Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Roberts Collapses, Stevens' Home Raided, Michael Vick, CT Murder Suspect, Raw Politics, O.J. Book, And Chopper Crash (Monday's Show)

Hi everybody! We're kicking it off with Anderson Cooper on the rooftop in Los Angeles tonight and...OMG, Larry King's suspenders. They're never dull are they? Do you think after he retires they'll, like, put them all in a museum or something? Anyway, we begin with the news that Chief Justice John Roberts (not to be confused with American Morning John Roberts) had a bit of a health scare, collapsing at home and then spending the night in the hospital. This is kind of ironic because though some of the members of the court are so up there in age I'd be afraid to breath on them (just saying-the court is split down the middle, you know), Roberts is actually the youngest. For another irony, we're joined by Dr. Katrina Firlik, neurosurgeon. I say this is an irony because she is all up on Sanjay Gupta's turf! This is finally a case involving his actual specialty and he is no where to be found. Still in China, perhaps. I just think it's kind of hilarious that they have him be this all encompassing doctor, ready to explain any ailment. The real medical world doesn't work that way, but this is tv world.

So, Anderson tells us that Roberts had a benign idiopathic seizure and this thunder-stealer, Dr. Firlik (I'm sure she's actually very nice), tells us that basically that just means they don't know what caused it. Jeffrey Toobin then gets in on the conversation and tells us he was "astonished" by the news. Man, this guy is shocked by everything. Then he starts talking like he's a doctor, after giving us the disclaimer that he's not a doctor. Dr. Firlik notes Roberts will get follow up care and he won't be able to drive for a while. Sounds reasonable. No freakout needed. Anderson points out that in the past the health of the Justices has been private. Toobin states that's true, but that was back when the Justices didn't lie to us. Okay, he doesn't say lie. Then he brings up how Chief Justice Rehnquist was addicted to drugs and hallucinating. And I totally forgot about that. How messed up is the government when the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court being addicted to drugs is apparently not one of the most memorable stories?

Next up we have a story that, I gotta say, makes me a little happy. Joe Johns joins us live with the news that Republican Senator Ted Stevens had his Alaskan home raided by federal agents because there's this big investigation into the oil company VECO and it's looking like the company might have paid for remodeling on Stevens' house. Oooh. Schadenfreude! The CEO of VECO, a friend of Stevens', not long ago plead guilty to bribing Alaska state legislators, so we'll see where this goes. For his part, Stevens won't talk about it, but I've seen his Senate floor action. This guy will not go gently into that good night. There will definitely be some raging. And I'll have popcorn. Did I mention I don't like Ted Stevens? Anyway, Anderson then confirms with John that a contractor actually submitted his bills to the oil company. Oh, that doesn't look good. After Joe, Anderson gives us some "Raw Data" on the senator, but he neglects to include the fact that Ted Stevens is frickin crazy. Gotta say, the "Daily Show" segment "Who the F*** is Ted Stevens?" will probably go down as one of my favorites.

Moving on now to an Anderson piece on Michael Vick and how he's a horrible person. Or maybe that's my opinion. We all know by now that Vick is accused of running a dog fighting ring and we learn during the piece that dogs that performed poorly were executed-one even electrocuted. So really, I think that horrible person thing holds up. Vick is speaking out, but the NFL, Nike, and Reebok are letting their voices be heard too and they're not happy. The NAACP is urging people not to rush to judgment. Normally I'm on their side, but this is ridiculous. One of Vick's co-defendants has plead guilty, which is bad for Vick, because I'm guessing he's going to sing like a bird to save himself.

We're then joined by Jeffrey Toobin and ESPN analyst Stephen Smith for discussion. Toobin tells us that if the co-defendant has any credibility then things are about to get sucky (well, suckier) for Vick because the prosecutor will totally flip him. Stephen agrees with the NAACP in that everyone is rushing to judgment. Anderson asks why the NAACP is commenting on the case anyway. Good question. And we all know the answer. They wouldn't care if it was a white player. This kind of stuff just erodes their credibility. Anyway, Stephen doesn't really give a good answer, but points out that the NAACP actually weighed in much later than other groups. I guess that's suppose to be relevant somehow. Then they talk a bit about how the defense will try to attack the flipper's credibility and how many of these athletes own homes that they never go to. Well, maybe they should keep tabs on their property and if they can't do that, maybe they shouldn't have so much property. Just saying.

On now to an EXCLUSIVE piece from Randi Kaye where she sits down with the friend of one of the suspects in that Connecticut murder. The friend does not wish to be shown, but she shares the letters that the suspect wrote her while he was in prison. Apparently they show a softer side to the murder. So I guess this is going to be one of those stories, huh? " No doubt, we're going to have a lot more on this story in the days and weeks ahead," says Anderson. Sigh. After this there's a preview of a Dan Simon piece airing tomorrow. What's with these previews?

Tom Foreman has our "Raw Politics" as usual and I guess you all have noticed they've completely dropped all talk of a theme song. Are we supposed to pretend that never happened? It's still on the website though, so I guess we'll see. Anyway, the segment begins tonight with a pretty cool intro of the "Blair Switch Project," focusing on Bush meeting with new British Prime Minster Gordon Brown. Get it? Ha ha ha. But there was a total missed opportunity to have a close up of Tom going, "I'm so scared." Too much? Yeah, probably. I hope my readers have seen the cult hit or, yeah, you have no idea what I'm talking about. Next up Tom compares the democrats' recent inability to pass pork reform to a slow waitress failing to deliver. Well, yeah, but at least the democrats are doing their best to get you a good meal. Any dish the republicans managed to produce would probably result in hepatitis. We also learn that Michele Obama has made "Vanity Fair's" best dressed list, college letters from Clinton reveal why she used to be a republican, Romney does not like Hezbollah, and Al Gore Jr. has plead guilty to being an environmentally friendly pothead.

So, remember Zsa Zsa Gabor's crazy husband? Well, in tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" we get us a little story about him. He claims that three women flagged down his Rolls Royce, but then he was made to strip naked at gunpoint, was robbed, and left handcuffed to the steering wheel. And there's a picture, which 360 helpfully shows us. Oh, no one needs to see that. What is up with them lately and the disturbing images? Anderson, ever the journalist, asks how there just happened to be a photographer there to take the picture. Now that is a very good question. Surely the naked crazy man isn't, gasp, lying? Erica notes that the robbers kindly let him keep his cap. Dude, that is so not the area I would choose to cover up.

Transitioning now to a John Zarella piece on the story that will never end: O.J.! Okay, so O.J. writes this horrible book about him hypothetically murdering the people that most of America think he actually murdered, there's a public outcry, and the book gets pulled. Now the father of Ron Goldman wants the book published, so he can get some of the money O.J. owes him from the civil suit. Nicole's sister, Denise Brown, does not want the book to be published, but if it does, she wants to be in on the money too. Actually, it's the estate that's getting involved in the lawsuit. Denise's father is the executor and she says that if they don't try to get money for the kids now, they could sue her father for failing to act. That seems pretty messed up. And what's with family members suing each other. It's not right. After John's piece, Anderson is joined by Denise Brown who again explains the whole estate thing and reinterates that she thinks the book is disgusting. No argument there.

Next up we have a Rick Sanchez piece on two news choppers that crashed in Phoenix while covering a slow speed police chase. It looks like one chopper was directly above the other and the bottom one rose without realizing the other was there. In all, four people died. After the piece we have Rick live and they kind of discuss ways to make sure something like that doesn't happen again. But, you know, no one is really saying that maybe they shouldn't have been up there for a police chase to begin with. Is covering a police chase really that important? Because it just cost four lives. The Shot tonight is "splash diving" in Germany. It's basically belly-flopping. Looks kind of painful. Erica then raises a dramatic animal video, which intro-ed with a graphic incorporating the dramatic prairie dog. Bwah! Now that's a graphic I can get behind! Except what Erica shows us is not an animal (well, depending on your definition); it's naked Zsa Zsa Gabor husband guy again. Anderson then does his "Shot" speech, saying, "If you see some alleged princes handcuffed to an automobile tell us about it." Do they have to be nakid? The show was okay. Half the stories tilted toward the sensational regarding topic choice. C+

Sunday, July 29, 2007

OMG, That's Shocking! Or: How I Learned To Hate The Teases And (Sometimes) Love The Package

Hi everybody. Back when I first started this blog, I used to do a pretty good job of living up to the "other newsy musings" part of the mission statement (at the top, people). But lately? Not so much. I'm going to try to remedy that by getting back to doing special posts every once in a while. Hopefully once a week. Um, okay, hopefully once every two weeks. Like before, the posts will either be about 360 specifically, the news in general, or a certain news topic that strikes my fancy. As you've probably already gathered from my title, this post is about 360's teases and how they have a tendency to be, shall we say, over-the-top. And I really don't understand why, because the packages themselves are pretty even-handed. To be clear about what I'm talking about, I'm referring to the teases that are throughout the whole show, and not so much just the beginning.

In fact, the beginning has undergone a dramatic improvement since Anderson started doing it himself. Some of you loyal viewers might remember that the beginning used to contain dramatic action movie music that was accompanied by an over-the-top voice-over performed by a guy I lovingly referred to as "Announcerman." Let's just say it left some viewers wondering whether they were watching the news, or a trailer for a Jerry Bruckheimer film. So yay for that tweak, but now there's this other thing. It may have always been like this, but lately I've been noticing that 360 seems to really want us to be shocked about, well, everything. Every other story is something we're supposedly not going to believe or is in some way, according to 360, going to shock us.

For example, take the show from July 25: Up top Anderson summarizes the Gary Tuchman piece about the immigrant who got off on rape charges because they couldn't find him a translator. We're then told, "You will not believe this story." Later on we get another tease: "Coming up in the rest of the program tonight: a story about justice denied that will shock you..." Then right before the story we're told, "And the more details you hear tonight, the madder you will likely get." And this is not the only story in the broadcast where we're told how we will or probably feel. This broadcast also contained the verdict against one of the cops accused of beating Mr. Davis in New Orleans. Again we're supposed to be shocked: "And, as you will see, it's a shocker."

