Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Race Card, Persistent Muslim Myth, Exxon Mobil Getting Richer, Robert Wexler Controversy, And An Update On The Rockefeller Kidnapping

Hi everybody. I am one angry blogger. It seems my blog has been deemed spam by one of Blogger's little spambots, so they've got me all locked up until one of those human thingees can come confirm that I am in fact an actual person. I'm allowed to save a draft though, so what you are reading was actually blogged Thursday night after the show. God only knows how many days have passed since then. Anyway, speaking of robots, 360 is mixing it up a bit tonight and instead of Campbell Brown in for Anderson Cooper, we have . . . the Wolftbot?! Yep, Wolf Blitzer, who apparently has nothing better to do than anchor news 24-hours a day, is here to guide us through the hour. This is doing nothing to suspend my belief that he's a robot. You turn on the TV in the afternoon and he's there. You turn it on in the evening and he's there. You even turn it on on the weekend and, oh yeah, he's there! Robot! But 360 is a change of venue for him. Do you think he feels out of place in a room that doesn't have a situation and where news and information may not be arriving all the time?

So okay, we kick things off with a Dana Bash piece on how McCain is accusing Obama of playing the race card. The low down here is that Obama recently made comments that the McCain camp was going to try to make people scared to vote for him by pointing out that he didn't look like other presidents. Obama said pretty much the same thing in June and the McCain camp didn't bat at eye. They claim their hissy fit now is that Obama was inferring McCain himself was playing the race card. Oh good lord. Shut up! Both of you. Obama needs to stop needling and McCain needs to stop desperately grasping at straws and prove to us why he should be president. This is getting ridiculous. The piece is followed by a "Strategy Session" with David Gergen, Roland Martin, and Tara Wall.

Next up, we have a piece from Gary Tuchman, and if your head is vulnerable to combustion, you might want to skip ahead. Gary takes us to Copperhill, Tennessee, a small town where he has no trouble finding people who still believe Obama is a Muslim. Even the mayor! Ahh! Actually, despite debunking all over, a full 12 percent of people believe the myth. And the thing is, there's not even anything wrong with being a Muslim, but he not one. I gotta hand it to Gary, he's got some patience to talk to those people that calmly. Well, actually, coming from retail, I have the capacity for a ridiculous amount of patience myself, but I so would have gone home and banged my head against the wall. Where do these people get their information? Gale Walborn, Copperhill resident sane person explains: "I just ask people, where do you get this information from? And people are telling me, the Internet, e-mails, what people say. And I say, do you have proof? No." I think I kind of love Gale.

And yeah, I'm being unfair with the "resident sane person" thing because as Gary is quick to point out, they chose Copperhill randomly and you can get these results anywhere. So don't send him angry email, Copperhillians; we already know how you love the Internet. Speaking of randomly picking a town, wasn't there a news show that used to throw a dart at a map, go to that town, randomly call someone in the phone book, and then do a story on them? Did I make that up? Anyhoo, as you can probably tell, false information is one of my pet peeves. And though CNN, being a cable news network, is definitely guilty of allowing falsehoods to spread, I should point out that when it comes to the whole Obama Muslim myth thing, they've actually done a shockingly excellent job. Seriously. They've been debunking this thing for over a year now. A big cookie for them.

Transitioning now to Exxon Mobil making tons of money, which is rubbed in our faces in the form of a clock 360 has chosen to put up for this segment. Wolf then tells us that they're starting a new thing where they're going to play long clips of the candidates talking about important issues. Apparently it's what we've been telling them we want. Well, that's about half true. Hearing from the candidates about real issues is absolutely what I want, but you can't just stop there. After we hear from candidates, there has to be fact checking of what they said. Otherwise, you're just CSPAN. So anyway, we hear from both Obama and McCain on energy.
From there we go to a Joe Johns piece about how Exxon Mobil is filthy rich and could care less about alternative energy. Sigh.

Next up, we have a John Zarrella piece on a little bit of trouble popping up for Democratic Representative Robert Wexler of Florida. Actually, the "Florida" part is where the controversy comes in. Because he lives in Maryland, a fact that he does not hide. You're supposed to live in your district, so yeah, this doesn't look good, but Jeebus, it's not like he outed a CIA agent or has a boatload of cash in his freezer. The whole thing is being brought up by Ed Lynch, the candidate trying to unseat him. Naturally. After all this, Wexler has decided to lease a place in his district, and I really hope he keeps his nose clean because he's somewhat of a hero to accountability lovers everywhere and if he's in the news for anything bad again, I will cry sad tears.

Moving on to an Erica Hill piece that updates that custodial kidnapping and then we're on to more McCain and Obama in their own words. Hey, you know what I just noticed? Less punditry tonight. Hm, these new segments might be the start of a beautiful friendship. After that, we get a preview of the special, "Extreme Challenges: The Next Four Years," and at first I get excited because I loves me the map table discussions, but I actually think this might be a repeat. They did the same thing in February. I know the discussion was of a broader context than the here and now, but if they didn't update, you'd think some of that might be stale after six months. It's funny, because I was just thinking about those "Extreme Challenges" specials the other day. Actually, after that first one aired, Anderson blogged that more were in the works:
I’ve also been really gratified by the response our “Extreme Challenges” special has gotten. We’ve gotten tons of e-mail about it, and frankly it’s the kind of program you won’t see on any of the other cable news networks. We are so pleased with the response we are already planning a number of other “Extreme Challenge” specials. So look for those in the coming weeks.
Because I do everything Anderson tells me to (heh), I did totally look for those in the coming weeks and . . . nada. What gives? This is why I refer to 360 as my show with ADHD. Also, when I went back and looked for this comment, I skimmed through a couple of the first live-blogs. Man, Anderson was quite the jabberbox back then. Blog has lost its luster for him, I suppose.

Moving on to the Wolfbot trying to banter with Erica Hill. Not a total fail, but none of that great unintentional hilarity he always has with Jack Cafferty. He does try to pawn off a Situation Room t-shirt on Erica though. Bwah! You know those really fangurly, kinda-embarrassing 360 shirts with the hearts on them? They should totally make those for TSR. Speaking of TSR, "The Shot" tonight is how that show should be watched: in one minute. Those crazy kids at 23/6 have condensed a whole day's worth of situations into a mere 60 seconds. Actually, this is not the first time they've done this. I remember watching one months ago. Still funny. That'll do it.

Edited to add: Hm, Blogger unlocked me in less than 24 hours. I guess they're not completely evil, but I am still displeased.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

McCain Growing Desperate, Oil Exploration Legislation, Hillary Clinton, Ted Stevens Profile, CA Quake, And A Child Abduction

Hi everybody. It looks like we will be sans Anderson Cooper for the rest of the week if not longer. Campbell Brown continues to keep his seat warm and we kick things off with a new ad from John McCain. Remember how yesterday we learned he was trying to connect Obama to Pelosi and Reid? Well, now he's trying to connect Obama to . . . Paris Hilton and Britney Spears? What? Apparently the McCain camp wants to paint Obama as arrogant with no substance, but as we learn from Campbell, polling shows that both candidates are in a statistical tie when it comes to the arrogance issue. So, wow, that ad almost makes me feel sorry for McCain because he's hitting a whole new level of pathetic.

