Saturday, September 29, 2007

Violence In Burma, Insurance For Kids, Homeland Insecurity, More Joe Cool, Chicago Cop Issues, Raw Politics, And Gray Wolves (Thursday's Show)

Hi everyone. We're kicking things off with some BREAKING NEWS out of Burma. And it's very crappy. Anderson Cooper tell us that the situation in the country has escalated and the government is brutally cracking down on the democracy uprising. This is so sad. Someone managed to smuggle out a cell phone camera and we're shown images of mayhem and the aftermath of troops opening fire on the protesters. At least nine people were killed, including a Japanese journalist who continued to take pictures even after being shot. Man.

Next we're joined by Dan Rivers live from Bangkok because no reporters can actually get into Burma. Anderson reminds us that the last major uprising in Burma was in 1988 and Dan tells us the military dictatorship has been in place for 45 years. Dan goes on to say that the government is currently cracking down in a horrendous way and the death toll may very well be higher than reported. Anderson's been reading reports of monasteries being ransacked and people being beaten and taken away. Dan tells us they don't know where the monks are right now. This is horrible. It was so cool to see all those monks marching and now they can't even find them?!

Moving on to a phone interview Anderson did with a European diplomat in Burma. They're keeping his name on the down low for safety reasons. AC360 Review will refer to him as "brave diplomat dude" or BDD. Okay, so BDD tells us the violence is clearly escalating and that everyone participating is putting themselves at risk to be harmed now or from action to come in the future. Also, the monks are gone from the demonstrations and the protesters have been cut off from Aung San Suu Kyi. Unfortunately, BDD thinks the government is determined to clamp down on the protests and international pressure is needed. Yeah, well, effective international pressure is needed. And that seems hard to come by. Just ask Darfur.

Transitioning now to the BREAKING NEWS that Congress just voted to expand a health insurance program for low income kids. And we can't have that. That's right folks, that compassionate conservative we all call our prez, has decided this looks like a bill he needs to veto. Anderson notes that the program was actually created by Republicans and Bush has even supported expanding it in the past. We then delve further into the issue with a "Keeping Them Honest" piece from Jessica Yellin, formerly of ABC. Welcome. Anyway, we learn that the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, helps 6.5 million kids around the nation and the vote was to increase the program by $35 billion, so that four million more children could be included. Bush is vetoing because he thinks it's a step toward federalized health care. Good! I'd like that please. We're then shown some clips Daily Show-style, of Bush actually speaking out in support of S-Chip before the 2004 election. Okay, that was awesome. Jessica is making a very good first impression. "It seems the president was for expanding the program before he was against it," she says. I think I just may love her.

So, why is Bush going to veto now? Well, some feel he's trying to get back his fiscal conservative cred. But dude, that ship has totally sailed. It's not only sailed, it's docked, and the tourists have walked around and bought some souvenirs. Roy Blunt thinks it's all about politics and getting people to ask him why he's against health insurance for poor kids. But, um, why are you against health insurance for poor kids? Blunt's whole reasoning is he thinks it expands the program to middle class kids. Oh, my bad. I guess I should be asking why you're against health insurance for middle class kids. Bottom line here, people, is Bush, Blunt and the like think this is socialized medicine, which apparently scares the crap out of them. After her piece, Jessica tells us that if Bush vetoes, some kids might lose their coverage if an agreement isn't made. So, sorry poor kids. No health care for you. But hey, let's keep throwing billions at a quagmire. Makes sense to me. Meanwhile, New Orleans says, uh, guys, we're still waiting down here too.

Oh, look, we're back to the short commercial breaks with the weird graphics again. After they didn't do it Wednesday night I was sort of under the impression that 360 had just decided to enter into a little silent we-shall-never-speak-of-this-again agreement with their viewers, but guess not. Everyone I know who watches the show hated it. And the graphics. Some of them are . . .This one in particular: "They pay our bills. Watch this . . ." Oh my. Is it that bad over there, 360? Do you have enough money for food? Do we need to hold a telethon or something? Seriously though, what the hell? Oh, and I don't for a second believe this is all about them responding to viewer emails. People email about everything under the sun, so sure, I bet they've gotten a few over commercial length, but last week angry viewers almost set the blog on fire over the OJ coverage and their response was to basically say, "we hear you, but we're still going to cover it." My cynical speculation is that this is all about ratings and possibly related to the changes Neilsen has been making. But we'll never know for sure.

Moving on to a Jeanne Meserve piece on our-least discussed border, the one with Canada. Okay, so say you want to take some radioactive material into the US from Canada. You know, just for kicks. How do you think you'd go about doing that? Well, apparently you can just pick it up and freaking walk over. That's right, Government Accountability Office (GAO) inspectors succeeded three out of four times in bringing simulated material into the US. A citizen even tipped off Border Control after seeing one of the crosses, but they couldn't find him. My instinct is to make a sarcastic comment about Border Control, but they're undermanned up there. Yet another way we're being retarded about homeland security. Anyway, Jeanne also tells us that they talked to a professional hacker in relation to that cyber attack story from yesterday. He tells us that when hackers are hired to test a company's software they always win. And then he yells , "Mwahaha!" Okay, no, I'm lying about that last part. Anderson then does the CYA thing again to try to prevent you're-giving-ideas-to-the-terrorists hate mail, but he'll still get some. After that he accidentally identifies John McLaughlin as a former head of the CIA. Whoops. I always wondered how he kept people straight without taking time to think about it. I guess sometimes he doesn't. Heh.

Next up we have a David Mattingly piece on the two dudes from the Joe Cool boat. We then move on to tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" and Erica Hill brings us video of a woman using her child to steal a purse. Classy. Anderson can't believe what he's seeing, but I spent over five years in retail, so I can believe it all too well. You wouldn't believe how many people steal. It's pretty depressing.

On now to a "Keeping Them Honest" piece where Randi Kaye takes on Chicago cops. We meet Robin Petrovic, a woman who allegedly got the crap beat out of her by a cop for no reason. It sounds pretty brutal. And to make matters worse, the complaint she filed with the Office of Professional Standards was deemed to be unfounded. Robin and her lawyer then discovered that between 2002 and 2004 there were over 10,000 complaints filed against Chicago cops. Wow. That's pretty disturbing. Even more disturbing is that the cop that beat up Robin had 50 complaints against him and he finally resigned after stealing a bust's credit cards. There are also other officers with loads of complaints who go on with their job undisciplined. And the mayor won't make their names public. Sounds like they need to clean up their whole department.

Moving on now to a piece from David Mattingly that I guess is supposed to provide balance and help them not get branded anti-cop--or at least anti-Chicago cop. Basically, an off duty Chicago cop goes to Iowa and gets into a fight with a drunken 19 year old. The cop punches the kid, allegedly in self defense, the kid goes down, and now the cop is facing up to five years in prison. The prosecutor believes the kid's injuries were too severe to have been from one self-defense punch, but the cop claims all of that occurred when the kid fell. Who knows what happened. But five years for one punch is pretty harsh.

Next up we have a clip of Chris Dodd from the recent Democratic debate and he gives us a funny: "I walked in here this evening, and a fellow walked up to me, and he said, "Anderson Cooper, what's happened to you?" here, with this white hair." Heh. I knew they would run that clip. This, of course, moves us into some "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman. Not much really of note, but we do learn John McCain is "dissing the front-runner as weak on security." I'm just amused when news people say "dissing."

On now to an Anderson "Planet in Peril" piece on the gray wolves at Yellowstone National Park. We've actually seen another version of this, but what we've got tonight is a fully produced and fancied-up segment to preview the approaching special. No repeat complaints here. This one's a crowd pleaser. And it has nothing to do with the appearance of the tight black tee. No sir. I just really like wolves. Ahem.

The Shot tonight is pigs on the lose! Erica thinks they're kind of cute, but I don't know that I have her back on this one. I like bacon; that's about all I'll say. "You could just grease that pig up and you know -- have you ever been to one of those things, like at a state fair or county fair where they, like, grease up the pig and you've got to run around, trying to get the pig?" asks Anderson. Erica has not, but she has gone to a Connecticut fair. Anderson then proceeds to mock this, but you can't tell me he's ever greased a pig. Now that would be a "Shot of the Day." The show was really good. Lots of variety. B+

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mystery At Sea, Vulnerable Power Plants, Unapproved Drugs, Bill Clinton Interview, Raw Politics, And Ahmadinejad Interview-Sort Of (Wednesday's Show)

Hi all. As per usual, my work schedule makes the Wednesday review late. But the good news is that I am at least 85% awake, despite running on less than four hours sleep. Yay for me! We're kicking it off tonight with Anderson Cooper telling us about a mystery at sea. Um, what? This is the top story? See, this is that consistency thing I was talking about before. 360, don't make me feel like I just accidentally flipped to Greta. Because I want to watch you guys. So okay, Anderson breaks the boat thing down for us in a piece. These two dudes charter a boat to the Bahamas, but it didn't show up at its designated time. The Coast Guard then finds the boat, amusingly named Joe Cool, but it's empty and looks like something shady went down. The Coast Guard later finds the two dudes in a life raft, but the captain and crew are no where to be found. According to the dudes, Joe Cool was hijacked and everyone but them were killed and thrown overboard. Uh huh. Authorities ain't buying it--especially because the dude's have shady pasts.

Next up we're joined by Nick Spangler of The Miami Herald. They always do this. Why do we need this guy, exactly? No offense to him or anything, but I doubt he knows anything CNN can't tell us themselves, so basically he's just here to speculate. Anyway, Anderson asks why the dude's lives were spared. Nick doesn't know, but he does tell us that they had their luggage with them. So the hijackers not only didn't kill them, they also let them take their luggage? Hmm. These dudes are not the sharpest knives in the drawer now are they? Oh, also? One of them said he'd never seen Joe Cool before, yet . . . his Florida identification was found on the boat. Genius.

