Monday, June 30, 2008

360 (Sorta) Gets Their Groove Back? Maybe? For A Day Anyway?

Hi everybody. Well, it's a new week and 360 looks to maybe be making an attempt to not be so, uh, annoying. Or maybe I'm just trying to be nice. But I think the show was much better tonight than what we've been seeing. Things kicked off with the whole "swiftboating of McCain" thing, which, yes, is just silly season crap. Though given how many people buy into that crap, I'm thinking it's worth a mention. God forbid Wesley Clark say something that's true. I don't know why people have to go crazy over statements that clearly weren't meant to denigrate McCain's service.

Though he plays the victim quite nicely, doesn't he? Did I miss the memo that says in every current election we have to argue over Vietnam? Anyway, the Dana Bash piece (at least I think it was her) seemed pretty heavy-handed. Lot's of talk about those evil liberals questioning McCain's patriotism and whatnot, yet not a peep about all the people on the Right smearing Obama, many of who McCain has actively courted or had some kind of involvement with personally or through the party.

Are people really as fascinated by Bill Clinton as 360 seems to be? Maybe they are. I think I'm done with Bill myself and therefore couldn't care less about his little talk with Obama. I've defended the guy in the past, but then he went all crazy. And now I think I'm done. My father would have been happy about that. He hated Bill Clinton. Did I mention this little liberal blogger is the product of a Rush Limbaugh-listening conservative Republican? How did that happen?! Although given the chance I think I could have converted him. At least, that's my story . . . and I'm sticking to it.

Hey everybody, it looks like we've hit that special time in the election cycle. No, not time to hate the gays (though that might be coming). It's be afraid time! Wet your pants, hide under your bed, very, very afraid! Because the terrorists are a-coming to get you and if you don't vote for John McCain you will die! Dun dun dun! Well, at least that's what McCain wants you to think. He's got his BFF Joe Lieberman out there saying our enemies are going to test the new president and hey look, it's White House mouth-piece Dana Perino with the assist: "I think Joe Lieberman, unfortunately, could be right. And the only reason I say that is because we know that there are people who are very dangerous who are trying to attack us every day." Major props to Ed Henry (it was his piece) for calling the White House out on their claim that they're doing gosh dang everything they can to find Bin Laden.

It was good to see Erica Hill doing a piece, but what a disturbing piece it was. So apparently in Texas, robbery is punishable by death. Yeah, the guys were robbing a house, which is bad, but did they deserve to die? They were shot in the back, which means they were trying to get away, not attack someone. And now Joe Horn, the shooter, is off scot-free. I'd like to know what would have happened if the robbers were two white middle class teenagers instead of two illegal immigrants. Yes, they steal too. I know, it's shocking. Anyway, crazy Texans. They keep this up and Texas is going to edge out Florida for most batshit insane state in the nation.

I made the mistake of reading some of the comments on the blog post about this topic. Suddenly I'm reminded how Bush got elected. And you know all those people cheering Horn on are the same people who would turn right around and talk to you about the sanctity of life. It seems like it's been a while since we've seen Jeffrey Toobin. Maybe he's popped up during political stuff I've ignored, but it was nice to see him tonight. And he very rightly pointed out that people on the coasts and big cities are just out of touch when it comes to guns and the rest of the country. I'm pretty much in the middle of the two cultures. Missouri is a concealed carry state (which I hate). There are a lot of guns around here. Anyhoo, Anderson Cooper wants to take "city boy" Toobin out to the rifle range. Raise your hand if you can't picture Anderson at a rifle range.

The night ended with an update on that murdered soldier with a twist of Zodiac killer sensationalism. Well, the night ended for me anyway. Anderson teased that during the second hour they'd be talking about the Congo gorillas, which I did want to see, but I am not sitting through almost an hour of repeats for one piece. Jeebus that's annoying. You're a one hour show or you're a two hour show. Pick one. Sigh. Last year Newsweek ran a good article on the gorilla slayings if anyone wants to check it out.

Finally, the previous occupier of 360's time slot, Aaron Brown, answered a few questions for PBS's Engage Blog (hat tip All Things CNN) and this one stood out to me:

What is your take on the news coverage in the run up to the invasion of Iraq?
John-Mark Gilhousen

This is such a complicated question I'm not sure this is the right place to kick it around. So let me just say this: I wish I had done better.

I don't think I did badly, that I made horrible editorial decisions, but I do think they could have been better, that skeptics could have appeared more often and (especially) received better placement in the program.

I think this is generally true in the business but I am a lot more comfortable talking about my own mistakes than others'.

But again, I do believe this whose coverage question is hugely important and very complex and just think there is a better forum than this to deal with its complexity.

