Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wal-Mart Takes A Break From Being Evil, John McCain's Health, And Interview With Judge Marvin Arrington (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everybody. Tonight we kick off the show with Anderson Cooper telling us the awesome news that Wal-Mart has caved and is letting the Shanks keep the money they won from the trucking company. Woo hoo! Victory! In a world where lately the little guy's middle name seems to be "screwed," let us savor this rare moment. Have you savored it? Okay, we next go to Randi Kaye live who gives us the background of the story for those that don't know. Eight years ago, Wal-Mart employee Debbie Shank was in a terrible accident with a semi truck that left her with no short term memory and in need of constant care. The Shank family successfully sued the trucking company for money for her care, but then due to a little known clause in her insurance, Wal-Mart sued her for that money to get back what they put out in health insurance costs. And they won.

Seeing as though that is completely evil, people got angry, the story spread, and apparently enough bad PR finally generated to force Wal-Mart to do the right thing. Now the company is even saying they're going to modify their whole plan. And if you believe that, there's a bridge I'd like to sell you. Oh sure, they may actually look at the situations individually now, but it will only be to determine what cases might cause similar future public outrage. In a weird way, it's like what Anderson talked about in his book regarding finding the sickest looking kid in Niger to put on camera. I'm sure there will be future people that get screwed over by this policy, but a Gold Star mom with no short term memory who has to hear about her son's death every day like for the first time? That cuts like a knife. And the public responded.

Randi has a taped interview with Debbie's husband, Jim, who is in awe of what just happened. "I mean, this is a victory for people. People have spoken. We still have a voice in this country. It just shows that, you know, we can make a difference. We all stand together," he says. Amen! And let's not stop now. There's a lot more evil to be whipped out of Wal-Mart.

For the legal perspective, we're joined by Jeffrey Toobin, who is surprised the giant retailer actually gave in, but not surprised as to why they did it. Yeah, this is pretty simple to figure out. Wal-Mart did themselves a little cost-benefit analysis and figured out they were about to lose more money due to bad PR than the amount they were getting from the Shanks. By law, a corporation's number one priority is to make money for their shareholders. Wal-Mart does not care about the Shanks; Wal-Mart cares about their bottom line. Toobin reminds us that Wal-Mart suing the Shanks was perfectly legal, but it was "unnecessary pain inflicted" and they are not the only company with this policy. "But a lot of people deal with these problems. And this is a country without national health insurance. And this is one of the consequences," says Toobin. Jeffrey, are you turning all commie pinko on us? Just when you thought you couldn't love Toobin more...

"Well, Randi, it has got to feel good to do a story that then gets such a huge reaction from people that they contact the company and change like this happens," says Anderson. Randi's all excited. I bet that does feel really good. Hell, even Toobin's beside himself. "Great job, Randi Kaye!" he practically cheers. Man, 360, this is when you totally need balloons or confetti to come down from the ceiling. How hilariously awesome would that be? "I haven't seen Jeff Toobin so happy in quite some time," says Anderson. Well, not since we caught up with him chilling in Hawaii anyway. After all this Erica Hill gives us some "Raw Data" on Wal-Mart. They're evil. Nuff' said. Yes, I'm kidding. Sorta.

A little breaking news out of Iraq to report now. The British are...staying! The British are staying! Apparently things have become so FUBAR in the country, they have to halt the withdrawal of some of their troops. Also? You know how the Iraqi government forces were battling it out with Shia militias all by their lonesome? Yeah, not so much. We're now learning that the British had to step in to save their Iraqi government-force butts. But other than that, things are great. Anderson tells us they'll be "following the story throughout the night," but unless they broke in live during the second hour, he kept the following to himself and did not share with us.

Transitioning now to some coverage on the Maverick, and everybody's "friend", John McCain. Dana Bash sat down with the candidate today to talk about his view on not bailing people out of the housing crisis. "What I worry about, of course, are massive bailouts that will then reward people who didn't behave well," McCain tells Dana. Yes, people that did not behave well should not be rewarded with a bailout. And that's exactly what you said after Bush commuted Scooter Libby, right?