There are also many other examples that aren't quite so blatant, but have an air of over-the-topness, especially when put together with music/graphics or a certain delivery. Actually, the whole teaser issue really came front and center for me after David Mattingly's piece where they blew up the car to see how much damage the recent UK terror plot could have caused. I was one of the skeptics, but the teasers caused me to change my mind. Then in the actual piece, David explains that bombs like those are mostly just used to incite fear,...which is pretty much what I thought in the first place. That's not the impression the teaser gave.

So I guess what's bugging me here is that the teases really have a whiff of Foxification to them. No, Anderson's not giving us his opinion, but we are being told how to feel and basically to get our blood pressure up. The purpose of the tease is to get viewers to stick around, but why sensationalize the stories like that? It's as if they don't trust us to stick around to watch a well done news story; they think we need it made all flashy. It's a little insulting. And I'm pretty sure that goes against what Anderson and the show believe in. They're about the facts (as they've told us many times) and that's why I like them. I already watch a cable show with leading copy (of the political kind), I don't need another. The teases also really play into Anderson Cooper as the emo-anchor, when anyone who actually watches the show regularly knows that's a false title. Apparently he drew the short straw on that one. (Seriously, you get justifiably upset one time, and you're branded for life.) But, you know, someone just flipping channels who catches one of those teases, I can see why they might call him that.

Regular readers of this blog know I'm quite cynical, but it's not like none of this stuff ever shocks me. I just don't want to be told I'm going to be shocked...or outraged...or whatever. Because it's a bit like crying wolf. There should be varying degrees of shock, you know? When they treat every story that might anger up someone's blood the same, it dilutes everything. And again, I'm also talking about the overall sensationalism of the teaser copy. I mean, I don't think 360 really wants their viewers adding a "Dun dun dun!" to the end of their teases, which I find myself doing many nights. So anyway, this is just two cents from someone who watches closely. The news story is what's supposed to matter. If it's good journalism, people will watch. If it shocks someone, then it shocks someone. But give us the facts and let us decide.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Gonzales Lying Again, Obama Versus Clinton, Murder Suspects, Raw Politics, Anesthesia Awareness, And Planet In Peril (Thursday's Show)

Hi everybody. We're kicking it off with some coverage of everybody's favorite amnesiac and truth-challenged Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales. In an Anderson Cooper piece we learn that the AG has had a no good, very bad day. Actually, he's had a whole string of those lately, but 360 apparently only wants us to know about some of them. The coverage has been very sporadic, is what I'm saying. Okay, so remember that whole late night visit to John Ashcroft's bed that Gonzales made about the NSA spying program? Well, on Tuesday Gonzales testified that the visit wasn't about the NSA program at all, but rather other intelligence stuff, which leaves one to wonder if he just admitted to another secret spying program. But actually that's neither here nor there right now because he was totally lying. Today FBI Director Mueller testified that the visit was about the NSA program. This is a big deal because (as Jeffrey Toobin mentions later) months ago Gonzales testified there was no controversy about the program. Obviously if he had to pressure a drugged man to sign off on it, uh, there was some controversy.

Plus the fact that he also testified that the gang of eight senators weren't briefed on the NSA program, when in reality the AP has obtained a memo that proves they were (which 360 never even mentions in this piece). So, yeah, massive perjury. And that's not even all he's lied about. Gonzales testified he didn't talk to his aides about attorney-gate, but aide Monica Goodling testified he did. And remember, the majority of the words coming out of this man's mouth have been some version of "I don't recall," so there's a good possibility that literally everything he's actually said has been a lie. As you might imagine, Democrats are fuming and want a prosecutor to investigate him for perjury. For their part, the Republicans are disgusted with Gonzales too, but they're apparently a bunch of cowards and won't stand behind the Democrats. Especially Arlen Specter. Lord, that guy rolls over more than my dog. If I may put on a tin-foil hat for a second, I'm starting to think Gonzales is trying to get indicted or something and then Bush can just pardon it all away. I don't know. But the arrogance is maddening. Oh and BTW, since this blog is coming at you from the future, I can tell you that according to Tony Snow the testimony that you think you heard is not the testimony that actually occurred. Because Gonzales and Mueller didn't actually contradict each other at all. Up is down. Black is white. Don't think about it too hard. Not thinking is double plus good!

For discussion on the recent blatant lying we're joined by Jeffrey Toobin. Anderson wonders how bad this is for Gonzales. Toobin acknowledges that he's supposed to be jaded, but he's shocked. Shocked, he tells you! Oh Toobin. Steamrolling over the law and truth-avoidance are not the exception with these guys; they're the rule. You've got to know that by now. Hell, at this point I anticipate it. And guess what. He's lied about other stuff that we don't even know yet. But when it comes out, please don't tell me you're shocked. Anyway, then he goes through everything Anderson's piece and I have already covered. Anderson then asks if there's actual work going on at Justice. Toobin says yes, but anything involving Congress is dead on arrival because their leader has no credibility. Man, the morale there must suck. Anderson points out that Bush is still (unbelievably) sticking by the AG. Toobin notes that now the number three guy is going to have to decide whether or not to appoint a special prosecutor. Hmm, a former Scalia clerk. What's he going to choose? What's he going to choose? But who knows? Maybe I'll get my chance to be shocked.

Transitioning now to a John King piece on the continuing dust-up between Obama and Clinton since the YouTube debate. And there's a little part of me that thinks CNN is all over this just so they can keep talking about the debate. Anyway, Obama leveled a recent hard punch, calling Clinton "Bush/Cheney-lite." Oooh! And then Clinton's all, I thought you weren't going to campaign dirty. Then she calls him naive. But when asked directly if he's too inexperienced to be president, she hedges. So, you know, they're not beating the crap out of each other here. After his piece John tells us that Obama is trying to show that Clinton is not change and Clinton is trying to turn Obama into just another politician. Eh, Whatever. It's early, people. We then have a Randi Kaye piece on the suspects that allegedly killed that Connecticut family. Honestly, I don't really care. The crime was horrible and I hope they get the justice they deserve, but I don't need to know the details.

On now to some "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman. First up we learn that John Edwards is all about tax reform these days, but the good kind-not like what the conservatives talk about. Tom also tells us something about Bush and Prime Minister Gordon Brown at Camp David, but I am way too disturbed by the graphic of them playing volleyball to know what he said. Seriously 360, some people have to try to sleep after this. I'm still in therapy over the Larry King in a bikini thing. Anyway, we next learn that Rove got a subpoena for attorney-gate. I'd give you guys a "yay!" but, yeah, we all know he's slithering out of this one somehow. Finally, we learn that Chris Dodd has had his MySpace picture "Simpson"- ized. Ha! Chris Dodd is actually one of my MySpace friends. No, I'm not kidding. I made the page as a joke because someone asked me to, but then actual people I knew started finding it and now they get mad at me because I never go on it. Anyway, one day I saw Chris Dodd there waiting to be friended and so I just had to. For the hilarity. I had planned to friend them all (Republican and Democrat), but, well, I never remember to go there. Poor lonely Chris Dodd.

Anyway, then Tom shows us that he has "Simpson"- ized Anderson and Anderson reveals a "Simpson"- ized Tom. They're okay, I guess. Anderson actually doesn't seem hugely enthused about the whole thing, but that's okay because Tom is enthused enough for the both of them. And then some. Seriously, who made the special brownies? Tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" is an SUV that tries to allude the cops and ends up crashing into a wall and bursting into flames. But the cop then finds the burning SUV and pulls the guy out. Yay, happy ending. But the best part is when they run video of this local reporter who basically reenacts the cop's part. And what's hilarious is that the whole time I'm watching it I'm thinking how the guy is like a local news Rick Sanchez, only to have Erica say, "Giving Rick Sanchez a run for his money. " Bwah! Okay, Erica's awesome stock just went way up. Except Rick Sanchez totally would have done that with the car on fire.

Next up we have a David Mattingly piece on anesthesia awareness, which is when you awaken during surgery and feel everything. Ugh, I can't even imagine. Having major surgery can be horrible enough, especially with complications. Trust me, I know. We learn that a 2004 study found that one to two out of every 1,000 people has this happen, which is crazy. Victims advocate groups say this can all be fixed if hospitals would just use a machine that monitors brain activity. Right now they're used by only 17 percent of general anesthesia surgeries. And, you know, it's not like any of this is new. I've seen a ton of stories on anesthesia awareness over the years and how these monitors could help, but still we're only at 17 percent? Unacceptable . After this we have a repeat of a Drew Griffin piece on dog fighting. Michael Vick sucks. That is all.

Transitioning now to a Sanjay Gupta piece from China and our latest edition of "Planet in Peril." Sanjay takes us to a village of 400 people where 28 have died of cancer. We meet a woman who thinks her husband died from cancer that was caused by the water they use to irrigate their fields. Sanjay then shows us the river and we meet an environmental lawyer who blames it on an ore mine. Man, I really have to respect the lawyer because talk about an uphill battle. People can barely fight that kind of stuff here (Erin Brockovich, anyone?) and we're talking about China. They've got their work cut out for them. The Shot tonight is a dog loose on a runway, but we're not really shown it because massive technical difficulties take away Erica. This apparently frazzles the normally quick-witted Anderson because after some incomplete sentences he basically tells us to watch The Shot on our iPhone. All those "i" gadgets! Yeah, he means iPod or even iTunes, but me thinks he's got iPhone on the brain because he wants one. The show was better tonight. It's nice to see the HUGE Gonzales scandal making it onto the broadcast, but leaves one to wonder where it's been. But hey, at least they didn't lead with the Connecticut family again. B

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Home Invasion, Abuser Walks, Raw Politics, Updates On Robert Davis And Mercy Killing Cases, And Planet in Peril (Wednesday's Show)

Hi everybody. We're beginning again tonight with that Connecticut family brutalized in their own home. An Anderson Cooper piece brings us the latest. Apparently the mother and daughters were raped before the mother was forced to go to the bank later that morning and withdraw $15,000. While at the bank she somehow told the teller and the teller contacted police, but the police were too late. It's been reported that both girls died of smoke inhalation from the fire the suspects allegedly set to cover their crime and the mother was strangled. The suspects seem to be career criminals that met at a halfway house. One expert in the piece says the situation may appear to be a burglary gone wrong, but really it's the work of "soociopathic career criminals who decided to up the ante." Okay, well, the women were raped, so I think that pretty much takes any talk of anything accidental out of the equation. It's not like they can say they broke in to steal a tv, but then, oops, things got out of control and they raped the homeowner.