After listening to some journalists react in disbelief to Scott McClellan's implication that they did not do their job during the run-up to the Iraq War, Aaron's answer is a breath of fresh air. Sure, it's short and others have spoken out as well, but I don't know that I've heard anyone take personal responsibility for mistakes made and acknowledged what could have been done better. The fact of the matter is that a betrayal has occurred that I'm not sure most journalists understand and that I don't think can ever be fully undone. But to Aaron Brown I say thank you. Thank you for saying something I've been waiting to hear for a very long time. Aaron debuts on PBS's Wide Angle on Tuesday night with Heart of Darfur. As they say, check your local listings.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Worth A Watch

Hi everybody. Well, 360 is continuing their political speculating (now with a twist of body language expert goodness!), so, uh, wow. (Update: check out The Carpetbagger Report for an excellent post on CNN's coverage.) Anyway, the Ben Affleck Congo report has hit the YouTube via congotragedy:

Also, a friend just pointed me to a hilarious (IMO) convo posted to the Daily Intel over at New York Magazine's blog. Go to the link for the whole thing, but here's a sample:
JPRESS: Okay, so can we talk about this entry on Anderson Cooper's blog about how he wants to tell Robert Mugabe "Enough is enough"?
CHRISTAL: What about it?
JPRESS: Let's start with the line: "We sit and we watch, that’s all it seems we’re able to do."
JPRESS: I think that I am over his sanctimoniousness.
CHRISTAL: Wait, wait, wait.
JPRESS: It was cute when he was new, when he was, like, earnest and furrowy because he CARED. But…
CHRISTAL: Are you turning against MANDERSON?
CHRISTAL: Our blimp-bicepted hero?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

World Upside Down Day: When I'd Rather Watch Ben Affleck Than Anderson Cooper

Hi everybody. I'm Bloggy McGrumpy-Pants again. Because tonight 360 brought us about 50 minutes of BREAKING NEWS (continuously breaking the whole time, apparently) that amounted to about two minutes of actual news and 48 minutes of repetitive speculation. Why the marathon crapfest? Because they had an EXCLUSIVE! Actual blurry cell phone pictures from inside the Obama/Clinton meeting. And audio too. Stop the presses! Good Lord. Look, I'm not going to deny them that the story was important, even top story material, but to spend so much time on it was completely ridiculous. Of course, as we well know, it's all about ratings. The only thing that saved the hour was the North Korea report from the always awesome Christiane Amanpour. Obviously nobody made me watch 50 minutes of coverage I didn't want to, but I was waiting for the promised Zimbabwe report from Anderson. I should have known it would get bumped for retardedness. Shame on me for not knowing better by now. There's actually a chance the report aired during the second hour, though I couldn't tell you for sure. I certainly wasn't about to watch the whole thing twice in the hopes that they'd sneak in a new three minute package.

But enough about all that. While 360 spent about 50 minutes on the Obama/Clinton meeting, ABC's Nightline spent about five. They devoted their other 25 minutes to Ben Affleck's reports from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Yes, Ben Affleck. And it was excellent. I didn't even know Ben Affleck was interested in the Congo, but apparently he's been there three times. Tonight he took viewers on a journey to refugee camps filled with people displaced in their own country, talked with warlords, and listened to one young woman who was desperate to share her harrowing story of how she was brutally raped and burned. She survived, her child didn't. All in all I was extremely pleased to see the plight of the Congo people being given such attention by a network news show, with a celebrity to boot. One thing that stood out to me was the absence of noise, both visual and audio. What I mean by that is there were no flashy graphics that take up a third of the screen, loud unnecessary sound effects, or heart-string pulling bump music that we see all the time on cable news. It just was. Just Ben Affleck being real and showing us what it's like there. And I have to say, it felt more raw that way. Less made for TV. Anyway, they have some of the video up on Nightline's website and I urge you to check it out. (That's where I snagged the picture--credit to ABC.) Hopefully after this report a lot more people will be aware of the horrors that the Congolese people have been facing for years. And to give credit where credit is due, I myself wasn't aware of the situation until a certain grey-haired reporter brought it to my attention. Now if only he could stop with all the sensational/speculative coverage . . .

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Um, Yeah . . .

Hi everyone. So, today Anderson Cooper drummed up some of that righteous anger we all know and love and took to the 360 blog to decry the abhorrent situation in Zimbabwe right now. "Enough is enough," he said. Yeah! Right on! You tell 'em, Anderson! Wouldn't it be awesome if he had some sort of visual platform in which to further espouse and flesh out the details of Mugabe's democracy-hating to an even larger audience of people? Oh, wait.

But no, there was no Zimbabwe coverage in the broadcast tonight. Instead we got Ralph Nader being an ass (because that's new), a murdered pregnant woman who happened to have been a soldier, discussion of whether McCain is really McSame, illegal antics of a celebrity boyfriend--scratch that--celebrity ex boyfriend, and rogue pharmacies. Okay, maybe I'll give them that last one. But seriously, were any of those stories more important than Zimbabwe? Or Iraq? Or Afghanistan? Or FISA? I won't bore you by going on and on. You get the picture. And while I'm being all Bloggy McGrumpy-Pants, the AC360 Radar blog posts should really be called, "Stuff That's Important That We're Totally Not Going To Cover."

I'll leave you with some randomness: Damn, Anderson really hates those t-shirts.

Do They Really Matter?