A Dana Bash piece explores the ad further and we get clips from Obama wondering why McCain can't seem to stop talking about him. Also? Seeing as though Americans tend to take things in viscerally, I'd like to thank McCain for helping to spread the news that huge crowds of people adore Barack Obama. Keep it up!

We then move on to the inevitable "Strategy Session," with David Gergen, Tara Wall, and Roland Martin occupying the panel seats. Really the only thing of note is The Gerg, who clearly has a lot of respect for the "maverick," going off on the ad and the McCain campaign. "Give me a break," he says. Aw, he looks so sad. Damn you John McCain, you broke The Gerg's spirit!

Next up, we've got a Joe Johns piece that tackles Congress and how they're probably not going to do anything about gas prices before they skip town. Shocker. Although actually, I kind of agree with this because the legislation that Bush wants passed is to open up offshore drilling. I don't get it. If you're going to treat a drug addict, your objective is to get them off drugs, not help them find ways to get a quick fix. Well, actually not so quick, seeing as though opening up offshore drilling won't make any difference for years if that. Not to mention the fact that there's no guarantee the oil companies would actually choose to explore any area they bought up. High gas prices are here to stay. This piece is followed by, of course, a panel.

Moving on now to a Suzanne Malveaux piece that updates us on what's going on with Hillary Clinton since all that speculation of a VP spot. We learn that she's scheduled to speak at the convention, but the idea of a "Dream Team" seems to be disappearing. You know, at this point I don't want Clinton to be VP mostly because I don't think I'd be able to stand that press coverage.

On now to a Joe Johns profile piece on Ted Stevens about how he's a "mean, miserable, SOB." Uh, Stevens, not Joe. And those aren't even my insults this time--they come from the mouth of the crazy Alaskan himself. So okay, we learn that Stevens is so old that he actually helped Alaska become a state. Seriously. And since that time he's done nothing but funnel your money there--$3.2 billion over the last four years alone. We also get to see the unintentionally hilarious clip of Stevens after his legislation to open up ANWR to drilling failed. "This has been the saddest day of my life. I say good- bye to the Senate tonight. Thank you very much," he says. Just wow. I remember when that happened the first thought that popped into my head was, "is that a promise?" Unfortunately, it was only a threat to take his ball and go home. Also, "the saddest day" of his life? Ted Stevens must have been having the best life ever!

Transitioning now to a Ted Rowlands piece on the California quake. Again there's talk of the inevitable "big one" and as soon as Ted says those words, like a lightening bolt from God, my power goes out. So, uh, bye Ted. And there wasn't even a storm. From now on, if 360 is getting interrupted, it better be because I'm in mortal danger. Stupid Ameren. Anyway, when my house lights back up, "the terminator" is on talking about infrastructure. I think it's great they're bringing up this subject, but man, that accent. It's just hard to be serious, you know? Campbell has a special on infrastructure on Friday (I think) and I'm hoping to not be disappointed with something surfacy. Will Stephen Flynn make an appearance? We shall see.

From here we move to a Gary Tuchman piece about a custodial child abduction. I was under the impression those kind of kidnappings happened a lot, so I guess the angle here is that the alleged kidnapper is a Rockefeller, though the family spokesperson says, "He ain't one." You'd think a spokesperson might be a bit more eloquent, but I suppose that's neither here nor there. Anyway, cute kid. I hope she's okay.

The show winds down with "Beat 360" and I'm going to have to go with Campbell here, that sound effect is painful. Seriously. "The Shot" is a kitty with the Shroud of Turin on its fur. Well, sort of. Actually, not really. I don't see it. Man, my animals never have deities in their fur. Slackers. Gary then raises Campbell a video of "Princess Chunky," one of the fattest cats ever. Suddenly I feel bad for calling my cat fat. He's got a complex now, but it hasn't altered his very busy schedule of sleeping 20 hours a day. That'll do it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

California Quake, Ted Stevens Indicted (woo!), New McCain Attack On Obama, AIDS In The Black Community, And PIP Great White Sharks

Hi everybody. We've got Campbell Brown doing hosting duties again while Anderson Cooper does his Planet in Peril thang with the great white sharks. But he's missing some action back stateside. We kick things off with the whole lotta shakin going on in Southern California. A magnitude 5.4 earthquake hit the area, frightening residents and TV judges alike. We get video of the quake interrupting a Judge Judy taping. I think that was the most interesting Judge Judy ever. And I love how the defendant and plaintiff stand there dumbfounded while everyone else is fleeing for cover. Ted Rowlands is in Pomona, California, and he gives us the low down on what exactly happened, while we watch clips of swashing pools and a burst pipe at LAX. Ted sounds a little freaked, actually. He's doing that Anderson-style rapid-fire delivery with the quick breaths. Having never been in an earthquake before, I'd probably be a bit freaked myself. Anyway, this, of course, all culminates in talk of the inevitable "Big One," which is set to destroy California any day (or year) now. Sleep tight, guys.

Okay, so last September when the news broke that the FBI was eavesdropping on Alaskan senator Ted Stevens (R), I crossed my fingers for indictments under my Christmas tree. Well, December came and went with no dice. But guess what. It's Christmas in July! Today Ted Stevens was finally FINALLY indicted on seven counts of making false statements related to thousands of dollars in house renovations and gifts he received from an oil contractor. Long time readers of this blog know that I have, shall we say, a strong dislike for the senator from Alaska. In the past I may have referred to him as corrupt, insane, and, uh, a dick. And those were the compliments. Normally I don't like to celebrate the misfortune of others, but man, it is so happy-dance time.

A Joe Johns piece breaks down the technicalities over what went down with VECO, the oil services company at the heart of the matter. Not mentioned in his piece, was Joe's own little personal run-in with Stevens. See, back in 2006 Joe wanted to get an interview from Stevens, but had the gall to request said interview while not in the hallway normally used for addressing the cameras. How dare he?! Stevens then reacted like any normal power-mad insane person would and promptly filed a formal complaint against Joe for "ambushing" him. So how'd that turn out? Joe Johns 1, Ted Stevens 0. Aw, and he's not even gloating.

Jeffrey Toobin then joins Joe and Campbell for discussion of the case. His opinion is that Stevens could face jail time if convicted, but probably not. Kill a girl's dreams why don't you. We also learn that Stevens is the overwhelming favorite to win the republican primary. Alaskans, what is wrong with you?! Campbell then tells us that Joe "went digging for sleaze. And you're about to now see the mother load." Ooh, I'm intrigued. What follows is a package that again goes into the VECO stuff. The infamous bridges to nowhere are also mentioned. Not mentioned is how Stevens blew a freaking gasket when someone noted his bridge money might be better spent helping the victims of hurricane Katrina. Did I mention that Ted Stevens is a dick?

For even more discussion on this, we're next joined by Roland Martin and Ed Rollins. Ed tells us that he knows Stevens and thinks he's a man of integrity. Um, I don't think integrity means what you think it does. Oh, Ed. I like you. Don't do this to me. There are only so many republicans I can stomach. It's bad enough I'm terrified to Google Amy Holmes, lest I find out she's got some evilness lurking on her resume. So anyway, I'm going to just pretend Ed's comment never happened. Man, that beltway protect-their-own pull is strong.