After Anderson's piece we're joined by reporter Eric Zager of WTIC for that speculation that we know and love. I don't know why, but 360 always has to pointlessly have on the local reporter that doesn't know any more than they do. Moving on to a Joe Johns piece on home invasions, which are apparently on the rise. Okay, are you afraid yet? Well never fear because Joe and his security consultant pals have some tips for us. These span from the completely obvious of not letting strangers in your house to the not so obvious notion of keeping shrubs cut short so people can't hide behind them. We're also supposed to keep copies of our car key around the house--the one with the panic button. That's all well and good...if you actually have one of those. But that's okay, I have the number one deterrent: a dog. So as long as my home isn't invaded during a thunderstorm (my dog's kryptonite), I think I'm good.

Transitioning now to a Gary Tuchman "Keeping Them Honest" piece on justice gone all wacky. Okay, so this guy, Mahamu Kanneh, gets charged with "raping and repeatedly molesting a 7-year-old girl and molesting a 1-and-a-half- year-old girl, both relatives of his." So he's rotting in jail, right? Wrong. His charges were cleared because he's a Liberian immigrant and the courts couldn't find an interpreter. What the hell, you say? The judge claims that since after two and a half years an interpreter could not be found, Kanneh's constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated. Okay, I very much appreciate adhering to the constitution because I wasn't sure we even did that anymore, but c'mon. The real kicker is that CNN found a dude only about 15 minutes away just waiting to interpret something. Which leads one to wonder where the heck the courts were looking. Also? Kanneh went to a really nice high school without using a translator and his neighbor says he totally knows English. Dude, the courts had two and a half years and they didn't check up on that? I guess justice really is blind. And deaf. And dumb.

Next Anderson tells us two more McCain staffers have bit the dust, giving their resignations by email no less. It's just getting sad now. Anyway, this intros us into "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman and first up we learn that the Democrats want to hold Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about attorney-gate (remember that?). Next up Tom tells us John Edwards is doing some riding with Lance Armstrong through Iowa to talk about cancer. It makes sense that Edwards would want to be in on that. Moving on, we learn that Michael Bloomberg is so not running for president. He doesn't even know why you keep talking about it. Because he's totally not running. Seriously, stop asking him. And don't look at his website. I mean, he's not going to stop you or anything if you want to look at his shiny new website with all his accomplishments listed, maybe you like that sort of thing, but he's not going to ask you to. Because he's totally not running. How much does a man have to talk about himself not being president before you people get it? Finally, we learn that the country is getting saner-Bush's disapproval rating is at 66%. Nobody likes you. Everybody hates you. Might as well go eat worms. Or, you know, resign. Tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" is a car chase. But not just any car chase. This guy actually stops to buy cigarettes while being chased . Man, talk about ADHD. But he did pay for the cigs, so, okay then.

Moving on now to an Anderson piece that updates us on the beating of Robert Davis that occurred in New Orleans not long after Katrina. We all remember this, right? Seemingly nice unarmed man beaten to the ground by a handful of cops. Well, tonight we learn that one of the cops charged with second degree battery and false imprisonment has been acquitted. The judge said it wasn't even a close call. Did he see the tape?! For his part, Mr. Davis is living in Atlanta right now and plans to sue the city and the police department. After Anderson's piece we're joined by former NYPD officer Eugene O'Donnell to analyze the Davis beating tape. And wow, Eliza is having some flashbacks. Switch out Eugene here for Aaron Brown and it's 2005 all over again. I'll be singing Journey tonight (it's playing in the background). I wonder what happened to the cop's sleazy lawyer. Remember that guy and how he claimed the cop didn't kick Mr. Davis, but instead performed a "step-down"? Even Aaron and Anderson, ever the objective journalists, exchanged some looks over that one. Okay, back in present day 2007, Eugene is pretty much being an apologist for the cops, which, I guess is expected. Whatever. I hope Mr. Davis wins his lawsuit.

Today must be Katrina-related-cases update day because we also find in a Rick Sanchez piece that Anna Pou has been acquitted of second degree murder. She was the doctor accused of mercy killing some of the sickest patients at her hospital during the height of Katrina. You know, I know a lot of people were outraged when this case came to light, but I think I agree with this decision. First of all, Anna maintains she did nothing wrong, but even if she did commit euthanasia, I don't view it as so black and white. Conditions were horrible and all they knew was that no one was coming. We weren't there. We can't know what it was like. Anna Pou did not ask to be in that situation. When a system breaks down such as it did during Katrina, sometimes good people feel forced to do things they would otherwise never dream of doing. It seems wrong to charge people who were forced to deal with the mess, when those that helped create the mess (govenment officials) get off free and clear.

On now to a piece from Sanjay Gupta in China, the latest in the "Planet in Peril" series. During a car ride, Sanjay explains that they're heading to more rural areas to check out pollution. We're then shown a nasty looking river that Sanjay says stinks. Oh, and they use it to irrigate crops. Awesome. The 360 team was supposed to meet with an environmental group, but Sanjay is such a badass that he scared them away. Or maybe they didn't want the police to see them talking to him. Actually, the cops didn't seem to take a liking to our intrepid travelers at all, even stopping them once, though without much trouble. Apparently in China the water issue is like Fight Club. You do not talk about the water issue! One guy was about to answer a question from Sanjay about the water, but then got a call from a car that had been following them. Man. Tread lightly there, Sanjay.

The Shot tonight is Beyonce dancing...and falling. Down goes Beyonce! She apparently asked her fans not to post the video to YouTube, so of course it's all over YouTube. But enough with falling pop singers, Erica raises Anderson with a video of Al Roker and Al Roker wrangler, taking a dive during a hurricane. Oh, we totally need a video of Anderson falling during a hurricane, but I don't think there is one. Suspiciously good on his feet, that guy. I remember watching him and John Zarella once during a hurricane and John, who is not a small man, had a death grip on a railing and Anderson wasn't even holding on. It was kind of fascinating. I mean, is he so thin the wind just, like, missed him or something? Ah, hurricane watching. So anyway, Anderson then raises that video we've seen before of the local news reporter smashing grapes and then painfully falling. It's completely horrible, but Anderson seems to get a kick out of it. Because he's mean. And oh look, another hour on the YouTube debates. CNN is going to suck that bone dry, I'm telling you. Hmm, okay show. Liked them remembering to update the Katrina cases; wondering how much longer we're going to be hearing about this Connecticut family. C+

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Brutal Killing, Iraq Talk, Obama/Clinton Spar, Abuse At MS Jail, And Selling Illegal Animals In China (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everybody. I caught the end of Larry King before 360 came on, so I begin the show with my eyes about to roll out of my head. Seriously, somebody please tell me that a couple of months from now we won't be watching a post-prison Lindsey Lohan special hour. Because I don't think I can take that. And, frankly, I think it might make Anderson Cooper's head explode. But we are thankfully not kicking if off with Lindsey tonight. Instead we're leading with the brutal murder of three members of a Connecticut family. Oh...true crime. Okay, so it's not an enormous improvement over Lindsey Lohan, but an improvement nonetheless. At first I actually thought this was an update on the brutal murder that occurred about a month ago in a sleepy little town that doesn't lock their doors. But no, turns out this was a different family in a different sleepy little town that doesn't lock its doors. And about that? Hey, how about everybody start locking your doors, okay? So anyway, apparently two guys invaded this home and tied up the parents and two daughters. Then in the morning one of the suspects drove the wife to the bank, info was relayed to the teller, and the teller told police. Unfortunately, by the time the police got there the house was on fire and everyone was dead except for the husband. No motive is known yet, so who knows?

Next up Anderson tells us that, surprisingly, it seems the Pentagon is planning for a long stay in Iraq. I really wish you guys could see my shocked face right now. The Joint Campaign Plan, reported on today by "The New York Times" is going to keep us in Iraq for at least two years. And believe me, there's an emphasis on the "at least." So no big change in September, you ask? We know what's going to happen here: September will roll around and people will ask, where's the big change? And the administration will say, September? Nobody ever said anything about September. And we'll say, yes you did. And then Tony Snow will tell us how retarded we are and how we so obviously didn't understand what they meant in the first place. Then he'll make up a whole bunch of BS, claiming he explained this all before, but really he never did. And we'll say, you're making that up. But he won't care. And then The Daily Show will find the stuff the administration said a long time ago about September and play that together with the BS that Tony made up and then Jon Stewart will make one of his faces and we'll all laugh. Because it's better than crying. Or, you know, Bush will just try to convince us that September isn't actually a month.

For discussion, we're joined by Michael Gordon live in Baghdad. Anderson asks how big a shift this plan is from others. Michael thinks not so much with regards to the plan put out in January (I'm guessing that's the surge?), but as far as previous plans it's a big shift. Well, I've been watching this pretty closely and besides the soldiers living out in more vulnerable areas now, it all looks the same to me. Anderson notes the administration is still trotting out that "when the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down" slogan and wonders how important the security forces are. Michael explains that the whole surge plan is to establish a little order so then they can really focus on the Iraqi forces and bring them "up to snuff." But haven't they been trying to bring them up to snuff since the beginning? And aren't most loyal to militias and that's the problem? So how would order help that? And it just occurs to me that, hey, why is Anderson not asking these questions? C'mon reporter dude.