Transitioning now--abruptly transitioning--to the sudden "terrifying" possibility of month long blackouts. Man, I was still thinking about the stupid dudes on the boat and now we're in the middle of a potential nightmare scenario. In a Jeanne Meserve piece we learn that the big to-do involves a recently unclassified video of a cyber attack on a power plant control system. Basically? Everything went kablewy! Not good at all. And this could leave us in the dark for months. My city had a couple of instances recently where a large percentage of people were out for around a week and it was a huge deal, so what we're talking about here would be devastating. We're told that people in Iran and Pakistan know the same systems we use, so, uh, be afraid, I guess.

But really, we need to be looking at China. They're the ones getting all cyber attack-happy lately. So what's being done to correct the problem? Well, DHS is on it, so, my guess? Nothing. Eh, I'm being unfair. The truth is, their budget has decreased. Oh, but we've got all the money in the world for the missile defense shield that has yet to work. Don't you love how smart we are? We also learn in the piece that, "in 2002, the current director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, and former CIA Director James Woolsey were among more than 50 computer and security experts who begged President Bush for a massive cyber-defense program to avoid a national disaster." And where was this story then? After her piece, Jeanne joins us live and Anderson does a little CYA, allowing her to explain that CNN isn't giving the terrorists ideas. You know he's still going to get emails, though.

Moving on now to that big (it's a two-parter!) investigative piece on prescription drugs they kept promising, yet never delivered. Well, tonight, they deliver. Gary Tuchman is on the case, and he's discovered that apparently all the drugs on the market have not been approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Um, what? (It's funny, as I was sitting there watching this I was literally mulling over whether I was surprised or not. I finally decided, no, I am not.) This is kind of disconcerting, especially after hearing the horrible story of a baby that died after receiving one of the unapproved drugs, but I'm not clutching my pearls here because quite honestly I've never had much faith in the FDA anyway. Hello, Vioxx? Plus, we're always hearing about them being pressured for some reason or another.

Don't get me wrong, given the choice, I'd much rather have my drugs FDA approved. And the fact that a lot of doctors and pharmacists aren't aware this is going on (since the 1960's!) is fairly mind boggling. In the piece we hear from a man who makes some of the unapproved drugs. He claims they're safe because he has the moral obligation to make them safe. Oh, well, then everything's fine then. Sorry if I don't take you at your word. Call me protectionist, but I like a little regulation when it comes to things I'm ingesting. So anyway, in case you're wondering, Congress is aware of the problem, but since they like to occupy themselves with voting to condemn rhyming ads, I wouldn't count on them. So how did this whole situation happen in the first place? Well, the FDA gives out these 10-digit numbers to drugs before they're approved and these are the same numbers that allow pharmacists to order the drugs. Awesome. The FDA says they're cracking down, so I guess we'll see, but they still won't give us one single list of which drugs aren't approved. You're going to have to do that legwork yourself, apparently. Thanks FDA! So helpful.

In tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" Erica Hills brings us the news that Michael Vick has tested positive for marijuana. Wow. That guy is not . . . smart. But, aw, he's stressed. You know, from being indicted on felony charges for dog fighting. And yes, I'm being sarcastic. I loves me the puppies. "Why not take a toke? Sure, hey," says Anderson. "Fire up the bong. Whatever." And then, "I don't know what those things are anyway." Riight. You just never inhaled, huh?

Transitioning now to Anderson's interview with Bill Clinton. And, oh! It's the return of angry Clinton! We last saw angry Clinton when he was brought forth by the dickishness of Chris Wallace. No such jerkitude from Anderson (like he's even capable of that). Basically what happened is Anderson brought up the Republicans losing it over the Betrayus ad and Clinton got angry because they're being total hypocrites. It actually wasn't that big of deal. But angry Clinton gets ratings, so here we are. Anyway, Clinton brings up the ad they ran against Max Cleland, the whispering campaign against McCain, and the swift voting of John Kerry. All very classy stuff. He points out that the fake outrage over the ad is just a distraction. Duh. The interview then moves on to Clinton's Global Initiative and he gets to briefly talk about how he's a "bleeding heart cheapskate," meaning someone that wants to give, but make sure the money is working. You can watch a whole video of Anderson moderating a panel at Clinton's Global Initiative here.

Next up we have "Raw Politics" and Tom Foreman is still on the CNN bus. Not much interesting going on. McCain is actually gaining in the polls, Bush needs things spelled out for him phonetically, Larry Craig is holding off on that resignation, and Tom sounds different to me. Yeah, that last one is probably neither here nor there.

By this point, I'm all annoyed because we haven't gotten the Christiane/Ahmadinejad interview yet and I'm thinking it got bumped or something for the stupid boat story. But no. Turns out that Mr. There-are-no-homosexuals-in-Iran canceled. Well, sort of. Christiane did get to sit down with him, but they said she could only ask one question. But she squeezed out two because she's Christiane Frickin Amanpour. Nothing new or interesting is said. Bummer. You know what would be cool? We need a long panel discussion on mideast issues with Christiane, Reza Aslan, Juan Cole, and maybe Fareed Zakaria. Okay, probably not Fareed, because he works for GE owned Newsweek and an appearance on CNN would probably make the synergy gods cry. Anyhoo, after all the Ahmadinejad hubbub, Anderson gets his feathers ruffled a bit because apparently people are emailing in, saying CNN was the one that canceled the interview. "It's absolutely ridiculous. Christiane, myself, everyone at CNN was eager to hear what the Iranian president would have said," says Anderson. Well. He told us, didn't he? That is weird though. I can't even think of any grassroots or political group that would have a motivation to start that rumor. Faux playing dirty, perhaps? They currently have their panties all in a twist over CNN taking on O'Reilly, so anything's possible.

The Shot tonight is a Google Earth view of a Navy building in the shape of a swastika. Oops. They're gonna fix it. The show started out bizarre, but turned out pretty good overall. It's a shame about the Christiane interview. You win some, you lose some, right? B

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Guilty Verdict For Warren Jeffs, Raw Politics, Ahmadinejad Talk, More Supreme Court Talk, And Planet In Peril (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everybody. We begin tonight with Anderson Cooper telling us that Warren Jeffs has been convicted. Woo! It's nice to see a little justice served. It happens so rarely these days. In a Gary Tuchman piece we learn that Jeffs was actually convicted on two counts involving rape as an accomplice. The victim, Elissa Wall, was the only one that would testify against him. We get to see her on camera for the first time and she says that she came forward against Jeffs because her mother taught her evil flourishes when good men do nothing (a variation of the famous Edmund Burke quote: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.") After his piece, Gary tells us that Jeffs will leave Purgatory after he's sentenced on November 20th. No, not that Purgatory. It's the name of the jail he's currently in. Oh, those crazy jail-namers. Anderson, who needs to put on his listening ears, then asks Gary when Jeffs will be sentenced. And Gary is all, dude, I just told you! Naw, I'm kidding. Gary's too polite to say that. So he just tells us again.

It is at this point that something weird happens. Anderson tells us, "Because we hear you, and you're telling us our commercial breaks have been too long, we're experimenting tonight. We will be back in just 60 seconds. " Um, what? Who's complaining about the commercial breaks? And this is the thing they chose to listen to? I mean, we're not retarded. Obviously if the breaks are shorter, they're just going to occur more frequently, which is annoying. If they really want to cut down on breaks they should look into getting a single sponsor (but for the love of God, not Head-On!). NBC Nightly News did that once and I liked it. Besides, you can't grab a snack in 60 seconds. And how is Anderson supposed to update his MySpace page or place a bid on Ebay or whatever he does on the laptop (yes, I'm kidding)? The thing that really gets me though are the graphics about the shorter breaks: "Very short break" and "He's not kidding . . . it's short!" Wow. I guess some people will find that funny, but to me it reeks of desperation. If 360 wants to retain their viewers, maybe they should think less about their commercial breaks and more about being consistent. Consistency is, and always has been, their number one problem.

Next up, Anderson has an EXCLUSIVE interview with five jurors from the Jeffs trial. And it's a train wreck. Seriously, it's like pulling teeth. At first I thought this was due to poor interviewees, but after some thought, it seems the fault of this crash and burn was all 360's. At one point, Anderson asks one of the jurors what surprised him most about the case. His answer? "The news coverage." That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it? See, the problem with this interview is that these five people decided this case based on the law (as they should have), but that doesn't make it too interesting. All of Anderson's questions are leading towards sensationalism and the jurors aren't biting. They keep going back to interpretation of the law, while Anderson keeps asking about polygamy stuff. My readers know I'm not really a fan of the polygamy coverage and this interview sort of illustrates why. The fact that these girls are being forced to marry and have sex underage is absolutely an important story to cover, but sometimes I get the feeling that people are watching just to gawk at the weird stuff. I don't know, maybe I'm off base. Wouldn't be the first time. What say you readers?

Moving on to an interview with Kathy Jo Nicholson and then a preview of a prescription drug story, which Anderson says we'll get tomorrow, but I don't believe him because he said that yesterday. So there. In tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" Erica Hill tells us about a guy who sawed his house in half. Hmm. From this weirdness we blast forth into "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman, who is chilling in CNN's election bus. You know, I think I'm getting burnt out on the election already because I have no desire to recap this. One thing I will say though, I would have gone with "Larry 'Wide Stance' Craig" over "Larry 'Watch Your Feet' Craig." Just saying.