I would be quite remiss if I didn't note that while Ted Stevens at this point is the poster boy for democracy gone wrong, he is also a bottomless well of unintentional hilarity. From manic screaming on the senate floor, to incomprehensible ramblings about how those darn internets get to him late because his tubes are clogged, you'd be hard-up to find another senator that inspired a techno remix. In fact, the Guardian's Deadline USA blog has compiled a whole list of these gems and more for your reading amusement. And speaking of amusement, Jon Stewart has gotten much mileage out of the senator's antics these past few years. I was going to dig up some clips for you, but then I discovered that Rachel Sklar has done all my work for me. Yay! If you only watch one, make it be "Who the F**k is Ted Stevens?" One of my favorite Daily Show segments ever and totally worth it for the last line alone.

Transitioning now to the news that McCain's biopsy was clean. Good. And see? All that speculation yesterday for nothing. Well, not nothing, I suppose. It was a perfect excuse for Sanjay to come flash us that toothpaste commercial-ready smile. Just saying. We then get a Dana Bash piece on how McCain is trying to make people believe that Obama is like this with unpopular Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, with the idea being that the voters will then realize that the country could end up entirely in the hands of democrats like them. Oh noes! What if they start a preemptive war, tank our economy, and shred the constitution?! Oh, wait. Yeah, I don't think that's going to work as well as the McSame thing.

Next up, we have a Randi Kaye piece on an arrest regarding that murdered marine, but I'm going to move on to Sanjay in the studio talking about HIV/AIDS in the US African American population. The stats are fairly mind-boggling. There are more blacks with HIV/AIDS in this country than there are in some African counties, such as Rwanda. Judging by some of the comments on the blog, this is a hot topic. Yes, personal responsibility is a big factor here, but what about the fact that blacks with HIV are two and a half times more likely to die than their white counterparts? That's a huge problem, no doubt encompassing issues such as education, poverty, and our profit-centric and ineffective health care system.

Our last piece tonight is from Anderson, as he continues his work for PIP. They're out on a boat and their mission is to tag great white sharks. We're "treated" to video of these said sharks murdering poor seals. Aw. This is why I don't watch those nature shows. Soon the sharks venture closer to the boat, leading Anderson to crack, "There's a nine-foot shark circling the boat, and for some reason I'm the only one who seems concerned." And now I'm thinking of "Jaws." I wonder if he whipped out the "we're going to need a bigger boat" line. They probably hear that a lot. Also, for those keeping score at home, Anderson is not afraid to be actually in the water with sharks, but is a bit "concerned" with them swimming around his boat. Don't try to understand him, people. The mystery of the gray-haired anchor can never be cracked!

Gary Tuchman has the headlines tonight and he brings us the tale of a man who stole a 40-foot long street light. To recycle. Gary tells us the motive was cash, but I think it'd be more amusing to call this environmentalism gone wrong. "The Shot" is a poor woman getting attacked by a kangaroo at the Atlanta zoo. Don't mess with kangaroos. Speaking of the marsupials, Gary tells us that actually, "Atlanta is a hot bed for kangaroos," which kind of makes me crack up. Apparently there's a kangaroo habitat not far away, but all I can think of is nefarious kangaroo activity going on all over the Atlanta hot bed. The show was good. Heavy on the punditry as always, but several topics.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Obama Back Home, McCain's Health, Lobbyists And Campaign Cash, Female Suicide Bombers, Drew Is Still A "Terrorist", And AC Not Scared Of Sharks

Hi everybody. Happy New Week! Looks like we're going to be sans Anderson Cooper. I thought it was feeling like time to break out those frequent flier miles. I was kinda hoping he'd pop up in Iraq or Afghanistan, but I think we'll probably have to wait until after the election for that. Maybe not though. Anyhoo, PIP stuff is important too. Campbell Brown is holding things down stateside for us, though still mysteriously boycotting the blog--what's up with that? Before we get into things though, I need to give you your sporadic dose of Larry King amusement. So okay, apparently cell phones give you cancer now or something. Larry's going to cover it and it's all very "dun, dun, dun!!!" But the amusing part comes in when Larry acts like he actually knows how to operate a cell phone and then he asks Campbell if she's going to put her cell phone down too. "Absolutely," she says. Aw, look at Campbell fitting in. Just like Anderson, she's not listening to a word Larry says either. Just smile and agree, kids. Just smile and agree.

We kick things off with politics. Shocker, I know. Obama is back stateside and new polls have him in the lead. There's also the news that McCain had a growth removed from his face that is going to be biopsied. Campbell informs us that he's already had melanoma four times and reminds us that he's, like, really old. I happened to be watching CNN's live coverage when McCain dropped this little health bomb and bizarre doesn't even begin to cover it. He's standing there in the sun talking about energy and how Obama doesn't want to fix anything and then freaking out of the blue, he's all, "I had a growth removed from my face. Wear sunscreen!" Wha?

To help us all unboggle our minds about this, we're joined live by Sanjay Gupta. And just in time too. 360 was suffering from a horrible adorable doctor deficiency. Almost fatal. Unfortunately though, besides making me smile, Sanjay doesn't have much to offer here. Why? Because we don't know anything. Speculation, speculation, speculation. I'm all about having negative McCain coverage, but this is just uncool. Why can't we ever wait for the facts? Anyway, we then get Dana Bash for the political angle and she's hearing some concern. You know, because McCain is, like, really old. In case you forgot. Dana also totally backs me up in my characterization of the bizarreness of how the biopsy news was dropped. After these two, we have even more discussion with David Gergen, Dee Dee Myers, and Ed Rollins. But I didn't hear anything they said because I was completely distracted by the sun faces hanging in the window of The Gerg's live shot. Anderson so would have had to comment about those. As Campbell tosses out to commercial, she teases a story on female suicide bombers, calling them "the newest terror tool in Iraq." Really? Because I thought that had been going on for years.

Next up, we have a Candy Crowley piece about how Obama's getting his economy-expertize on and how McCain is grumpily blaming our energy crisis on Obama. We then move back with the prior panel and Campbell brings up how McCain is slamming Obama for not visiting the troops. The "maverick" has a new ad out, which is mentioned, but I'm completely boggled that 360 gives a pass on actually fact checking the thing. Thankfully, where the news falls down, stands up. The show doesn't even mention that the ad actually shows Obama with the troops, a fact that resulted in this totally awesome headline: "New McCain Ad Bashes Obama for Not Visiting Troops Using Footage of Obama Visiting Troops." Seriously 360, way to drop the ball. It is then left to Dee Dee to point out that Obama never planned to take TV cameras with him in the first place, and The Gerg to note that Republican Chuck Hagel thinks the charges are ridiculous. I think Obama should have visited the troops, but that ad was just low.

Randi Kaye has the headlines tonight and we learn about a church shooting in Tennessee. Apparently the shooter was mad at liberals and, I guess, our destruction of America. Because if there's one way to stick it to the evil liberals and their Godless anti-family agenda, it's to shoot up a church during a children's production of Annie. There are no words. Another headline is about raging flood waters, but the accompanying b-roll is Robert Novak. Well, if they have to screw up, at least they make it amusing. From here we move into a Joe Johns piece on McCain and lobbyists. Then a David Mattingly piece on Obama and bundling. Joe's wasn't that much of a shocker, but I found David's interesting because I never really fully understood bundling. I guess there will always be new ways to dress up the same old, same old.

