Sunday, March 30, 2008

Political Irrelevancy, Liberals Are Icky, Iraq Imploding...Again, And Corporate Bailouts (Thursday's Show)

Hi everyone. Anderson Cooper is once again coming at us from Los Angeles and he brings us the BREAKING NEWS that there's new crap to add onto the Reverend Wright controversy. They've got to be kidding me. Okay, so, the latest brouhaha has to do with anti-Israel statements published in a bulletin, but I'm going to zip us a bit into the future where Anderson says, "Senator Obama has distanced himself from these comments. He's repudiated these kind of comments from Reverend Wright. What more can he do?" Exactly. What can he do? Stop beating a dead horse, 360. To mix metaphors, the shark has been jumped.

So anyway, there's a bunch of meaningless discussion about all this stuff with Candy Crowley and Mark Halperin (and Jessica Yellin made an appearance earlier), which eats up time that could have been used for a number of more important stories. We then move into a Suzanne Malveaux piece on the candidates and the economy. Suddenly everyone's an expert, but CNN's real expert, Ali Velshi, is giving the prize of most detailed plan to Clinton. Of course none of the candidates can actually do anything about the economy right now since they're not president yet Unfortunately that job still belongs to Bush, so yeah, you're going to continue to keep screwed until at least November.

In tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" she who shall not be named (Psssst, it's Paris Hilton!) goes to Turkey and causes the paparazzi to become insane animals. Or maybe that's just their default state. Anderson tells us the heiress was in the country to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Or, you know, maybe she's just there to judge some beauty contest. I'll leave it to you to decide which one is more likely. But FYI, if they ever do award Paris the Nobel Peace Prize, someone is going to have to confiscate my razor and shoelaces.

Next up, we have a Tom Foreman piece, and I feel like it's been a while since we've seen Tom. So, hey Tom, what's up? Anyway, this piece is all about how the democratic race has gotten bitter and really not fun. And oh my God don't even get me started on the nastiness among the supporters. Online used to be my refuge from the retardedness that is the MSM (sorry 360, but you know it's true), but now it's like everyone has turned into shrieking children. And all I have to say is please stop.

Oh, and get over it. That's right, get over it. Because the fact of the matter is we have two decent candidates. Yeah, they both have their pluses and negatives, but even a candidate who makes up sniper fire, or a candidate that is like this with a pastor of questionable beliefs, is still light years better than a third term of Bush, which is what we have waiting in the wings on the republican side. This isn't a a game. This isn't about your identity or feeling like a winner. This is about life and death. This is about Iraq. This is about the Supreme Court. This is about Health Care. The list goes on. But I don't think my regular readers are the ones I need to be preaching to.

According to the math, I really don't see how Clinton wins this in a fair way (I personally think it would be unfair for the superdelegates to go against the will of the people), but I also think it's really unfair for people to be demanding she drop out now. It ain't over, folks. And she's not Ron Paul, she's close. There's still room for surprises. So please, can we just let everyone vote and let this thing play out without all the venom? After Tom's piece, there's some discussion and it's noted that Candy actually came in on her vacation for this. You know, I thought she looked kinda unhappy. And we haven't had one of her awesome blogs in a while. When Anderson brings it up, she tells him, "Flowers will be fine." Aw. What are the odds someone followed through with that? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Moving on to a Randi Kaye piece where we learn that Obama is a liberal. Gasp! Um, so what? The question here, apparently, is whether or not he's too liberal. Your guess is as good as mine as to what the hell that means. I mean, what does "liberal" even mean anymore? Didn't we go through this same question with Kerry and Edwards? Way to promote the ring wing talking points, 360. And can someone please tell me how after over seven horrendous years under a so-called conservative, "liberal" is the word that's dirty? The fact of the matter is that most people can't be pigeon-holed in these labels and when issues are really explained to Americans, they tend to lean left. I'm not taking about the hot button social stuff like gay marriage, but just look at what happened when people got wind of the sham of privatizing social security. We're a much more progressive country than conservatives ever want us to realize.

Transitioning now to an interview Erica Hill had with Michael Ware. So okay, Iraq is going to hell again--or, further to hell. Michael tells us there's a big offensive going on in Basra with the target being the Mehdi Army militia (at the time of this blogging Sadr has called a cease fire, though whether it will hold is anybody's guess). Michael then talks a bit about how the police are all infiltrated and the influence of Iran in Basra. Finally, Erica brings up the question of whether this violence could spread. Michael lists several ways it could go, but hopefully this new Sadr ceasefire will be permanent. I can't say I'm holding my breath though.

Next up, we have a Joe Johns "Keeping Them Honest" piece on Bear Stearns. Basically? The Wall Street giants get great government deals and bailouts; the little guy gets screwed. We've been singing this song for years because no one bothers asking questions until it's way too late. Congress is investigating though, and they always fix things, so there you go. And what became of poor Bear Sterns CEO James Cayne? He sold his stock for a piddly $61 million. Joe tried to get him to talk for this story, but he said he didn't have time. Probably too busy rolling around in his money.

The Shot tonight is the McCain Girls. Oh my. And that's all I'm saying about that. The show was meh. Can we please cut down on some of this meaningless coverage? C+

Thursday, March 27, 2008

New Clinton/Obama Poll Numbers, McCain Foreign Policy Speech, Candidate's Iraq Plans, And Wal-Mart Is Evil (Wednesday's Show)

Hi everybody. Anderson Cooper is still chilling in Los Angeles (think he and Larry have been hanging?) and we begin things with some fresh and shiny poll numbers. Oh joy. Bill Schneider tells us Clinton's positive ratings have taken a dive, as have Obama's, but not by as much. And we're leading with this because? Polls are so relevant, doncha know? For even less relevancy, we also learn that there's a fair amount of democrats who claim they will vote for McCain if their candidate doesn't win. Well, I hope indulging in their bitterness is worth Bush 2.0. I'm sorry if I offend anyone here, but if you believe in democratic policies, voting for McCain is an unbelievably stupid thing to do. You're voting against what you believe in; how is that smart? I actually don't really believe those polls anyway. People are just mad. November is a million years away and things will look much different from there. But for now, I guess we talk about this stuff like it matters. Oh well, it's not like there's anything else going on in the world, right?

Next up, we have a Jessica Yellin piece on how ugly it's gotten for the democrats. When this whole thing started and there were a couple hundred candidates to choose from, the mood could be distilled down to, "Yay!" But now that it's just Obama and Clinton sniping all the time, there's a real, "I will kill you," vibe going on. Not fun, really. Of note is when Paul Begala proclaims that Clinton will quit the race "when monkeys fly out my butt." The man truly has a way with words. I bet he's taking poetry classes on the side.

Moving on to a Suzanne Malveaux piece of more sniping--this time mostly about the pastor brouhaha. Of note is this from Obama: "We cannot solve the problems of America if, every time somebody somewhere says something stupid, that everybody gets up in arms." Isn't people getting up in arms over stupid things pretty much the bedrock of cable news? Obama's got a long road to hoe.

For discussion, we're joined by Obama supporter Jamal Simmons, senior Clinton adviser Kiki McLean, and Mark Halperin of "Time." Of note is when Anderson asks Kiki if Clinton is trying to talk up Obama's negatives by bringing up the pastor thing now. Taking a page from (prior guest) Lanny's handbook, Kiki totally goes off on a tangent and doesn't answer the question. But Anderson doesn't take too kindly to that, noting that Clinton actually had prepared remarks all ready to go. He then sticks on this point when Kiki tries to play it off like Clinton was just answering a question. "She answered the question. It's that simple," she tells us. Uh, no, actually it's not. Because Clinton was asked about the pastor many times before and never felt the need to comment.

Later, Kiki tries to ask Jamal if the Obama camp is working to raise Clinton's negatives, and Anderson is all, "Dude, you're stealing my thunder." Or, you know, perhaps he phrased it a little more newsman-like. But hey, he really did say "dude" to Carville the other day, so you never know. Anyway, back from break, Jamal talks about how Obama is kind of in a tight spot because he's painted himself as running above the fray, but still needs to respond to attacks. " I don't think comparing Bill Clinton to Joe McCarthy is a response to an issue debate," says Kiki. She's got you there, Jamal. After some more discussion, Jamal jokes that when it comes to these attacks, to use a kindergarten analogy, Clinton started it. "You ended up basically saying, she started it. That was the point you made," says Anderson. It's like he can't believe this is where we are now. Thing is, she did kind of start it. No, actually, it was Bill. I trace this back to the Jesse Jackson comments. Am I forgetting something earlier? Remember after New Hampshire when they both had a big win and everyone was all excited? What happened to that?

Tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" would be more aptly titled "WTF?" but CNN has standards. Well, at least when it comes to obscenity. Anyway, apparently there's a new cyber board game on the block called Miss Bimbo and it's even worse than it sounds. The game is marketed to girls, who Anderson tells us "get to name their own online bimbo. They can also give the Internet dolls breast implants, even get them to lose weight with diet pills. I kid you not." Awesome. The guys behind it (guys, what a surprise) think the message the game sends is a-okay. Because there's nothing like feeling inferior about your body before you've even fully developed. I think I'm going to make my own Internet game. It's called "Find and Slap the Makers of Miss Bimbo."

On now to a Dana Bash piece on John McCain's first big foreign policy address. Aaand...he said nothing new. It was a real barn burner. I especially liked the part where he laments how much he hates war. I would really hate to see his foreign policy plans if he liked war. Look, I can respect the guy's POW past, but do I think that means he shouldn't be scrutinized on this issue at the same level as the democrats? No. The fact of the matter is that speech sounded a lot like Bush and that should scare everyone.