Transitioning now to Reza Aslan joining us for discussion. Oh, weird. Today I was just thinking that we needed Reza on the show again. (And now I'm thinking about how I need to win the lottery--hey, couldn't hurt.) Anderson asks how Columbia University President Lee Bollinger's Ahmadinejad (MA) intro played. Reza thinks all the insults were a big mistake because it allowed MA to take the moral high ground and he's a powerless person anyway. Anderson brings up how Hitler analogies seems to be the fad lately and he wonders if elevating MA to that status gives him more power. Yes, says Reza. It makes MA pretty popular in the Muslim world outside of Iran. Anderson then asks if Bollinger should even have invited him in the first place. Reza thinks the invite was good, but the discussion should have focused more on Iran itself, like the economic and human rights situation there. But Anderson thinks there's value in hearing the crazy-ass (um, not his term) stuff MA says. Reza agrees, "You know, there's an old saying that C.S. Lewis once said that, you know, the best way to defeat the devil is to mock him." Exactly.

On now to the Jeffrey Toobin piece that we were promised last night. He tells us the story of how Gerald Ford had a big hand in saving affirmative action. This is actually kind of interesting. See, in the late 90's the University of Michigan (Ford's alma mater) was sued to try to stop it from considering race in admissions. Ford felt the issue was very important and wrote an op-ed in the "New York Times." He then discussed it with his former White House aide, James Cannon. Cannon then went on to write a friend of the court brief regarding how important affirmative action is to the integration of the armed forces. This brief, known as the Green Brief, was then read and referenced by the Justices, who ultimately upheld affirmative action in a 5-4 decision. At least, um, I hope I got that all right. Unfortunately, this ruling and others might be struck down by a potentially more conservative court, depending on who's elected in 2008.

Our final piece of the night is from Jeff Corwin and he's searching for polar bears. The whole piece is in a helicopter, but I think we've actually already seen the part that comes next--after they've tranqued a bear. There's music under this piece, so I guess it's already been fully produced for the special. I'm looking forward to that, actually.

The Shot tonight is an I-Report of Myanmar monks marching. Go monks! The show was pretty good. I loved hearing from Reza. The interview with the jurors was painful. And the shorter commercial experiment? Failed! B

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ahmadinejad Goes To Columbia University, Raw Politics, Polygamy Trial, And Toobin Discusses The Supremes (Monday's Show)

Hi everyone. Well, it's a new week. Let's hope this one is better. We're beginning tonight with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad packing a suitcase of Member's Only jackets and taking a little excursion to Columbia University, where he was invited to speak. Anderson Cooper plays us a clip of the glowing introduction provided by university president, Lee Bollinger. Let's see, Lee uses the phrase, "petty and cruel dictator," accuses Ahmadinejad of being "brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated," and tells him we "rightly see your government as the enemy." Dayum! Ahmadinejad then responded with, "dude, harsh!" Assuming of course there is a word for "dude" in Farsi.

For discussion, we're next joined by "Karim Sadjadpour from the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace in Washington and Fawaz Gerges of Sarah Lawrence University." Anderson found it quite enjoyable to hear an American "stick it" to the Iranian prez. Remember when Anderson schooled Ahmadinejad on his lack of free press? Zing! Anyway, Fawaz thinks this visit will be seen as a cultural insult and therefore the prez will score some points in Iran. We're then played a clip where Ahmadinejad (who I will from now on refer to as 'MA'--yes, I'm lazy) basically answers a question with a question of his own. It seems to be one of his favorite things to do. Karim points out that Ayatollah Khamenei is the most powerful man in Iran, not MA and MA was actually elected to improve the economy. How's that working out? Eh, not so well.

Fawaz notes that Iran is now leading the resistance against US dominance in the Mideast and framing it as self-defense, rather than terrorism. And unfortunately it's resonating with that population. The whole "wiping Israel off the map" thing is then brought up and Karim points out that MA actually is talking about a one state solution, not dropping a bomb on the country. Anderson thinks that's a fine point, but I don't know, I think there's a pretty big difference between nuking a country and not nuking a country. Okay, to be fair, Anderson's point is that the statement can be taken many ways by the uneducated masses and MA is trying to play all sides. They then talk about how Iran is lying about the IAEA, and basically this whole speech has brought us no new information.

On now to Anderson keeping MA honest, with a little fact check. MA has called the Holocaust a myth. But 360 say, um, yeah, it happened. Gee, I wonder if they broke a sweat debunking that one. After all, the Holocaust is only one of the most documented atrocities ever. Anyway, MA also says there are no gay people in Iran. 360 says, um . . .yeah, pretty sure there's gay people there. Actually when MA said this the audience laughed, as they should have. But of no laughing matter is what they do to gay people in Iran, like these two terrified teens that were hanged in 2005. I was surprised to see the picture on 360 because I don't remember MSM coverage of it when it happened, but maybe I'm mistaken. MA also claimed that Iranian women have freedoms, but not so says 360.

Moving on to . . .Christiane Amanpour! I always love to hear from her. She's going to be interviewing MA on Wednesday, and right now she and Anderson discuss the prez and Iran's human rights record. After Christiane, we're joined by Columbia University president Lee Bollinger. Anderson asks if MA actually answered anything and Lee says not really. We're then played clips of Senators McConnell and Lieberman, who were not at all happy with the university's invitation. Yes, because it's so much better when Bush puffs up his chest and calls Iran one of the axis of evil.

Transitioning now to "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman, but I think I'm going to skip ahead to Gary Tuchman, who tells us they're close to the verdict in the Warren Jeffs trial. As you might remember, Jeffs is charged with accomplice to rape. I then spend the rest of Gary's camera time confused because he's using the girl's name and I thought she had been referred to as "Jane Doe" up until now. This is then made clearer in a Randi Kaye piece where we learn that the victim legally changed her name and is now in a witness protection program. What's kind of cool (if anything good can come out of this) is that she also has a civil suit against Jeffs and she plans to use the money to help other girls like herself.

Next up we've got 360 doing their best to pimp Jeffrey Toobin's new book "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court">. And look how I help. Anyway, Toobin then goes on to depress me with a piece he did about the 2000 Supreme Court decision. Apparently I was not the only one depressed. According to Toobin, the decision left Justice Souter distraught, and seven years later, most of us know he had a good reason to be. If you're like me, you remember the 2000 election and fallout like a bad dream you once had. There were hanging chads and hysterical mobs (which, BTW, were not even Florida voters, but flown in Republican operatives), all culminating in a 5-4 decision that changed the country forever. One of the main men behind the court case was John Roberts. Yes, the very same John Roberts that is now Chief Justice of the court. Funny how that happens.

For the record, Toobin believes the 5-4 decision was wrong and seemed to be politically motivated. And now we have a quagmire and more problems than we could ever hope to solve. Thanks guys (and gals)! Anyway, Toobin's book must be pretty good because it got a great review in the "Times," which Anderson proudly reads. Aw. Toobin tells us that the court will be conservative for a generation (sob!) . And if a republican wins in 2008? Buh bye Roe.

The Shot tonight is a white koala bear. Freaky. So okay, the show was much better than last Monday. And we have the promise of Christiane Amanpour and more Toobin in the future, so yay for that. B

Sunday, September 23, 2007

News You Might Have Missed

If your only source of news this past OJ-filled week was 360, well, you missed almost everything.
  • Will the confirmation hearing include a memory test this time? Bush nominates Michael Mukasey to replace Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General.
  • Don't mess with Myanmar Monks. Vandalizing shops, taking officials hostage, and threatening a boycott are some of the ways Monks are currently fighting back against the repressive Myanmar regime.
  • Only 22? "Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its third annual report on the most corrupt members of Congress entitled Beyond DeLay: The 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and two to watch)." Ted Stevens (R) and William Jefferson (D)? Shockers.
  • Nobody say the "R" word. Federal Reserve cuts interest rate for the first time in four years.
  • He's alive! Bush butchers a speech so badly that the Nelson Mandela Foundation has to reassure people the former South African president is still alive. (Okay, I'm really only adding this one because it's hilarious.)
  • Orwell would be proud. Airlines are collecting data on you and submitting it to the government-including what book you read on the plane.
  • See, he really is Darth Vader. Cheney thought about asking Israel to strike Iran to get them to strike back.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The "Jena 6", FBI Tapes Ted Stevens, Raw Politics, And New Bin Laden Tape (Thursday's Show)

Hi everyone. Well, I guess when Anderson Cooper said he'd about had his fill of the OJ story, he wasn't kidding. Soledad O'Brien is occupying the anchor chair tonight. I'm actually not feeling all that bloggy, so this is going to be a really short little post. Plus, I missed the last 15 to 20 minutes of the show because of a viewing and note-taking mishap that involved a pen with dark blue ink, tan pants, and my own stupidity. (Stop laughing!) So if there was OJ crap (and I think there was), I blessedly missed it.

The show started off with the story of the "Jena 6" and it's great to see this story and the issue of racism being talking about in the Mainstream Media (MSM). I had to kind of crack up at David Mattingly's piece on how the story went viral online. Psst, guys, that's where most of the actual news is now. Or are we really supposed to watch three whole days of OJ?

Tonight also contained the Breaking News that the FBI has apparently been eavesdropping on Senator Ted Stevens regarding that public corruption investigation. And there are tapes! The potential for awesomeness is very high here. Unfortunately, the tapes are so far not being made public. Oh, somebody leak them! But, um, only if it won't hurt the case against that jerk. Hmm, will there be an indictment for Christmas this year? We shall see.