Moving on now to what I thought was an Arwa Damon piece on female suicide bombers, but it turned out to just be an Arwa soundbyte. Where's she been lately, anyway? So okay, instead we have Peter Bergen here to talk about the subject. He reminds us that women have been used as suicide bombers since back in 2005. One of the reasons is that there are not as many foreign fighters coming into Iraq, meaning the terrorists are forced to turn to women to commit their crimes. Campbell notes that some of these women are even used unwittingly and she wonders if they're going to have to rethink checkpoints because currently it's improper to pat down a woman. Horrible. But at least we're getting the coverage.

Next up, 360's little enemy of the state, Drew Griffin, updates his predicament. I have to say, though I don't wish inconvenience on anyone, this stuff should happen to journalists more often. Because look at how fired up he is! You know he's not dropping this story until his name is off that list. Of course, there's the whole issue of that never happening (sorry Drew, you're on there for life, methinks), but don't tell him that. Who knows what he'll uncover as he's trying to get to the bottom of it all. Go Drew! Get on with your bad "terrorist" self!

Because 360 is totally onto us regarding our wetsuit anticipation, "The Shot" tonight is Anderson swimming with sharks off South Africa. Well, not really swimming--more like being locked in a cage for his own protection. And how did he like it? A lot, thank you very much. Campbell and Randi are both boggled at his lack of fear. Well, it's not like there were frogs in the cage. Besides, it could have been much worse; he could be Ryan Seacrest. (I could just stop that thought right there and it would still be true--kidding, Ryan!). I'm actually alluding to the fact that Mr. American Idol apparently recently was "bit" by a shark. He's fine--well, except for the grammar. So anyway, Randi and Campbell get their "mom" on regarding Anderson and are all, "we're having a talk with him when he comes back." That's right, mister! I think that about does it for me. The show wasn't too bad

Friday, July 25, 2008


Hi everybody. Well, I thought I'd lie down and rest a bit before 360 . . . and ended up sleeping through the entire show. Oh well. So your visit wasn't in vain, entertain yourself with something funny (NSFW):

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hurricane Dolly Makes Landfall, Obama Overseas/McCain Screwing Up, and Black in America (Wednesday's Show)

Hi everybody. This will be a bit abbreviated in some places. The show kicked off an hour later tonight due to the "Black in America" special, but more on that later. We begin with Hurricane Dolly. Anderson Cooper informs us that the storm is weakening now, but that's probably no consolation to the residents of South Padre Island, Texas, where the storm came ashore at category 2 strength. And braving it all for CNN was 360's own Gary Tuchman, who could probably use a towel and a bed right about now. He's lookin a little wet and weary is all I'm saying. Gary tells us that South Padre was actually surprised by how much damage Dolly caused, but the good news is there have been no reports of fatalities.

In a subsequent Gary piece, we get the requisite footage of him battling it out with Mother Nature during the height of the storm. You know the drill: soaking wet reporter squinting through harsh pellets of rain, fighting to stay upright against the wind gusts, all the while telling us how "incredibly treacherous," it is to be there. But we love to watch it, don't we? And that is why Gary is very wet right now. I have to say though, watching hurricane coverage live is very nerve-racking. The only hurricane I ever watched live from start to finish was Rita because she conveniently made landfall on a Friday night. And I watched the coverage like it was a frickin horror movie--through my fingers.

Why, you ask? That's a good question. But I could not stop watching. And Anderson Cooper, who is very stubborn, would not go inside, even though I was actively willing him to. Rob Marciano went in and allowed me to stop worrying about him, but did Anderson? Noo. And don't get me started on Miles O'Brien. At least Anderson stayed put. Miles was walking all the hell around waaaay out from his live shot. So, note to any hurricane reporters out there: stay close to your crew and don't wander. A viewer worries. See, this is why I really shouldn't watch hurricane coverage. At least not live.

But back to Gary's piece, he didn't just brave the hurricane, he saved a guy from his own stupidity. This dude is just chilling in some building while the roof is collapsing. What's even more boggling, is when Gary points this out, the dude is like, "ah, it's okay" Gary then of course replies that, um, no, it's not okay, causing the dude to say, "for real?" No, CNN reporters get their kicks by going around and telling people their roofs are collapsing. Good lord. Anyway, back live, Anderson asks Gary how long he's been up. The answer from him is 24 hours. Good lord squared. Go to bed, Gary!

Transitioning now to a Candy Crowley piece on the Obama trip and then a Dana Bash piece on how McCain's trying to steal press coverage from the Obama trip. Our panel (there always has to be a panel) is made up of Joe Klein, David Gergen, and Tara Wall. My hat's off to Joe Klein here. You can't beat this quote: "The only person talking about losing this war is John McCain." And kudos to The Gerg for helping to call out Tara on her BS. She actually said that the only reason Obama could be there right now is because of the surge. Wha? So all those other politicians that went over there before was just a mirage? And will someone in the media please, please, ask McCain to define victory in Iraq. Seriously.

The last part of the show was discussion about the "Black in America" special. I actually wasn't able to watch the special, but I found this discussion interesting. I don't know that I agree with paying kids for learning. It seems like associating knowledge with cash might cause future problems, but hey, if it works. Anything to give kids a chance. This made me think of the daycare I worked at about a decade ago. The class I taught would be in junior high now. I had one little girl who was such a star--just like the kid they showcased during the special. I'm curious as to how she's doing, but a part of me doesn't want to know. Almost all the kids in the daycare were at risk and the public schools around here aren't the best. It's incredibly sad how easy it is for a bright kid to fall though the cracks.

That's it from me tonight. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have more time for snarking.

McCain Finally Called Out On A Gaffe, Dolly Update, Warren Jeffs Indicted, And Police Brutality (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everybody. You know how yesterday McCain was kinda crabby because the media was all about Obama with their coverage? Today some of that coveted coverage landed on McCain's plate. Think he's happy? Well, I'm happy. McCain made a major blunder and, oh my God, it's actually getting coverage from someone other than Keith Olbermann (who's only choir-preaching, anyway). Hooray! They've even got the story on a BREAKING NEWS banner. Normally I hate that, but tonight it just makes me smile.

The low down here is that Obama has claimed, and rightfully so, that the surge is not the sole reason for decreased violence in Iraq. McCain, who is apparently married to the surge (sorry Cindy!), countered this by saying that Obama doesn't know what he's talking about because the surge was what actually lead to the Sunni Awakening. Well, someone in this little back-and-forth doesn't know what they're talking about, but it's not Obama. See, it turns out that McCain's whole argument is blown out of the water by the fact that the Sunni Awakening actually started before the surge. Anderson Cooper helpfully points this out by employing the use of quotes, dates, and those pesky little things called facts.

Next, we're on to a Candy Crowley piece that is all about Obama in Iraq. The 16-month drawdown is again at focus, especially since it seems General David Petraeus isn't so hot for the idea. Obama plays it off more as a semantical disagreement, though he does admit that some Sunni leaders in Anbar Province are nervous about the US pulling out. But Obama assures that the drawdown will be steady and not precipitous. Candy also notes that the Obama camp is doing their own filming and might use some of the footage for future ads. Oh. Not a good idea. It's tacky (as it was when McCain used his POW footage) and he'll get pummeled by the Right. I hope they rethink that one.