Hi everybody. Shorter blog today. Tuesday's 360 spent a lot of airtime on Don Imus again being racist and/or stupid, as well as gave precious coverage minutes to that bastion of tolerance, James Dobson, who apparently got his boxers in a twist over something Obama said involving religion. I don't know; I wasn't paying attention enough to know the specifics, but I'm sure in Dobson's eyes gay people are somehow at fault. Anyway, my first reaction was of course, "for the love of God, stop!" I mean, who cares, right? There's plenty of more important things to be talking about.

But then I decided to take a little trip in the way-back machine to a few years ago when offensive comments and whatnot never really got much coverage. And that annoyed me too, so apparently I'm hard to please. I guess when it comes to Imus, the thing that ticks me off besides the saturation of coverage, is that he's in no way alone when it comes to distasteful comments. It just seems like stories like this have become more about what works for the particular show or station ratings wise and less about calling someone out for verbally polluting the airwaves.

Just look at the whole Keith Olbermann/Bill O'Reilly feud. At first I was thrilled that someone was finally pointing out that O'Reilly is insane, but now it's just become a juvenile food fight for ratings, which Olbermann admits with no shame. There's some similarities with 360 and the Imus thing. Last time Imus opened his big mouth the show went crazy with the story. Now that he's thrown the media some crumbs again, 360 is milking it for all it's worth. I say the shark has been jumped. What does more Imus coverage accomplish? Nothing. If they want to do more coverage like this maybe they can focus on CNN's own Glenn Beck.

But James Dobson is a different animal than Don Imus. To my knowledge, Imus has no agenda. He's just a crass and most likely racist shock jock. Abhorrent, yes. But dangerous? Not likely. On the other hand, Dobson, according to Focus on the Family's mission statement, wants to promote "biblical truths worldwide." And seeing that not even Christians can agree on what constitutes a biblical truth, well, we know where this goes. Dobson wants to promote his interpretation of the Bible, which I probably don't need to tell you, doesn't work out so well for gay people . . . or women that want control over their own bodies . . . or basically anyone that doesn't fit a role in his cookie-cutter idea of a family.

It would be nice to be able to ignore people like Dobson and think of him as just one of those crazy guys on the street holding up a sign. But this crazy guy has a radio show and a huge audience. Did you know he reaches 220 million people in 160 countries? Again, 220 million! So he has influence. Major influence. And I think it's a mistake to ignore him because the rest of the public needs to know what this guy is up to. Probably many people have never even heard of people like Dobson or Pat Robertson or a myriad of other snake-oil sellers, yet there are millions who follow their words . . . right to the voting booth.

So while the most recent headlines with Dobson pretty much fall under "silly season" material, I think a little coverage of it is okay (just a little). I'd love to see Anderson Cooper interview Dobson himself. As for Imus? For the love of God, 360, please stop.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Little On The Show, A Little On The Blog, And A Little On Me

Hi everybody. It's a new week! Can you feel the excitement? Yeah, me neither. Actually I think many in the Midwest would like this week to be over and probably a lot of the weeks to come. The flooding is so sad and the fact that it's coming at a time when the economy totally sucks anyway is even more devastating. It was good to see Gary Tuchman not up to his, uh, nipples (tee hee) in water tonight. Because that water is nasty. And here I thought it was only Anderson we had to worry about. (Remember how he just had to touch everything during Katrina?)

Gary actually seems to be slowly making his way to my neck of the woods. Normally I'd love a Gary visit, but since he's sorta traveling with the flooding, uh, people around here would prefer he not have to come any closer. Although as I said before, I live far enough away from the river that I don't have to worry. I'm crossing my fingers for everybody else. Clean up is going to be a bitch. I remember about a year or two after the 93 flood I went to a few stores that had been underwater and you could still sort of smell that moldy waterlogged smell. I don't know if it ever goes away.

Oh, and yeah, I happened to catch Anderson say "Missourah." My regular readers know I hate that, but actually, I think this instance was just a verbal stumble, so I shall let it go. You got off easy this time Cooper, but I'm watching you. Or, er, listening to you. Whatever. Just live in fear, okay?

I really appreciate that the show has finally FINALLY decided to cut back a bit on the political coverage and acknowledge that there are actually other things happening. That being said, stories like tonight's Charlie Black brouhaha just make me want to hit my head against the wall. Okay, do we honestly think this stuff isn't being said all the time? Black just made the mistake of saying it out loud. Of course it's disgusting to think about the notion of benefiting from a terrorist attack, but this is kind of the republican's thing. I mean, this is the party that in 2004 pretty much said "vote for us or die." They campaign on fear and do what they can to convince the public that they're the ones to turn to in a terrorism-related crisis. (Not to be confused with a hurricane-related crisis, apparently.) So, if God forbid there really was another attack, would the public once again rally around our incompetent leaders or would they finally realize the ones promising to keep us safe all this time have done nothing to keep that promise? I hope we never have to find out the answer to that.

Don Imus again? Seriously? Let's not and say we did.