Then Anderson asks a question that sort of begins talking about September, but ends on this new plan, so, yeah, I don't know. But Michael answers by talking about timelines and the disconnect between the ground and Washington. Next Anderson points out how we're always told there's no military solution in Iraq. But Michael thinks that there is to a degree because the plan is to control the violence enough that the politicians can actually have discussions. Again though, isn't the Iraqi government just a bunch of factions? If the country suddenly became peaceful for a week, would it really matter in terms of coming together as a unity government? Anderson's final question for Michael is what has surprised him. He says he's most surprised by the differing perceptions in Baghdad and Washington. "I think, in a funny way, the military here has a much more realistic assessment of the challenges than I think a lot of the politicians do in Washington," Michael says. And I'd say that's not funny at all. Sounds like business as usual.

Moving on now to Tom Foreman live to tell us about a post-debate dust-up between Obama and Clinton. (Hey, did Tom get Lasix? Where are the glasses? Inquiring minds and all.) Okay, so during the debate it was mostly a lot of loving, but no more! One of the debate questions was whether or not the candidate would pledge to meet with our enemies (such as Ahmadinejad, Chavez...). Obama was totally into meeting with the evildoers, but Clinton was all, hold up. She said she wasn't promising anything because she would want to make sure she wasn't being used. Today she used the opportunity to paint Obama as inexperienced, calling his answer "irresponsible" and "naive." Ouch. For his part, Obama responded (in an audio clip we can almost hear) by flipping it around to her Iraq vote. Children, children. Can you not play nice? How many more months do we have of this, again?

Transitioning now to a big fat EXCLUSIVE "Keeping Them Honest" piece from Kathleen Koch. In fact, it's so big 360 needs three segments to bring it to us. The story Kathleen tells us is about the Harrison County Jail in Biloxi, Mississippi and the abuses that have been occurring there. This place sounds massively shady. Okay, first up, this is a county jail, so most inmates haven't been convicted of anything and they're usually only staying one night. But since 2002 there have been at least four inmates that have died unnaturally and last year a man was beaten to death in the booking room while cameras rolled. They even tasered him so badly that there were holes were burnt in his flesh. It seems the guards got away with this kind of thing by writing false incident reports. The lawyer for the beating victim says it wasn't about race or anything, but rather power. And one of the former jailers says senior officials knew and condoned the behavior. Sounds kind of like Abu Ghraib.

In the second segment of the piece, Kasey Alves, another beating victim, tells us of the devil's chair, and how they strapped him into it, put a tight sheet around his head, and then poured water on him. Holy crap, that either is water boarding or really similar. He also got massive welts from the chair straps, which we're shown. Anyway, after the guy was beaten to death the jail claimed to have undergone all these changes, but in reality they didn't, because there was to be another death. Lee Damond Smith was a 21 year old arrested for shooting another man (he claimed innocence) and was in the jail when his family got strange calls from family of the other inmates, telling them that people had seen a white sheet put over Smith's body. Well, obviously, this upset Smith's family a lot and they called, but were told everything was fine. Then they went to the jail and still the jail denied everything, but then finally they were told the truth: Smith was dead.

The jail claimed the death was due to a blood clot in the lungs, but the family was suspicious and raised money for an independent autopsy, which found that Smith was strangled. And as for the blood clot? Apparently you have to dissect the lung to know that, something the jail didn't do. Although they claim they did and I'm wondering how they can just claim that. I'm guessing the lung was still intact when the independent guy got to it, so...CNN then got a third autopsy guy who this time just looked at pictures and read the prior reports. He sided with independent guy's conclusion. So, wow. What a messed up jail. After the piece Anderson tells us the Department of Justice (DOJ) is now investigating and we have Jeffrey Toobin for the legal perspective. Toobin explains that back in 1995 the DOJ came in and was supposed to provide some supervision, but I guess not. Also, with all these lawsuits the situation in post-Katrina Mississippi is becoming an economic issue as well. And...that's pretty much it for Toobin. Aw, all gussied up for only two minutes?

Next up we're continuing with our "Planet in Peril" series and tonight we have a piece from Sanjay Gupta in China. BTW, not too long ago 360 finally acknowledged that they've been hoarding footage for a big special to air in the fall. Now, I understand why they didn't tell us. I'm guessing they wanted to announce everything at once and were still in talks with Discovery or whatever. But here's a tip for you, 360: If you want to keep something like this on the down low, don't show us pictures from things that you never air. And don't let your anchor mention things he's done that then never air. Just saying. Okay, so in this piece, Sanjay and crew go to check out an illegal market where people are trading animals. And the people are not happy to see them. Yeah, they basically scatter. But Sanjay shows us some baby civet cats and before you say aw, know that they were probably the source of the SARS outbreak. Sanjay then takes us to a legal market and we see turtles galore! Seriously, that's a lot of turtles. Unfortunately, some are illegal, but we're told the police don't really make it a priority, so there they are, right in the open.

The Shot tonight is a thieving seagull in Scotland. The little jerk walks into a shop, steals what looks to be a bag of chips, and then high tails it out of there. Now he and his seagull friends are probably going to smoke a joint behind the alley. Seagulls man, I'm telling you. The show was good tonight. Weird choice of lead in my book, but whatever. I hope Kathleen's story will put some pressure on the jail and the DOJ to actually do something. B+

Monday, July 23, 2007

Post YouTube Debate Wrap Up (Monday's Show)

Hi everybody! We're kicking off the new week with a little something different. I know that there was a post-debate 360, but after working all day and then watching over three straight hours of CNN, I was pretty much brain dead by the time the show rolled around. So tonight's blog will be of the rambling and untraditional variety. Post-debate shows are almost impossible to recap anyway due to the fast pace, debate clips, and talking heads galore. Speaking of talking heads, CNN had their bases covered, but honestly, I really could care less what everybody else thought. So instead you get to hear my thoughts. Because it's my blog. Some of you will probably want to run away now.

Anyway, I looked forward to this debate all day. Because I am such a geek. At first I was worried if I got too excited about it I would only end up being disappointed, but then I realized it was either going to be really cool or just a total train wreck. And since I watch cable news not only to be informed, but also to (gently) mock when warranted, I figured whatever the outcome was a win-win for me. Although not for CNN, so yay for it turning out really cool! And Anderson Cooper totally rocked. So much better than the Wolfbot and all his stupid raise your hand questions. I've seen Anderson rock an interview before, so I knew he could bring it if so inclined, but I was a little worried his politeness might cause him to get run over a bit. Totally not the case. He laid down that law! I think Anderson also got the best line of the night when he said they couldn't find anyone to the left of Kucinich. Zing! Aw, Kucnich. You kind of just want to pat him on the head, you know? I mean, I'd love to live in the world he's selling, but I'm also realistic enough to know it will never exist.

I haven't the slightest idea who "won" and am still very much undecided, but it's early. I'm just happy to be voting for someone instead of trying to keep the evil out. I do wish I could whittle them down a little more. So far I've only completely disqualified Biden and Gravel. I actually liked Biden in this debate, but he's been dead to me ever since back in 2005 when he unapologetically supported the bankruptcy bill. Back then I didn't even know he was going to run, but I still swore I wouldn't vote for him. And I won't. I also like a lot of what Gravel has to say, but, uh...dude's crazy. Seriously, why so angry, man? Although I think I agree with him that he got less time. That's what you get for being all crazy. He's like 2008's Zell Miller. Now all we need is for him to challenge Anderson to a a duel and the picture will be complete.

Let's see, to be random, I loved Anderson's comment about how we all know Arnold Schwarzenegger is a cyborg. I mean, duh, obviously. But the real question is whether or not everyone knows Wolf Blitzer is a robot. How do I know this? Because he's always on! You turn on the tv in the afternoon and he's there. You turn it on in the evening and he's there. You even turn it on on the weekend and, oh yeah, he's there! Robot! Plus, he doesn't emote, so there's that. Keeping with the good lines, I cracked up at Gravel's answer to his favorite teacher. He told a story of how he was dyslexic and this teacher taught him to speak and then Gravel ended with "and that's what little chance I get to use it today." Ha! As I said before, he did kind of get shafted. I didn't time anything, but it definitely seemed like Clinton and Obama got the most time. Hell, I initially forgot Edwards was even there because I didn't see him on my screen until 15 minutes in.

As for the questions themselves, a lot of them were expected, but others I was almost shocked by and it was interesting to see the candidates answer. For example, I can't picture them being asked about reparations for slavery in a normal debate. When interviewing someone you're taught not to ask yes or no questions, but those are almost my favorite kind when it comes to these debates. There's very little wiggle room and the candidate is forced to be honest. Probably one of my favorite questions was whether or not they would work for minimum wage. If one of the candidates that said yes is elected, I say we totally hold them to that. The NRA question was interesting, though mostly just because of Biden's reaction. Yeah, that guy calling his gun his baby was pretty messed up, but he was probably mostly (hopefully) joking and I'm not sure deserved to be called crazy on national tv. Better watch it Biden, the NRA is coming for you.

I really liked the videos that the candidate's did and actually wish they would air stuff like that as campaign spots instead of the incredibly annoying stuff we always get. I think Clinton's was my favorite, but Obama's made me feel all warm and fuzzy. It was hope in video form. And of course Edwards' showed that he has a sense of humor. Although sometimes that sense of humor misfires, as evidenced by his crack about Clinton's jacket. You don't criticize a woman's jacket, man! Heh. Oh, and Gravel's video actually didn't scare the crap out of me like I thought it was going to. I guess it's kind of hard to top staring in the camera like a psycho and then throwing a rock in the water.