On now to an Ed Henry piece about how today McCain basically called Obama a traitor. Great guy, that McCain. But before I go further, what the hell is up with this piece? They've got a whole boxing theme going on with fight bells and Ed starting out by saying, "in this corner . . ." That's just . . . no. Look, I know I do that kind of stuff sometimes, but I'm not a frickin journalist working for CNN reporting on how one presidential candidate has just accused the other of putting winning over the country. It's not a game. No cookie for Ed's producers. Anyway, McCain has charged that Obama would rather lose the war than a political campaign, which is just a disgusting thing to say and I think really says something about McCain's character. I don't know which is worse: that he really believes that or he's just saying it to help his campaign.

For discussion, we keep Ed around and add Joe Klein and David Gergen. There's a lot of great nuanced talk here about the surge (yay!). Anderson starts out by saying he doesn't like to play "gotcha" because everybody slips up, but then in his second question he notes that this goes to the heart of McCain's main attack on Obama, which to me automatically makes it bigger than just a slip up. The Gerg agrees a mistake was made, but thinks the traitor accusation is a much bigger deal, which will eventually lead to the issue of age popping up. I'm not really comfortable with attacking McCain on his age, but you know what? If he's losing his mental faculties, I don't really want him in the White House with his finger on the button, you know?

Anderson then plays devil's advocate, bringing up the never-stopping nature of the 24/7 campaigns and the inevitability that candidates will get caught screwing up. This is not the same. Sure, the candidates are going to screw up. I think just today Obama said that Israel is a friend of Israel, leading comedian Richard Lewis to crack that Israel just has really high self-esteem. But McCain did not say the wrong word or flip two countries or any other mistake that would be easy for any person to make. What McCain did was get the entire timeline for the surge wrong and he did it while claiming Obama didn't know what he was talking about. No, this is not the same at all. Finally, Anderson kind of backs McCain up in that the awakening really was enabled by the surge, but then Joe Klein smacks that down. I'm not really sure what happened there.

Next we're joined by James Carville and Bill Bennett, but I am pooped regarding pundit pontification. Of note is Bill alluding to Obama's walk-on-water rock star quality and stating that if he's able to go over and achieve peace between the Palestinians and the Jews, even he'll vote for him. Okay, that actually made me laugh. Also? I sort of want to rub Carville's head. You think you get three wishes or something?

Transitioning now to Chad Myers with an update on Hurricane Dolly. Look out Texas/Mexico, she's coming! We then go to Gary Tuchman, donning the red CNN slicker on South Padre Island. He currently appears dry, but that's not going to last. At least he's not up to his nipples in floodwater this time (yes, I will keep bringing that up--thanks Jon Stewart!). Joking aside, Gary tells us there's levee concerns. Ugh. Always levee concerns. Stay safe, Gary!

Because our normal polygamy guy--er, coverer of polygamy--is currently busy preparing to get wet and windblown, David Mattingly is live to tell us the news that Warren Jeffs and five others have been indicted. Woo! That's really all there is to say. Justice served.

Erica Hill has our headlines tonight and we learn that actor Christian Bale is it hot water for maybe assaulting his mother and sister. What?! Aw, say it ain't so. I know, I know, I'm always bitching at 360 about covering celebrity crap and here I am talking about a celebrity that they rightfully relegated to the headlines. Bad blogger. Any other Baleheads out there? He's a great actor, but apparently the intensity he brings to films like "American Psycho" (not for the kiddies!) might have bled a bit into real life. One of my favorites though--and don't laugh--is Disney's musical flop "Newsies." And I'm realizing right now that my fascination with all things news started early. Seriously though, my hat's off to the director; wrangling all those teenagers, no thank you. And all the imperfections kind of crack me up. Notice the clearly visible hands pushing the chairs up in this clip about 40 seconds in.

Okay, back to reality. Next up, we have a piece from Drew Griffin regarding some seemingly police brutality going down in Winnfield, Louisiana, with a racial twist. A white police office tasered a young black man repeatedly, resulting in his death. Oh, and the guy was handcuffed, so there was absolutely no reason for this to happen. Police are claiming the guy was on drugs, the corner says no. I guess we'll see what happens. After Drew's piece, we have an Erica Hill "Crime and Punishment" piece, but I'm passing.

Erica was the staff winner for "Beat 360" tonight, one-upping her over Anderson. But Joey apparently kicks both their asses. Maybe this can be remedied by giving Joey more work to do. Just a suggestion. As for Eliza, well, I'm holding hard and fast at zero. I suspect I will stay there until I, you know, attempt to play. I maintain that it's no fun if you can't be dirty. Anyhoo, kudos to the show for going nuanced on the surge and fact-checking McCain. But dude, so much punditry! Bleh. The broadcast actually continued live into the second hour, but The Daily Show was calling me, so this is where I get off. Speaking of TDS, why are they covering the congressional hearings and 360 is not? Lose a pundit or two and there'd be plenty of time.

Edited to add: Hey, where was the CBS cover-up angle related to the McCain gaffe story? For a show that promises 360 degrees, I'm missing, like, at least 30 degrees here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Obama Overseas, VP Rumors, NYT Rejects McCain Op-Ed, Butcher Of Bosnia Captured, And Hurricane Dolly (Monday's Show)

Hi everyone. Happy New Week! Glenn Beck hosting Larry King Live? Why, CNN, why? And the guest was Michael Savage, which makes Glenn the reasonable one by default. I think they're trying to kill me. Anyhoo, 360 kicks off tonight with a little story called Obama and the Media's Excellent Overseas Adventure. So how's it going? They like him. They really, really, like him! Or, at least it seems they're down with his timetable plan. See, Obama has a 16-month plan to pull forces out of Iraq, and, what a coinkidink, Prime Minister Maliki wants the US gone in 2010. This is looking good for Obama. McCain? Not so much.

Ed Henry joins us live to tell us how shocked the Bush camp is by Maliki's stance. Oh yeah, because no one could see this one coming. A politician changing his tune because of his own self interest? No! And those Sunnis that we're currently paying off are never going to turn on us either. No siree. So, things are a bit of a bummer for McCain right now. And as Ed explains, it doubly sucks for him because he's been one of the ones propping up Maliki this whole time, all the while shaking his pom-poms for the so-called surge. We've had Rudy "9-11" Giuliani and at this point we may as well start calling the maverick John "the surge" McCain. That's how much he's pimped the strategy.

It's conventional wisdom now that the surge is working, but, uh, is it? No one can dispute that violence is down and no one is going to argue that's not a wonderful dance-in-the-street kind of turn of events. But is that more due to the presence of extra troops or the Sunni awakening, sectarian cleansing, and al-Sadr chilling out? And wasn't the entire point of the surge to decrease violence, so that there could be political reconciliation? Iraq is not there yet. So please media, I know this is difficult for you, but could you treat a nuanced issue, like, a nuanced issue? Anderson Cooper has been fairly good with this regarding the panels, but some of the correspondents? Not so much. I'm looking at you Ed Henry. Also? I'm amazed by this White House's ability to still bemuse me after all these years. A "time horizon"? Wow. How Orwellian. Although, actually, perfectly fitting. Because much like the end of our occupation, no matter how hard you try, you can never get to the end of the horizon either.