We also have Tom Foreman, as always, with the "Raw Politics" and then there's the news of another Bin Laden tape. Do you think he waited until after the OJ stuff died down to release it? Why haven't we caught him, again? Anyway, it is at this point that my viewing ends and my scramble for the Shout bottle begins. It's great to see the news slowly making its way back.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

OMG, Are They Kidding Me With This Crap? (Wednesday's Show)

Hi everyone. Tonight we kick things off with the latest from Darfur. I kid! Why cover genocide or war when you have OJ Simpson 2 to tackle? It's like a bad sequel to a horror movie, and to tell the truth, I was never fond of the original. Anyway, Anderson Cooper informs us that OJ has just posted bail today through a company named, I kid you not, "You Ring We Spring Bail Bonds." Oh for the love of . . .

Okay, so we've got Jeffrey Toobin as always and we're also joined by Court TV's Jami Floyd. They discuss people I don't know nor care about. This, from Toobin caught my attention: "Well, I mean, again, we're going to have to figure out who the victim is here..." Dude, the victim is us! We have to do without any real news, while you all have an OJgasm. At some point, Ted Rowlands pops in and, oooh, he's been live in the court room. And and there's another tape! I'm clutching my pearls in anticipation. Anderson's eyes are about to roll out of his head, which, actually, would only make this situation slightly more bizarre than it is as stands.

After we're played some of the new tape, the discussion takes a comfuzzled turn. Now, I know I don't know what's going on with this case, but I'm getting the feeling no one else does either. Our little panel here seems very confused. Hey, did anyone ever consider that this might just be one big elaborate episode of "Punked"? Seriously, do we have tabs on Ashton Kutcher? What's he been doing lately?

Next we're on to a Randi Kaye piece about OJ's posse. His posse. Good lord. From there we move to an Anderson piece on what happened at that hotel. They're getting to the bottom of it, y'all! It's like the freakin Watergate.

Then we're back with Toobin and Jami. Anderson tells us he's about had his fill with this story. Good! He also reminds us that he's doped up on Theraflu, which is helping him get through it. Maybe you should provide your viewers with Theraflu. And dude, you know they make a non drowsy kind, right? And also? What are you, aiming to be Theraflu's new spokesman or something? Anyway, our little OJ gang here thinks it's hilarious that all the players in this case seem to be calling into Larry King. "Larry King's show has become, like, the epicenter for all of this," says Anderson. And you know Larry has no idea what's going on. Hell, he probably thinks it's 1994.

Moving on now, to some acknowledgment that some of us hate this crap. Anderson tells us they've been inundated with people telling them to stop the coverage. That's right! There was mutiny on the blog, baby! And yet, ratings? Rocking out. People still watch. Some of you might be thinking, "Eliza, you're one of those people." Well, I'm doing it for you! Heh. For how much longer though, I'm not sure. And for the record, I've been boycotting Countdown. Anyway, as for Anderson's comfuzzlement over the ratings being high while people are so mad, it seems to me there's two different groups of viewers. The group that's giving them their rocking ratings doesn't normally watch the news, but they tune in for OJ. The group that's angry? That's 360's loyal viewership that watch all the time. And they've just alienated us. Good job, guys!

In tonight's edition of "What Were They Thinking" Erica Hill brings us the tale of a 70 year old grandma who was arrested for not watering her lawn and resisting arrest. I know the grandma's can be pretty shady, but c'mon people. After this we're on to "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman. First up, we learn that Giuliani has left us for London, but sadly, they won't be keeping him. He just wants their money. Typical. While he's away, has been beating on him with a new ad regarding him being AWOL from the Iraq Study Group. Speaking of ads, everybody's got one! Obama, Clinton, your candidate. Next we're shown some b-roll of Bill Richardson with a title graphic that says, "Baring it all," and I suddenly get very nervous. But it's cool. They're just referring to transparency in cabinet choices before the election. Whew. Don't scare us like that, 360.

Transitioning now to Warren Jeffs, and good God, you know it's bad when I'm happy to get some Warren Jeffs news. In a Mike Watkiss piece we hear some of the testimony of Jane Doe, the young woman forced to marry her cousin when she was only 14. She didn't want to be married to him, much less have sex with him, so this is all pretty horrible. After the piece, Gary Tuchman joins us live and says that the cousin is claiming Jane Doe instigated the sex. Well, he would, wouldn't he? Anderson wonders why this guy, Allen Steed, hasn't been charged with rape himself. Gary explains that he might be, but Jeffs is the big fish.

Next up we have a Jeanne Moos piece on the media circus surrounding OJ. A media circus? Surrounding OJ? No! The Shot tonight is pictures of OJ. Jebus, he's even infected "The Shot"! We're also shown a picture of Marcia Clark, who is looking a little different than her 1994 counterpart. Anderson says when you're on "Entertainment Tonight" you have to have a whole makeover and if he was on that show he wouldn't have forehead lines anymore. Dude, you shouldn't even be noticing that. Don't ever Botox, Anderson. Erica wants some clarification on Anderson's "Entertainment Tonight" makeover: "Really? And you would have blonde hair and boobs. I just wanted to clarify here. I just want to make sure that's what the package entails." As you might imagine, this produces some giggles from Mr. Cooper. And you know someone out there just totally photoshopped that. Stick with the gray, Cooper. It's working for you.

Okay, I'm dropping my blog voice for a moment. 360, I've been a loyal viewer for about two years now. Over that time you've often frustrated, and even angered me, but I never lost respect for you. I'm not sure I can say that anymore. I was too kind with my grade last night. F

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

OJ Holds The News Hostage (Tuesday's Show)

Hi guys. Well, I decided not to boycott tonight because I thought for sure there was no way they would do another whole show almost completely devoted to OJ Simpson. I was wrong. I was very, very wrong. I think they're trying to kill me. It's quite a diabolical way to get rid of an Internet pest, I must say. Speaking of diabolical, one of the commenters from my last post, and a friend have both brought up the possibility that maybe writer Gabe Falcon was actually trying to get negative comments when he put up his post on the 360 blog. You know, kind of as a way to show the corporate overlords that people really don't want to watch crap. Of course I'm pretty sure the only thing the suits care about is ratings, so . . . there's that. It would make Gabe look like a non evil genius though, wouldn't it?

The show kicks off with Anderson Cooper talking to Jeffrey Toobin about the latest "OJ news" and given that I've avoided this stuff thus far like the plague, I have no idea what's going on. I don't feel bad about this though, because Toobin says he doesn't know either. Oh, sure, I could use some brain power to actually try to figure out what's the what, but , um, no. I could totally care less, so this will be AC360 Review's official most half-assed review ever.

So anyway, there's talk of a sting or something and you know what would be awesome? If this whole robbery, kidnapping, whatever the hell happened, is actually an elaborate set up by Denise Brown to get OJ to pay for the murder of Nicole. I can see the last shot of the made-for-tv movie now (oh, you know there's going to be one): we'll see the conspirator on the phone, confirming that the deal has been done. Then the shot will move to the person on the other end of the line and it's Denise. Dun dun dun!

Hey look, now Ted Rowlands is here to join the party. Actually Ted and a dude from The Smoking Gun have been there with Toobin pretty much the whole time. I told you this was half-assed. Anderson asks Ted if he's been talking to some people. It turns out that, yes, he has been talking to some people. Hey, I've been talking to some people too! I wonder if Ted is excited to be on the OJ story or if he's going to cry himself to sleep tonight. Ted's pretty cute, actually. These are the stellar observations I have for you guys when they do crap news. Here's another one: Anderson's face is periodically green in this segment. 360 lighting or my tv? That is the question. Oh, or maybe he's disgusted with the topic.

Next up we have a Joe Johns piece on sports memorabilia. And apparently, there's a sports memorabilia underworld! Ooooh. Also? People actually buy OJ's stuff. If I wasn't a big supporter of civil rights and all that jazz (heh), I'd say those people should be made to wear special tee shirts, so that the rest of us can more quickly identify and avoid the moronic. Or they should just be shot.

Now we're moving on to Anderson talking with an OJ merchandise dude about some sort of controversy and it's all very EXCLUSIVE. The guy is a terrible interview, but he's against OJ, so I like him. After this we're back with Toobin and Ted and then, hey, let's go into OJ's head! 360 has got themselves a psychiatrist to go all Bill Frist on The Juice. Is OJ a sociopath? Hmm. How come no one ever speculated about Karl Rove like this? I guess it's easy to do it to celebrities that actually don't matter.

From there we go to Toobin and some other dude and they're talking about whether or not this is going to divide the country again. Hold the phone! Are you people saying we're about to go through another long OJ trial? Seriously, do you want me to cry? Because I'll cry.

Transitioning now to . . . "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman. Oh, thank God. I'd kiss Tom's feet except, well, that would be weird. Anyway, we begin with the news that Obama has unveiled a new tax reform plan that will give Grover Norquist nightmares. Basically he's going to get rid of the tax cut for the wealthy and give a break to the poor/middle class. Sounds good to me. I'm guessing there's a few thousand lobbyists that will not agree. Next up, we have some polls and learn that 54% of Americans think the economy is good. I guess they didn't hear Greenspan's recent recession comments. Oh, and that war thing? Still not popular. Tom also tells us that apparently the Religious Right are no longer the bell of the conservative ball. The four top presidential candidates skipped one of their forums in Florida. Ooh diss! Next, we learn that "Senator Larry 'Watch Your Feet' Craig is back in the Capitol." Bwah! Oh, 360. And finally, a Nebraska state senator is suing God. No, really.