Next up, Erica Hill gives us a "360 Fact Check" on the candidate's Iraq plans. McCain wants to add troops, but we're not told where exactly these troops are going to come from. He also wants to speed up the training of the Iraqi forces. Because that's been going so well the last five years. Finally, he wants to put worldwide pressure on Syria and Iran. You mean like a coalition? Sounds familiar. As for the democrats, they both want out, though Obama would move a little faster than Clinton. But those of us paying attention know the time tables are irrelevant anyway because things on the ground might be different come January. Clinton also wants to bring in a U.N representative and have a coalition as well. Obama will keep some troops in the country, but no permanent bases. That's about it.

Um, how was this a fact check? When did the checking of facts take place? You researched their plans and then you told us what you found; not whether this stuff actually has a prayer of working. At the intro of the segment, Erica said all the candidates have "promises about how they would deal with the war in Iraq, but are any of these promises or these plans realistic? We're going to lay them out for you and let you be the judge." Dude, don't let us be the judge. How in the world are we qualified to judge that? I don't complain about the lack of Michael Ware (or anyone living in Iraq) because I'm just so smitten with that crooked nose of his--he has knowledge and expertise I want to hear. Why not let him judge the plans? And you know what? If he thinks McCain's is the best, that's something I want to know. Because I trust him. I know 360 is fond of reporting the facts and letting the viewers decide for themselves, but there are certain issues where just facts don't cut it and you have to have some analysis. Props to them for trying to tackle real issues, but there needs to be some follow through.

Transitioning now to a Randi Kaye piece and reason #9898 of why Wal-Mart is evil. If you've ever glanced at the right side of this screen, you already know I'm not a fan. During a prior tease for this story Anderson noted a million people had responded to it on the blog. Wha? Did he misspeak? Because I really don't believe that. I mean, that's a good chunk of all of their viewers on a given night. But anyway, the sad story goes as follows: Wal-Mart employee Debbie gets in a horrible accident with a semi and now has no short term memory and requires constant care. After she received a settlement from the trucking company, Wal-Mart turned around and sued her to get the money back that she used from their health plan. Money she pretty much desperately needs. Her poor husband even divorced her so she could get Medicaid. And if someone is out there thinking, "that's sad. How could this be more sad?" Well here you go: Debbie's son was killed in Iraq and because she has no short term memory, it's like she's learning of his death for the first time over and over again.

The bottom line is what Wal-Mart is doing is legal, as Jeffrey Toobin tells us after the piece, but it's still really crappy. Even Toobin seems kind of ticked, noting they didn't have to do this. Yeah, but they're Wal-Mart; this is what they do. I noticed a lot of commenters to the blog said they wouldn't shop at the store anymore. My response is, yay, what took you so long? I can't even remember the last time I set foot in a Wal-Mart, but I think I've been actively boycotting for about five years or so. You could argue with me that there are plenty of other stores that aren't that much better in their practices, and you'd be right. But a wise professor once told me that if you worry about every thing every corporation does you'll go crazy--you have to pick your battles. Wal-Mart is mine. And contrary to popular belief, their prices are not always the lowest. So to those of you that may not like the store, but feel like you have to shop there, comparison shopping is your friend.

The Shot tonight is the revelation that Obama is related to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is related to Clinton. Hey, didn't Obama also find out he's related to Cheney? Does that mean Brad is related to Cheney? That's probably not something he'd want to hear. I know I wouldn't. The family gatherings would be weird. Would you sit around and laugh about that time crazy Uncle Dick shot that guy in the face, or what?

The show was...frustrating. The Randi piece was good, but the Erica segment was incomplete, and the rest was fairly irrelevant. I find it completely shameful that gobs of airtime has been given to bickering surrogates, while the fact that troops are being fucking electrocuted in Iraq doesn't even get a mention. And that's just one important story of many. I actually sarcastically chuckled out loud today when I read in Erica's blog post that CNN's request to cover the Zimbabwe elections was denied. My first thought was, "yeah, like 360 was really going to cover that, anyway." To be perfectly honest, some days I feel more informed after reading all the contributers/correspondent's blog posts than I do after watching the show. I don't know what that says, but it can't be good. C

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Clinton Speaks Out On Wright, McCain Economy Talk, Missing Federal Air Marshals, And An Iraq Update With Birthday Wishes (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everybody. Anderson Cooper is coming at us live from Los Angeles tonight and we're beginning with the never-ending spatfest between Obama and Clinton. Apparently she's decided it's finally time to weigh in on those Reverend Wright sermons. Duuude. We were so close to being done with that. She's killing me. Okay so, Clinton thinks Obama should have left the church when his pastor went off and she says she's offering up her opinion now simply because she was asked a question. Right. Because I'm sure this is the first time you were asked that and this has nothing to do with making imaginary sniper bullets go away. You know, even though I voted for Obama I've been trying very hard to not take sides when it comes to the Democrats, but she is making things very difficult for me. Sorry, I have to call BS when I see it.

Speaking of that, Clinton also talks further about her Bosnia sniper story that wasn't, indicating she "made a mistake." I guess I can see that. I know I also have the problem of mistakenly adding sniper fire to my travel tales. Seriously, WTF? You don't have fuzzy memories about flying bullets! Look, I could understand if her timing was off or if she incorrectly stated where she ran, but being wrong on the entire existence of sniper fire? What? Clinton blames sleep deprivation for the story fumble (at least she's not blaming Ambien!), but as Anderson notes, she's told the story three different times. "We're not sure if she blames each misstatement on sleep deprivation or just the last one," says Anderson. Ooh, snap.

For discussion of all this, we're joined by Clinton supporter Lanny Davis, Obama supporter Jamal Simmons, and Joe Klein. Jamal, being for Obama, thinks Clinton jumped into the Wright foray today to deflect from her Bosnia embarrassment. Anderson then asks Lanny what he thinks about that, but after stating it was an honest mistake, Lanny totally goes off on a tangent, trying to throw it on Obama and compare it to legislation. Lanny, that is not even remotely the same thing. You're trying to argue legislation versus BULLETS. Anderson's on the ball though, pointing out Lanny completely changed the subject and clearly didn't answer the question. Something tells me that's Lanny's MO. Anderson wonders if maybe we're getting stories like these because the candidates are running out of ways to distinguish themselves. "Or is this just the media's fault, covering the spectacle, not the substance?" he asks. Ooh, can I get in on this? Because you know what I think.

Joe, like me, is smelling the BS and thinks it's pretty clear what's going down with Clinton. He's not happy with her bringing up all the hate speech crap again and thinks she's desperate now. Lanny disagrees on the desperate part and then goes on to start repeating everything Reverend Wright said. "Lanny, you're doing it right now," says Joe. Bwah! He can't help himself. "I'm not taking sides here, but we all know what the comments were. It's funny that you feel the need to repeat them over and over again," says Anderson. It is funny, but, uh, I'm not so sure about that not taking sides thing. But it's okay, Anderson, because it's pretty crystal clear what went on here. In fact, it'd be annoying if you were trying for some stupid balance we all love to hate. I'd feel the same way if the candidates were flipped. We need you to be a BS detector. Oh, and for those wondering, yeah, Jamal is still there. He just smiles and keeps the middle square warm. Heh.

Next up, we have a Suzanne Malveaux piece on candidate transparency. Apparently Obama is winning with delegates and with the information he has online. He's got his tax records and earmark requests available to the public. Clinton? Not so much. But according to her, she's going to get the tax records online soon. And she thinks Obama needs to release his state senate records. Yeah! And then after he does that, she needs to release her high school diaries. And then he needs to release his love letters to Michelle (you know he wrote some) and so on and so on. This could go on forever. You know, we're currently living under an administration that tried their best to not even tell the public the vice president shot an old man in the face. I'm actually pretty happy with just getting the tax records and earmarks.

Back with our panel, Anderson asks why Clinton won't just release her records. To paraphrase Joe and take a bit of artistic license, he basically says, "I don't know. Hey, you know there's fighting in Basra?" And then they go to commercial. Bizarre. Coming back from break, Lanny downplays the tax records thing, but takes the chance of bringing up Rezko, even though he's apparently a little afraid of being smacked down by Anderson for changing the subject. Heh, Anderson's got them trembling in their live shots. Jamal then pipes up, noting it's nice to talk to everyone again. He wonders what Clinton might be hiding in those tax records and thinks it's "the audacity of audaciousness" for her to ask Obama to release his state senate records. "Jamal, did you come up with that term like a couple hours ago and were just waiting for the opportunity to use it?" asks Anderson. He probably came up with it during the first panel segment when no one let him talk. "I have been holding it all day for you, Anderson," says Jamal. Anderson should feel special. You don't waste puns like that on Chris Matthews (mostly because he'd laugh really loud and make you regret it).

Anyway, Lanny clearly doesn't like all this transparency stuff, so he jacks Joe's line saying this is part of the silly season. But I guess for him, Reverend Wright's comments don't fall in that category. Interesting. He then goes on to list all the stuff we should be talking about like Iraq. "Well, no doubt, you watched our hour-long special about Iraq last night at 11:00," says Anderson. Pshaw. You can't use a five year anniversary special as evidence you're covering the war. Yeah, we've got Michael Ware back now, but Iraq was shamefully absent from 360 for a long time. And what about Afghanistan? Oh, that's right. Prince Harry is home now. No need for coverage.

On now to a Dana Bash piece on McCain clumsily trying to talk about the economy. The Maverick was hoping he could just keep all his speeches on the war, but with everything tanking around him he figured, eh, maybe better mention it. To say the economy is not McCain's strong suit is apparently an understatement, so he whipped out the teleprompter for this bad boy. You know, I keep hearing how McCain himself has admitted to not knowing much about the economy and I'm a bit flabbergasted at how everyone seems to brush it off. Just because it's straight talk does not automatically make it endearing. Shouldn't we all be going, "Whoa! Back up there."? Because the economy is sorta massively important. Imagine if we had a candidate walking around laughing about how they really don't know anything about homeland security. Their campaign would be dead-on-arrival. Shouldn't this confession be treated with similar scrutiny? Anyway, in his speech McCain states he's against the government bailing out people being taken down by the housing crisis. But Bear Stearns? Was it okay to bail them out? To be fair to McCain, maybe he was against that. But he's apparently not against throwing away billions of dollars on Iraq, a lot of which gets wasted (or stolen) by contractors. Way to be frugal, McCain.