During 360's post debate show, Tom Foreman did a fact check and while I loves me the fact checks, it kind of made me go hmmm. The first check was against Obama's statement that he helped push through a law involving the disclosure of lobbyist money. That was all fine and good and yay to 360 for making it clearer. But then they fact checked Bill Richardson after he listed a bunch of things we need to do to help Africa and it got murkier. Tom said that Richardson gave the impression nothing had been done when in fact more money was pledged for Africa under Bush than Clinton. Okay, but first of all that assumes Richardson was only talking about money, and it also assumes that the money under Bush really is helping to fight AIDS. And did Richardson actually claim nothing was being done? Look, Bush in some ways has been good on African issues. I will totally give him that. But this is a stupid nitpick.

The final fact check was against Clinton and her assertion that she's worked to bring people together. Tom pointed out a poll that showed she's a polarizing figure. And I'm sure CNN was totally all over it all that time that Bush was claiming to be a uniter. Plus, was she even talking about the public? Again, a stupid nitpick. This isn't a partisan thing for me. It's just that those last two weren't really fact checks. The sad thing is there probably were a couple of factually incorrect statements made during the debate that are going through unchecked. Obviously the debates only happened a few hours prior to airing this, so I'm not expecting gold here, but the nitpicking is getting old. Go ahead and bring it up, but don't call it a fact check. And while I'm doing the criticism part of the blog, I have to say, I think the dial testing is stupid. It looks cool, but it's statistically insignificant and if I had one of those things I'd be annoyed there was no pandering button. Politicians are very good at sounding great while saying nothing at all. You need a button for that is all I'm saying.

Wrapping this up, so, is the YouTube style debate the way of the future? In some ways I hope so. It's great to see the people really participating in democracy like this. On the other hand, I think it's also important we keep the regular debates too. You know, the ones with the unsmiling PBS commentator in the darkened auditorium. Because while the YouTube debates make the process fun, we have to be careful not to get on a slippery slope where entertainment takes over what is supposed to be a serious exercise. When it all comes down to it, we're picking someone to hopefully lead us out of a hell of a lot of messes. Probably more than they can handle. Anyway, the Republican debate should be interesting. And hey, with this new format, maybe I won't want to break my tv this time.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Backing Insurgents, Not Checking Cargo, Raw Politics, Church Versus State, More God's Country, And Germany Hates Scientology (Thursday's Show)

Hi everybody. Again I've slacked off. I don't even know how I used to do two hours of this. Did you guys catch the end of Larry King with him holding up an iPod? Like Larry King knows what an iPod is. You know they handed that to him and he was all, "What the hell is this?" and they were all, "Just hold it up." Ah, Larry. Anyway, we begin with Anderson Cooper playing us a depressing little soundbite from the US Ambassador to Iraq and this intros us into a Michael Ware piece on how insurgent groups are now fighting al Qaeda. We're played some fairly disturbing video of the insurgents going all non-Geneva Convention on some suspected al Qaeda and then another video from Anbar where they taunt the suspect...before executing him. Oh boy. The US position is we do not allow or encourage that, but the military is apparently backing these guys. Now, I'm sure our hearts don't bleed for al Qaeda, but one wonders when exactly these guys are going to turn on us. Or do we not remember backing the mujahideen to fight the Soviets? You know things are bad when backing the guys that used to be trying to kill you seems like the good option.

Next up we're joined by Michael Ware and Brigadier General David Grange for discussion. Anderson wonders if the strategy currently being used in Anbar could work in the rest of the country. Michael explains that basically it already is working in the rest of the country because everything is run by militias. The difference is that Anbar's militias are US backed and all the others are Iran backed. So yay for us for getting in on the action? Anderson then echoes my concern of whether these guys will turn on us in the future. David says sure, there's the possibility, but we can't kill everyone in Iraq. Really not making me feel better here, David. Anderson points out that Maliki has his boxers in a twist over the Anbar strategy because it could create new militias, but, um, he has his own militias. Yep, "pot calling the kettle black," says Michael. He believes the government's fear is that, "America is backing these guys as a balance against the very government America created and has lost influence over." That is so messed up. They then talk about the fact that some of these guys we're backing are the same people that killed Americans. But David says there's no way you can prove that. So it' s okay then? Finally Anderson wonders how likely it is a pullout will cause a full civil war if we're not there already. Michael says it's practically guaranteed and the Shia are almost excited to get on with it. Okay, Michael obviously thinks we shouldn't pull out, but he never says what we should do. Anderson, help a blogger out here and ask him please.

On now to Anderson telling us that we might not know this, but they don't actually screen all the cargo before putting it on a plane. Actually I did know that, which is why the whole security dance we do of taking off our shoes and putting our mouthwash in plastic bags is pointless. Besides, the left has been having an aneurysm about this for years. Same thing with the ports. Anyway, we're then intro-ed into a Jeanne Meserve piece on House and Senate legislation that has FINALLY been passed to maybe change the screening process to include cargo. Of course not everyone is happy. We meet a reptile shipper that's afraid the new rules would cause cargo to be checked by hand and that could lead to many mishaps, including loose critters. Oh, snakes on a plane!!! I have had it with these motherf...you know the rest. Yeah, that joke was just waiting to be made. Okay, so what this all comes down to is business versus safety and really, I haven't actually seen any proof that the inspections would hurt business. It's like with global warming when everyone was shrieking about how dealing with it would hurt the economy. You don't hear that so much now. The irony here is that the people (the Republicans) who have used the threat of terrorism to their political advantage for years are the same people trying to block these inspections. Of course the news never shows you the votes for you to know that. That would be too helpful.

Joe Johns has the "Raw Politics" tonight and we begin by learning that, whoops, it seems Fred Thompson did some lobbying for an abortion rights group, something the anti-abortion crowd probably isn't too happy about. Money over principles. Go ahead and declare, Freddie, you'll fit right in. Next we learn that Rudy is claiming to be a strict constructionist, which is basically a code phrase to conservatives to let them know he'll put up people they want. Awesome. Finally, Joe tells us of a spouse spat going on between Edwards and Clinton. According to Joe, Elizabeth Edwards thinks John is better on women's issues than Hillary and, "Now, Bill has fired back, saying his woman is better on women than her man." Oh, now that just sounds dirty. Speaking of dirty, next Anderson goes to play us some YouTube clips and something horrific pops up on the screen. I'll go ahead and describe it since I'm sure most of you immediately ran from the room screaming. It's a Larry King head on a dancing bikini-clad body. With suspenders. So, uh, 360, why you gotta traumatize your viewers like that? Can we not get a disclaimer or something first? I mean, seriously, nightmares, people. Nightmares. For his part, Anderson acts (and acts very poorly I might add-but we love him anyway) all upset and sorry and says whoever put that in there "will be dealt with very firmly." Ha! Yeah, you lay down the law! 360, please don't do that again. Seriously, I think I threw up in my mouth a little.

Transitioning now to 360's new segment "God's Country" and a piece from Tom Foreman regarding the church versus state issue. Some people believe that whole separation thing is a myth and there's apparently even a tour you can go on-Heritage Tours-to learn all about how without the Bible our country wouldn't exist. Uh huh. We meet Rod Parsley, pastor of a mega church, who subscribes to this belief. Mega churches freak me out. Just putting that out there. Tom brings up that little document called the Constitution and how it "decrees that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." But Pastor Rod doesn't think that means "surrendering of our citizenship to express religious faith." What? Who's asking you to surrender? No one's asking you to surrender. Anyway, this guy is one of those anti-gay, anti-Islam Christians, so, yeah, there you go. I wish this piece would have gone into the founding father's writings more to debunk what Pastor Rod is preaching. The info is out there and to make it a "this side says this and the other side says this" type of deal is not helpful. And kind of lazy. Kudos for bring up the Constitution and Jefferson, but c'mon.

Next up we have tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" Apparently the good people at the Pottery Barn kids' catalog are 360 fans. Or it's a really weird coincidence. Anyway, Erica points out that on one page there is an Anderson diaper bag and blankets that separately say Cooper and Erica. And if that wasn't enough, there are two bundle mes laying together with the names Erica and Cooper. BTW, I totally had to google up "bundle me" because I had no idea what she was talking about and didn't know if that's actually what she said. The transcript? Also confused. Okay, so Anderson wonders if Erica's husband might be feeling a little jealousy, but fear not, she's married a secure man. "Clearly doesn't have anything to be nervous about," says Anderson. Yeah, I suspect not.

The rest of this stuff I'm just going to kind of zip through because I'm running out of time. Up next we have a David Mattingly piece on young Christian conservatives and, ruh roh, it seems they're on to the fact that the Republicans are a bunch of liars. Not good news for the GOP. But the kids are alright. After David's piece we've got Tom at his graphic wall to show us what issues are important to the different denominations of Christianity. Then we've got a weird little transition to a Randi Kaye piece on how Germany has blocked the filming of a Tom Cruise movie because they are not down with Scientology. This, of course, requires the airing of the Matt Lauer "you're glib" clip. I swear, someone at 360 either hates, or is fascinated by, Scientology. Or maybe both. The Shot tonight is the tale of Pepper Ann, the money eating dog. $800 in cash to be exact. But don't worry, the owners have gotten most of it back. They just have to wait for, um, nature to take its course. Ewww. That'll do it for me. B-

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New York Scare, Brazil Crash Update, Iraq Vote, John Kerry Interview, And God's Country (Wednesday's Show)

Hi everybody. We're kicking it off tonight with news of an explosion in Midtown Manhatten (Mahadden). From Anderson Cooper we learn that a steam pipe burst, causing a transformer to explode, causing lots of noise and smoke, causing everyone to, well, freak the hell out. And I don't think I have to tell you why. We're then played various clips that document the freaking. Mary Snow is live on the street with more and she tells us that one person died of heart failure and there were injuries too. Now there's a fear that asbestos has been released. But I'm sure officials will take care of that and be truthful about it. You know, just like with the air after 9-11. After Mary, we've got witness Nick Parish on the phone and I'm not exactly sure why. It's not like this is breaking. But they're in New York, it happened in New York, so dang it, they're going to cover it like it was terrorism. Eh, but they didn't go crazy with it, so it's all good.