Erica Hill brings us the headlines, one of which being the tasering that occurred at the University of Florida. Google it up. I'm not providing any links because there are a bunch of videos and you pretty much need to see several of them to get an idea of what actually happened. My take? The kid was out of line and shouldn't have resisted, but the cops used way too much force. Anderson notes that the kid said, "Don't taser me, bro," and jokingly admits that if someone called him "bro" maybe he'd want to taser them too. Anderson does not like to be called "bro." Duly noted. And, OMG, is that what happened with Rick Sanchez? Anderson also lets us know that, "I am so doped up on Theraflu I don't know whether I'm coming or going." Oh, so he's sick and drugged up. This explains a lot. Kidding. Sort of. The Shot tonight is a bear! Oh, how we love the bears. Well, except for Stephen Colbert. Erica then uses the Dramatic Animal Video graphic to raise another bear video and this was all very cute but . . . the little buggers are still getting a D- Bring back the news, 360! You know you want to.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Help Restore Habeas Corpus!

I didn't expect to be doing another post tonight, but this is too important to let slide away into the ether. Some of you might remember me blogging about the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and its suspension of habeas corpus, which the "New York Times" defines as, "the ancient principle that no governing power may lock people up without the chance for a hearing in a court of law." So we're talking about a fundamental aspect of our constitution that we lost. And now there's a chance to get it back. For those of you not up to speed on why this important, you can get some background here, here, and here, and even straight from Senator Chris Dodd himself, one of the sponsors of the restoration act:

Please sign up to become a citizen co-sponsor of the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act. And call your senators! I know this stuff isn't as fascinating as OJ, but its high time we start taping our constitution back together.

No News Today, Apparently (Monday's Show)

Hi guys. Well, what a difference a week makes, huh? I guess 360 likes to show off their range. They can go from stellar to total crap in a mere seven days. Impressive. I certainly don't expect the show to always be somewhere like Iraq, but, well, I do expect news. Yeah, you can argue that OJ is a type of news, but exactly how is this arrest affecting your life or the world in general? I could care less about OJ Simpson. There are actual, important things going on in the world.

But at least this hour of craptasticness was preceded by a warning in the form of a blog post from writer Gabe Falcon. Now, normally Gabe joins Anderson and Charlie Moore as one of my top three favorite 360 bloggers, but I can't say I was a fan of this one. Essentially the post read as follows: yeah, we know there's that war thing yada yada yada, but dude, OJ's back with ratings gold! From the time of reading the blog post, I went back and forth on whether or not I would watch. Come show time I grudgingly plopped in front of the tv, ready to take notes, but after 30 seconds I realized I just . . . couldn't. Television flipped off.

Tonight's show was boycotted by AC360 Review. They won't miss me. In fact, I promise you their ratings will be great. Maybe some day people will learn that if they want quality journalism all the time, they have to stop watching the crap. But whatever. 360 is so much better than this. I'm sorry to those of you who popped in hoping to read a funny skewering. But hey, I'm sure they'll suck again in the future. Heh. And judging from the blog comments, they won't be warning us anymore.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

News You Might Have Missed

Hi guys. Putting this new feature at the end of each post is too time consuming, so I think I'm just going to try to make a separate post at the end of the week. The following are stories that I think are important or would be of interest to 360 viewers. It should be noted that a few of these broke too late for 360 to cover them (and, well, plus they were in Iraq).

  • Some justice in Jena? Mychal Bell's conviction has been overturned. No word yet on the fate of the remaining "Jena Six."
  • Another no good, very bad day for Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. A corporate executive for oil company VECO just testified that his employees worked on Stevens' home.
  • No more pandas for peace. The cuddly crowd pleasers will no longer be used to improve international relations. Time to put down the bamboo and polish up that resume.
  • China goes hacktastic. US citizens have to worry about their government rummaging through their emails and now the US government has to worry about China hacking the Pentagon. It's the paranoid circle of life.
  • Read this column. Paul Krugman breaks down some dirty oil dealings in Iraq. And that pesky TimesSelect wall? Not a problem.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Bush Speech Fallout, Raw Politics, Predator Plane, Polygamy, And Unclaimed Bodies In Iraq (Thursday's Show)

Hi everybody. What happened to Wednesday's review, you ask? Well, thing is, Wednesday night the brother came into town after midnight on an orthodontically-related excursion, so I was up late talking to him, and then I had to get up about an hour before the sun to go to work, so basically sleep and I didn't spend a lot of time together. When I got home from the office all I wanted to do was lie down, so, sorry, no review. I thought about just being a day behind, but I kind of wanted to be timely with Bush's post-speech stuff. I will say, though, that Wednesday's show was good, but I kind of wished for more follow ups with the Petraeus interview. Oh well. Probably a time thing.

Anyway, we're kicking it off in Baghdad, but we're not at Camp Victory anymore. Anderson Cooper starts off by basically saying, hey, remember that sheik Bush met with in al Anbar? Yeah, he "was blown up today in a car bomb." Horrible, horrible turn of events, but I chuckled a bit over the phrasing because that sounded, well, like me. We're then joined by Candy Crowley for the low down on Bush's speech tonight. Did you watch? I did. Well...sort of. Okay, I might have fallen asleep. But I have to say, I think half conscious is the best way to watch Bush. So, Candy tells us there were no surprises in the speech, which is, uh, not surprising. Then we're joined by Michael Ware, David Gergen, and new-kid-on-the-block, Gloria Borger. Anderson notes that Bush talked of a long term commitment and that's not what the American people were told. Yeah, well, we were told a lot of things that weren't true. Anderson then turns to Michael for his impression, which, as it turns out, is "wow."

After that, Michael reads off a bunch of statements that Bush made regarding the consequences of leaving (apparently he needed to take notes to keep all the lies straight), all the while noting that everything he said is already happening now. Anderson and Gloria talk about how the Republicans didn't even want Bush to give the speech in the first place. I'm guessing they'd rather he just not even exist. Then we're played a clip of Bush stating all the stuff that Michael was checking off before, regarding what would happen if we left Iraq. And you know what? Bush has been wrong about everything. Why should be believe that all that stuff is going to happen. Anderson asks The Gerg if he agrees with Michael that all that stuff is already happening. The Gerg kind of brushes that off and instead talks about how it looks like we're going to have a Korea-type presence in the country for years to come. He's pretty boggled about this, but, you know, it's been clear to me for a long time now. As I've said before, we're never leaving, people.

Anyway, we then get a clip of Bush talking about both parties coming together. Yeah, because he's such a uniter. After yet another Bush clip about the Iraqi government, Anderson asks Michael if Maliki can be pressured. The short answer? No. We know this song and dance: Iran's got the power. I'm going to skip ahead a bit to Anderson having Michael respond to a Bush clip on improved Iraqi quality of life. I wish I could quote his whole answer, but basically he says that if by "ordinary life," Bush means standing in gas lines, having no electricity, and living in perpetual fear of being killed in some horrible way, then yes, life has returned to ordinary. I love Michael Ware. After the discussion, Anderson notes that they wanted to know which words Bush used the most in his speech, so, they asked their "producer, Rain Man, to count words." Ha! Aw, I hope they at least let him watch Judge Wapner afterward. I remember counting the words "freedom" and "liberty" during Bush's 2005 inaugural address and then laughing my head off later that night when I discovered the "Daily Show" had done exactly the same thing.

Next up, we have a Joe John's "Keeping Them Honest" piece on Iraq's morphing mission, from getting Saddam, to victory, to, I don't know, whatever the hell it is now. It kind of changes every month. We're shown a bunch of clips, so props for that, though one wishes they would have done this stuff years ago. One of clips is from when BushCo discovered that if you just say "victory" a lot, people will believe you're winning. So of course then they had to have the word all over the place and they even came out with a "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" (which, you know, one wondered why they didn't have one of those before), which sounded like something written by a PR firm...and maybe it was. Oh, and remember when they tried to change the War on Terror (WoT) to the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremists (GSAVE)? That lasted all of about a week. That actually wasn't in the piece, but I'm feeling nostalgic for the craziness.

On now to some "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman. We begin with Mark Warner going after the retiring John Warner's senate seat. No relation. Go, Mark, go! Let's see, Giuliani has taken an immigration stance that is sure to anger the base and Biden just got a big Iowa endorsement. Also, Mike Gravel, who is apparently still in the race (and still scary), thinks Americans are getting fatter and dumber. Hmph. Although really, he might be on to something there. After Tom, Chad Myers pops in to give us an update on Hurricane Humberto.

Moving on then to a Gary Tuchman piece on Predator, a small unmanned plane that is being used in Iraq to precisely take out insurgents and other evil doers. Sounds good, right? Yeah, well, I'm not a fan. It's war made easy and war should never be made easy. Because when you can fight a war like you're playing a video game, it gets harder to come up with reasons not to wage them. Don't get me wrong, I like that our people can take out threats (though one wonders if they're always right about who they're taking out) without being in danger, but trust me, this kind of thing should not be taken lightly. Also in the piece we see Gary and crew hitting the deck because of an incoming mortar, that thankfully did not hit them and caused no casualties. Good lord. And I just noticed that one of the colonels is named Charlie Moore. Heh. After his piece, Gary joins us live and Anderson says he's hearing explosions. Oh, great. Gary tells us their base has been hit by mortars or rockets seven times . . . and now he's being attacked by bugs. Iraq, man, it's a tough country.

Transitioning now to our apparent odd-man-out story of the night. We're moving from Iraq for the moment for a piece from KTVK correspondent Mike Watkiss on the trial of Warren Jeffs. He's accused as the accomplice to rape of a 14 year old girl who was married to a 19 year old. Under Utah law a 14 year old can give consent to have sex and that's what the defense said she did. That's so messed up.

