Sunday, February 17, 2008

Shooting At Northern Illinois University, Politics, and Live From New Orleans (Thursday's Show)

Hi everybody. Tonight Anderson Cooper is coming at us live from Saint Bernard Parish outside of New Orleans, but we're kicking things off with the BREAKING NEWS of a shooting at Northern Illinois University. Sigh. And that's a two-fold sigh. Because obviously a shooting is news no one wants, but also, dammit, this always happens. They finally (finally!) go back to New Orleans and the more immediate takes over. It's like when Warren Jeffs got captured (which granted was a good thing) and it preempted a lot of the Katrina first anniversary coverage. Or when the Virginia Tech shooting ruined their Afghanistan plans. Also, wasn't that City Council shooting just last week? I know that second amendment purists like to say that people kill people, guns don't kill people, but it seems like guns really, really help out.

Candy Crowley joins us live with the latest. Six people are dead, including the gunman. Apparently the shooter was a graduate student, but that's about all the detail I'm going to go into because I honestly don't know if all of these initial reports held up. After Candy, Tom Foreman gives us a rough outline of how the shooting went down and we get some requisite witness sound bites. Tom then joins us live and we learn that the university took steps after Virginia Tech to make the school safer. Sophomore Zach Seward was in the lecture hall when everything happened and Anderson has an interview with him next.

Transitioning now to Anderson's live shot suddenly being filled with enthusiastic Habitat for Humanity, National Civilian Community Corps, and AmeriCorps volunteers, who are waving signs and woo hooing it up. Woo hoo! We then bounce back to Erica Hill in New York to talk about politics. Seriously? Fine, but bumping this stuff to the headlines for one day wouldn't have been a travesty. Although maybe I should just shut up before they're all over a missing white girl. So anyway, the big news of the day is that Mitt Romney endorsed John McCain for president. Last week they hated each other; now they're BFF's. Ain't politics grand? The other guys (and gal!) did stuff too, but you'll live even if I don't blog it for you.

Moving back to Anderson, we're joined by radio talk show host Larry Elders and Family Research Council prez Tony Perkins to talk about how the conservative republicans still have their boxers in a twist over McCain. These two seem to be open to the idea of a McCain presidency, but I'm going to have to shun Larry because he's annoying the hell out of me by using phrases like "cut and run." Yeah, way to unite the country there. Tony, on the other hand, is all about strengthening the family and even wants an official family czar. I have no idea what he's talking about, but I'm pretty sure the evil gay agenda is no doubt worked in there somehow. If Tony really cared about strong families, maybe he'd be advocating for universal healthcare. After all, half of bankruptcies are related to medical bills and stress over money can definitely break a couple up. Yeah, I know, too practical.

In tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" Erica tells us of a promotion this radio station was having for Valentine's Day call "Ax Your Ex's Stuff." Pretty self explanatory--you bring in the ex's stuff; they hack it up. What they were not expecting was a woman to bring a live dog! Okay, even if your ex is a horrible, horrible person, you yourself must be a horrible person if you're going to take it out on a poor defenseless dog. Anyway, the dog was obviously not axed. Remember the strong feelings about the Vick case? Well, people went nuts and now the dog has a brand new home. Also? Anderson calls the woman a "moron," which kind of made me laugh. Don't get that kind of stuff from him usually. But that she is, Anderson; that she is.

Back with the volunteers, Anderson tells us about the optimism that seems to be permeating the city and, hey, that's new. Employment is up, public schools have reopened, tourism is back, and the NBA All Star game is there. On the bummer side, crime's a big problem and infrastructure still sucks. The infrastructure thing is very disconcerting and leads us into an Anderson piece on all the homeless in New Orleans--about 12,000 people. That's double what it was pre-Katrina. The bottom line is that Katrina wiped out a lot of rental housing and now rents have skyrocketed. Now about 200 people live in a makeshift camp under a highway overpass. (Think Bill O'Reilly will pay them a visit?) And FEMA is being its usual slow and messy self. One man we meet in the piece is just now getting a FEMA apartment and a chance to start over. For those keeping score, it's been two and a half years since the hurricane.

Transitioning back to the shooting now, Susan Roesgen has the latest from the campus. Kinda weird seeing as how she used to be based in New Orleans. Anyway, Anderson then has another witness interview, this time with Rosie Moroni.