Finally, it seems that in one Massachusetts school, teenagers are popping out babies left and right. Was it a pact? Who knows? But it makes a better story, doesn't it? This invariably brings us to the never-solved debate of abstinence versus sex education. So tonight we had a representative from Planned Parenthood and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Gee, I wonder what sides they're going to take?! Look, I'm all for abstinence education and I'd even be down with abstinence only education if it worked. But it doesn't. And research has shown that time and time again. Tony needs to come join the rest of us in reality, a place where kids have sex, even when they promise not to.

The show was okay, though I would have preferred some more hard news. I'm not even sure if 360 does that anymore. We are still fighting those wars, right?

Anyhoo, has everybody checked out the blog? They've been snazzin it up lately (Oooh! Ahhh!). There's even a prize now for winning "Beat 360," which might just motivate me to play. No, wait, still need more motivation. And then today they started something called "TV Talk." I don't know. Seems pretty gimmicky to me. Okay, yes, obviously the whole blog is a gimmick, but I guess we'll just have to see. Obviously I'd rather have a window into coverage decision-making instead of learning industry terms, though I guess beggars can't be choosers. As for the live-blog, I thought it'd be better when the primary ended and there wasn't so much bickering, but man, now the whole thing is so sycophantic. I rarely see a critical comment and 360 is by no means perfect.

And while I'm talking about the live-blog, Anderson's predictability is becoming amusing. I mean, swap the "good evening" for a "what's up?" every once and a while, you know? Especially if that's all he's going to say. I don't even know why they make him do it anyway. He's working. No time for chit chat. But they gotta keep up with Greta. Speaking of who, I hopped over to her site today and she has like a zillion threads that she herself supposedly posted. Even some on the weekends! I find this hard to believe. What do you want to bet it's some lowly producer posting half of that? I think this is perhaps a job for Drew Griffin and the Special Investigations Unit. I smell an Emmy.

To my readers who have been wondering how I'm doing, eh, I'm okay. I've been able to cut back on some of my treatment, but for right now I'm stuck with oxygen when performing any sort of activity, including walking. This of course sucks in many different ways. And my insurance denied respiratory therapy (doc is appealing), so, yeah, that's me right now. I'm almost back up to full time work, but other than that, life is very hermit-like right now. I've never smoked a day in my life, but to those of you that do, here's a little advice from someone with major lung problems: Stop. Now. Amy Winehouse is an idiot. Such a waste.

Finally, rest in peace, George Carlin. You were one smart and funny motherfucker.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Hi everyone. I was going to talk about tonight's show, but nothing really screamed "blog me." Although Anderson Cooper's Joan Rivers mocking was kinda jaw-dropping. Probably not for her though since, you know, her jaw likely isn't capable of registering shock like that. Ba da bum! I can do it too! ANYway, I thought I'd leave you with a song. No, not sung by me. I may be snarky, but I'm not downright cruel. If you watched any of the Tim Russert memorial coverage today, you know why I picked it. I love this version.

She's Not A Pundit, She Just Plays One On TV

Hi everybody. Doin' a little friend pimpage tonight. As I stated in this post, my friend Rachel contributes to The Huffington Post. Many news cycles ago she wrote a piece that focused on Scott McClellan's (remember him?) media tour and how the temperature of the hot seat vastly differed, depending on the interviewer. Well, apparently what she wrote piqued the interest of al-Jazeera English and they invited her to do an interview for Listening Post, a media review show. Fast forward to me staying up half the night to help her prep and make sure she was well versed in anything and everything occurring these last seven years involving the intersection of media and the Bush Administration. Which, um, is a lot.

We went over everything from NBC's rebuking of Ashleigh Banfield when she dared to criticize the Iraq War to government scripted video news releases masquerading as actual news reports (in Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting) to supposed independent military analysts pushing the agenda of the Pentagon. And after all of that . . . the show cut her interview into a few tiny soundbytes. But hey, that's the way the media ball bounces and it actually turned out to be a really good segment, so I hope you watch. Rachel and I found the back to back soundbytes with Anderson Cooper kind of hilariously ironic. I actually encourage you guys to watch the channel online (it's not carried by most cable providers) because it's actually pretty good, especially when it comes to international news. I happened to catch a really great report by a young journalist who snuck into Burma to cover the cyclone aftermath. Hm, who does that remind me of?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Unpredictability Of Life . . . And Death

Hi everybody. Happy New Week! Sorry I've been an absent blogger lately. To be honest, I've just been tired. I don't think I've gotten a good night's sleep since I went into the hospital. See, I now have to wear this mask at night that's hooked up to a machine to help out with my breathing. It's similar to what people use to treat sleep apnea. I'm very much pro-breathing, but the problem is that my mask and my nose hate each other. It's like Sharks and Jets here, people. A battle takes place on my face every night and judging by the broken skin and swelling I discover each morning, the mask is winning. And this isn't the first mask I've tried. At the hospital they told me it usually takes people around three months to get adjusted to sleeping with it on, so there's that.