After Dana, we get a Tom Foreman piece on how McCain is essentially back from the dead. His campaign was in such dire circumstances months ago that it was almost too sad to watch. I'll admit I totally thought he was down and out--everybody did. And now he's the presumptive nominee. Ain't life grand? So what happened? Well, he super glued himself to Iraq and the country actually got better for a second (good luck with that now) and everybody around him just kinda dropped like flies. Really, he didn't have to do much except stand there and now...wah lah! One step from the presidency. In the piece we hear how McCain is "looking and acting presidential." I keep hearing this and it's driving me insane. How does one "look" presidential and what the hell does that have to do with being qualified to be president? It's one of those little conventional wisdom talking point thingees the press likes to latch onto and I just want to smack it out of them. Stop saying that. About anyone. It's completely unhelpful and way lazy.

We're then onto some discussion with Candy Crowley, Amy Holmes, and John King. I'm doing the skipping thing again since I'm burnt out on political speculation, but props to Candy Crowley who seems to be doing her live shot from a wind storm of some sort. It's really annoying when your hair insists on being in your mouth when you're trying to talk. I can't imagine having to deal with that on live television.

In tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" we're "treated" to a little bit of children's television, but this is some viewing best done with the kiddies out of the room. Our terrorist friends Hamas have their own children's show and their recent programming includes a puppet that stabs Bush to death. Great lesson for the world's future, no? Sigh. This is why terrorism and hatred will never end. One generation just teaches it to the next.

Going back to the McCain coverage, hey, 360's not sure if you've noticed, but they want you to know he's, like, really old. But before I go further, I want to pull out this unintentionally amusing quote from Anderson (exactly as he said it) that was during the show rundown: "John McCain, he will be the oldest president ever elected, if he makes it...into the White House." Some unfortunate pause timing there. Okay, so John McCain is old. Really, really old. But you know, as Aaliyah (RIP) once sang, age ain't nothing but a number. And as much as I'd like to go after McCain on the issue, I really can't bring myself to do it. Don't get me wrong, the thought of McCain's mug possibly being shown alongside the much younger, and let's face it, kinda hot, Barack Obama, definitely makes me smile. It's shallow, but aesthetics matter. Just ask Nixon circa 1960.

But we're not only talking about age, we're talking about health too. McCain has had melanoma and in a Sanjay Gupta piece we learn he hasn't released all his medical records. This leads to all hella speculation from Sanjay. See, apparently the surgeons took a bunch of stuff from McCain's face (lymph node, a gland...), which is a really aggressive way to go. "But why were the doctors aggressive with McCain's operation? Was the cancer more extensive than we've been told, or was it just an abundance of caution?" Sanjay asks in his voice over. This is kind of not cool. And that's coming from someone you know does not want him to win. The McCain campaign has promised to make his records public in a couple weeks; this couldn't have waited until then? Because dangling the idea out there that he's hiding something from us health wise is pretty tacky. Bad Sanjay.

The good doctor makes me love him again though in the next segment when Anderson brings up his own skin cancer. "I'm glad you're doing well. And you look well," Sanjay says. Plus? How can I be mad at that smile? Anyway, we learn that Anderson has basal cell carcinoma, which is way less serious than melanoma, so you can all stop worrying. As for McCain, he's gone through more, but seems to have a pretty good prognosis. So don't vote against him because you're afraid he's sick; vote against him because his policies suck. And seeing as though getting sunburns as a child is one of the biggest skin cancer predictors, I'd like to give a shout out and big thank you to my mother, the sunscreen Nazi.

Finally tonight, we have an interview with Judge Marvin Arrington, a black judge that kicked out all the white people from his courtroom, so that he could yell at the black defendants. Okay, I punched it up a little bit. Basically, he asked the white people to leave so that he could go all Bill Cosby on the black kids--you know, telling them to get their lives together and whatnot. He says he asked the white people to leave because he "didn't want to appear to be condescending." Hm. Anderson wonders why he didn't just let the white people hear his message too. The judge then goes off on a tangent that totally doesn't answer the question. Anderson next tries a different approach, asking if it would be okay for a white judge to ask the black people to leave. "I think it's a hypothetical question. But if you're a racist, how do you get Jimmy Carter to sign your autobiography?" says the judge. Um, what?

Anyway, he then finally admits it was a mistake and really, he seems like an okay guy, just needs to think things through. And learn to answer a question directly. "I think too many folks in the media throw around the term racism far too often," says Anderson. I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure the graphics actually say "racism." Sure there might have been a question mark behind it, but that's a Fox News tactic of pushing an agenda. So Anderson, your show are those "folks" you're talking about. Just saying. By the way, it's apparent Anderson has taken a liking to this guy and what he says. Kinda reminds me of the "stop snitchin" coverage. They should do a follow up on that. He clearly cares about the issues.