Next up, we have a Candy Crowley piece on how Obama is looking presidential. You know all those pictures/video I said the media would be taking on this trip? Here they are! Of note is that they showed the interview Obama did with CBS's Lara Logan and left the edit long enough that she was in the piece. Aw, everybody loves Lara Logan. Following Candy's piece, there's a panel with Candy, Peter Bergen, and David Gergen. Much of the convo focuses on The Gerg's feeling that Obama totally stole Bush's thunder by putting out a statement on Iraq. The Gerg seems to think Obama is going to be viewed as negotiating with Maliki when at this time only Bush should be doing that. Meh. I initially sort of agreed with David, but then I read the whole statement and I see nothing wrong with it. The Gerg may be a traditionalist, but hey, when has Bush ever adhered to his role? Or is shredding the Constitution, breaking the law, and destroying our moral standing in the world actually part of his job description?

Moving on to Dana Bash taking Peter's spot on the panel (Bye Peter! Thanks for playing!) to talk about probable second in commands. It's veepstakes time! Man, who ever coined that term needs to be shot. So okay, some in the beltway are a-buzz with the rumor that John McCain is this close to picking his number two dude (or dudette!). Yeah, and this has nothing at all to do with McCain wanting to steer some of the press away from Obama right now. Actually, our panel freely admit they might be being had, but they don't seem to care and continue with their speculation. Dana gives us the probable "short list," which includes Florida Governor Charlie Crist. The Republican nominee tapping Charlie Crist for VP? That . . . is interesting. Anyway, this whole segment is completely pointless. But we do get Anderson randomly noting dog barking coming from Dana's shot. "I'm a dog person. So, that's OK," he assures us. Ha. We know, Anderson. We know.

On now to the media's favorite topic: the media! Time for naval gazing. The kerfuffle this time is that the New York Times ran an op-ed written by Obama regarding his plan for Iraq and when John McCain wrote his own op-ed, it was rejected because (according to the paper) it offered nothing new and apparently didn't lay out a plan like Obama did. And now, of course, McCain is screaming bias. In a Randi Kaye piece we learn that Reliable Sources' Howie Kurtz thinks the paper has an obligation to run the op-ed. Um, why? Are you talking about that journalistic responsibility thing? Because I think the media gave up on that long ago. Look, it's not like they've never published an op-ed from McCain. They just don't want to publish this one.

I can't really have a definitive opinion on this, having not read McCain's original piece, but if it was anything like his TV appearances of late, I am totally with the Times on this one. Because if that's the case, the whole thing probably read as so: "The surge is working. Obama has no experience. The surge is working. To leave is to admit defeat. The surge is working." Seriously, does the man have any plan besides making darn sure we stay in Iraq? If the piece did not at least define victory and what McCain planned to do to attain it, he deserved the rejection.

After Randi's piece, there's a "strategy session" with Alex Castellanos and Jennifer Palmieri. I have to say, the whole media bias accusation is kind of ridiculous here. Yes, Obama is getting more coverage, but does more coverage equal better coverage? No. The kid glove treatment of the early primaries is over. The Reverend Wright controversy. Is Obama black enough? Is Obama too black? Is Obama an elitist? Is Obama patriotic enough? Is Obama too inexperienced? Is Michelle Obama emasculating her husband? And on and on. Hop over to Fox News and you can ponder Obama's "Muslim" fist-bump. Is this really the kind of relentless coverage McCain wants? Because if so, bring it on. Is McCain too old? Could McCain's temper be dangerous? Is McCain hiding behind his war hero status? You get the picture. Oh, and kudos to Anderson for pointing out McCain has previously been the recipient of adoring coverage and has been a part of the Washington elite for decades. I think I shall give him a cookie. Chocolate chip?

Transitioning now to Christiane Amanpour on the phone to talk about the capture of Radovan Karadzic, the Butcher of Bosnia. It's about time. It's sickening how long he's gotten away with mass murder. Christiane brings up the fact that there were 60,000 NATO troops in country and they never went after this guy, which is kind of astounding. Apparently they were just overly cautious, but man. This was filed under "Crime and Punishment." Kind of weird that the Butcher of Bosnia is put in the same category as all the run of the mill sensational crimes.

Next up, hellllooooo, Dolly! Well, hellloooo, Dolly! Sorry, it had to be done. Anyway, we've got Chad Myers updating us on Tropical Storm Dolly. Looks like the US might be getting some hurricane action.

The Shot tonight is a van crashing into a diner and knocking a dude off a stool and into the counter. Miraculously, he's fine. This allows Anderson and Erica to engage in some comic book-style onomatopoeia. Anderson then gives his "Beat 360" spiel, almost running out of breath, noting that they need to shorten that at some point. I checked the transcript to see exactly what he said and here's what I found, "We've got a short memory at some point." Bwah! Well, that is true, though totally not what he said. Remember when poor Anderson used to trip all over giving The Shot a shot? Aw. That was cruel and unusual tongue twisting.

The show was okay. Lots and lots of time wasted on speculation and a big opportunity missed for real Iraq and Afghanistan coverage. I mean, even Peter Bergen barely got to talk at all. What more can I say? From the live-blog we learn that Anderson will be scuba diving for PIP, so there's wet-suited reporter in our future. Just saying. Like I'm the only one thinking that. Also, happy trails, Jamie Kraft. The AC360 senior producer is leaving the show for earlier-rising pastures at American Morning. Besides the producing duties, Jamie was (at least sometimes) the Morning Buzz guy. So, so long and good luck, Morning Buzz guy. Sorry I initially thought you were a girl.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Afghanistan/Iraq News, Bill Clinton Makes Nice, Micro-Targeting, The "N" Word Redux, Drew Griffin Is A "Terrorist", And Democrats In Utah

Hi everybody. As you can probably tell by my lack of substantial blogging, I've been crazy busy lately. And it's kind of a bummer because, wow, we've had some pretty good shows these past few days. But before I get to 360, I simply must relay the mind bogglement that I heard at the end of Larry King. The show was focused on environmental issues, I think, and one of the guests was John Stossel. As they were wrapping up, Larry did some pimping of a future Stossel special: "John Stossel investigates sex in America. That's a hot topic. Might even be environmental. Think about it." So, per Larry's instructions, I did think about it and my conclusion is, WTF? Also? UFO Friday! I swear, so much amusement.

Anyway, time to start with the show and we open with Afghanistan. Woo! Well, actually not so much with the "woo" because you know how we were just told they were going to send some more much needed troops to the country? Yeah, well now not so much. Sorry Afghanistan, no troops for you! Apparently we simply don't have enough to send. Gee, I wonder how that happened. But even though we're screw ups, we shouldn't have to do all the heavy lifting. Come on NATO countries, man up.