Next up, we have an investigative Drew Griffin piece on the federal air marshal program. Those that will be flying soon might not want to read this. The Department of Homeland Security classifies the exact number of marshals the country has flying, but apparently it's gotten so low that the marshals are starting to freak out and come forward. What's their magic number? One percent. That's right, only one out of 100 flights have air marshals on them. The TSA runs the program and says that number is wrong, but it seems most people Drew talked with take the one percent side. The problem seems to be that the marshals keep leaving for other jobs and now they just don't have enough. After his piece, Drew explains that the marshals are coming forward because they'd much rather have the embarrassment come to light now, rather than after something horrible has happened. Amen to that. We do way too much reacting in this country. It's time for a little pre-acting. Anderson notes that some of the bloggers are upset they did this story, but you know what? Screw them. If they can't understand how bringing a problem to light is more helpful than keeping it hidden and unsolved, well, you can't help them.

On now to an interview with Michael Ware, who recently sat down with U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Crocker is worried about a possible regional proxy war in Iraq if the US pulls out too soon. Michael notes that's already happening with Iran, but all of America's Arab allies could potentially jump in to take a piece of the pie (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait...). Anderson asks if Iraqi security forces can take over, but Michael has no good news. He uses today's Basra fighting as an example: two Shia factions backed by Iran both fighting each other. Sigh. But sometimes there's some fun in the gloom and doom--Anderson tells us today is Michael's birthday. Happy birthday Michael! Anderson asks him his age and Michael gets all stammery and invokes his Fifth Amendment right. Ha ha. WTF? Are guys sensitive about age now? Did this happen with the dawning of the whole metro sexual thing? Did I miss the memo?

And besides the fact that we in the US have given up most of our rights, I'm not sure Aussies are actually allowed to invoke the Fifth. "Remind me to thank you when I see you in New York," jokes Michael. "Uh-oh, I'm in trouble," says Anderson. Yes, I think you are. Because guns or no guns (as in muscles), I'm thinking Michael Ware knows how to fight (I mean, look at the nose!) and could squash you. As for the age question, there's this little thing called the Internet and it's made of tubes and has information in it. I won't be divulging the magic number because I don't need me an Aussie problem, but I'm sure you all can find it with the Google. Hint: he's younger than Anderson. But anyway, Happy Birthday, Michael, and many more. Stay safe because I really mean that last part.

The Shot tonight is a melting ice shelf. And it's too depressing to go into detail. Or I'm just lazy. I know I skipped "WWTT? too--just wasn't feeling it. The show was okay. Good Drew piece and it's always great to see Michael, but I'm getting so sick of the Obama/Clinton petty crap. At least we got some snarky undertones, but there's much more important stories that should be getting the coverage. B-

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Clinton Fib, Carville Mad, New Pastor Mess, McCain Party Affiliation, Iraq Myths, And Murdered Millionaire (Monday's Show)

Hi everybody. Happy New Week! We're kicking things off with the BREAKING NEWS that Hillary Clinton is now admitting her story of dodging sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996 might actually be closer to truthiness, than truthful. Apparently she got the year and country right, but that whole running from sniper fire thing? Yeah, not so much. Clinton is now claiming she "misspoke," because, well, there's a video, and film don't lie, people. We're first shown the current clip of Clinton relaying the "dangerous" ordeal and then we get video from the actual trip, with Anderson Cooper narrating the lack of danger. She even had a child read her a poem on the tarmac. Oh the humanity!

Anderson tells us that Sheryl Crow and the comedian Sinbad (what happened to him?) were also on the trip, so you can tell how dangerous it must have been. Clinton also claims that she remembers she was told there was sniper fire, but couldn't not stop for the little girl. Mmkay. Maybe I'm just way more of a wimp than Clinton, but if I was ever in a situation that involved sniper fire, I think my memory of the event would be pretty damn clear. Adrenaline has a way of keeping your memories minty fresh. The thing I'm trying to understand is why any of this matters. Does dodging sniper fire equal presidential experience? Dude, if that's the case we could be getting Bush some actual experience and keep Cheney busy all at the same time.

For discussion of this, we're joined by Jeffrey Toobin, Candy Crowley, and Joe Klein. Candy's confused as to why Clinton ever told the story in the first place. " I don't understand these candidates sometimes," she says. I think poor Candy has about hit her campaign breaking point. You know she's only about one more out-of-control surrogate away from screaming, "What is wrong with these people?!" Toobin brings up what many have been saying all along, which is the question of how exactly being first lady translates to experience. Joe tells us that he actually had dinner with someone on the plane. "Sinbad?" Anderson asks. Ha! You know he wants a Sinbad exclusive. Er, just so we're clear, I'm joking. Actually booking Sinbad would be total shark-jumping. Seeing as though there was a former pimp in the studio mere weeks ago, one can never assume the 360 kids will always operate in the realm of sanity.

Anyhoo, Joe thinks this is all much ado about nothing. But Anderson points out there's a history with Clinton involving other fibs, though he doesn't use the word "fibs." Joe reiterates that this is all very much unlike her. Hm, yet curiously, she seems to keep doing it. Toobin thinks they'd really like to talk about the differences between the candidates on issues, but since there really aren't any, they're focusing more on this shallow stuff. Ha ha. Puhlease. Toobin, that's total bull and you know it. Poor media. They just want to focus on the issues, but the situation won't allow it. I'm playing my tiny violin for them right now. Whatever. We know you guys live and die for the horse race and only touch the issues when you absolutely have to. So, uh, if lack of differences is what's holding you all back, what was the problem in 2006? 2004? 2002? 2000? Should I go on? There are massive differences between John McCain and both democratic candidates. So I guess I can expect my news to be full of coverage on the issues? Riight. And next I'm going to win the Power Ball.

Moving on now to a Jim Acosta piece on how the Obama and Clinton campaigns hate each other. The latest spat started when Bill Clinton made this comment about how it would be great to have a general election between two people that love the country, leaving Obama supporters to ask, "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" This led to one of those Obama supporters accusing Clinton of McCarthyism. Because that's not overblown rhetoric or anything. But not to be outdone, Clintonite James Carville responded to Bill Richardson's endorsement of Obama by calling him Judas. On Easter weekend. So wait, does that make Hillary, Jesus? Funny how it's the Clinton supporters that accuse the Obama supporters of acting like their candidate walks on water. This is all so ridiculous. Can someone call both candidates "Hitler" and get it over with please? Because that's where this will eventually progress, right? There's no where to go after Hitler.

Next up, we have an interview with James Carville to speak about his comments, I guess. I don't know why anything he says is more relevant than anything any average Joe says. I mean, say what you want about the Republicans (and I do), but at least their advisers and strategists know what they're doing and know how to win. Sure, the Democrats won in 2006, but that's because people were voting against the Republicans. These Democratic strategists are consistently wrong and consistently lose, yet interestingly enough, remain consistently employed. Carville's the guy who literally smashed an egg on his face after the 2004 election. Lovely. Anyway, in the present, he tells us he stands by his Judas quote because he thinks what Richardson did was particularly disloyal. He then hedges a bit, leading Anderson and viewers to assume he's alluding to other things, but Carville just says he's not of the Washington world and thinks loyalty should count for something. "Dude, aren't you Mr. Washington?" asks Anderson. Duuude. Yeah bro, what's up with that? You gotta love the unpredictability of what comes out of Anderson's mouth. Anyway, there's a whole lot more interview, but I really can't top the "dude," so we're ending here.

In tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" it's bridezillas! Actually, it's the tradition of women turning into running, sniping, animals, all in the name of a cheap wedding dress at Filene's Basement. And you couldn't pay me to do it. But Erica Hill tells us she did it once. Oh, I bet she took out a couple of people that got in her way. Remember, she's got that lobster-killing mean streak in her.

Transitioning now to a new Obama sorta controversy. But first we learn he's on vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands and we're shown some creepy video of him. Seriously, it looks like somebody hid out in the bushes and shot that. If that's paparazzi video, shame on 360 for airing it. Okay, so while Obama is relaxing in the sun, his new pastor compared the whole Reverend Wright controversy to being crucified. Ruh roh. So here we go again, I guess. But do we really need to? I'm white. I'm a Christian. Yet I'm having trouble trying to muster up some offense here. Back with our panel, Joe tells us the preaching we just heard is hard on white ears. My poor innocent ears! They're bleeding, I tell you! Whatever. They then move on to talk about the election and pretty much have the same conversation that we've been having over and over regarding who can win. But there's a little bit of disagreement here. Toobin thinks Clinton still has a shot, but Joe and Candy pretty much don't, though they admit they don't know what's going to happen. "We've all been so good at predicting what's going to be happening in this race," says Anderson. Yeah, gold stars all around.

On now to a Joe Johns piece about how McCain almost became a democrat. Gasp! Of course, he's wishing that little fact from his past would go away right about now because he needs to assert his conservative republican cred. And democrats apparently have cooties. He can't play with them. I say the republicans take Lieberman and the democrats get McCain. And if the party of the donkey can't win the election when all three candidates are democrats, well, then I just give up.