Our final piece tonight is from Michael Ware on all of Iraq's unclaimed bodies. And there are a lot of them. Under Saddam, volunteers collected about 40 per month. Now the numbers are in the low hundreds. Wow. That really says something, doesn't it? And it's nothing good. Anyway, the volunteers treat the bodies well, knowing one day they might be the one being buried After Michael's piece, Anderson asks why so many are unclaimed. Michael explains that some are so disfigured they can't be identified, but still others are dumped in areas that it's simply too dangerous for the family to go. Jeebus. Your loved one is brutally murdered and you can't even go get their body. This is Iraq now. Mission accomplished.

We then check back in with Chad one more time and he tells us about Tropical Storm Ingrid. Dude, what happened to Humberto? I think that's enough for one night. The Shot tonight is little Youssif arriving in Los Angeles. Aw. If only we could bring all of them here. The show was good tonight. A- I think I'm just going to start making a separate post for news you might have missed.

In regards to the second hour, I kind of got the feeling that CNN was hoping if they were just really quiet, no one would notice that 360's second hour is now tape. Well, they shockingly pretty much got away with it for a few months, but now that Labor Day has come and gone, and they're still doing tape, the being quiet thing isn't working for them anymore. Variety is reporting that the show is permanently switching to a taped second hour (and speculating they might lose the hour altogether). I pretty much figured this would happen when they first started doing tape back in June. But the twist here is that a CNN spokesperson is vehemently (and really defensively) denying the change. Using spin that would make Bush proud, she states there is no downsizing and the show will remain a two hour program . . . except the second hour will be tape. Yeah, okay then.

Okay, that little semantic game I can handle, but I'm going to have to keep them honest regarding the spokesperson's claim that Anderson does 10 to 15 minutes live at the top of the hour. This is blatantly untrue. I know this because I watch the show every night, which I guess is more than I can say for CNN's spokesperson. So, CNN, what are you doing? You realize people can, like, check that, right? I imagine 360 has nothing to do with the statements being made, so for their sake, I hope none of the media outlets notice the truthiness of their spokesperson. Man. And this from the most trusted name in news?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

General Petraeus Goes To Washington II, Iraq Does Not Equal 9-11, Afghan Hearts & Minds, Pakistan Problem, And Raw Politics (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everybody. We're kicking off live from Iraq again, with Anderson Cooper still at Camp Victory in Baghdad. Anderson tells us that the base just got mortared a few hours ago and a non American soldier was killed. So, on that cheerful, and not at all anxiety-producing note, let's begin. We learn that our lovely president will be messing with our tv watching on Thursday when he announces a draw down of troops next year to pre-surge levels. Anderson's knocking down this PR move immediately: "...more a case of raw necessity, however, than operational choice."

This moves us into a Tom Foreman "Keeping Them Honest" piece on Petraeus' testimony-day two. It's time for some fact checking. Petraeus says Al Anbar is much safer, but what he doesn't say is that's mostly due to al Qaeda angering the Sunnis enough that they're fighting back. Petraeus says the surge is helping suppress ethnic violence, but what he doesn't say is that millions of Iraqis have fled the country and millions more have pretty much segregated themselves. Petraeus says the Iraqis are getting closer to taking over security, but what he doesn't say is they still need very critical support from the Americans. So, yeah, it seems what Petraeus isn't saying might actually be more important that what he is saying.

On now to some discussion with Michael Ware and John King. Like last night, Anderson and Michael reiterate that Bush's big tv speech is going to be much ado about nothing because bringing home the surge troops after a year had been the plan all along. Anderson then notes that the White House has been going batty about the Petraeus "report" for months and we were all promised a real discussion about Iraq, but now he wonders if this wasn't all in the cards from the get go. Oh, and he uses the words "political theater," which is sort of awesome. John explains that basically the main thing the White House wanted out of this was control of the war, and it looks like they might get it because the Democrats are still short votes to force a time line. Let's all take a moment to ponder the total lack of morality in what John is telling us. To be clear here, I think it's become pretty apparent this White House is just buying time until they're out of office. And meanwhile, people die.

Anderson notes that Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker see hopeful signs for political progress in Iraq and wonders if Michael sees those too. Michael does not. Well . . . crap. He then proceeds to bum me out further by going through why this isn't going to work. Anderson says he's been talking with some Sunnis that seem to be willing to work with the government and he wants to know if they might be lying. Michael reminds us that one needs to be careful in believing Iraqis when they're surrounded by soldiers. He tells us that the Sunnis are very anti-Iranian and therefore, no, they don't want to work with the government. Anderson then plays a clip from Obama, who is angered about these hearings being held on the anniversary of 9-11, thus making it seem like the two are related (yeah, what the hell?). Anderson wonders who was responsible for the timing. John then weirdly blames it on the Democrats because they weren't paying attention. Wait, what? Basically what he's saying is they could have stopped it from happening this way, but they didn't. Um, John? Scheduling a hearing and not stopping a hearing from being scheduled are not the exact same thing.

Moving on to a John King piece on how Iraq is not the same thing as 9-11. Not connected! So hey, 30-some-odd percent of the country that still believes that, are you hearing this? In fact, al Qaeda in Iraq didn't even exist before we invaded. So, um, yay us? Anyway, though frustrating, it's easy to see how some people could be confused. After all, the White House has been conflating the two for years now. And hey, look, 360 is very helpfully pulling a "Daily Show" and actually playing us a bunch of clips from the past. They're missing a few good ones (I've got them on file in my brain, baby!), but still, nice job. Do that more often, please.

Next we have an Anderson piece on how the Anbar model is spreading to southern Baghdad. It seems the Sunnis are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore when it comes to al Qaeda killing their people. Now the US military is paying local sheiks to provide security and the hope is one day these volunteers can join the Iraq police - if, of course, the Shia-lead government will go for it. I'm guessing that's a big "if," but hey, one can hope.

Moving on to a Nic Robertson piece on how the military is not hunting Bin Laden in Afghanistan. It's not as bad as it sounds. Basically instead of being hunt-em-down police, the military has decided to maybe try some of that nation building, that thing that Nic notes, "President Bush once thought unnecessary." Good idea and all, but one wonders how many hearts and minds got away from them over all this time.

Transitioning now to a Peter Bergen piece on Pakistan. Okay, so it works like this: we heart Pakistan. Pakistan hearts bin Laden. We hate bin Laden. Pakistan hates us. Hmm. In Peter's piece we learn that Pervez Musharraf only has a 38% approval rating in Pakistan, compared to bin Laden's 46%. And Bush? Nine percent. I'm sorry, I know this is super serious and horrible and everything, but that totally made me laugh. Nine percent. Good Lord. The dirty little secret about Pakistan is they're the proud owners of some pesky nuclear weapons, so if we were to go all Bush Doctrine on their asses and put pressure on Musharraf, well, with his low support in his own country (and extremists just waiting to push him over), there's a chance things could get explodey. So, uh, let's not.

Next up we have a Gary Tuchman piece coming at us from an airbase in [insert Mideast country here]. They've got to keep their exact location on the down low. Gary then spends some time talking with soldiers that are both coming to, and leaving, Iraq. We meet Sergeant Juan Rivera who has been there three times and believes he'll see a fourth. Gary asks him how that makes him feel and as Juan is mulling that over, Gary adds the word, "honestly." Heh, well, that's the hard part, isn't it? I don't think any of these guys (and girls) are able to truly speak freely. If any of them have any opinions, they're not going to say it, for many reasons. And I don't blame them. For the record, Rivera's answer is, "It's just hard." Oh, and also? Gary notes that, "This war has now been going on for four and a half years. The youngest soldiers on this plane were in junior high school when it began." How's that for boggling your mind?

We've got "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman bringing up the rear tonight. It turns out that people are not happy with this war. Hmm. Who'd-a-thunk it? We also learn that Clinton is still very much the front runner for the democrats, while the newly-announced Fred Thompson, is stealing some of Rudy "9-11" Giuliani's thunder. But, if you'll allow me to play the role of The Gerg for a moment here, I think people still don't know enough about Thompson to call this new development significant. Political analysis is just another service we do here at AC360 Review. The Shot tonight is a live shot of the tribute in light commemorating 9-11. Six years. And still its fallout is with us every day. A-

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

General Petraeus Goes To Washington, Sunnis In Al Anbar, Camp Cropper, Raw Politics, Saudi Re-Education Program, And Iraqi Police (Monday's Show)

Hi everyone. The show is coming at us tonight live from Iraq, with Anderson Cooper hosting from Camp Victory in Baghdad, Mike Ware doing his thing as always, and even Gary Tuchman in country. Oh, I think I'm going to need to go breathe in my happy place. Kidding. I'm actually very excited about the coverage. I just wish it wasn't accompanied by that pesky threat of bodily harm/kidnapping. So, today was quite the day in Washington. The administration's golden boy, General David Petraeus, made his much anticipated testimony on Capitol Hill regarding the situation in Iraq and the "surge." For those that have been following the drama that unfolded before this hearing, well, it's been quite interesting hasn't it? Let's see, it began months ago with repeated chants of "September, September, September." That's when everything was supposed to change. We were told to keep our mouths shut and wait until September, which was when General David Petraeus would give his "report." And then suddenly this Petraeus report was like the second coming or something and it's all the administration could talk about.

Now, those of us that have not recently suffered a head injury, remember that little thing called the "Iraq Study Group," (ISG) and were a little skeptical about a report bringing about any change whatsoever. But, hey, Petraeus had credibility, so a lot of critics were muted. But then came along the "Los Angeles Times," who reported that, hey, you know that Petraeus report? Yeah, well, it turns out, not so much written by Petraeus. This of course caused quite the kerfuffle. So, what was an administration to do? Well, get rid of the report of course. Still with me here? So, today Petraeus comes to Washington sans written report, but packing an oral presentation that he promises was written all by his lonesome. And if you believe that, there's a bridge I'd like to sell you. (Oh, by the way, Iraq Ambassador Ryan Crocker was totally there too. You'd think he'd get equal billing seeing as though the whole point of the surge was to secure things so the government could get their stuff together, but guess not.)