The coverage then moves on to everyone all a-twitter over Obama's upcoming vacay to Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, actually the beach-lounging will probably be nil, but there will be pictures! Lots and lots of pictures! Because the media? Oh, they're ready. And this makes McCain very sad. Obama is totally all up on his foreign policy turf! So, of course McCain goes into attack mode and there's talk that this is all just a photo-op. Of course it's a photo-op. He's a politician, what do we expect? But it's not just a photo-op. And before the McCain camp gets all high and mighty, they might want to recognize the pot-calling-kettle-black situation they're in. Or was that some other dude that strolled through a "safe" Baghdad market while being protected by 100 American soldiers, three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships?

For discussion of all this, we've got Candy Crowley with the politics, Peter Bergen with the facts on the ground, and for a change of pace, Sebastian Junger. A lot of good talk here. Some points of note: Anderson asks if it's fair that the media is going so ga-ga over the Obama trip when McCain hasn't gotten that much coverage when he went. Again, I'd have to point out his disastrous market stroll, which proved that there is such a thing as bad press. It might be in McCain's favor that the press isn't all up on him like they are Obama. Actually, I'm positive it's in his favor and I wish the press would get with it. There's also some talk of Obama's vagueness on what he considers a "residual force." And I should point out that no one has said anything about the contractors. Kind of an important issue everyone is being mum about. At the end of the segment Anderson tells Sebastian he'd love to have him back on. Then do! And, psst, you don't even have to wait until one of the candidates talks about Afghanistan again.

We transition now to a Gary Tuchman piece on how Bill Clinton has apparently finally accepted that his wife lost and it's time to get behind Obama. It also gives 360 a chance to retread through some of the primary crap one more time. Meh. I am so over Bill. Am I supposed to be excited that he's no longer acting like a child? He's still a rock star of the party though, so I hope he really gets out there and gives it his all. There cannot be a President McCain.

Next the show moves on to a Tom Foreman piece on micro-targeting, which basically involves the campaigns knowing every single thing about you. Looked at porn online last night? Oh, they totally know. Though pioneered by our friends on the Republican side of the aisle, it's the Obama camp who is currently winning the race to live in Orwell's 1984. So, yeah, it's creepy, but there's no going back now. And since Obama is kicking interweb butt, I say, stay gold pony boy! Also? I love the awe of the seemingly discovery that this new fangled Internet thingee is important!

On now to . . . drama on The View! Wait, that's news? Apparently the "N" word came up today, specifically Jesse Jackson's hypocritical use of the word. So anyway, Elizabeth gets all worked up about why we can't all just sing Kumbayah and buy the world a Coke. Or something like that. It's a little convoluted, causing Anderson to say he doesn't understand what she's even saying. We then get a piece from Jason Carroll that feels way too much like deja vu. Look, we know the deal here, right? Black people have taken a horrible nasty word and empowered themselves by changing its meaning. But white people still can't say it. And the debate as to whether anyone should ever say it rages on forever. You can apparently mark Elizabeth down under the "never say it" column. 360 then has a discussion about it, but it all feels rather pointless to me. Also, memo to anyone ever sitting in front of a camera or near a microphone: Don't say or do anything you don't want the world to see and/or hear! Because besides CNN, Harry Shearer is always waiting.

Next up, we've got an update on CNN's own little terrorist, Drew Griffin. To recap, Drew did an investigation into the amount of air marshals we have flying with us. Turns out? Not many. And the TSA was none to happy about this info getting out. Now, long story short, Drew has found himself on the terrorists watch list. The latest development is that representative Sheila Jackson Lee wants an investigation into why Drew has suddenly been deemed an enemy of the state. Man, I wish I was shocked or surprised, but I'm just not. And as bad as it is for Drew, it's probably actually going to be a blessing to a lot of people that got stuck on the list. Think about it, would regular Joe Schmo get this kind of coverage? You know there's thousands of people that are probably wrongly on that list. I think they said it contains 400,000 names. If there are really that many terrorists out there, we're in trouble. I love how Drew is all, "I will find that terrorist with my name!" Careful there buddy, you're already on the list. Next stop, Gitmo.

We've now come to the Crime and Punishment part of the program, but I couldn't care less, so we're moving on to Producer Jack Gray's very cool little documentary about democrats in Utah. At first I thought it would suck to be surrounded by all that red, but it actually might be kind of fun to have so many debating partners. As long as they're not the crazy kind. I'm liking these little films.

Gary Tuchman has the headlines tonight and we learn there's trouble at the St. Louis based Wachovia. Oh, WTF? We just lost Anheuser Busch to InBev. Seeing as though Wachovia owns blocks upon blocks here in downtown St. Louis, this is not good. Hopefully it's just a minor thing that will go away. Anyway, on now to "Beat 360" and guess who the staff winner is tonight. Why, it's our very own anchor, Anderson Cooper! I would've pegged him for never entering. And I agree with Erica Hill, the fix is totally in. Although I do enjoy the phrase "the Internets." He's so down with the lingo. Next thing you know he'll be doing the intro in LOLcat: "The news. I haz it." The Shot tonight was something horrible from Hamas disguised as a kid's show. We'll leave it at that. The show was good tonight. Fingers crossed it continues.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

There's News In My News

Hi everybody. I don't really have the time for a decent blog post tonight, but since the majority of my posts lately have definitely leaned toward the negative (and some might say had an air of bitchiness to them), I don't want to go mysterious quiet when we actually get a pretty good show. Iran, Iraq, the economy, and an investigation of the TSA? This deserves a "woo hoo!" Okay, sure, we still got lots of political talk that's neither here nor there and a crime and punishment piece that I could have done without (though it was placed at the end), but I'm going to hold off on the complaining because we just got Reza Aslan and Peter Bergen in the same broadcast. And Drew Griffin's piece was a highlight too. Poor Drew, though. As if flying isn't sucky enough. I guess there's a price to pay for investigative journalism. See, this is why I start all my emails with "suck it, TSA!"

So, was this upturn in quality just a fluke of the news cycle or have they decided to make their coverage newsier like before? I guess we'll find out.

Congrats to 360 for their Emmy nods! I don't remember if they even mentioned them. Man, I flipped on The Situation Room today and the Wolfbot was all over his show's Emmy nod. I guess they forgot to program in the modesty.

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Yorker Gets Stupid, Waxman Continues His Awesomeness, Afghanistan Update (OMG, Hard News!), And Jolie Pops Out Two More

Hi people. Happy new week! I hope you had a nice weekend. My weekend was . . . well, Eliza needs a break from life. I spent most of this past weekend in the ER/hospital. No, I didn't almost die again. It seems my mom's appendix wanted out. Like, immediately. So, for the last couple of days I've been hanging in the same damn hospital that I thought was going to keep me hostage forever. I swear, I'm about this close to being qualified to work there. Anyway, I seem to be living out Murphy's Law here right now, so, uh, don't stand next to me in a lightening storm, people.

As for the show, well, it seems the candidate's surrogates have run out of steam, so this week the media has decided to step in and take over the stupidness. Thanks New Yorker! As you no doubt know by now, New Yorker magazine decided it would be just so gosh-darn brilliant if they took every falsehood uttered about the Obamas and stuck them on the cover in picture form. The magazine claims the cover is "obvious satire," which, clearly it is not because if it was "obvious" we wouldn't be talking about it right now. I actually don't find the cover offensive. I'm just shocked that people who are smart enough to work at the New Yorker would make such an idiotic move.

