to ask for them. Uh huh. This causes Drew and gang to spice the explanation of this up a bit by having fun with editing. He's in front of the Pentagon. He's in front of Congress. He's in front of the Pentagon. He's in front of Congress. It's a stand up gone crazy! When you spend all your time dealing with Congress I guess you have to get your kicks somehow.

After the piece Anderson and Drew are just completely boggled about the whole earmark situation. "The fact that people would be rude, that is really annoying, you know. This is -- this is, A, what journalists are supposed to be doing but it's also what citizens should be able to do, you know, to the people who represent them," says Anderson. Apparently Anderson has never called Congress. I'm not really found of phone calls because I like a written document, but the other ways aren't really any better. It doesn't matter if I send off a one paragraph email or fax a three page strongly worded letter (I was a little mad after Katrina), you still get a form letter response that most of the time has nothing to do with the questions you asked. At least not in regards to my senators anyway (although I haven't really tried out McCaskill). My rep used to be pretty good at replying (probably mostly because we were always on the same page), but then I got mad at him about one of his votes and he didn't reply for a long time. Then he sent me a calender. Bwah! Congresscritters are so weird.

Our final piece tonight is from Sanjay Gupta about Lake Chad. Sanjay notes that now that the lake is shrinking the people who live around it have to find a new way of life. It's pretty rough there now. The people have to rely on the government for help and even camels have floppy humps. Sanjay digs through the sand to show us that if you dig deep enough you can sometimes find water, but still, the region has seen better days. The Shot tonight is an Australian Black Hawk slamming into a Navy ship deck and then falling into the ocean. Oh! The pilot and a crew member were killed. No deaths in 'the shot' please. The show was alright. B


Blogger The Staff @ Unanchored said...

You know, I thought that segment about phoning Congress had a bit of an odor of 'gotcha' about it. One thing I'd like to know before I get all outraged at congress.

When did they call the offices and how long did they give them to respond? If they were calling at 2PM for the nightly show, I don't think they can EXPECT people to have an answer for them. Oh, there were the people who said 'no way am I answering that', but face it, the flunkies answering the phone don't KNOW the answer and if they did, they weren't authorized to talk to the press about it - they'd be fired. They'd have to refer them to a public affairs wonk, or a PR person, and the PA/PR person would have to talk to the member to get his okay and so on - there's just no way you can get that out the door in under a day or two. So I think CNN is playing games with them, but they're not necessarily political ones, just journalist versus politician ones.

5:36 PM  

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