Next up we've got a piece from ITV's Bill Neely on that Brazil plane crash. People are ticked! The runway is too short, it's slippery, and they resurfaced it without the grooves. So...this was pretty much preventable. Man, it's bad enough it happened, but the fact that it didn't have to makes it worse. Anyway, moving on now to a Jason Carroll piece about planes skidding off too short runways. Naturally. We're listed a bunch of different times planes have overshot, including the December 2005 incident at Midway that I just happened to mention in my last blog. Weird. But there is a point to this piece. We learn that the FAA has given safety standards an upgrade and now airports built in the last 20 years have to have a 1,000 feet buffer at the end of runways. What happens if you're flying into an airport that was built over 20 years ago? Well, sucks for you. But never fear. Some airports are now installing crushable blocks. Not perfect, but better than overshooting into a building.

Transitioning now to the Iraq problem. Well, the slumber party is over and now that everyone has come down from their sugar high, grumpiness abounds. In a Joe Johns "Keeping Them Honest" piece we learn that people are angry because the Iraqi government has decided, you know what, we're tired of all our hard work not doing anything helpful. They've decided to blow the joint (oh, not literally!) and take August off. Just like our government. Aw, we are spreading our democracy. In all seriousness I'm more annoyed at our government. I mean, hello, the Iraqis didn't ask to be occupied. Also? They're not going to get anything done anyway (though I could probably say the same for our government). What's the White House say about all this? They're standing behind their puppet. Besides, Tony Snow thinks it's okay because it's oh so hot in Baghdad. This comment lead Tom Friedman to respond in the "New York Times" with the obvious: "...130 degrees is, well, a whole lot hotter inside a U.S. military uniform with body armor." Oh Tom, who says they have body armor? BTW, we didn't get to see how the press responded to Tony's comment, so I'll just say that anyone in that room who didn't immediately blurt out some variation of the Friedman response...shame on them. After the piece, Anderson hits us with this: "We should point out U.S. soldiers who are fighting and dying in Iraq and Marines and others do not get to take the month of August off." Word.

On now to an interview with John Kerry. Hey, haven't seen him for a while. Anderson begins noting that there are Republicans who will say privately the Iraq policy is wrong, but not say it with their votes. "If that's true, isn't that incredibly hypocritical of them?" he asks. Thank you! I've been waiting for someone to ask this for forever (although next time I'd like to see it posed to a Republican). I mean, people are dying and these Republicans don't even have the courage to vote their beliefs. It's disgusting. Anyway, Kerry is way more muted than me, saying they're backing Bush and they need to find a way to pull the parties together. Anderson then asks about the benchmarks and whether the Iraqis get it. Kerry, like Michael Ware, tells us the Iraqis have a different agenda. We're then played a McCain clip regarding the consequences of withdrawal and Anderson asks if there would be potential for genocide if we left. Kerry thinks it's already happening to a small degree and, um, we're still there. Finally, Anderson wonders, "Is this the worst blunder in U.S. foreign policy history, in your opinion? " Wow. That's what I'm talking about. When those kind of thoughts, even in question form, go out into the ether they get people talking. For the record, Kerry says it's the worst blunder in modern history and possibly all of our history.

Erica Hill has the headlines tonight and afterwards we move into tonight's edition of "What Were They Thinking?" Remember all that ice that FEMA bought to apparently not help the victims of Katrina? Well, they've been storing it for almost two years now. And yeah, it's cost us a pretty penny-$12 million actually. But the best part is that I guess they got tired of storing it, so they paid a company $3.4 million to melt the ice. Should I pause so you can bang your head against the wall? Anyway,...why do we have to pay someone to melt ice?! It's hot out. Just frickin put it outside. Argh, these people. After this bit of stress, we're played a sampling of YouTube clips people made for the upcoming debate. I'm actually excited about the debate, which, well, probably means I'll be disappointed, but we'll see. Did I submit something? Um, no. Not for me. Besides, the only question I can think of is "why can you not fix anything?" So, yeah, probably not helpful. Honestly, I'd rather have the follow up. That's where you get your answers.

Transitioning now to religion talk in 360's new series "God's Country." Anybody else feeling deja vu? That's because back in May they did a similar series called "America Divided: God & Politics." Why not keep it consistent? Whatever. Anyway, Tom starts us off with some stats about religion in the country. Well, Christianity in the country, anyway. He's got his graphic wall again and, oooh, even some maps! Then he and Anderson do that weird walking up to each other thing, but, oh, not too close. It's like there's an invisible line they're not allowed to cross. Can you tell I'm getting bored of this subject?

Continuing on, we have a Candy Crowley piece about how conservative Christians are dealing with Giuliani and the fact that he's pro gay rights and pro choice. Okay, I like those positions, but I still think he's kind of evil. Some evangelicals, like Richard Land, say they won't vote for Giuliani, but others see him as their best bet to beat Hillary. Also, there are a lot of soundbites from conservative Christians that make me think they just want someone with a strong personality. After Candy's piece we've got Tom at the wall again and then we move into a Randi Kaye piece on the Democrats and faith. This has been done to death. Then Tom is at the wall yet again and I'm cracking up at the graphics with Romney and Obama with wings and gold halos to signify their deep religiousness perceived by voters. Oh 360, what am I going to do with you? After that we're accidentally played part of Randi's piece again and the funny part is I totally don't even notice until Anderson cuts in. Oh well.

Next up we have a clip previewing Larry King's interview with Tammy Faye Messner, who is dying of cancer . She looks pretty bad. Sad. Also? Have you guys seen the promos they're running for this interview? My God, they're horrible! I can practically hear the promo guy saying, "Come watch Tammy dying!" It's pretty sick. Anyway, The Shot tonight is a poor doggie getting run over during the Tour de France. Aw. Anderson and Erica are both upset by this. But no worries. Dog and biker are okay. Anderson then runs the clip of the ramen noodle hot tub treatment in Japan because it's his favorite and Erica missed it. Anderson is very fixated on the possibility of the kids eating the noodles. Oh yeah, you know they're totally going to eat them. Eww. The show tonight was meh. C+

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Brazil Plane Crash, Senate Slumber Party, Iraq Discussion, Katrina Shooting, Raw Politics, Dog Fighting, And Speaker's Surgery (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everybody. We begin tonight with the BREAKING NEWS of a plane crash in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that occurred when the pilot tried to land in heavy rain. Anderson Cooper informs us that over 170 people were on the plane and 200 are confirmed dead, making it the deadliest plane crash in Brazil's history. We're then joined by Tom Hennigan, reporter for "The Times of London," who is actually in San Paulo right now, and Miles O'Brien, both via phone. Anderson asks if any people on the ground were killed, and math has already told me the answer to that question is yes. Although really, it doesn't sound like anyone has any hard figures yet. Anderson notes they've recently been flying in Brazil and there are apparently problems with the country's air traffic control system and repairs have been done on the main runways. Tom tells us that water collects on the runways when it rains and though they closed them to resolve the situation, they hadn't yet done the grooving before officials allowed the runways to become operational again.

Miles then pops in and talks a bit about how the plane essentially might have hydroplaned. He also points out that some witnesses have reported it looked like the plane was trying to get back into the air, so there might have been a down draft too. Anderson then notes that they really don't know anymore, so, hey, they're actually moving on. No speculation for half the show? Wow. They're getting better at this. Because for a second there I thought we were about to have a repeat of the plane-at-Midway-skids-off-the-runway coverage.

Transitioning now to a Senate slumber party! The cots are out and the Senators are ready for quite a night. Oh, will there be truth or dare? Will the Senators use a ouija board to ask the spirits for advice on how to get out of the war? Will McCain braid Edwards' hair? Yeah, that last image is going to give you nightmares, isn't it? Okay, so, no, this isn't going to be like your average 13-year-old girl's sleepover. They're pulling the first all-nighter in the Senate since 2003 because the Republicans are obstructing a vote on Iraq. Dana Bash then joins us live for more and proclaims that there will be a vote in the morning and no one expects it to pass. This leads Anderson to ask why even do it then. Dana thinks they're trying to signal to their base that they're trying. Well, and it also shows all the people not in the base that the Democrats want to end the war and the Republicans are stopping them. What I want to know is, if they're going to be working so hard tonight, why the cots? I know some of these guys are old (hey, just saying), but can they not stay up all night?

Next up we have Anderson with the news that the latest unclassified part of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has found al Qaeda is getting stronger. No, really? We then get a clip of Bush spouting his usual crap: "blah blah blah, September 11th, blah blah." After that Tom Foreman joins us live to explain why what's going on in the Senate really doesn't mean anything. And he's got himself a graphic wall! I guess that's a nice consolation prize since he doesn't get to play with the maps as much anymore. Not on 360, anyway. So, okay, right now the Senate is basically split down the middle with a 51 to 49 Democratic majority, but you need 60 votes to break a filibuster. Basically what the Democrats need to do now is sway those few moderate Republicans. So far it doesn't seem to be working when it comes to votes. Also? There's some weird standing and camera work going on here. Just saying. Anderson brings up Michael Chertoff's stupid gut and how it thinks we're going to have a terrorist attack this summer. Tom says if that happens all bets are off. He's not kidding. Bush would probably try to postpone the election. Oh, I've just made myself very sad.

Moving on now to some discussion with Michael Ware, Peter Bergen, and General David Grange. Anderson begins by noting that the White House is making everything about al Qaeda and asks if they're the biggest enemy in Iraq. Michael says "not by a long shot" and in fact, they make up only about three percent of the insurgency. Anderson then points out that the new talking point is that the people that attacked us are the same ones we're fighting in Iraq and he wonders is there is a difference between al Qaeda and al Qaeda in Iraq. Peter says that Bush seems to have recently rephrased his statements to make them more true, but al Qaeda in Iraq didn't exist before we invaded. They're small in number, but responsible for a disproportionate number of attacks. Anderson asks about how tactics in Iraq are being perfected and exported. David basically says that where ever there is a battleground, people are going to learn to fight. Anderson then asks if it's true that if we fight them over there we won't have to over here. David says they're coming after us and he likes that they're all over in Iraq. Hmm, sounds like he subscribes to the debunked flypaper theory.