So anyway, Anderson gives us a little summary of Petraeus' report on the "so-called" surge (I love that he calls it that) and then we get some clips. In the clips Petraeus states we might be able to draw down troops to pre-surge level by next summer. Sounds pretty much like "stay the course" to me. Like I said before on this blog, there's nothing happening in September, people. And on that low note, we move into a Jamie McIntyre "Keeping Them Honest" piece on what Petraeus said. As you might imagine, Petraeus took a glass half full approach with his facts and figures, which therefore contradict independent organizations regarding numbers of attacks. Shockingly, it seems there's a lot of cherry picking going on. For example, it's apparently only counted as sectarian violence if the bullet went through the back of the head - through the front is just good old fashion criminal. See how that works? Reports such as those and a 2004 editorial by Petraeus that can be viewed as politically motivated, led to take out an ad in the "New York Times" that is causing a splash. You know who Petraeus is starting to remind me of? Colin Powell. And we all know what happened with him.

Next up we're joined by Michael Ware and Michael Gordon of the "New York Times." Guess I'm going have to go formal here. Anderson begins by pointing out that Bushco is always pointing to al Qaeda as our big enemy, while Petraeus pretty much shot holes in that today. Ware agrees and states that it's the Iranian influence that's the big threat. Then Anderson brings up the fact that Petraeus is touting military successes, but the whole point of the surge was to provide security to get the government up to snuff and that totally didn't happen. Very good point and something a lot of media seem to have missed. Gordon agrees and Anderson wants to know why a political solution is so hard. Gordon basically says that the Sunnis feel disenfranchised and the Shia don't want to give up their power.

Anderson then notes that Petraeus is talking about bring 30,000 troops home like it's an operational decision, when really they have to bring them home because the military is totally strained. Another great point. And Ware is pretty much like, dude, I know, that was their time line all along. Anderson continues with his awesome point-making, to say that in 2006 the ISG stated the military were underreporting violence, so he wants to know why we should believe them now. Good frickin' question. Gordon seems to think there's actually a trend of violence decreasing, but, um, not in the reports I've read, so, hmm. Finally, Anderson wonders if the success in Anbar is due to the surge and can it be replicated. Gordon says Anbar itself improved before the surge, but the surge allowed what's happening in Anbar to spread to Baquba. Fair enough. Okay, so that discussion was pretty awesome. Great job Anderson and producers that help write the questions! I was all worried that they would do a hack job on this Petraeus stuff and I'd have to get mean while they were risking their lives. I don't even like to get mean when they're in New York. So, yay!

On now to a Michael Ware piece in which he allows Sunni insurgents to smuggle him into Al Anbar Province. No, I'm not kidding. Breathe. Breathe. Anyway, as they travel into Anbar through al Qaeda and Mahdi army controlled areas, they actually have to pretend to be both Sunni and Shia. I think we pretty much already know the story of Anbar now, right? The insurgents got sick of being killed by al Qaeda, so they started fighting back, and now they have US support. Attacks have gone down from 100 to 7 per week. When asked what would have happened to him if he was there four months ago, Michael is told, "Al Qaeda would have separated your head from the body." Um, yikes. Of course this new positive development isn't all flowers and puppies. The Sunnis are against the government and it's not hard to see who they're probably going to be fighting next. After Michael leaves Anbar, their Sunni protection can only take them so far, and they have to drive through al Qaeda territory by themselves. When a checkpoint comes up, I'm irrationally freaking out, even though this is a tape and I know Michael's fine, but such is life. Anyway, they hide the camera and make it back safe and sound, sure to give us all more heart attacks another day. After his piece, Michael's live with Anderson again and of note is his point that we're supporting forces that are against the government that we created. It helps if you don't think about it.

Coming back from commercial, we're joining Anderson on his ride from the airport, a stretch of rode that's one of the most notorious in the world. We then cut to a clip of Anderson on the same road circa January 2005, when it was actually more dangerous. Cutting back to 2007, we learn that it's still dangerous enough to require guards, guns, armored vehicles, Kevlar vests, and helmets. That last thing he's simply holding in his hands. Dude, that's not where it goes. Anyway, we then move into an Anderson piece about Camp Cropper, a Baghdad detainee facility. There are 24,000 detainees total and Camp Cropper is home to 4,000 of them, over 800 of which are juveniles. Anderson and team don't get to talk to the detainees because the military didn't want them to, which of course makes me suspicious, but I can see their side too. The story of Camp Cropper is that they're trying to fight extremism on the inside by separating out the moderates and teaching the juveniles that killing is against the Koran. Good plan. Of course it probably would have worked better four years ago.

Transitioning now to some "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman - the Iraq edition. Okay, so we've already covered the ad, but Tom says that it "played fast and loose with the facts." Except he doesn't tell us how. Um, Bueller? You guys can't make a statement like that and then not back it up. Oh, and don't pull a Sanjay Gupta "Sicko" type job because we all know how that turned out. Anyway, as you might imagine, the ad has caused the republicans to totally lose their, ahem, stuff. We've got statements coming from everybody, even Representative Duncan Hunter, who's outraged that people would attack the messenger. Now, Tom doesn't actually mentioned him, but I did because I'm hoping that 360 had a little chuckle over the irony.

Next up, we have a Nic Robertson piece on a re-education program in Saudi Arabia that's reforming former bombers. Well, allegedly, anyway. We all know that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis and it turns out a lot of the foreign fighters going into Iraq to commit suicide attacks are Saudis too. We meet a young man who killed 12 people, but failed at killing himself. Now he claims to be reformed. Maybe he is, but I'm sorry if I don't trust Saudi Arabia. No one ever talks about them because they've got the oil and the close relationship with Bush/Cheney. An investigation into Saudi Arabia would be quite the CNN Special, don't you think?

Moving on now to Anderson reminding us that a recent report recommended that the national police force be disbanded because they are so corrupt, divided, and dysfunctional. This moves into a Gary Tuchman piece on the police in al Alam. They're being trained by a U.S. Air Force team of security experts and I'm wondering if the Air Force always did this kind of stuff or if the military is really stretched that thin. Anyway, as if training the police isn't enough, getting there is crazy dangerous. In fact, when Gary goes with them he's told that if the driver is killed or can't drive, he needs to move her body and take control of the Humvee. Um,...gulp. And this is all done by only 12 people. After his piece, we're joined by Gary live and Anderson asks why the police are so dysfunctional. Gary says mostly it's that they're too sectarian and incompetent, but actually the problem with the one's they just visited, is that they can't pay them. Oh, well, yeah, that would be a problem. Gary also notes that it's super scary for these guys (and girls!) because they have no choice but to come back the way they came and there's always the risk that one of the police they're training could tip off al Qaeda of when they'll be coming by. Man, there's got to be a better way.

The Shot tonight is an actual live cobra guarding a pair of $120,000 sandals at Harrod's Department store in London. And just as I'm thinking, "$120,000 for sandals? What the hell?" Anderson says, "I'm not sure which is scarier: the price tag or, frankly, the cobra -- the cobra, which Harrod's said would attack anything that moves." Aw, and that's why I love him. Another reason is the awesome job he did tonight --that they all did tonight. They stuck to coverage that matters...they fact checked...I am very pleased. Cookies for everyone! A

News You Might Have Missed: Okay, I'm still easing into this, so I don't have much for you tonight (and may just be switching to a weekend post for this feature soon), but if you're currently reading this, net neutrality is important to you. It seems Gonzales gave us all a nice little "up yours" as a going away present to himself. Get yourself up to speed.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

This Just In: There's Breaking News Of A Developing Story That Cable News Has Lost Sight Of The Ability To Prioritize

Hi everybody. Hey, remember when seeing the words "breaking news" pop up on your tv screen used to mean something? You'd see that graphic accompanied by the "breaking news" music, and your heart would do a little jump, because you knew you were about to be told something big. Something that mattered. And you'd stop whatever you were doing to watch. But now? Everything is "breaking news", from the determination of Anna Nicole's baby daddy, to a major terrorist attack.

Oh, and it's not just "breaking news" when the networks first report it. No sir. Sometimes a "breaking news" story likes to savor its time in the spotlight and goes on breaking all day long, leaving one to wonder when exactly a story has become broken, and thus no longer in need of a special graphic. Then we have the not quite as popular twin to "breaking news": "this just in." What's the difference? Is "breaking news" news that's just a bit more aggressive or extroverted about its existence (news with jazz hands perhaps)? Does "this just in" news maybe have a self esteem problem? Inquiring minds want to know.

Of course there's a reason for all of these unnecessary graphics and slogans, and it goes back to the notion that it used to be when you saw the phrase "breaking news," you stopped what you were doing to watch. Because see, the dirty little secret (well a secret to most viewers, anyway) of cable news networks (specifically CNN), is that when big news happens, their ratings go up. So what's a network to do when not much is going on? Well, treat all news as if it's the most important thing in the world, of course - even if all they're reporting is that Rosie O'Donnell is leaving "The View."

And then there's the crawl, that scrolling annoyance of news headlines that you have to train yourself to ignore. Instituted by the cable news networks on September 11, 2001, the crawl provided vital information during a time of chaotic fear and tragedy. But now? Not so much. Reading the crawl lately, you're just as likely to find a tidbit about a celebrity, as you are actual information important to your life. I remember Jon Stewart being quite fond of telling the story of how when CNN was displaying pictures of Saddam's dead sons, on the crawl they were running the life changing news that, "Beyonce doesn't like the word 'bootylicious.'"