Next up, we learn the very sad news that the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War has brought with it the horrible milestone of 4,000 dead troops. For discussion on Iraq, we're joined by Peter Bergen. We were also supposed to be joined by Michael Ware, but are apparently being thwarted by technology. Stupid technical difficulties. We need our crazy and smart Aussie! But we love Peter too. So anyway, Anderson brings up the very flawed fly paper theory--you know, we're fighting them over there, so we don't have to fight them here. Peter points out the problem with this theory is that it assumes a finite group of enemies, which simply isn't the case (which is something he explored in a study published in Mother Jones). Somebody might want to tell McCain that since he's still currently spouting this garbage. Anderson then notes the false belief of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Peter tells us that there was just an assessment released that found no link and this is the same thing found by the 9/11 Commission and Senate Intelligence Agency.

If you're wondering why you didn't hear about the latest assessment, well, upon learning of the findings, the Pentagon decided it wouldn't make it available online (as previously planned) and would only mail copies to reporters. Of course, only if they asked for it specifically. Don't like the results, just don't tell anyone! Next, Anderson asks if Al Qaeda is more powerful now than any time since 9/11. Peter does not think it's at a 9/10 level, but they've definitely regrouped and that's thanks to Iraq. But according to Bush, Iraq has made us safer. Don't think about it too hard. Anderson also points out that these terrorists aren't just hiding out in caves. Nope, says Peter, they're attacking inside Pakistan. This was a really good conversation. Anderson set up the myths/issues and Peter knocked them down. Wam, bam, thank you ma'am.

Suddenly we have Candy Crowley back again for more discussion. Okay. I guess they're trying to catch some of those viewers just flipping by. Whatever. Nothing of note here except for when Anderson asks her if she reads anything into Obama being on vacation. She does not. Actually, she just thinks he's tired. I think Candy is tired herself. "In all, it's just a stupid question. Sorry. You gave it your best shot," says Anderson. "But it was just a dumb question." Aw. Anderson, your questions are never dumb; they're just sometimes irrelevant. Heh. Seriously though, I think our media friends are running out of things to talk about.

The last piece of the night is from Randi Kaye and it's on a millionaire murder. But, uh, I don't care much, so I'm skipping. Good placement in the broadcast though. The former widely inconsistent 360 would have had that puppy as the lead. Of course, once these manna from heaven political ratings go away they might go back to that crap. Hey, did I miss The Shot tonight? Weird. The show was okay. Great segment with Peter, but the political coverage is just getting annoying because none of these stupid nitpicky things matter. B-

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Musings On Shock And Awe: Five Years Later

Hi everyone. I don't know about you, but I found watching this special to be a fairly infuriating experience. Reminders of the run-up to the war can still make my blood boil even five years later. Because much of this special was put together with interviews from journalists who were there, I initially thought journalistic culpability was going to be addressed. But, uh, yeah, not so much. I won't be addressing that myself in this post at this time because, really, something like that requires a series of posts. Or a book.

Overall, I thought the special was pretty good; though incomplete. But then again, it's only an hour presentation. What are you going to do? The big points were addressed and addressed pretty well--the disbanding of the Iraqi Army leading to the insurgency, the myth of the purple finger, and not supporting our troops with the equipment they needed, to state a few. With this post, I just wanted to address a few specific issues, beginning with this quote from Former White House Spokesperson Ari Fleischer regarding the belief that Saddam had WMDs:
I don't remember anybody in America, especially in the party that now is so strongly opposed to the war, the Democratic Party, saying you're wrong, Saddam does not have biological or chemical weapons.
This is simply untrue and should have been contested in the special. First of all, since Fleischer has chosen to throw a little partisanship in his statement by mentioning the Democrats, it should be noted that it has already been established that the administration was privy to intelligence--some of which contained doubts about WMDs--that Congress was not. So while the Democrats can be blamed for being spineless and not doing their homework on what they were given, their culpability is not equal to the administration.

But going back to the crux of Fleischer's statement--that everyone believed Saddam had the weapons, again, it's not true. The "everyone was wrong" meme is popular in Washington and with our nation's media. But everyone was not wrong. There were voices of dissent and award winning reporting occurring on the subject...and no one listened. Or rather, the elite and agenda-makers didn't listen. This is again one of those subjects that would require a book to really explain, so I'll be brief and just leave you with some jumping-off links if this is information you'd like to explore.

Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter didn't buy all of the WMD claim and spoke out before the war. Instead of being heard, he was sidelined by the media. Of course, he was just one man. Unlike the paper of record where "reporter" Judith Miller sold us the lies of Ahmad Chalabi, Knight Ridder Washington reporters Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay consistently filed stories filled with sources that were skeptical of the administration's claims. Their work would later be acknowledged and given the praise it deserved, but unfortunately that acknowledgment came too late to stop the war. The right people did not read what they were reporting. Or, perhaps, they just didn't want to see it in the first place.

To state that the Bush Administration wanted to go to war with Iraq and would sell us any reason to get us there is no longer a conspiracy theory. The evidence that has come out since the invasion makes that statement pretty much as close to fact as you can get. Of course if you need something more than statements to convince you, there's always the fact that six months before shock and awe (before the Congress vote on the Iraq resolution), we were conducting massive air operations in Iraq--dropping double the bombs in 2002 than in years prior. Call it a pre-war war, if you will. So, I'm sorry, unlike Fleischer implies, this wasn't all a big "whoops" that everyone made.

The next thing I wanted to bring up was the part in the special regarding the toppling of Saddam's statue:
FLEISCHER: I was standing next to the president watching the TV in the Oval Office when it happened. I remember him saying, look at the crowd. It's not that big a crowd. He actually noticed that as the statue fell.

ROBERTSON: They are a people free at last to express what they really think.

FLEISCHER: When you saw Iraqis beating the statue with their shoes, you just saw that sense of jubilation, the eruption of joy against a tyrant.

ROBERTSON: They really seemed joyful and happy. But, again, at that time I was surprised there weren't more people out on the streets. I think perhaps the Iraqis themselves had an inkling that this wasn't over.
I give them credit for pointing out that there weren't a lot of people there, but I can't believe they won't just call a spade a spade--this was a photo-op. And a perfectly crafted one at that. After all, the Palestine Hotel (where the press was staying) had a great view. The media was practically handed the story on a silver platter. On your television screen it no doubt looked like a huge crowd of jubilant Iraqis celebrating. But pull back the camera lenses a bit:

And there weren't that many people there. In fact, a lot of those people are US marines because they are the ones that pulled the statue down. And those jubilant Iraqis? It's been reported that they weren't so ordinary after all and were actually connected to Ahmad Chalabi and brought in for the occasion. I know that sounds like a tin hat theory, something I usually don't like to subscribe to, but this has been reported widely enough that I believe it. For more on "the show," check out this clip from the documentary "Control Room":

Finally, this quote from Nic Robertson really struck me:
I remember getting a briefing, an off the record, briefing before the war about one of the so-called suspected weapons sites.

They believe Iraq is embarking on a program to enrich uranium.

He showed me the site on satellite imagery. He told me what that site would have to require to have if it were currently being used for certain WMD production. And the Iraqis, amazingly enough, actually took us to that site.

And I remember looking around that site at the time before the war and thinking, you know, I don't see -- I don't see these key telltale signs, I don't see the high-power electricity coming in here.
Perhaps you immediately wondered the same thing I did--did the off the record information make him more skeptical with his on the record reporting? That's not a question that I can answer. I was a news junkie during the run-up to the war, but nothing like I am now (this Eliza has reached premium-level, heh). Unlike with, say, Katrina, the specifics of who said what, when, and where isn't something I filed away in my brain back then. That isn't to say I don't remember any of the coverage--I remember tons. And even in my lower-news junkie state, I remember the realization that it was apparent the media already believed we were going to war long before the supposed final decision had been made. As for Nic, as I said, I can't judge his pre and early war reporting because I don't remember what he did specifically, but I do know it's apparently not a subject he likes to talk about. Check out this clip from the documentary "Weapons of Mass Deception" in which he blows off a reporter (about four and a half minutes in) from Dubai television who attempts to ask him about comments Christiane Amanpour made regarding a climate of fear at CNN during the war.

I had forgotten, but this special helped remind me that in the beginning of the war, the networks would sometimes go live with their coverage all night long. There were nights I sat and watched for hours, not necessarily because I wanted to, but because I felt guilty that I had the option of turning the television off. Can you imagine hours of Iraq coverage now? Five years later and the war is all but forgotten except for those who have someone fighting. Five years later and the consequences of "shock and awe" are only beginning to be understood.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Passport Breaches, Michigan Delegates, And More Discussion About Obama And Race (Thursday's Show)

Hi everyone. We begin tonight with the BREAKING NEWS that Obama's passport records at the State Department were breached three times, resulting in the firing of two employees and the disciplining of another. I'm going to be glossing over these next few segments because, as many of you know, at the time of this blogging the story has changed. It seems both Clinton and McCain have also been victims of breaches. The assuming-individual would allow this information to take the wind out of the story's sails, and brush away the possibility that this was anything but "imprudent curiosity." But I think there are way too many unanswered questions to automatically label this a "whoops." Actually, if one wanted to do opposition research on the democrats, it might make sense for that person to also look at McCain as well, in case they were caught. Of course, that would imply smart planning and when it comes to the republicans/Bush Administration? Yeah, not so much.

So the bottom line is that at this time, despite what the State Department feeds us, we have no definitive answer regarding what happened. I just hope our friends in the media keep their skeptic hats on and stay on the story. Also, it seems there are some people who think this shocking breach of privacy is a-okay. Already they're throwing out the familiar, yet fundamentally flawed retort: "If you aren't doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?" I've always hated this line. Putting aside the fact that some people value their privacy, it's completely false to believe that when a government is given absolute power they will use it justly. Who will watch the watchers? And sure, maybe you're not doing anything "wrong" now, but you've just given the government the power to define what's "wrong" and, hey, guess what? They never promised not to change the definition on you. Why people will so easily give up their rights I will never understand. Because once they're gone, they're almost impossible to get back.