I think Anderson is picking up on this too, because he kicks it to Peter so he can talk about how the tactics are spreading into Afghanistan. Peter states that he's going to have to differ with David (but throws it out there that he admires him, which is adorably polite-Fox News this is not) because he thinks Iraq has made the jihadi problem worse. We then get Michael in on this and Anderson asks if the war has "created jihadists who wouldn't have become jihadists anyway." Michael emphatically says yes and the whole fighting them over there so we don't have to do it here thing is "absolutely ludicrous." Whoa. Michael either hasn't been listening to what David said or he's not quite as polite as Peter. Ha! But you preach it, Michael! However, David doesn't really seem insulted. Agrees with him in fact. He just thinks they're going to come after us no matter what. And hey, may as well mess up someone else's country while we fight them, right? A country that, BTW, had nothing to do with any of that. I wonder if guys like David realize that's essentially what they're saying. Anyway, good discussion.

Transitioning now to the Drew Griffin "Keeping Them Honest" piece that we had previewed last night. To recap, after Katrina, Danny Brumfield was at the Convention Center with his family and tried to flag down a cop car for help. According to the police, he jumped on the hood of the car brandishing scissors and feeling threatened, they shot him dead. The twist is that CNN sued for the autopsy report and it shows that Danny was actually shot in the back. The family's own lawyer hadn't even seen the report until CNN showed them, which is kind of mind boggling. Drew wanted to talk to the officer that shot him, but he's been fired due to something unrelated and is now working...at a strip club. Oh boy. But the district attorney has cleared the officer and is apparently going to stick by that decision. So...either Danny Brumfield somehow moved on the roof of that cop car in a way that would get him shot in the back, thus making the situation murky, or someone just got away with blatant murder in New Orleans. Again.

Coming back from commercial, we're grooving to Lionel Ritchie's "All Night Long," which Anderson helpfully points out is not an actual contender for 360's political theme song contest. And they're not even telling us when the finalists will be announced anymore, so they must be all tied up in legal red tape. Bummer. Anyway, Tom Foreman is actually live right next to Anderson for "Raw Politics" tonight, but I'm pretty sure everything but the intro is taped. I could be wrong, but I would expect to be able to hear Anderson laughing if he was doing that sitting next to him. Tom is very, um, enthusiastic, is all I'm saying. We begin with the news that the Republicans are not thrilled with their presidential choices. Eh, cry me a river. You brought us Bush; for that you must suffer. Tom tells us that people are saying Obama inflated his donor numbers by counting people that buy campaign merchandise, but in reality he's just trying not to break the law. That money goes into the campaign, which means he has to count them. So there. And finally, Bill Richardson is moving on up, to the east side, to a deluxe apartment in the sky. Okay, no, but he is getting closer to that top tier. I guess we'll see.

Next up we have a really disturbing piece from Drew Griffin on dog fighting. The name is self explanatory and the videos are upsetting. Apparently it's a pretty popular "sport," even among kids. Sick. Speaking of sick, we're moving on now to Sanjay Gupta's EXCLUSIVE from the operating room of Andrew Speaker's lung surgery due to TB. So for all of you that are sick of seeing this guy on your tv, well, now you get to see his insides. Oh, yay. And...ew. I did think it was interesting how Sanjay had to make sure his mask was on really good. I forgot that the organisms were suddenly going to be out in the open. That's probably a little nerve wracking for the doctors. But if you guys think this is the end of this story, oh, Anderson's got news for you: "...he certainly has a lot of lawsuits to face. We know about that. We'll be covering that, no doubt, down the -- down the road." Awesome. The Shot tonight is a mini Taj Mahal sailing up the Thames River. Erica and Anderson do some banter and then Anderson realizes there's actually a Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. "I've never been to A.C.," Erica says with a wink in her voice. Heh. But it flies past Anderson without him noticing. Oh well. Good show. Loved the Michael, Peter, David discussion. Bring in Reza Aslan and it'd be perfect. B+

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

John Edwards' Poverty Tour, Vitter's Troubles, NOLA Murders, Student Murder Update, Raw Politics, Speaker Again, And Helping The Gulf (Monday's Show)

Hi everybody. We're back in NOLA tonight and Anderson Cooper has his live shot set up in Saint Bernard Perish in front of the home of Pat and Jeannette Hardy. The camera crew gives us a little tour inside their house, which is completely gutted. And it's going on two years out. I suppose at this point people have given up on even the idea that the government might actually come through. Anderson then notes that he caught up with John Edwards while he was in the Ninth Ward on his poverty tour and this intros into a piece on his time with the candidate. Anderson points out that the focus on poverty might not resonate with voters, but I don't know, it's actually one of the main reasons I like Edwards. While they're in the car they talk about fund-raising and Edwards states he would be on the phone right then if Anderson wasn't there. Anderson thinks "that's incredible." I think that totally sucks. No wonder nothing ever gets fixed if everyone is spending every waking moment trying to raise cash.

Anderson then goes into tough reporter mode: "Your campaign, raised $9 million this quarter, down from the first quarter. You're running third in the polls. Why aren't you doing better?" Edwards would like to "gently argue," with that and emphasizes his strong showing in Iowa so far. Elizabeth Edwards is also on the tour and Anderson asks her about her anger when Edwards get criticized for things like that $400 haircut. I like how he brought that up and sort of put it in the trivial light in deserves. Because I am so tired of hearing about the man's hair. After the piece, we're joined by Susan Roesgen live, who has news on Senator David Vitter's prostitution troubles. Today he broke his silence and publicly apologized. He's not quitting the Senate and apparently his wife is sticking by him. I guess that tough talk of going all Lorena Bobbit on him if he ever cheated was just talk. Although I'm glad she didn't because that would be the news story that would never end. Anyway, Vitter admits to some past allegations, but denies others. Whatever. Still a hypocrite.

Next up we have a Randi Kaye piece on the continuing murder problem in New Orleans. We meet Jeannette Kelly, whose boyfriend was shot and killed last month. The couple just happened to be neighbors of the slain filmmaker Helen Hill. Six months ago Mayor Ray Nagin promised to make decreasing the murder rate a priority, but things seem to still be bad. As Randi notes, "The police force is still down 300 officers. And the justice system is a mess. Witnesses are either missing or unwilling to cooperate." She gets an interview with Nagin and asks what's being done to fix the justices system, but he basically just talks a lot while actually saying nothing. It seems the blame game is still being played hardcore in the city, with the police, district attorney, and mayor all blaming each other. Can the federal government not lend a hand here? Oh, who am I kidding?

Moving on now to a teaser of a Drew Griffin report about a black man killed by the cops as the Katrina aftermath was unfolding. At first I thought they were talking about a different cop-shoots-Katrina-victim situation (which gives you an idea of how messed up everything was-that there's more than one). Anyway, do you guys remember this? The cop's story is that the guy came out of nowhere at the Convention Center and jumped on the hood of the cop car with scissors in his hand. So they shot him. Well, CNN sued for the autopsy report and it does says that he died from a gunshot wound...to the back. Dun dun dun! That was actually a pretty good teaser because it made me gasp. This calls for drama prairie dog. After the teaser we have a Randi Kaye piece that updates that story on Eastern Michigan University lying about a student's murder. After investigations, the school's president, vice president of student affairs, and the head of public safety are all gone. Good.

Transitioning now to Tom Foreman with tonight's "Raw Politics." It seems the democrats are kicking republican butt when it comes to fund-raising and McCain continues to be a sad, sad, man. He's broke and most of his staff have resigned. I think at this point he's become too pathetic to snark on. In other news, Congress is pulling out the cots because they're planning for a long debate on Iraq. How long are we talking here? And do they sleep in shifts or what? Finally, Tom tells us the celebs are doing their part to fill the campaign coffers. Ben Stiller gave to Edwards, Will Smith gave to Obama, Tony Sirico gave to Giuliani, and Mark Ruffalo gave to Mike Gravel. Hmm. Interesting choice for Mark. Perhaps he appreciates the artistic nature of Gravel's slightly freaky (okay, really freaky) campaign ad. Tom then hates on Mark Ruffalo. Obviously not into the independent fair. C'mon, "You Can Count On Me" was a good movie. And Anderson agrees with me, "Oh, come on, Tom. He's a good actor. "

Erica Hill is back and after giving us the headlines we have "What Were They Thinking?" which I guess we mostly just do with Erica (though I think they've done it a couple of other times too). Anyway, apparently some dude in the Netherlands has made a 50-foot Viking ship out of 15 million recycled ice cream sticks. He's sailed it on a lake, but really wants to take it across the Atlantic. Yeah, good luck with that. Can't say I'm scrambling to join him.

Next up we have Sanjay Gupta live in Denver to give us the latest on the Andrew Speaker TB case. Perhaps I should be referring to him as the embattled Sanjay Gupta. Have you guys been keeping up with the whole Michael Moore controversy? Poor Sanjay has had a rough few days. There's a lot of hating going on around the Internets and it seems some fans have turned. Aw, I still love you Sanjay, but I gotta say, I'm with Michael on this. The report was a hack job, filled with that fake balance like what we used to see regarding global warming. I don't blame Michael for taking offense (though I do wish he could articulate his points a little better.) But CNN has gone all out to defend their position. Unfortunately, all they're really doing is missing the point. And man, wouldn't it be awesome if they spent as much time and effort as they have on this on checking everything that comes from the administration? Hang in there Sanjay and ignore the hate mail, but next time keep the big picture in mind. Anyway, I just talked about Michael Moore because I am so tired of this Andrew Speaker story. He's just one guy. If they were going to use the situation to talk about broader issues regarding CDC response in a crisis I'd be all for it, but I don't really care about this guy's surgery. I guess it doesn't matter though because Sanjay will be back tomorrow to tell us all about it. Oh yay.