But hey, who needs sleep anyway, right? Well, according to last Sunday's 60 Minutes, all of us. Did you catch it? To use one of Anderson Cooper's favorite words, the report was fascinating. Apparently lack of sleep can cause all kinds of nastiness like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Researchers in the piece actually did a study where subjects were allowed just four hours of sleep per night and after only six nights of this they were found to be in a pre-diabetic state. Craziness! Kind of makes you think. Maybe with more research like this, in the future companies will have mandatory naps. You know, to benefit health. Hey, a girl can dream, right? (Um, pun partially intended.)

So I guess I'm probably about the last person to weigh in on the untimely death of Tim Russert. I actually was never much of a Meet the Press watcher because on Sunday mornings I'm either in church or, um, sleeping in. But Russert was such a titan on the political scene that he's going to leave a hole even non watchers will notice. I have to say, though I respected the man as someone who had worked his way to becoming a stalwart of a business that routinely chews up and spits out people right and left, his interview style really wasn't for me. While surfing the Internets today I was trying to think of how to explain this tactfully, when I came across a post from Gawker of all places (via Eat the Press), which did it for me:
In 1991, he took over Meet the Press and quickly became one of the most important names in DC journalism. His journalistic style was a civil, well-read version of the GOTCHA that would take control of cable.
This could be an irritating style. Russert's specialty was pointing out a contradiction in a politician's vast record of spoken positions. Oftentimes this meant a descent into entirely useless minutiae. Though almost as often it was enlightening, or at least entertaining. It's certainly preferable to the Chris Matthews method of shouting whatever comes to mind, no matter how crazy. And Russert always knew his shit, even when you were fairly certain he was missing the point.
After watching some of the tribute coverage, it's clear that Russert was probably a much better human being than many of us realized or gave him credit for. I feel terrible for his family, specifically his son Luke. In fact, the first question that popped into my head upon learning of his death was, "did he have kids?" When I was about the same age as Luke, I lost my own dad in about the same way, so I know how much it sucks. He's lucky to have those books though. When someone close to you dies, you often hear a lot of platitudes that aren't really all that comforting, but something my pastor said to me stuck: "no one can take away the memories." Hopefully the Russert family will find comfort in their own memories.

Moving away from the depressing, hey, let's talk about devastating floods. Kidding. I'm getting a little nervous here, people. Because the water? It is a-coming! I actually don't expect to be personally affected by the flooding, but if it's anything like 1993, things around here are going to get pretty bad. Anyway, I bring it up because it was covered by 360 tonight in what was actually a well-rounded show. I'm shocked. We had politics, flood coverage, a reporter's notebook from Africa with Jeff Hutchens' beautiful pictures, and a gay marriage debate. Variety! It's the spice of life, doncha know. Keep doing this, 360. I only have two specific things to say. Number one: Gary Tuchman what are you doing standing in water that deep?! And number two: I debated even mentioning this because of how interesting and heartfelt the Reporter's Notebooks are, but their delivery, on the dramatic scale, often falls on the "melo-" side.

Okay, so that's it for me tonight. Sorry for being all over the place. But hey, I told you I was tired. Hopefully something more snarkable will happen soon. What's Bush been up to lately . . . ?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sadly, It Really Happened

Hi everybody. Switching networks tonight, since 360 is adamant on being all politics all the time these days. So what have I brought you? Um, politics. Tonight Countdown with Keith Olbermann gave viewers a piece in which they condensed the entire primary season down to about ten minutes of wackiness. At first I didn't want to watch, but it's actually quite a trip. You'll be surprised how much you've forgotten over these long months of bickering. For example, I forgot the entire existence of Fred Thompson. Remember him? Dun-dun! Anyway, give it a watching, if you're so inclined. I think it'll give you that familiar feeling of nostalgia, or, you know, nightmares.

And that was just the pre-game, kids. Play ball!

Also, for giggles, have a look-see at Jon Stewart giving Anderson Cooper, Tom Foreman, and other media types the skewering they deserve for the Hillary Clinton house stakeout gone wrong:

And if the TDS video is being evil and demanding a plugin that it will not allow you to download, just watch it at the site.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Political Fatigue And A Glimpse Of Planet In Peril 2

Hi everybody. Is it just me, or is anyone else kinda wishing that both presidential candidates (and Hillary Clinton!) would just, like, disappear for a week or so? I mean no harm or anything, I just, you know, want them to shut up. Just for a week. Because I've got political fatigue something awful and I'm beginning to feel like a little kid sitting in the back of the media's car, whining, "is it November yet?" And the thing is, nothing is even happening. Nothing important, anyway. Okay, granted, we did just have that whole history making thing where an African American clinched the Democratic nomination, but that was so last week.

Yeah, I'm joking, but think about it: how many hours and hours of 360 have we watched that have been nothing but political speculation or surrogate arguing? It's kind of ridiculous. And all the stories on demographics. My God, the demographics! What does Obama have to do to get the white working class vote? Is Clinton losing the black vote? Who will be able to woo the bilingual taxidermists who teach Sunday School? I mean, oh my God, stop. Just please, stop. If there's nothing more substantial to talk about then, hey, maybe try a whole other subject.