So what's the point of all this? Well, the news media are supposed to be gatekeepers of information, and one wonders why over these past few years or so they seem to be letting every little thing through, all the while treating it all the same. I hate to keep harping on the Paris Hilton interview, but at the top of that hour Anderson said, "Well, here we go. There is plenty of news today. And, as always, we will be bringing it to you. But we can't be above the news of the moment either." Why? Isn't that their job? Peter Beinart actually tackled this problem (specifically related to the crawl) back in 2001. While watching an al Qaeda standoff unfold on CNN, he observed that the crawl was informing him of Thanksgiving caloric intake. The big deal here should be pretty obvious:
It implies that the information is equally important. Network executives say they need the crawl to bring people all the other news that the war is blocking out. But given that people have a finite ability to receive information, that blocking-out is precisely what network executives should be doing. They shouldn't tell viewers what to think about the war, but they should absolutely tell them that, support it or abhor it, the war is more important than our Thanksgiving caloric intake.
Exactly. And this relates to not only the crawl, but also to "breaking news" graphics and to the act of spending an hour on a story that should have never made it off of the E! channel. Viewers don't want people in the media to act as elitists, but we do need them to act as editors. Mr. John and Jane Doe don't have time to go through all this news and pick out what's important. They've got their jobs, and the kids have to be at soccer practice, and man, that grass in the backyard is getting high. In other words, people have lives and they don't have time to pick up the slack of the news media. Just because something occurred, doesn't necessarily mean it was important. If it really is just about ratings, perhaps the cable news networks should start hiring their producers out of business school, and not journalism school.

That all being said, Anderson Cooper is in Iraq this week. CNN sometimes still does take risks (and spends a lot of money) trying to bring us the stories we need to hear. Let's just hope that while they're there they remember to use that filter.

Macro by Merry. Cartoon by toothpastefordinner.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

New Bin Laden Tape, German Terror Plot, Madeleine McCann Case, Raw Politics, Homeland Security Report, And Iraq Security Forces (Thursday's Show)

Hi everybody. Do you know what time it is? It's 'be afraid' time! That's right, Anderson Cooper is kicking us off tonight with the news that there's about to be a new al Qaeda tape released, this one from bin Laden himself. We know this because they've apparently put out a little preview. A little "coming soon," if you will. They've got a production company, they're doing previews,...I hear next they're looking into starting up a radical version of Netflix. We're told that bin Laden actually hasn't put out a video tape himself in three years, but man, it sure feels like we're being inundated with them. "They seem to be putting out more tapes than the "Girls Gone Wild" series," says Anderson. Bwah! Not the comparison I would have made, but yes, that works.

For discussion we're joined by Ben Venzke, CEO of IntelCenter, and terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank. Of note is that bin Laden's beard is actually darker than usual in the preview they put out. But before you start thinking Just For Men is shipping to the mountainous region of the Afghan/Pakistan border, Anderson tells us that their CNN expert peeps think it's an old picture that's been photoshopped. I guess even Islamic extremists like to make a good impression. You know, in between when they're threatening to kill us. At the time of this blogging, the tape has already been released, but I really can't tell you much. Because honestly? I don't care. Oh, I'm sure it's very jihadi and everything, with perhaps a trademark touch of "death to America" flare, but I'm been through worrying about these tapes for a while now. When we see bin Laden the only thing we should be thinking about is why he hasn't been caught yet.

Next up we have an update on that German terror plot that Arachnae blogged for you yesterday and of which I am admittedly unfamiliar. Apparently there are three people already in custody and now Paula Newton is live to tell us that they're looking for 10 more. Because important details of terror plots seem to have this habit of hitting the news a few weeks after the initial story breaks, I kind of have a personal policy of not giving much thought to them until that time. Quite often we find out they weren't quite as, OMG scary, as first thought. This one looks like it could be the real deal though, but I need to learn more. Anyway, Anderson brings Paul and Ben back into the conversation and they discuss a bit about how German-born Muslim converts are becoming a problem. It's that assimilation song that we've heard before. As for the American-Muslim community, they're the most assimilated in the world. So yay for that. After all this we get a preview of Anderson's special, "Narco State: The Poppy Jihad," airing this weekend. Looks good. Hopefully I will not forget. On the weekend, all bets are off.

Transitioning now to an Anderson piece on that missing three-year-old British girl, Madeleine McCann. This story has actually been going on since May, and I have to say, I'm proud of 360 for laying off of it thus far. The family being Brits might have something to do with that (possibly harder to book people close to the case), or maybe not. But props where props are due. Now that I've said that, they'll probably give it the Anna Nicole treatment. Anyway, some background: little Madeleine (who is so adorable) goes on vacation with her parents and siblings to Portugal. One night while the kids are sleeping, mom and dad go to dinner 300 feet away. When mom then goes to check on the kids, Madeleine is gone. Anderson brings Paula back to discuss the case, but a lot of this is moot now because at the time of this blogging both parents have become suspects. So, yikes. I hope they find her alive, I hope the parents aren't really involved, and I hope the media doesn't turn this into a circus that makes everything worse (JonBenet anyone?).

Moving on now to a preview of a special on polygamy, my favorite subject. I think I might be missing that one. From there we're on to "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman. First up, we learn that Fred Thompson thinks he's the "second coming of Ronald Reagan." Hey, is he going to sell arms to Iran too? Next, Tom tells us that The Terminator is a bit miffed about the Republican plan to try to break up California's 55 electoral votes. He thinks it makes them look like losers, or, er, girly men, if you will. Lastly, we learn that Labor totally hearts Edwards. Those endorsements are just rolling in. Too bad the Labor movement has all but been destroyed.

After Tom, Anderson urges us to check out their podcast, which is "on the Internets, by the way." Aw, I like how he's saying "the Internets" now. Almost two years behind the times there, but still amusing. And I'll give a cookie to anyone that can tell me where the phrase came from. Oh hell, you'll just use the Google anyway, so I shall tell you. It happened in my city, actually, during one of the 2004 presidential debates. Regarding a question about reinstating the draft, our lovely president noted that he heard "there's rumors on the, uh, Internets." And the rest is history. I'm eating the cookie.

In tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" Erica Hill informs us that we found bin Laden! Okay, not really. It turns out that during the APEC Summit in Sydney, a dude dressed as bin Laden was able to get through a couple security checkpoints in the motorcade, before being busted right outside Bush's hotel. The guy was from an Australian tv show. And that security? $160 million. Money well spent, I see. Good Lord. And hey, want me to make this story more bizarre? It seems they can't keep away bin Laden, but they are going to make damn sure those outdoor cafe tables don't have knives and forks. We're making sense now. Sigh. Seriously though, that fake bin Laden has cajones. I'd be afraid they'd shoot me. And I'm not kidding.

Next up Anderson teases a story on the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report. "Well, you may not be surprised by the answer in the new report, but you're certainly not going to be pleased. " Now see, that's much better than the usual way they go at these stories: "you're going to be shocked!" You might remember I've had a bit of an issue with that. Anyway, Anderson is correct, I'm not happy. In a Joe Johns "Keeping Them Honest" piece we learn that we still shouldn't count on DHS for, well, anything. Because they totally suck. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says they've met only about half of their expectations, all the while spending billions. Now, of course, DHS says the GAO is being unfair, but right now it's the American people that are SOL. And besides, Claire McCaskill, (my senator!) is a former auditor and she says it isn't the GAO's fault they found problems. You go, Claire! For anyone interested, Rolling Stone did a really good piece a couple years back on Homeland Security, specifically focusing on FEMA. Yeah, it's dated, but it was good enough that I remembered it after all this time.

I guess it's report day, because now we're moving on to one about how much Iraq's security forces continue not to 'stand up, so we can stand down.' We're joined by retired Marine Corps General James Jones and former D.C. police chief, Charles Ramsey for discussion. General Jones pretty much tries to put a positive spin on the situation, while Chief Ramsey explains that there are actually two groups of police, which I did not know. They talk a bit about sectarian problems, but I'm wondering why Anderson didn't bring up more of what we're always hearing from Michael Ware. Oh well. Props for trying to get General Jones to answer his question.

The Shot tonight is a piece from Brooke Anderson on the life of opera tenor, Luciano Pavarotti. The show was pretty good, but I have to say, 360, I'm getting annoyed. Now they're randomly dropping segments like "Fit or Fat" into the second hour (they always dropped in "CNN Heroes"). This makes no sense to me. Oh, I'm sure they've got numbers - and perhaps charts and graphs - brought to them by people in stiff suits that make this futzing around seem logical, but to me it just seems like a good way to tick off loyal viewers. Because I don't want to miss it if they do a good piece in the second hour, but I'm sure as hell not watching an almost entirely repeated show for five minutes of new news. They're trying to have it both ways and I don't think it's going to work. Either the second hour is a repeat or it's not. Please choose. Tonight gets a B+

News You Might Have Missed: I've decided to start a new feature in which I note stories that 360 isn't covering or updates to stories they've covered in the past. Right now, I hope to add this to most posts, but if that becomes too time consuming I'll start doing a post for it at the end of the week. Anyone who comes across something they'd like to see get added, please drop it in the comments or send me an email, and I'll get it up ASAP. Okay, first up, remember the saga of the missing bees? Well, they finally have a suspect. Also, score one for civil liberties. U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero has struck down some of the Patriot Act. How much do we love Judge Marrero? Very much. And that's going to wrap it up for tonight. (I'm starting out small, people.) But I do have a little something for Sanjay Gupta and John Roberts fans (or even non fans). I'm not sure what kind of sleep deprivation had to factor into the creation of this, but I have to say it left me cracking up for a good five minutes. Oh, and John? You should totally give her the footage.
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