The Shot tonight is a big gator in Florida. Anderson and Erica Hill are all obsessed with the gator's "death roll." Speaking of rolls, it's not exactly a death roll, but our Mr. Cooper apparently has some rolling experience himself. Probably most people have seen this by now, but I have to say I was quite impressed with our anchor's goal tending ability. Oh sure, he never came close to stopping any of them, but check out that roll!

Okay, so I broke down and downloaded the plug-in, so I could view the blog camera and I have to say, it's a little creepy. Or, actually, it makes me feel creepy--like I've hacked into something I shouldn't have and poor Anderson is oblivious to the fact that he's being watched. He's not of course (oblivious, that is), but I think the darkness of the camera just adds to the I-shouldn't-be-watching-this vibe. The hilarious thing is that when they try to lighten it up (I saw them tinkering), Anderson's head just becomes one big glow ball. The perils of the gun metal gray.

Besides Anderson typing, let's see, I also saw other people sitting, crew guys goofing, and at one point the camera operator was apparently at such a loss as to what to show us, we watched a little baseball on one of their screens. Because you can't see that on television. Oh, wait. So anyway, it was definitely interesting to see, but I can't imagine anyone watching that with any regularity. Of course, they just started, so who knows what it might turn into in the future. Anderson mentioned something in the live-blog about developing programming for the break. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I guess we'll see. Don't forget about the actual broadcast, 360.

I guess the show is still getting a lot of complaints about people not getting their comments posted because they made up some blog posting guidelines. I wonder what their beef is about alias and exactly how do they know when someone is using one? Some are obvious and still get posted all the time (way to abide by your own guidelines, moderator people). But basically everyone I know on the interwebs uses an alias. It's a safety thing. But whatever. I use my real name anyway. As for the stay on topic rule, they might want to talk to their anchor about that. It's not unusual for Anderson to respond to a random comment or throw one out himself. Of course I totally get why he does it; it's kinda hard to come up with stuff to say when you've got about two minutes and can't/won't give your opinion on anything. Random is safe. But I think my favorite guideline is number five: "We like criticism." That must make me, like, their favorite viewer ever, right? Heh. Somehow I doubt that's the case.

The show was okay. It was nice to get away from the Obama/Clinton sniping for a night and learn some new stuff. B-


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's make one thing straight. Wal-Mart was not being Evil. It had every right to collect back what was paid. The associates pay the fund so they are entitled to recover should they need it. Whatever the reason, the family should not have "settled" for what they did. The attorney should have been sued for allowing them to settle for that amount because he should have read the insurance policy and advise them not to settle for such a small amount, considering her past and future medical needs. BOOOOO to him and lawyers like him. I commend Wal-Mart for letting them keep the money, however you didn't have too and I'm sure the associates of Wal-Mart don't mind. With the cost of everything else going up, I'm sure a few pennies more for your groceries will cover the cost Wal-Mart is out.

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny how so many people responded when they thought walmart was being evil, but now they have given it back I don't really see in positive responses to the news. People don't understand how good walmart has been to people over the last couple of years when they didn't have too. So what's the government doing to be like walmart? I just hope walmart buys the aircar rights and sells it to america so everyone can buy it, unlike hyprid makers who are making gas mileage longer but charging 6 times more then what the average american can afford.

8:41 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@anonymous 8:37PM-I believe it was reiterated ad nauseum that Wal-Mart had a legal right to sue for the money. But legally right does not equal morally right, hence me calling Wal-mart evil, which is a subjective term. So sorry, in my opinion (and many others, apparently) they were being evil.

So you're blaming the lawyer, who according to the Shanks did everything he could. That's interesting. And no, sorry I don't give Wal-Mart a standing ovation just because they finally did the right thing after having their arm twisted.

I really doubt they're going to have to raise prices because of letting the Shanks keep the money. Not that it would matter to me anyway; I haven't stepped foot in a Wal-Mart in years.

@anonymous 8:41PM-I'm assuming you're the same person that left the last message? I'm also assuming you're a Wal-Mart employee, seeing as I don't know anyone who would objectively take the side of a corporation over a human being in this situation.

Any good Wal-Mart does is vastly outnumbered by the negative effects on our society.

1:11 AM  

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