Our final piece of the night is from Anderson about a young couple that visited the gulf coast and were so moved by what they saw they decided to quit their jobs and move down there to help. Wow. I'd like to know how they can just quit their jobs, but, more power to them. Together they founded the St. Bernard Project, which restores houses with the help of volunteers. After the piece Anderson talks with Liz McCartney, one of the founders, and Les Scharfenstein, who lives in the Perish. Anderson notes Les is "still waiting on federal money from that so-called long road on, that Road Home program...," and I have to laugh at that initial Freudian slip. Well, at this point it should be call the "Long Road On" program. The rest of the interview is fairly distracting because someone's phone is going off. There's a reason for that vibrate setting. The Shot tonight is a very crazy guy who swam 19 minutes at the North Pole in 29 degree temperatures. Crazy! Erica then raises Anderson a scuba diver in a bunny costume going on an Easter egg hunt. You know, just because. And I do believe Anderson is practically speechless, so he just laughs. The show was okay. It's always great to get New Orleans back in the news, but I was hoping for a more indepth interview with the mayor. B

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Iraq Report Card, Recommendations Not Passed, Fifth Deployment, Raw Politics, Patient Dumping, And Yellow Stone Wolves (Thursday's Show)

Hi guys. We've got Anderson Cooper coming at us from the roof of CNN's Los Angeles studios tonight. Aw, would they not let him in the building? Larry still mad about him getting more debate time? Heh. Anyway, we begin with learning that the White House released it's interim report on Iraq benchmarks and are told that of the 18, eight passed, two were mixed, and eight basically failed. The White House is of course all optimistic, which is ridiculous, but are we forgetting that initial AP report that said they failed all 18 benchmarks? As thinkprogress points out, even the "success" here is spin. I mean, seriously, we're listening to the White House on this?

Up next we're joined by Michael Ware, someone we should be listening to. Anderson asks if a pullout is realistic and Michael sings us the same tune we've been hearing from him all along on this: that what's happening on the ground and what's happening in Washington have no relation to each other. Michael says the commanders are still in it to win and if we pull out there could be a bloodbath. As opposed to the picnic everyone is having now? Oh, I believe that's the first time I've gotten snarky with Michael. It's just that people predict a lot of things, you know? The big Taliban spring offensive didn't happen. Anderson then talks about the political situation and gets his outrage on a bit about the Iraqi government going on a three week vacation. But Michael doesn't think we should care about that because, "even if parliament sits 24 hours a day for the next three weeks, they're not going to make much progress." Oh, well that's comforting.

Anderson then points out the sectarian violence benchmark was given a passing grade and he reads us a statement from Senator Lindsey Graham who believes that saying there's no progress against al Qaeda denies the troops' sacrifices. Michael then smacks down this BS, pointing out that, yeah, if you just count the bodies in Baghdad it's a little better, but country wide the deaths are the same. Not to mention the fact that a hell of a lot of people have left and, well, you can't kill people that aren't there. Plus the fact that al Qaeda is not responsible for every death, which leads Michael to say, "just looking at al Qaeda as an end to the sectarian violence is almost an insult to the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have died as a result of that violence so far." Touche, Michael. Touche.

Moving on now to a really well done piece from Peter Bergen. Actually they've just recut the interview he did a while back with former CIA Officer Art Keller and used it to explain just how the hell after all the money and effort, al Qaeda is still doing well. What I like about this piece is it's broken down into four mistakes. The first mistake was that we had Bin Laden cornered at Tora Bora, but there weren't enough troops and a request for more was denied. The second mistake was that we kicked Taliban butt and chased them into Pakistan...but then focused all our resources on Iraq. The third mistake was our belief...well, the belief of the idiot's in charge, that all the terrorists would come to Iraq, making them easier to kill. And now Iraq is a training ground. So...that worked out well...for them. Our fourth mistake was that we let al Qaeda spread their ideas everywhere-the Iraq effect. Now we've got people driving into terminals in Glasgow. This was a nice short and to the point piece. Although also kind of infuriating because these "mistakes" were foreseeable and the people that made them, criminal.

Speaking of infuriating and criminal, next we're joined by Tim Roemer, member of the 9/11 Commission, to talk about how roughly half of the Commission's recommendations have yet to be enacted. Which, as Roemer points out, might help out with that whole al Qaeda getting stronger thing. Anderson asks who's to blame for them not getting passed. Roemer says the blame starts at the top. So Cheney? I kid. He of course means Bush, and he hopes that he would get the recommendations passed, but instead Bush is threatening a veto. Okay, every reporter should be out there asking why. Why would the president, who claims to want to protect us, be threatening a veto on the 9-11 Commission Recommendations? Why? Please, someone, ask this. Although, it's important to point out that Bush never wanted the Commission to begin with. Fought tooth and nail against it. Honestly, if you think that man gives a crap about your safety at all, after everything we've seen, well, I can't help you. Anyway, Roemer points out that the new Congress did get some stuff passed, but it's stuck in conference now and he urges people to put pressure on their representatives. You heard him people. They're not going to do it themselves.

Transitioning now to an interview with army reservist Erik Botta and his attorney, Mark Waple. Who is Erik and why does he need an attorney? Erik is about to be deployed for a fifth time and he's fighting it. And yes, I said fifth. Fifth!!! Yeah, we don't have a draft. How in the world can any of us say we support the troops when we deploy these guys five times? When our Senate won't even pass an amendment (the Webb amendment) to guarantee they spend as much time at home as deployed? (BTW, that was almost a completely partisan vote with the Republicans shooting it down.) So anyway, the deployment thing is a really important issue, but unfortunately Anderson has to work for this interview. It's kind of like pulling teeth is all I'm saying. No offense to Eric, I'd probably be the same way. But to summarize, Erik is in school and would like to finish his studies. This isn't about him being against the war or anything. This about him already being deployed four times and wanting to get on with his stateside life. Erik's attorney has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to have them explain why he's being deployed a fifth time. I hope he wins.

Back from commercial now and we're played Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," which I notice Anderson calls a "contender" for 360's political theme song contest. Okay, so I'm confused. I've been calling all these songs rejects because I know the first couple they said didn't really fit, but contender implies they might actually be chosen. So...yeah, I don't know what they're doing, but this isn't a world stopping issue, so whatever. Good to see 360 continuing with that tradition of being the most inconsistent newscast ever. Aw, they try though. Moving on to some "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman and we begin with the news that the McCain campaign is broke. He only has $250,000! Now that's sad. We also learn that, oh by the way, Bush has finally admitted that someone from his administration did leak Valerie Plame's name. And this would be the perfect time to play that clip of him promising to fire any leakers. Anybody? Bueller? Bueller? Okay, I guess we're not going to do that. Next up, we learn Senator Barbara Boxer said the "I" word-impeachment. Pssst...Boxer. Get rid of Cheney first. Tom then tells us a Hindu gave the opening prayer in Congress, which did not sit well with some Christians, who proceeded to maturely heckle. Way to be Christ-like. Also? Why is there an opening prayer in Congress? Lastly, there's some stuff about Annie Leibovitz and the Queen, which Tom finds quite amusing. Okay then.

Next up we have a Randi Kaye piece on patient dumping on Skid Row. Apparently whenever Anderson is in LA a Skid Row piece is required. I'm not knocking it; it's an important subject, but I do find it quite amusing how they always run these pieces when he's in LA, even though he's usually not the reporter on the story. So anyway, they've been covering patient dumping for about two years now and it's still happening. In this piece we meet Jose Gonzalez, who was dumped after spending two weeks at Kaiser Permanente Hospital. The hospital told CNN Jose agreed to his arrangements, but Jose doesn't remember signing anything because he was on medication at the time. Anybody else thinking of Alberto Gonzales at the bedside of John Ashcroft? The thing that really makes this all inexcusable (besides it being completely immoral to begin with) is that the Midnight Mission reserves eight to ten beds every night for people just like Jose, so there's no reason for this to happen. Someone is not doing their job.

On now to an Anderson Cooper "Planet in Peril" piece on the gray wolves at Yellowstone National Park, an animal that was nearing extinction, but is now on the way back. Anderson actually went to the park (unfortunately sans Jeff Corwin this time) to check out the wolves himself. See, I told you there was work being done on that mini vacation. Anyway, he tells us that a bison died nearby and they're going to go see if the wolves come back to feed on it like they did the night before. We then get to see Anderson schlepping his gear. Hey mister, aren't you breaking union rules? I'm kidding, people. Once at the spot, Anderson and wolf expert guy, Doug Smith, chill out and wait. And then....wolves! Okay, so that's the showy part of the piece, but we also learn from Anderson that at the beginning of the 20th Century the government got rid of all the wolves in the park. But then in the 80's people started changing their tune because all the bison and elk started getting out of control. Doug Smith then put the wolves back in Yellowstone in 1995 and now the park has more than 150 of them. Local ranchers are tolerating the wolves because they get paid whenever one of them takes out some of their livestock. So yay. Something that works.

Moving on now to a preview of Soledad O'Brien's special on the criminally insane. Meh. I'll be skipping over this. It's not that I don't think it's a worthy topic, but the preview alone turns me off. Cable news seems incapable of tackling something like this without making it way too sensational. Maybe I'm wrong, but I won't be watching. Next we've got Tom Foreman with the headlines and apparently some teen got struck by lightening because he was using his iPod outside. Is it wrong that I find that a little funny? Tom tells Anderson to keep the story in mind and we cut back to Anderson fiddling with his blackberry, all, "What was that? What were you saying about portable devices outside?" Ha ha ha. Just wait until you get struck by lightening. The Shot tonight is the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Anderson asks Tom if he's ever done it and Tom says no, but he does enjoy "the running of the executive producers." Aw, David Doss, do they make you run? They're so mean. Though actually, if the running was done after that Paris Hilton show, I think I totally support the abuse. Just saying. Good show. A-
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