And 360 did just that tonight by talking about our planet and its current state of peril. Okay, I'm kinda being generous here because basically all we got was Anderson Cooper from Rwanda previewing what the PIP 2 team will be up to this next week. I'm not going to knock the brevity of the report though because I can sympathize with the conundrum 360 finds themselves facing. How do you keep the fans and viewers happy when your much sought after anchor is not able to be on the air that much due to all the time it takes to travel to remote places? I certainly don't know the answer to that, but I do know they'll no doubt get "why isn't Anderson on the air" type emails. Patience is a virtue, people. Although with the election ratings they're raking in, this whole issue might be moot this year.

I see 360 is trying a different approach from last year. Last time we got Anderson and Jeff Corwin live from some of the locations, but it seems like they're just going for taped segments this time. A logistical thing perhaps or maybe they actually took some of last year's criticism from around the Internets to heart. Of course back then viewers weren't quite sure what was going on. We were being promised environmental reporting, yet being shown what was essentially Anderson and Jeff's Jungle Adventures. Fun to watch, no doubt, but much more shallow content than expected. Now we know all the substantive stuff is being saved for the special. Oh and while I'm on the subject of shallow versus substantive, about two months ago I stumbled upon their new Planet in Peril website and asked this:
Apparently they're going to do a special again, but it's unclear if any of the three musketeers will participate on location. And if so, we're left hanging on the most important question of all: will there be more tight black t-shirts? Well, will there? Inquiring minds and all. Heh.
Tonight we got our answer. Yes, yes there will! Okay, the shirt Anderson was donning was grey and not black, but, you know, I can be flexible. And yes, shallowness is abounding right now. C'mon, I am only human, people. Anyhoo, I love Lisa Ling, but I'm a bit bummed that Jeff Corwin is apparently sitting this one out. I have such a crush on his enthusiasm. After the first PIP aired I used to record Animal Planet sometimes and watch it when I was feeling blah. But that's our little secret. Seriously though, that guy is like a shot of adrenaline sometimes. I'm going to miss him torturing Anderson. I suspect that Anderson . . . will not.

One bit of advice for 360 as they go down the Planet in Peril track once more: please don't let people talk about things that are then never shown. Because it's annoying. That happened a lot last year. Anderson or whoever would talk about doing something and then we'd never see it. In fact, I think some of the footage that was mentioned ended up not making it into the special and therefore we never saw it at all. And I could be remembering wrong, but I seem to recall them even teasing a piece once or twice that then wasn't shown. So . . . on that note, I want to see the footage Neil Hallsworth filmed of everyone pushing the vehicle out of the mud. Are they going to use that for the special? Doubtful. So c'mon, 360, give it up. No, it's not because I want to see Anderson and Charlie Moore all muddy and pushing a car; I'm just really interested in African infrastructure, thank you very much. Ahem.

Oh man, I better stop before things get any more shallow. See what happens when you're recovering from almost dying AND you're brain is fried on politics. It's not pretty, people. One more thing: I know everyone has their preferences on who subs for Anderson and opinions on Campbell Brown. Just remember, anchors have feelings too. I'm looking at you, random 360 blog posters.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Welcome Newbies!

Hi everybody. I have a friend that contributes to The Huffington Post and recently I lent her some of my knowledge regarding what's been happening in this here country over these recent soul-crushing Bush years. In appreciation, she's thrown me a little love at the end of her latest piece. I don't know if anyone is actually going to read that itty bitty type and click the link, but if you did, hey there. Welcome. And a welcome to anyone else who has stumbled upon me for the first time by using the magic of the Google.

Anyway, since this blog lacks one of those fancy-pants "About" sections, I thought I'd use this post to do a little 'splaining. Every night I watch Anderson Cooper 360 and then I recap and review the show, a process I explain much more in depth in my very first post. You can also get a better taste of my blog flavor by reading my one year anniversary post, if you're so inclined.

If you've perused a few posts under this one, I know what you're thinking: 'Eliza, (that's me by the way) these posts don't really resemble media criticism and some of them are irrelevant and/or fanny.' Well, you would be right. See, thing is, I had this little incident a few weeks ago where I almost died (which I totally don't recommend, by the way), so I've kind of taken a little recuperative hiatus where I'm sticking with quick and easy posts. Please feel free to check out my archives to see what I'm normally about.

As for whether or not this is a fan blog, I'll state for the record that I am a fan of the show and I'm a huge fan of Anderson Cooper (c'mon who isn't these days?). But that doesn't mean I can't be objective about news content and give a ripping when deserved, such as when CNN became the Paris Hilton Network for a day. I think some of my readers might actually like my harshest posts the best.

So look around, make yourself at home, and grab a beverage (but please use a coaster). If you like what you see, I hope you won't be a stranger. In regards to tonight's show, raise your hand if you laughed your butt off when it was revealed that Obama and Clinton weren't even in the house the media was so aggressively staking out? You gotta love the press and their tendency for bouts of retardedness. Hey, at least Tom Foreman got to (sort of) stake out people that are making history. Meanwhile, Drew Griffin looks back bitterly at his time outside the residence of a prostitute. Ah, . . . ratings.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

That's Just Wrong!