Anyway, the show kicks off in a BREAKING NEWS tizzy. The number of guests/contributers during this broadcast was kind of insane. Booker gone crazy! I'm not even going to try to recap the first segment, but I will say that Anderson Cooper did a good job asking important questions without getting too speculatory. Oh and I like when he said he didn't want to sound too cynical. Anderson? We don't mind. In fact, we encourage it. Just saying. From the guestapalooza, Anderson moves on to a phone interview with Larry Johnson, former CIA and State Department official, who totally downplays the whole thing. Of note is when Larry points out that the contractors likely had republican ties and it's important to make sure the snooping wasn't political. Anderson wants to know how Larry knows the contractors have republican ties. "Well, you have had the last eight years under the Bush administration, and I'm not aware of them awarding contracts to Democratic firms," says Larry. "So, these kind of contracts go to friends and cronies?" asks Anderson. I really hope he's asking that for the viewer's sake, because otherwise, dude where have you been? Heckuva job Brownie and Erik Prince say hi.

Next up, we have a panel on the subject with Carl Bernstein, David Gergen, and Roland Martin. These guys basically agree that everyone needs to wait for more facts to come out. Roland thinks the story will cause a bloggers-gone-wild phenomenon to hit, with those on the Left reveling in crazy conspiracies and those on the Right trying to downplay, downplay, downplay. Okay, those on the left are kind of busy right now ripping each other apart over our democratic candidates, thank you very much. And sorry if we have a tendency to assume the Bush Administration is the culprit and the motive is evilness. We're just going by, you know, history. Anderson then latches onto Roland's point and notes that he was watching some of the more conservative networks and they weren't talking about this story at all and some of the liberal ones were doing a whole bunch of speculating. Dude, are there news networks I don't know about? There are only four cable news networks, right? And two of them belong to CNN. Where are all these networks coming from? Obviously Fox News is conservative, but I don't think you can classify MSNBC as one or the other any more than you can classify CNN. So let's just assume he meant shows (and who's liberal besides Olbermann?) and not networks. Otherwise I think I need to call my cable provider.

Transitioning now to Obama being embroiled in another race controversy. We get played a clip where he tries to defend his comments about his grandmother being afraid of blacks, and in doing so he refers to her as a "typical white person," which causes people to claim he's calling all white people racist. Oh good lord. I don't know why he had to defend the grandmother comments in the first place, but can we frickin stop this? Seriously America, WTF? I thought we actually wanted to elect someone who was open and honest and took their time really thinking about the questions posed to them. But apparently we don't. Apparently we like our adviser-approved sound byte-speaking photo-op ready candidates who tell us what we want to hear and don't lose any sleep lying to our faces. Because if we want a real person we can't keep jumping on every little thing. Context is nice. Are you listening, media?

We then go back to our panel for discussion of this new race kerfuffle. A good quote from Anderson: "It's interesting, Roland, because these are not the kind of conversations that -- that television or radio programs -- well, maybe radio does it better -- but, in this heightened atmosphere, does very well, that this is the kind of -- I mean, it's a difficult conversation to have, and it's a very nuanced conversation to have. And we live in an environment which is all about sound bites and -- and people yelling on television." Pretty much what I've been saying and why I think this whole race discussion thing will all but be forgotten in a few months. Also, of amusing note in this panel is when Roland relays that when he tells white people he went to Texas A&M they always ask if he played football. "I'm 245 pounds. I'm overweight. I didn't play football," says Roland. Ha! His point here of course is that the white people assume he was in school to play sports and never ask about a major. Roland, I could not be more disinterested in football, so I would not ask you if you played, but, uh, now that you mention it, I could picture you on the field.

Race is such a tricky issue. When I was 19 I worked at an all black daycare (I'm white). All the kids were black, as were the rest of the teachers and director. I didn't know this completely when I went for the interview, but I pretty much guessed it based on the location (things have gotten more integrated in recent years, but there's still a lot of segregation among neighborhoods). The director loved me and hired me on the spot, but right before I accepted the job, she lowered her voice, leaned in and said, "You realize all the children here are black, right?" The question was a little shocking. Did she think that would make a difference to me? But I suppose for some people it would have. Anyway, I mumbled something about kids being kids and worked there the summer. And although those little handfuls jabbered my head off about everything, never once did my skin color come up.

Transitioning now to a Candy Crowley piece on Michigan delegates. Hey, you remember how Florida just kinda rolled up into a little ball and declared it wasn't doing anything about its delegate problem? Well, Michigan just did the same thing. Annnnd the Obama/Clinton sniping continues. Will this ever end? I'm skipping over the discussion since I just love this story so much. I'm not saying they shouldn't cover it; I'm just particularly annoyed by the infighting, is all. Then there's a Tom Foreman piece on what Clinton needs to win, with discussion that follows, but is everyone kidding themselves here? There's a great piece on Politico that really breaks the situation down. Basically Clinton can't win unless superdelegates decide to take it from Obama, thus ripping the party apart. Man, we went from such a wide open and exciting this. How did that happen?

Erica Hill has the headlines tonight, one of them being Midwest flooding. My basement is all wet! And I'm going to have to whip out the Mapquest just to get to my family's house for Easter because my alternative interstate is under water (the main route is closed for construction). Already they're sandbagging and my local weather people are saying they haven't seen conditions like these since 1993, so heads up to the CNNers--some of you might be spending spring in the Midwest. The Shot tonight is Obama filling out his NCAA bracket during Anderson's day with him. Obama asks who he should pick. "You're asking the wrong guy. I know nothing about sports," says Anderson. Eh, just randomly pick one; that's what I'd do. Obama then jokes that he'd post his picks on the Internet for transparency, but then he actually did it. Hillary? Your move. Heh.

The show was alright. Breaking news, what are you going to do? Since I'm enjoying a glorious three day weekend I might actually do a post on the Iraq War special. We'll see. But for now I'll leave you with Michael Ware on Friday's Real Time With Bill Maher. Bill actually asked him some stuff I've wanted to ask. It's a good interview. As for the show, B

Friday, March 21, 2008

Live From The University Of North Carolina And On The Road With Barack Obama (Wednesday's Show)

Hi everybody. Field trip time! It seems 360 has gotten themselves a "get" that involves EXCLUSIVE access to Barack Obama. Ooh. Booker, you get a cookie. Anderson Cooper is coming at us live from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, surrounded by the usual crowd of students who "woo hoo" with look-mom-I'm-on-tv enthusiasm. He throws to a piece of his own that begins with the basics of the Wright controversy and then moves into clips of the Obama interview he just did. Obama tells us he thinks they were getting comfortable in the campaign and now this controversy has shaken them up and reminded him that the odds of him winning this thing were never good. In regards to Wright's statements, he admits to hearing controversial things from him in the past, but not necessarily of a political nature. He notes Wright has a blunt style (no!) and would sometimes preach about issues regarding family life that would leave people blushing. My old pastor once made a penis joke. It was traumatic. Heh.

Obama tells Anderson he didn't make a bigger deal of the situation after Wright's 9-11 comments because he knew he was about to retire from the church. Anderson then brings up the flag pin debacle and Michelle's comments about the US, wondering if Africa Americans define patriotism differently than whites. Obama doesn't think so, but he does think we often talk about patriotism in ways that don't get at the core of what it truly means to be patriotic. In regards to Wright, he thinks his statements were unpatriotic not because he criticized America, but because he defined the country as static. That's a really good point, though I'm not sure it's something everyone will pick up on. There's nothing wrong with pointing out the country's faults in hope of making improvements. The problem is when you define the country as bad and believe it will always stay that way. Man, Obama is such a 180 from Bush. Here we have nuanced dialogue; with Bush we get rhythmic grade-school-level grammar, punctuated by hand gestures: "I'm the decision maker. That means I make the decisions." Because apparently we're too stupid to understand after just the first sentence.

For discussion, we're joined by David Gergen, former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Meyers, and Amy Holmes. The Gerg thinks Obama needs to try to move on from the controversy, but not avoid the topic of race. Then...we go to commercial. Well, that was a weird break. Anyway, coming back, they talk about how the 527's can really hurt Obama with those Wright clips in the general election. Amy actually thinks he should just stop talking about the whole thing. The Gerg is all about being positive and making lemons out of lemonade, which is what he thinks Obama did with his speech. He also notes that it's only March and that's about a billion news cycles until November. So true. I mean, I think there's still a few governors out there who have yet to be busted for or admit affairs. So much to cover!

Dee Dee disagrees, stating that the speech was good, but the controversy will drag on him. Anderson wonders how many people actually watched that single speech versus how many have seen or will see snippets of the Wright sermon. That is a great point and something I was sort of thinking about. To get the impact of the speech you have to watch the whole thing and it was long. Plus it ran during the day. How many people actually watched it? Those clips are going to reach so many more. But damn if The Gerg isn't the most optimistic guy on the planet. He seriously breaks your heart a little sometimes, doesn't he? I hope he's right and the speech will really change things. But forgive me if I don't hold my breath.

A little explanation now from Anderson about, well, what's up with his face. He looks like he's been punched under the eye, though not all that hard. Anderson states that actually he had "a little cancerous thing" removed, though he kinda mumbles over the word "cancerous." Apparently the fangirl (and boy!) email-concern is running high and he wants everyone to know "it's nothing to be concerned about." This story actually left me in awe of the power of the Internets. Anderson can rest assured he is a popular guy because not long after his blog post about the surgery, the story was everywhere. He was even on the front page of Yahoo. Granted, he quickly got bumped for some dude that accidentally pushed a button and caused a gas station to be covered in foam, but that's life. There will aways be a foam-covered gas station to steal your thunder.

