Wednesday, February 27, 2008

McCain Speaker Attacks Obama, Iraq Update, Blackout In Florida, North Korea Trip Continued, And Debate Coverage (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everyone. We begin tonight as per usual with politics, but the story of the day this time is coming from the republican side. No, no candidate dust ups. Instead we've got a warm-up guy unhinged. Bill Cunningham is a radio talk show host who was asked to speak at a McCain event before the Maverick himself and, well, they're pretty much regretting that decision. "At some point in the near future, the media is going to peel the bark off Barack Hussein Obama," Cunningham tells the crowd. I don't actually know what that even means, but it sounds offensive. And maybe violent. And of course he's got the middle name thing going on. Basically? Just imagine a Right Wing message board in the form of an angry white guy with a microphone and you'll know what the speech was like. Anderson Cooper tells us that for his part, McCain "strongly disavowed" the dude's rant, but more on that in a second.

John King then joins us live and we learn that Cunningham's tendency to say these kind of things was known, but they invited him anyway because Ohio is so important. The McCain camp says the candidate didn't know what had been said when he took the stage, and when he was told, he went straight to the reporters to issue an apology. Hm. Well, this is interesting. Because I watched this same story on Countdown and it was covered completely different, with McCain looking really bad. Obviously Countdown slants liberal (duh), but Keith Olbermann is still an honest guy and there really shouldn't be this much of a gap in reality. So is 360 being pro-McCain? Well, I wouldn't want to accuse John King of that. He might send me an angry email (aw John, I'm just messing with you).

I suspect the truth of this situation is somewhere in between my two cable news shows. Good thing I watch both of them so I can do the averaging, huh? Though hard to comprehend, it is possible that McCain didn't know what Cunningham said until he was leaving the stage. After all, most of the time the warm-up people are speaking before the candidate is even at the venue. But is he as apologetic as CNN so obviously wants us to believe? Extremely doubtful. After all, this is the guy who laughed and said "That's an excellent question," after a supporter, referring to Hillary, asked, "How do we beat the bitch?" But hey man, I'm bipartisan when it comes to BS. Clinton had an extremely similar episode. Politics just bring out the best in everyone! Speaking of that, Anderson wonders how ugly the general election is going to be if Obama gets the nomination. Very ugly, Anderson. Very ugly. Oh, and Anderson calls Cunningham a "two-bit radio host," which I find amusing. Not a fan, I see. John tells us that McCain wants nothing to do with the fear-mongering that Cunningham is selling. That's right! McCain only wants to fear-monger when it comes to Iraq.

And while we're on the topic of that recently forgotten war we're still fighting, hey look, we've actually got some Iraq coverage tonight. A Tom Foreman "Keeping Them Honest" piece takes a look at what the candidates are saying about the war. And who is the expert in this piece? Michael O'Hanlon. They've got to be kidding me. You might remember O'Hanlon making news a while back for an op-ed he wrote in support of the war. This was deemed a big thing at the time because he was a "critic of the administration," something repeated over and over in the news. Thing was, he was actually always pro war and the whole thing was really misleading. So anyway, all this doesn't exactly discredit what he says in this piece I guess, but uh, really not a good pick. Tom tells us that deaths and attacks are down and things like that, but there is no nuance here (at least mention that millions have fled, leaving less people to be killed-c'mon!). Iraq is a country that lives in gray; this piece was black and white. I'm underwhelmed.

To bring us some context, we're next joined by Michael Ware live. Yay! Michael we've missed you so. Okay, getting right to it, Michael tells us that yes, deaths are clearly down, but no one on the ground is celebrating. The surge is much more complicated than just adding troops, and everything we're doing now to hold things together and keep the deaths down (deals with the Sunni insurgents...) has long-term consequences that Michael says no one is talking about. (So let's do that. Oooh! You guys could have a map table talk about it!) Michael also pretty much tells us what those of us paying attention already know: we're never leaving. As for political success, Michael surprises me by talking more positively than I would have expected. So yay for that. But then he paints us a picture of a very fragile country, whose recent increased security can descend into bloodletting in an instant if the forces both human (our troops) and not (blast barriers that have segregated Baghdad) were to stop holding everyone apart. So to sum up, Iraq? Still FUBAR.

Transitioning now to coverage of today's big Florida blackout. Apparently a substation fire and technical problems left millions without electricity in the Sunshine State, but everything's cool now. This story brings up bitterness for me because in 2006 my city went through this twice, though both were weather related--massive storms in the summer and ice in the winter. The winter one actually got a fair amount of coverage related to our power company and why they were sucking so bad, but the summer instance was worse (you might remember that Queens had a long outage that summer as well). At that time the Israel/Hezbollah war was going strong, so even though we had a FEMA/National Guard/Red Cross/people dying (did I mention there was a heat advisory?) situation going on here, there wasn't much coverage on a national level--except of course for the infamous video of the poor woman getting taken out by a flying trashcan during the storm.