Hi everybody. I don't really have anything earth-shattering to say (as opposed to all those other posts I guess)--just trying to keep the blog alive while I mend. Oooh, but tonight I do have a theme. I know, you're so excited you can barely contain yourself. The theme is my title (said Captain Obvious) and the first order of, um, wrongness I'd like to address is this whole notion of Clinton supporters voting for McCain. I know I've talked about this before, but I still don't get it. Help me out here people.

Obama and Clinton have virtually the same policies. McCain? Not so much. Obama and Clinton both want to end the war in Iraq, McCain is all about staying. Obama and Clinton both want to get rid of the Bush tax cuts that favor the wealthy, McCain wants to keep them. Obama and Clinton are both pro-choice, McCain is pro-life. And the list goes on and on. That last one is especially significant because this next president will most likely be appointing at least one Supreme Court Justice. So anyway, if the Clinton supporters really believe in her policies, what they're essentially saying is they're going to vote against everything they believe in just out of spite.

This primary season has kind of soured me on the senator from New York, but if Clinton were the nominee I'd still vote for her in a second. To not do so, to me, seems illogical. But hey, November is still long off and hopefully after months of McCain referring to us as his "friends" and confusing basic Iraq facts (like the difference between Sunni and Shia), those supporters that angrily took their ball and went home after the game didn't go their way will realize that even if they have to hold their nose, they should vote for Obama.

The second bit of wrongness is directed at Jon Klein, David Doss, Erica Hill, and the 360 staff. Why must you continually embarrass poor Anderson? Yeah, I know, the fans eat it up and it's funny, but tonight was a smidge mean. And, uh, AWKward. I mean, you guys know and work with Anderson. I've never met the man and even I knew that would not end well. (I noticed some of the awkwardness was cut out of the repeat in the second hour.) He will not thigh dance and he will not Wii! (Although who wants to bet that in a couple days he will be hooked on that thing--in the privacy of his own home of course.)

And I love Erica, but she did not explain that well at all, though with it being on the market so long you'd think Anderson would have a clue. Unless...he knew exactly how it worked and was only playing dumb to get out of doing it. Anderson Cooper, you diabolical mastermind! I mean, they did have it set up in the studio and everything. Anyway, while I think Anderson would probably appreciate it if they stopped humiliating him on national television (there's kind of a trend here), after the show a friend of mine had this to say: "Come on - he's on TV every damned day... why should stepping up on a step be such an embarrassment? Man up, sugar." Ouch. So there you go. AC360 Review aims to bring you differing viewpoints. Okay, well in this case, two viewpoints.

Finally, for those of you missing John King, I have something involving him that's 360 and Wii related. Jumping in the wayback machine to December 2006, here's a transcript snippet of when John subbed for 360 and talked with Randi Kaye about shopping for his son for Christmas:
And the iPod's latest challenger has yet to take a bite out of Apple. Microsoft rival Zune hit store shelves today, but analysts say the newest MP3 player isn't likely to threaten iPod's market dominance this holiday season.
So John, I guess it won't be on your list.

KING: I have to worry about the Wii. Do you know what the Wii is?


KING: The Wii is a new video game. My son says, it's a Wii or I'm voted out as dad.

KAYE: Really? It's tough to keep up with all these gadgets.

KING: It sure is tough to find them, too.
That's it for me. I hope I gave you some amusement.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

It's Over!!! Well, Sorta

Hi everybody. We have a presumptive democratic nominee! Finally! Unfortunately, the losing candidate has decided to take the "la la la la la la...I can't hear you," approach to moving forward. The Clintons really don't quit, do they? She may have kept the punditry chattering, but this was Barack Obama's night and a history-making one at that. He is the first ever African American nominee of a major party for president. I thought I'd mention that, just in case you missed it the 5,000 times Wolf Blitzer--lovingly referred to by me as the Wolfbot--said it while manning the Election Center. The Wolfbot cracks me up because he so clearly thinks the viewers are retarded. No information is simple enough not to be further explained. "And just... just for our viewers, African Americans are American citizens of African descent, generally recognizable by their more darkly pigmented skin." That's not a real quote, but c'mon, that's dead-on Blitzer.

Before I have more fun with punditry, for record-keeping purposes, let's get the nitty gritty election stuff out of the way first, shall we? Tonight we saw South Dakota and Montana go to the polls, with Clinton taking the Mount Rushmore State and Obama coming on top in the Treasure State. But, eh, nobody cares about that anymore. Sorry, South Dakota and Montana. Sucks to be last. Instead, tonight's buzz was all about Clinton's non-concession concession speech (seriously, what was up with that?) and whether the democrats will be seeing a "dream ticket" in their future. When it comes to Clinton as VP, I for one am not thrilled with the idea. Everyone needs to remember that the power that Cheney has as VP is kind of unprecedented. If Clinton tries to hold onto that kind of power in the position she'll be a hypocrite and if she doesn't, well, I think she'll get bored. Plus there's the Bill factor. But that doesn't mean I want Hillary to just go away. How cool would it be to have a female Secretary of Defense? She's on the Armed Services Committee, so she's got some cred. Obama should think about it.