Not that this was thunder. Cancer is a very scary word and though I've been joking here, I sincerely wish him all the best and hope he doesn't have to worry about it anymore. Erica Hill teases that perhaps he got in a fight with Charlie Rose, who you might have noticed is sporting some face damage himself. Apparently Charlie values Apple products over his own body. Geez Charlie, does PBS pay so poorly that you couldn't afford to buy a new one if it broke? How awesomely hilarious would it have been if they'd been able to coordinate their stories and the fight thing is what they actually told people? Now those would be some headlines.

Back with Obama, we next have an Anderson piece that kind of goes behind-the-scenes on the trail. The day begins at a technical college, where Obama is going to speak about Iraq. People wait behind barricades, knowing they won't get in, but just want to get a glimpse. That's kind of intense. Anderson talks about the tight security and again I can't help but think there was something wrong when he came to St Louis because we did not go through security. Scary. Anyway, Obama and the press then hop a plane to Charlotte. Anderson shows us that the press sit in the back, and perhaps in an attempt to keep their mouths too full for questioning, they get fed a lot. When Anderson gets his chance to sit down with the senator on the plane he finds him working NCAA Tournament bracket. Well, at least he's not clearing brush. Asked about what he does to decompress, he basically just says he sleeps, adding, "Although, I try to watch AC 360 all the time." Bwah! A true politician. "Please. I don't need your sympathy. I don't want your pandering," says Anderson. Well, he is still young enough to be in the key demo...

On now to Obama talking about the Michigan vote and doing a little Clinton dissing. We all know by now that Clinton wants the delegates seated and she seems to be blaming Obama for holding that up. For his part, Obama says he's just playing by the DNC rules and she's playing politics. I say, make it stop! We're then joined by Candy Crowley live for more on what's going on with Michigan, but I'm completely distracted by the people in the background. Apparently they're looking at themselves in a monitor and then back again at the camera. It's like a ping pong game. After that, Anderson puts on his defensive face for a minute to respond to all the people emailing and wanting to know why they're not going on the trail with Clinton. Well, they asked and the campaign has not answered. So there. All these accusations are kind of ridiculous. I think the bloggers are slowly driving poor Anderson crazy.

Transitioning to the subject of Iraq, Anderson asks if the surge is working. Obama thinks it is tactically, but our whole Iraq strategy is a failure because it has not made us safe. We're then played a clip of Clinton pouncing on a comment from one of Obama's advisors in which the adviser says they might not be able to get the troops out in 16 months as Obama says. I'm sure there are things she could go after Obama on regarding Iraq, but that's just stupid. Of course he's going to listen to the commanders on the ground. As he says, to not do so "would be the height of foolishness." "My commitment to end the war is one that dates back to 2002. Senator Clinton's commitment to end the war dates back to her decision to run for president," says Obama. Ohh, snap! Anderson notes he doesn't hear Obama talk about victory much and wonders if he thinks it's still possible. Obama thinks stability is possible and really what he's looking for is a "victory for common sense." That would be good. I'm a big fan of common sense and have missed it greatly these past seven years.

We're next joined by The Gerg and Michael Ware, two of my favorite people. Anderson wonders how Obama's 16 month withdrawal plan would play out realistically. Michael tells us that if he really listens to commanders on the ground, there will be no withdrawal because doing so would result in nastiness from Iran and Al Qaeda. Are you sure Michael? Because we seem to not be so good at predicting things. The Gerg thinks whoever gets elected has to be careful they don't become the president who lost Iraq. Whoa. Hold on there, Mr. Optimistic. The president that lost Iraq will always, always be Bush. Taking away the fact that we never should have invaded in the first place, we did everything wrong, and that's on him, Rumsfeld, and the rest of the merry bunch. Anderson then wonders if pressure will work on the Iraqi government. But Michael says they're already under pressure. Yeah, I suppose having your country be all explodey isn't a cakewalk. And Iran is just waiting in the wings to pick up our slack if we leave. And so it goes.

The Shot tonight is a billboard-type sign that gets blown down in extreme winds and then hit by a bus. Not the sign's best day. I should point out to the people that don't watch both hours (which includes me) that they're hiding new pieces in the second hour. And I don't know why, though I'm sure there's an explanation. We've missed some Planet in Peril stuff and a troop piece as well. All I know is I'm about as loyal a viewer as they come and even I'm not going to sit through mostly repeat tape for three to five minutes of new material, so it's just annoying. At least put the second hour pieces online. The show tonight was good. An impressive exclusive. B+

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Obama Speech, Black Churches, The White Male Vote, And The Fed Lowers Rates (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everybody. Shaking things up tonight, we've got Campbell Brown keeping Anderson Cooper's anchor chair warm. Newbie! Well, more accurately, a veteran in a new situation. I always liked Campbell on NBC, but I can't say I'm too optimistic about her new show. Maybe if they're going after new viewers who don't normally watch cable news at that time, she might have a shot. But if the plan is to siphon off viewers from O'Reilly and Olbermann? Good luck with that. Those are some harsh competitive waters and it's kinda cruel to throw a newbie in and expect him/her to swim. But we need more women in primetime, so I hope she does well. Anyway, I like how the live-blog person asked the bloggers to be kind to her. Like we're going to make her cry or something. I actually don't know if she blogged anything because it seemed to be thesis night on the blog, so I cut out pretty quickly. Seriously people, no one is reading your dissertation. Short posts, please. As for Anderson, I guess I was wrong about him going someplace possibly dangerous. He's just going to North Carolina. Although...those North Carolinians can be pretty hardcore...

We kick things off with a Candy Crowley piece on Obama's speech. I've only been able to watch about half of it so far (online), but it's really compelling and not really done justice by these short clips. Sometimes you just need to watch it yourself. When it comes to Reverend Wright, Obama called his comments wrong and divisive, but noted that he could no more disown him than he could his white grandmother who has subscribed to racial stereotypes. That seems to be the money clip there. Probably just about everyone knows, and maybe even loves, someone that might say things they don't agree with. In other words, everyone knows someone who might be a little bit racist/homophobic/sexist.

For discussion of all this, we're joined by David Gergen, Roland Martin, and Bay Buchanan. The Gerg gives this speech two thumbs up, saying it's the best speech of the campaign by anyone. Even Bay, who tends towards crabby (sorry, she does), is singing Obama's praises and notes that the speech helped firm up his base. Campbell brings up how Rush Limbaugh is saying that Obama is now the candidate of race, but Roland ain't hearing it. "I don't think Rush Limbaugh is really an expert when it comes to the issue of race in America...," he says. Damn straight. Why are we listening to him? Roland is also glad that Obama didn't disown his pastor because it's not a very Christian thing to do. Hm, that's an interesting point. Although probably Obama's extreme critics would just claim Wright isn't a true Christian. Bay agrees with Roland on this one, calling Obama "a class act" for not tossing the pastor aside. Wow. She's almost being, what's the word? Nice.

Coming back from a commercial, Roland notes that tomorrow Obama will be moving on to do a speech about Iraq and it will be left to the media and all of us to talk about these racial issues with depth and context. Bay then jumps on that bandwagon wondering if the press is going to keep obsessing over the ridiculous racial polls. Ooh, is this a panel revolt? I guess not, because The Gerg doesn't take the media to task, instead changing the subject to how Obama's speech most likely appealed to suburban voters. He points out that even Oprah goes to Obama's church from time to time, which really shows that a wide range of people go there. Dude, why didn't anyone say the church had the Oprah seal of approval on it? Problem over. It's like being touched by God, people. On a serious note, The Gerg also points out how unbelievably fantastic it was to be spoken to like adults. Because lately all our public figures seem to think we're retarded five year olds. Complex conversation. More please.

In tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" we get a car chase that ends with a guy jumping out before the vehicle even stops. Apparently he was on a mission to get his girlfriend rent money. "That's so romantic," says Campbell. If she liked that she should check out Run Lola Run. Ah, what we won't do for love.

Next up, we have a Joe Johns piece on black churches, which apparently see all the attacks on Pastor Wright as an attack on their preaching. We're told a lot of what goes on in black churches today comes from the black power movement and that the core belief is the preachers are there to stand up for social justice. This is kind of strange. I mean, are all black churches really the same? I doubt it. And what makes a black church? Is it the style or the racial makeup or both...why must we label everything? I go to a church with a black female pastor, but the majority of the members are white. Maybe that's unusual, but it shouldn't be.

Moving on now to an interview with Reverend Joseph Lowery, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Campbell brings up Wright's comments regarding how the US brought the September 11th attacks on itself and I really have to wonder why everyone is freaking out over these comments, but all the crazy stuff people like Pat Robertson say just gets ignored. Robertson and the late Fallwell have been very close to the Republican party, yet are known for saying truly offensive things. I'm not saying their comments don't get press, but they never really seem to fall back on their politician friends. Anyway, after this interview there's some more discussion with Jim Wallis (who I love), Roland Martin, and Faye Wattleton. But I'm just not feeling it. I like when they try to discuss complicated issues like this, but it just feels off. Part of it is because they're mixing in politics, which I get that they have to do for this story, but it detracts from any real discussion. Also? Can you really have actual meaty discussion with pundits? I imagine it's a rare occurrence. You know what this subject needs? A map table special. I'm not quite sure why they'd need the map, but you know what I mean.

After all the discussion about how we need to stop with the polls and breaking things down by race, without a hint of irony we move on to a Randi Kaye piece on the working class white male vote. Oh, 360. What's even more hilarious is that the expert in the piece goes on about racial politics while the actual voters are like, "I don't care, I'm just worried about the economy."

Finally tonight, we're joined by Ali Velshi, who is up way past his bedtime to talk to Erica Hill about the Fed lowering rates. The problem is the whole thing could backfire because consumers are nervous and therefore more likely to hang onto their extra money, rather than pump it back into the economy. Sounds great.