After finding out that Headline News had given an hour of airtime to a car chase, I got a little mad. And since I had no blog at the time to rant on, I took my ire to a much more famous blog. The next day or so, Brian Williams lead his newscast with coverage on the outage. Coincidence? Okay, yeah, probably coincidence. But it still felt good. By the way, during the outage, power was also knocked out to my area's water treatment facility, which meant I was under a boil water order. Without electricity that's a little difficult. Lesson? Stock up on emergency water. And yes, I already had some. I watched Katrina go down and the help not come; of course I had water.

Okay, now that I've got the narcissistic stuff out of the way, it's time to talk about Stephen Flynn, author of the book "The Edge of Disaster." Stephen has been on 360 before, always warning us of the troubles in our own backyard, which we continue to not fix. He tells us our infrastructure is in dire need of some fixing up, specifically the power grid, which is probably the reason for today's outage. Back in 2003 there was a massive blackout across the Northeast and Stephen tells us that since that time some improvements have been made by setting standards, but there has been no investment in the system. He also points out how dependent we are on electricity these days and how we're incapacitated without it. Hell, I practically have a panic attack when I can't get on the Internet. What Stephen wants is for people to ask the presidential candidates about this stuff and get a discussion going. Good luck with that. Anderson's a conscientious guy, so I'm sure he'd ask if he nabbed himself a candidate, but asking a question and getting action are two entirely different things. We talk about this stuff every time something bad happens, but nothing ever changes. Hello! Levees failing. Big bridge falling down. And still, nothing.

The Shot is early tonight, most likely due to debate coverage that's coming down the pike. Anyway, it's video of an officer hanging on for his dear life as a suspect speeds down the road. The poor guy was doing a routine stop and got caught in the door when the bad guy bolted. He's okay though. Scary.

Moving on now to a taped interview Erica Hill did with Christiane Amanpour, who is in North Korea. But before I get to that, I have to say I am very relieved to see Erica doing this. I know I haven't said much about her addition to the show because I wanted to see how she settled in first, but truth be told, I haven't been all that thrilled. Because thing is, Erica had her own show on Headline News and it was starting to look like she had only been brought over to 360 to be cute with Anderson. I think Erica and Anderson have great chemistry and I love their interactions, but as a woman I really do not want to see someone that had her own show (which is a huge accomplishment) playing sidekick to Anderson, no matter how much I love him. I know she's done some other newsy stuff since she started, but c'mon, this is Christiane Amanpour in North Korea--it's a bigger deal than dial-testing. So hopefully my first impression was wrong and we'll be seeing Erica put her journalistic chops to work more in the future. I'm sure she didn't sign up for anything less.

So anyway, Christiane tells us all about the New York Philharmonic orchestra's performance. Apparently it was a success. The Communist Workers Party official newspaper gives the performance four stars! Okay, I made that up. But they did like it. And they got to see a different side of the US. The audience heard our National Anthem and seemed to like the overall experience. Christiane explains that the people of North Korea pretty much still feel we're at war and that not only did we start it, we're at fault for continuing it too. Of note is that former Defense Secretary William Perry was allowed to cross the DMZ, which is kind of a huge deal. Maybe we should send these guys to Iran next.

Next up, we have a rather personal piece from Alina Cho. Her parents are survivors of the Korean War and she went to North Korea in search of lost family members. The North Korean government says there's not enough time to help her on this trip, but maybe next time. Hm, I'm not sure I'd trust the North Korean government.

Finally tonight, they have coverage from the MSNBC debate, but this post is getting way too long and you've heard a lot of this stuff anyway. And while they did bring up coverage bias, which is worthy of lots of discussion, for right now I'd just like to point out this question from Anderson in regards to the press: "Do you think they're too easy on Obama?" They're? I believe the word you're looking for is "we're." I know I've said this before, but the press talking about the press like they don't have anything to do with themselves sort of makes my head explode. It's completely unfair to characterize everyone under the blanket term of "media" or even "press," but CNN definitely factors in (for better or worse) to what they're talking about right now.

That's going to do it for me. I had some issues with some stuff tonight (which you've already read), but I thought the run down was great. We had news from Iraq, North Korea, talk about our infrastructure, and still had time for politics. Excellent. B+


Blogger Becca said...

Panic attacks happens to me once in a while and it's pretty scary everytime it happens. You just loose control of yourself. I've tried for help.I can see an improvement in my condition already.

2:11 AM  

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