Okay, on to those wacky pundits! How much do you love Jeffrey Toobin? "The deranged narcissism of the Clintons"? Yikes. Tell us how you really feel, Toobin. I'm not sure I'm going to endorse that statement, but you gotta love a guy that doesn't hold back. He is so getting angry emails about that though. And I don't imagine the McCain camp has him on their Christmas card list either, what with him calling McCain's speech awful. I really didn't pay attention to the speech, but I'm just going to go ahead and believe him because from my viewing experience, McCain is an awful speaker.

What would a political discussion be without David Gergen or The Gerg, if you will? I have to say, I think The Gerg might be the most positive person I "know." He is constantly glass half-full, always looking for the best in everyone. If he was a passenger on the Titanic, as the ship took on water he'd be talking about what an admirable person the captain was. I think we're all going to need our daily Gerg dose to get through this cynical political season. And sometimes he gives us a little surprise. Did anyone else see him totally get all up in Gloria Borger's personal space tonight? One second we're all normal political talk and the next second I thought he was going in for a kiss. Maybe he got confused. After all, with all those pundits blowing hot air, the oxygen level in that room must be pretty low. And trust me, I'm currently an expert on low oxygen levels. I'm just kidding The Gerg on the kiss. He did really do the lean in though.

Seeing the wrong John operating the Magic Wall was a little strange, but he did a good job and since I haven't watched American Morning in over a month, it was nice to see John Roberts. Besides, I'm sure John King is having much more fun wherever he and the missus have holed themselves up. Ahem. (Congrats, kids!) Anyway, I was about to turn off the TV after 360's normally scheduled hour, but right as I picked up the remote, things got rowdy in the Election Center. It was like the boos finally kicked in (you know they wish there really was alcohol). Anderson Cooper tried to get Donna Brazile to spill on her super-secret insider phone call, but apparently the love just wasn't there. "Anderson, you are not my boo," she said. To which he replied, "I wanna be your boo." Bwah! That's totally going on the list of weird exchanges one would never expect to hear in the Election Center. And I can't believe that Anderson doesn't know what "boo" means. By the way, what is up with Donna Brazille lately? Boo-talk with Anderson. Heavy flirting with Stephen Colbert. I think this election has made everyone a little crazy.

As for the blog, Bill Schneider jumped aboard for subbing duties and Ted instructed us to be nice to him. Like we're going to take his head off or something. I found it amusing when The Gerg said he was reading the blog and most posts were wishing Anderson a happy birthday, which Anderson looked so thrilled about. Really though, I think the blog comments lately have been remarkably on topic compared to when they first started the live-blog. Not a tie comment in the bunch. I actually don't get the whole tie thing. I mean, you know, I get the existence of ties and everything, but I don't get the obsession with noting them and having favorites. Ask me any night after 360 and I couldn't tell you what kind of tie Anderson was wearing. Hell, multi-tasker that I am, half the time I couldn't tell you during 360. But it's not just Anderson's ties. Apparently the tie obsession extends to all news men and probably beyond. Weird.

Okay, I guess that about wraps it up. Happy Birthday, Anderson. Sorry you had to spend it in the Election Center, the place where fun goes to die. That was quite an I-am-so-done-with-this-crap exit tonight. But, eh, who can blame you? In honor of Anderson's birthday and our general love of hilarity, I give you Japanese Binocular Soccer:

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Puerto Rico! Puerto Rico! Puerto Rico?

Hi everyone. Well, I was quite surprised to find Anderson Cooper on my television today. Wolf Blitzer was expected, given the fact that he is so totally a robot. But I don't think I need to tell you that at this point. So...Puerto Rico primary. No offense to the U.S. territory, but I found all the hoopla over their election rather amusing. They can't even vote in the general.

For those that spent their Sunday not being stuck in their house like a hermit, Hillary Clinton took home the prize. She's squeezing every last delegate out of these primaries that she possibly can. Man, I will be so happy when this thing is over and we finally have a nominee. Let's just hope that the losing camp bows out gracefully, so that the democrats can finally start focusing on McCain, who is making blunders left and right, yet getting a complete free ride from the controversy-obsessed press.

So anyway, the whole point of this post is simply to document the primary. I like the fact that I have a record of this election season through my eyes, so why stop now, right? Although I know I missed a primary when I was in intensive care. But once I was able to establish that it was Tuesday, I was more concerned with what happened to my entire memory of Monday than I was who won whatever primary. I thought about it though. Which goes to show you that one can never just stop being a political junkie.

As for the blog, this is how it will be for a while. I'll do a moderately short post every couple days or so when something news or 360-related strikes my fancy. I'm doing better, but I didn't leave all of the hospital equipment behind, so my days have been consumed with adjusting to this "new life." I have always been low maintenance. Shooting to pretty high maintenance is sucking at the moment, but I'll get used to it and hopefully get back near my normal in the future. Thanks again to everyone for the well wishes.
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