The Shot tonight is a roof getting ripped off in El Paso. The show was just meh for me. Campbell did fine, but it seemed like a whole lot of surfacey discussion about the same thing. Maybe someday they'll do a special that really looks at race in America. Of course the media promised that kind of inspection after Katrina and you know how that went. B-

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Florida Vote Decision, Bear Stearns Bail-Out, 'Surge' Reality Check, And Bill Clinton Up Close (Monday's Show)

Hi everyone. Happy New Week! We've got Soledad O'Brien holding down the fort for Anderson Cooper tonight, who is possibly on his way to somewhere dangerous (those commercials for Wednesday are kind of unclear). Or maybe he's just chillin and enjoying some of those vacation days he wanted. Anyhoo, I'm digging the new opening they've got going on where they show all the contributers during the rundown.

We're kicking things off with some news from the craziest state of the nation. That's right, Florida. In a Joe Johns piece we learn that there will be no primary do-over. Perhaps nervous about becoming the butt of the nation's electoral jokes onces again, Florida democrats aren't too keen on holding a potentially chaos-causing election. Been there, done that. So the ball gets thrown back in the DNC's court...and they're not playing. The "no delegates for you" position is apparently holding strong. So basically, we're in the same place we started. Excellent. As you might imagine, Clinton, having "won" the state, is none too happy. Obama? He's a little happy. But given this is Florida, we're probably not yet to the bottom of the crazy barrel. The drama continues.

For discussion of all this, we're joined by Jeffrey Toobin, Candy Crowley, and Gloria Borger. Gloria reiterates that Clinton is unhappy and that's because, according to Toobin, the status quo favors Obama. He thinks they'll try to divide the delegates evenly, but however they do it, one candidate will be helped and the other hurt. Candy doesn't think there's any way they'll seat the delegates in a way that would change the results of the election because that would make the party implode. I wouldn't worry there. I mean, the democrats are so good with keeping the party together. Just ask Will Rogers. As Toobin points out, seating the delegates so that it changes the election is basically the only way Clinton can win--unless she flips a bunch of superdelegates, I guess. After Florida talk, the panel moves to the topic of the speech Obama is going to give tomorrow due to the recent pastor controversy. Candy thinks the speech will be really important, but they said the same thing about Romney's Mormon speech. Remember that? No, you don't, do you? See? Of course Romney's not in the race anymore, that how you want.

Next up, we have a Tom Foreman"Keeping Them Honest" piece, which is intro-d by an out-of-control graphic. Okay then. It seems it's about time to start talking about the "R" word: recession. Things are not going well. The Fed just had to bailout Wall Street big wig Bear Stearns, which is causing shock waves through the financial markets. But thank God investors have people like Jim Cramer (seriously, watch the clip) to turn to for advice when things get shaky. Don't feel bad for everyone. Bear Stearns executives won't be slumming it anytime soon; they're going to walk away with millions. Securities attorney Robert Weiss says the executives "wound up getting paid a fortune for failing." Hm, don't worry fellas, it sounds like you're perfectly qualified for a spot with the Bush Administration. If only there was some overzealous hotshot to take on these Wall Street types and look out for the little guy. Oh wait...

In tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" we have a market vandal. A buck naked market vandal. Ooh, that makes it much more amusing. So, this dude goes into this Pennsylvania market sans clothes and starts throwing chairs, knocks over a pizza oven, and damages a meat-wrapping machine. There's definitely a joke somewhere involving that last one, but this is a family review. After the throwing, the dude went on a little joyride on a forklift. Still naked. That is so unsanitary. Did I mention there was drunkenness involved? I know, you never would have guessed.

Moving on now to an interview with Lou Dobbs on the economy. Hide the children (and the illegal immigrants)! Actually, Lou seems to have left his throbbing vein at home and is being surprisingly calm and quiet. He talks about how the big shots get saved by the Fed, but the little guy gets no such help. Soledad wonders if maybe that's because the government wants to head off a domino effect. Lou replies that "there's something called a moral hazard" and this basically means that when companies go greedy and get corrupt they should actually have to face some consequences, just like the average Joe does. Amen to that. Soledad then asks what we can do. Um, bend over? Because that's how this is going to go. Lou wants us to bug our Congresscritters, you know, because they've just been so helpful with everything else. Things are looking Enrony out there folks. I think it's time for a refresher on what went down with those guys. And since Wall Street currently has all your money, watch the documentary for free!

Transitioning now to a John King piece from Iraq. He's traveling with John McCain and the senator has just made his eighth trip to the country. As I'm sure you know, McCain is all about the surge and how it's working. John tells us things are better there, but still not good. This morning I happened to catch a little bit of an interview John did with McCain on American Morning and I'm starting to get frustrated with reporters never challenging him on some of his talking points. For one thing, stop letting him talk about Al Qaeda as if it's all one group. There's Al Qaeda in Iraq that constitutes a very small percent of the people we're fighting and then there's the real Al Qaeda that attacked us and they're on the Pakistan border. And when McCain says they're going to follow us home, please ask him who. Al Qaeda in Iraq? Do they even have the capability for that? It's the other one we have to worry about and they are not in Iraq. So please reporters, stop with the conventional wisdom that this is McCain's strong issue and actually challenge him on it.

On now to discussion with Michael Ware, Peter Bergen, and Gloria Borger. Peter, long time no see. Soledad brings up that McCain is going around telling people Al Qaeda might increase attacks to tilt the election. Peter thinks that idea is "ludicrous," (ooh, denied!) noting they care about our foreign policy, not our elections. As for the surge, Michael tell us that it is working in a way, but the decrease in violence is not just due to the extra troops--the deal that was cut with insurgents, Muqtada al Sadr calling a truce, segregating the country with blast barriers...they've all played a role. Michael, have I told you lately that I love you? What can I say; I'm a sucker for context. Gloria says McCain has been consistent on Iraq. Yes, he has, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Again, there are hard questions not being asked. And what about those Iraqi forces? Michael tells us their numbers are growing, but they're still infused with militias and there's no national unity. So...not good. "America broke this place. This place is on its knees, yet America cannot walk away without enormous cost to itself and its own interests," says Michael. And so it goes.

Next up, we have a Gary Tuchman piece on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania with Bill Clinton. He's like a rock star. Make that a rock star with the flu. Aw. Campaigning is hard work. So anyway, I'm sure we remember that earlier in the campaign there was a more outspoken version of Clinton on the stump, but after the negative press, he's obviously been told to simmer down now! And simmer down he has. Actually, Gary paints a kind of lonely picture, telling us the former prez plays a lot of cards. That's almost sad. But yay to 360 for not digging up all those clips of angry Clinton like you did last time. That was tacky; this was much better. After his piece, Gary joins us live and whips out a sports metaphor: "It's almost like a World Series game in the bottom of the 9th inning. The star player comes up, the slugger. He's not going to swing very hard, because he has to protect the plate. And in essence, Bill Clinton is protecting the plate for Hillary Clinton." Ha ha. These kids and their metaphors.

The Shot tonight is this big 20 pound lobster that somebody won in a raffle on Super Bowl Sunday. The winner actually donated the big guy to an aquarium, which was very nice. I would have had to think a bit about that. Because I love me the lobster. We then find out that Erica Hill is a former lobster murderer! Apparently she used to work at a seafood restaurant and was tasked with killing the critters. Hm, I wonder how that skill transferred to the news business. Also? What do you want to bet she gets at least one crazy hate email from a lobster-lover?

I have to say, Soledad is seriously kicking Anderson's butt when it comes to the live-blogging. She's a blogging fool! Also, when Anderson blogs, all the fangirls come out of the woodwork, but when Soledad is on, suddenly there are all these fanboys. It's cute. And while I'm talking about Anderson, last blog I forgot to mention that I thought he did a really good job with the Obama interview. I feel bad sometimes always criticizing, so I like to get in the praise too. Not that he actually, you know, knows of my existence, but hey, it makes me feel better. Also? Do I need to put out an APB on the back row blogger? Or are we letting those blog posts just RIP? Anyway the show was good. Good mix. B+

Monday, March 17, 2008

Musings On Thursday's Show

Hi everybody. Well, I seem to be doing this a lot lately, don't I? Poor Thursday keeps getting the short end of the stick. And now I'm in a time-wise situation where I can either do the review, or get an almost decent night's sleep. Sorry people, I'm going for the sleep. But never fear, I've got some crumbs for you since you went through all that trouble of clicking and everything.

I'd like to highlight some of Anderson Cooper's comments in one of the discussion panels regarding the Obama pastor story. But to be fair to Anderson, I should probably first point out that his feelings concerning the newsiness of the story changed between Thursday and Friday. So pay no attention about the specific subject because I want to address broader issues anyway. An excerpt from the panel that includes Gloria Borger:
BORGER: you know, can I just say this is also precisely the kind of campaign that the American people don't want. They started out enjoying this campaign because the candidates were talking about the issues.

And now that it's getting down to the wire, we're talking about all this other stuff. And that's not what a lot of the voters really seem to want.

COOPER: Well, it's also frustrating just from a news standpoint, because, on the one hand, I mean, people are talking about it. It's clearly an issue that is bubbling up on the campaign trail, so we end up covering it.


COOPER: But, at same time, it does feel just completely off track.

And there have been other issues in this campaign which have just felt completely off track from the real differences between these candidates, the real issues. It's frustrating that yet again we seem to be mired in this politics as usual.
I just don't get it. If they don't think something is important, why are they covering it? I don't see a gun to Anderson's head. Isn't the job of the news to tell us what's important? If they don't think a story is important, why are they telling us about it? A news show can be objective in that they don't tell us what to think, but every show tells us what to think about. There's no way they can get around that. Coverage decisions have to be made.

Anderson says "people are talking about it", but what people? Is it a lot of people or just a certain kind of people? Is it surrogates from campaigns or grassroots organizations? Is it chatter at the news room water cooler or discussion in middle America? There comes a time when a self fulfilling prophecy takes over--the more the news covers it, the more the average American thinks it's important. We know that the majority of Americans want a campaign about the issues, yet the average American doesn't seem to fall in the "people" group that has 360 running this story.