Next up, we have a Sean Callebs "Keeping Them Honest" piece and I'd say you won't believe the subject, but at this point you probably will. Trailers! Still with the trailers! As the story goes, FEMA bought 120,000 trailers after Katrina, but that was too many, so they sold 10,000 at 40 cents on the dollar. But now FEMA is buying them back. Why? Because they're poisoning people. Basically, they're toxic due to high formaldehyde levels. The real kicker is how they've put a bunch of these trailers in big lots, thus concentrating the formaldehyde and poisoning people in homes nearby. Nice. Of course, all of this isn't new. FEMA has known about the toxic trailers since March 2006 and even instructed their employees not to enter the trailers when it's sunny because heat increases the concentration. Unbelievable. It's like they just don't care about these people, which may very well be the case.

After his piece, Sean joins us live and we're told that the government has given up on trailers. He also talks about the optimism in the city. While this is going on, the volunteers add more evidence to my thesis that cameras turn people into idiots. Yes, we see you all waving like crazy people; you can stop now. Anderson then talks to two volunteers and then we learn that Lebron James is the newest contender for a chance to be the "Voice of 360." My verdict? Meh. I think I'm still partial to Ozzy as of now. The Shot tonight is a marine that comes home from Iraq and surprises his kids by hiding in a big Valentine. Aw. This of course reminds everyone of this tearjerker homecoming. That's it for this hour. The next hour is a taped repeat, but given all the BREAKING NEWS stuff, I think it's pretty messed up that they don't specifically note it's taped. There's even a big "Live" graphic that flashes real quick. Not cool guys, not cool. Most people are going to be visually drawn to the "breaking news" graphics and not realize the absence of a live bug.

So, the show was kinda...disappointing. Obviously they can't control breaking news, but only two pieces on New Orleans? Per instructions of my friend Chelsea, I'm supposed to get all mean about this ("I'm depending on you to chew 360 out about this on your blog and make them cry like little girls...," she says to me after the show), but I'm kinda tired (smack downs take energy, people!). Basically I'm just wondering why this is all we get when they actually go to the city and why we can't have semi regular pieces when the show is in New York. Stuff has happened that they didn't cover. Yeah, it's great to talk with the volunteers, but what's going on with the government down there? Is Nagin refusing interviews? How's the new governor working out? What's Washboard Chaz been up to? Okay, that last one's not completely serious, but you get the picture. I hope they go back soon. B-


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It just does not make sense that they could not have,on this occasion made the second hour live,in order to get a chance to see some more NOLA stories,it had been almost 6 months-there were plenty of things to cover.We will probably never see those other stories that had been cut to make way for the shootings.
Remember the good old days of 360?
Anderson had a 2 hour show,and would sometimes do 2 or 3 nights worth of shows,each being 2 HOURS?

The other night we got 15 minutes,tops.The sensible thing would have been a live hour 2,but then again,CNN does not seem very sensible anymore.

It is very disappointing.

It is sad,the baseball/Roger Clemons/congress crap got more airtime,and anytime we also get the celebrity crap,that also does as well.

I just long to see the good old 360 days,they seem long since gone!

What happened to,say things like:

Iraq,Pakistan,Afghanistan,Burma,The DRC,just to name a few?

Some people really want to see NEWS,not a lead story of Britney Spears!
If I wanted to(and I don't),I can see that on Access Hollywood.

What has happened,360?
Where did the ''real stuff'' go?

7:37 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

@anonymous-Yeah, I'm kind of boggled about the New Orleans coverage. I don't know if they're getting resistance regarding the story from the suits or what, but the seemingly lessened commitment is disappointing.

As for the good old days, I'm not sure they ever existed. The show seems to wax and wane. A few months ago the quality seemed to be in a massive state of decline and I was actually alarmed that a management decision had been made to change the overall content. But then something did change, but for the better.

Right now I'd say they're putting on a pretty good broadcast every night (it's even getting pretty consistent), but the glaring problem to you and me is they have complete tunnel vision. It's politics, politics, politics. And hey, I definitely want them to cover the election extensively, but I'm not quite sure why it has to be at the expense of almost all other news.

The lack of Iraq and Afghanistan coverage (and this goes out to all media) is particularly shameful because it's not just the actual wars; it's troop and veterans' issues as well. And then there's stories like Burma, which you brought up, that 360 specifically said they'd continue to follow and they just...haven't.

4:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Eliza. I totally agree: only TWO pieces on NOLA! I was really disappointed with the show. It absolutely should have been a live two hours. Why not do a special on NOLA? That would have given them time to dig deeper into what's going on. The shooting notwithstanding, all that other stuff could have been put off. Why go down there and show us so little? Where is the commitment they promised us to not back down from this story? Some people have been criticizing Anderson for this. Yeah, the show's quality has its ups and downs. It's been pretty good in recent months, but I give this show a C-. To go down there for the first time since the anniversary and then spend almost the entire time talking about other stuff makes no sense!

4:41 PM  

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