The thing is, there are people talking about other stories that 360 seems to have no problem ignoring. The FISA fight has been huge on the blogs and yet, not a peep from Anderson and friends. Is it a ratings thing? Going for the sensational? I don't know; this isn't as clear cut as OJ crap. We often hear talk of the Beltway Bubble, but I think there's a News Media Bubble as well. All I know is that as an average citizen it's fairly bizarre to hear a news person complain about their own coverage. And I still want to know who those people are.

Getting back to the specifics of the story Anderson had been talking about, man, this looks like it could be a possible mess for Obama. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt that he was telling the truth and was never in the congregation during one of pastor Wright's more controversial sermons. But I will say this, if he was lying, evidence WILL come out and frankly if Obama's not politically savvy enough to know that, he will never make it through a general election. I'm just hoping he'll weather this storm because I am so done with this guilt by association crap.

Some randomness:
  • The "What Were They Thinking?" video of the kid breaking the aquarium while working out never ceases to make me laugh, but c'mon 360, you're slacking. Keith Olbermann played that on his show like a year ago. Better step it up because you two are about to, oh noes, be in direct competition. And just to warn you, Keith will mock. He's lovable, but has an occasional tendency towards dickishness. But you already knew that.
  • Jeffrey Toobin, it was very nice of you to return from Hawaii with macadamia nuts for Anderson, but where's my postcard? Hm? (And I think Lisa Bloom was feeling a little like chopped liver. Aw.)
  • The Tom Foreman piece that investigated prostitution was referred to in quite a different way on the white board. Also? I think (and I stress think here) that the guy at the very end of that video is writer Gabe Falcon. But don't quote me on that. I'd normally confirm with my little birdy, but she's all off the grid exploring nature. Bleh, nature.
  • That's about it. Except, um, 360 please never play that rapping Rove clip again.
  • Oh! One more thing that comes from Friday's show. I have to say, David Gergen is one of the most reasonable people I've ever listened to. The way he was discussing the black American experience was kind of awesome. I nominate The Gerg as the 2008 election calm-everybody-down moderator. Because we need that position filled right about now.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

360 Loses Their Damn Minds And Geraldine Ferraro Controversy (Wednesday's Show)

Hi everyone. Well, quite a show, huh? Hold onto your hats people because 360 hasn't been this bad since the Paris Hilton post-interview. Let's get to it, shall we? Up top we've got the BREAKING NEWS that Eliot Spitzer's prostitute has been identified. Thank God! Now I can sleep at night. Because this is so incredibly relevant to my life. Who "broke" the story? The New York Times. I expect nothing less from the paper of record and this is about as "less" as you can get. For more on the prostitute (Do you really need to know her name? No you do not), we go to Drew Griffin who is literally staking out her apartment. Seriously. That's CNN, the most trusted name in prostitute news.

And this particular WTF is coming at us on two levels because Drew here has actually been doing real journalism in regards to a story on the FAA and why they haven't been enforcing inspection deadlines. So he could be talking to us about that. But I'm sure staking out a prostitute is a much better use of his time. I mean, planes not getting inspected, what could go wrong there? Anyway, our friends in the news are all a-twitter because the woman has a MySpace page, so now they can fill up stories like this one with all of her information without breaking a sweat. You know, sometimes people make those pages as jokes. Note to self, delete MySpace page. Drew tells us that the page is hopping and that "MySpace gurus" have told him the woman herself has even logged on. Oh my God. MySpace gurus? It says right on the page when the person last logged in. You don't need a frickin degree. "Well, it's got to be surreal for her, if she knew or not, to suddenly see her picture flashed -- splashed on television screens across the country," says Anderson after the piece. She's not the only one experiencing surreality right now.

Next up, we have a Jason Carroll piece on Spitzer's resignation. Once again, the wife is standing by his side in humiliation. Man, I hope behind closed doors she's, like, throwing things at his head. Most of the piece is stuff we pretty much know, though the question is raised as whether Spitzer's enemies might have been involved somehow. As of now, there's no evidence of that.

Moving on now to an interview Anderson Cooper has with former pimp Jason Itzler. For those of you that didn't watch, I know it sounds like I'm making this stuff up, but I swear to God he is even identified on screen as "former pimp." And, and, on the screen graphic it says "King of Pimps" really big. How do you even comment on that? My mind is totally boggled at the level of pathetic. So okay, they talk about the kind of guys that frequent the high-end, ahem, establishments like Jason ran and it's noted that basically all clients are married. Jason claims that he's heard that after five years of marriage 85% of couples basically stop having sex. What? This is like the guy the other night claiming that people in Europe don't care about these sex scandals. I guess you can just say anything on cable news.

Coming back from commercial, Anderson notes that Jason called himself a pimp and Jason is all, uh, no I didn't. Bwah! Well, that makes that "former pimp" chyron kind of embarrassing, doesn't it? Oh hell, who am I kidding? This whole thing is embarrassing. They then do a little discussing of Spitzer's prostitute. Says Jason, "I don't know if her boobs are real or not, but she looks good." Awesome. From there the talk turns to money and Anderson is all boggled about how the women can make thousands in just an hour. "That's a lot of money for an hour," says the man who makes a boatload of money for a speech. (To be clear, I'm not knocking it at all--and certainly not comparing speechifying to prostitution--but why the boggle? People make ridiculous amounts of money for a lot of things.) Jason next uses his CNN airtime to promote his business venture and I don't even know what to say anymore. He and Anderson end the interview by talking about "his girls," while I bang my head against the wall.

Moving on now to a Randi Kaye piece that's all about standing by your man. Yada, yada, yada. This isn't "The View." After Randi's piece, Erica Hill has our headlines tonight and we learn that some eighth grader in Connecticut just got suspended and lost his Class Vice President position because he bought Skittles from another kid. And no, that's not a euphemism; they're actually talking about the candy. Man, my school wishes the bags being dealt around campus were full of Skittles. In tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" two news vans drag race. Well, that's smart. Great judgment there. And if you think that's bad, I hear that after the race they went and staked out a prostitute's apartment. Oh wait...

For the speculation segment of the program, we're joined by psychiatrist Gail Saltz and Dr. Drew Pinsky. There's much discussion about why women stick by cheating men and blah blah, all that jazz. We don't even know that Mrs. Spitzer is going to ultimately stick by him. Maybe she's hanging around right now to plan her next move. Anyway, after all this we get a clip of the brother of the prostitute. Just because they can, I guess. Ooh, you guy's got a soundbyte from her neighbor's nephew's cousin twice-removed too? The brother, by the way, is wearing an argyle Yankees cap. "This story has just gotten off the rails bizarre," says Anderson. Just?

Transitioning now to a Candy Crowley piece on Geraldine Ferraro. Oh Candy, am I happy to see you! Do you know what your colleagues have been doing the first half of the show? So okay, we remember from yesterday how Ferraro claimed Obama wouldn't be where he is if he wasn't black. And then she claimed reverse racism because apparently she's just awesome like that. Seriously, this woman is a piece of work. She moans that her comments are being twisted, but says she meant exactly what she said, so whatever. In a passive aggressive little message, Ferraro resigned, but she doesn't appear to be going gently into that good night. Now both candidates are trying to dial back on the race talk.

Next up, we have discussion with David Gergen and Mary Frances Berry, who Anderson tells us was, "named chairperson of the Civil Rights Commission by President Bill Clinton in 1993." They begin by discussing Andrew Sullivan's opinion that H. Clinton's decision to not completely cut ties with Ferraro is a calculated move to interject race into the campaign. The Gerg disagrees with this, but c'mon, it's The Gerg; he never thinks bad of anyone. Mary thinks Obama should have just let the whole thing go. Come again? You can't let stuff like that go. And The Gerg agrees with me, so I am therefore vindicated. Anderson asks if there's a pattern in the Clinton campaign of focusing on differences. Both The Gerg and Mary say yes, with The Gerg noting Obama's blackness and Clinton's "femininess." Look at The Gerg making up words. Then Mary tries to downplay what Ferraro said by saying there's nothing wrong with calling attention to the fact that Obama is black or Clinton is a woman. "That's not what she was doing," says The Gerg. Right on. What would we do without our Gerg?

Moving on now to a Joe Johns piece on Michigan and Florida, but I'm tired, so I'm taking a pass. It seems some guy who always plays "Beat 360" finally won. Yay Ed! Congrats! You get video of celebrating crew and everything. The Shot tonight is Buster Martin, ale-drinking 101-year old London marathon runner. And he looks just like Fidel Castro. Heh. Erica tells us he's also in a band and if you add up their ages it comes to like 3,000. Dude, how many people are in that band?

Well, that's it for the show. And what a show it was. You know, in television news, people often get wrapped up in the moment and become so focused on getting the story and getting it first, they can easily lose sight of, well, reality. So I think every news room needs to add a position, which I'm going to call, I don't know, the "thinker." The job of this individual would be to step back when news breaks and look at things from the perspective of a regular viewer--as in, those people that just spent the past hour mouth-agape and with a total WTF look on their faces. The thinker is a person, who upon hearing that the network was about to stake out a prostitute, would helpfully point out, "Uh, wait. That's insane." Much journalistic credibility saved. Just a suggestion.

So okay 360, I don't know what to do with you. Great resources. Dedicated, talented people. And yet somehow you turn a legitimate news story into a giant helping of crap infotainment. Congratulations, you're Inside Edition! Also? I've noticed that in defense of this story and others, Anderson and Erica (and maybe others) have noted how the story is interesting. Maybe I've got this whole news thing completely wrong, but is that really an argument? The radio at my work goes on and off by itself. I think that's interesting. Anything can be interesting. But is it news? D
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