Yes, news/political junkies can see that it's meant to be satire, but the nation is not made up of news/political junkies. All the magazine is doing is confusing people and reinforcing rumors. Sometimes I think people on my side of the political aisle actually do occasionally deserve that "elitist" label the Right is always trying to tag us with. The New Yorker assumed that everyone was up on all the smears against Obama, knew them to be false, and would therefore find the cover amusing. The New Yorker assumed wrong. It kind of reminds me of when people try to tell me that we can just blow off the mainstream media (MSM) and get all our news from online. Despite the fact that blogs rarely do their own reporting, people on my side of the aisle seem to forget that there are many people who still don't even have Internet access. It might be coming, but it's going to be a while before the majority of people stop getting their news from corporate sources. So we have to deal with the MSM whether we like it or not.

As for the magazine, this probably wouldn't have been quite the pickle if the cover art had been discussed, um, anywhere. But as Roland Martin pointed out, the story about Obama is not about the politics of fear. So anyway, we get a Gary Tuchman piece that uses random people on the street to show that, hey, yeah, the satire is not so obvious. As Anderson Cooper teases actual hard news coming up in the show, I say a little prayer that no missing white girl/celebrity antics news breaks in the next 30 minutes. When the show comes back, there's a Joe Johns piece that goes through all the Obama rumors, ticking them off as "not true." Awesomeness.

What's not awesome is the percentage of people that believes all that crap. But what are you going to do? If I knew how to make people inform themselves I'd be doing it. I'm actually a little surprised that CNN didn't take this opportunity to boast about how they were the ones to debunk the madrassa rumor a long time ago. Of course, the boasting they did back then lead poor Anderson to being crowned the Paris Hilton of news, so, uh, maybe best not. The coverage of this topic ends with an unnecessary "strategy session." I didn't have a problem with them covering this story, but half the show? Meh.

At about the halfway point we get some BREAKING NEWS that one of the hardest working men in Congress, Henry Waxman, is again sniffing out some corruption. Give that man a cape because he's a superhero if I ever saw one. The big to-do here is that there's a video of Bush fundraiser Steven Payne trying to get a donation to the Bush library in exchange for access to top Bush aides. Oops. That's a no no. Ed Henry dives in further with a piece and then afterwards tell us that Waxman is having a bit of trouble getting visitor logs from the White House. No! I'm shocked. "It's kind of remarkable you can't get visitor logs at the White House. I mean, it seems it's the public's building," says Anderson. No, actually it's not remarkable. That kind of thing has pretty much been standard operating procedure for over seven years now. It should be remarkable. But big points to 360 to giving coverage to a story that I quite frankly never would have expected to see on the show nowadays.

Speaking of things we haven't seen in a loooong time, remember that war that we never talk about when we're busy not talking about Iraq? Yep, we're getting an update on Afghanistan! Oh my God, happy dance! I'm only dancing for the coverage, not the actual content of the news. Because Peter Bergen and Nic Robertson are here to tell us that, ugh, things are not going well. The Taliban is resurging and it's just all the big suck, basically. But something really cool that 360 does is read us a statement from Obama about what he wants to do in the country and then Anderson talks to Peter to see how those plans would work out. Now, see. Was that so hard? We got actually information about an actual issue, instead of discussion of how the candidates should sell themselves. So . . . yay! 360, you get a cookie.

The last piece of the night is from Randi Kaye on the morality of celebs selling their baby's pictures to magazines. Oh, 360 you better hurry up and eat that cookie before I take it back. Anyway, this story has come about because Angelina Jolie just had her twins. Again. Didn't she have these kids like five times already? This is what happens when you get your important celebrity news from unreliable sources. So, uh, yeah. Hey look, Katherine Heigel got married. Oh yeah, I don't care. Is it wrong to pimp out your kids for cash? Yes. Will they still continue to do it? Yes. Why are we talking about this? I don't know.

In the headlines tonight we've got some kind of marine murdering thing going on, so 360 gets more points for not doing a package on that. We also learn the very sad news that InBev is buying Anheuser-Busch. Yeah, you probably don't care, but St. Louis is devastated. It's not just about beer (I hate beer), A-B is a part of this city almost as much as the Arch. It's not just a company; it's an icon. And A-B's philanthropy has made it very much a part of the community. Now everyone is wondering what will happen with all that. InBev is making a lot of promises, but there are very real fears about our economy. There actually might be a national story here too. Because St. Louisans are very much ticked at A-B stockholders right now and guess who just happens to own a boatload of A-B stock and looks to be making a killing from this deal? One Mrs. Cindy McCain. I actually don't know what power if any she had to stop this from happening, but we all know that in the end, reality doesn't matter--it's all about perception. If things go bad in this city, McCain may find himself unwelcome in parts of the "Show Me" state.

So hey, which one of you broke the blog tonight? I've actually kind of given up on the live-blog, but a friend told me that tonight she got a critical comment posted, only to have it deleted minutes later. Now, thinking about it, this probably was related to the technical difficulties, but I still have to laugh at her reply to being reminded that they supposedly welcome criticism: "They welcome criticism as much as the Chinese government." Ha! Okay, I don't think 360 is going all red state on us, but I do find it hard to believe there's nary a critical word said about the show's coverage. I guess it's lucky I'm here, huh? Heh. I actually thought tonight's show was on its way to being good. I was bracing for the suck, but then we got some news that's barely seen the light of day on this program in a long time. So yay! I guess adding hard news and ripping away the celeb crap all at once would be too traumatic. Baby steps. Do it again, 360!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

When Surrogates Won't Shut Up

Hi everybody. Campbell Brown is rocking the house for Anderson Cooper again tonight. Yesterday, idiocy from Jesse Jackson. Today, former senator Phil Gramm. Will it ever end? No, probably not. The show tonight opened with the Gramm controversy. Shocking! The scuttlebutt here is that McCain's economy guy thinks things are going just peachy with the nation's finances and Americans are just a bunch of whiners for, you know, not being able to feed their kids. I think Gramm is totally right about the whining. I mean, when collection agencies call because you can't afford to pay your bills, they're all, "whine, whine, we want our money, whine." Don't they know the economy is doing great?

So, obviously, Gramm's comments make him look a wee bit out of touch and insensitive, and McCain gets those labels slapped on his head by association. Time to backtrack! Or, "clarify," in politico speak. Once Obama pounced on the gaffe ("I want all of you to know that America already has one Dr. Phil." Zing!), Gramm was all, "dude, I wasn't talking about you America. I was talking about your leaders." Uh huh. And because take-backsies aren't always a for sure cleaner-upper of messes made by loose-lipped surrogates, we get some of the distancing thing going on from McCain. He was all,"I don't know him. I never talked to him. I don't even know if I've heard of him."

Okay, he didn't go quite that far, but hey man, Bush tried the approach with Abramoff, so why not? All this "fun" of course leads us into a "strategy session" with David Gergen, Ed Rollins, and Robert Zimmerman. As Campbell throws out to commercial, she tells us that McCain has other problems as well, "He's also dealing with a political side effect, if you will, of Viagra. And, no, it's not what you're thinking." Well, I don't know what shes thinks I'm thinking, but thanks to that comment, she's got me thinking about something disturbing. Thanks, Campbell!

The show then moves into a Joe Johns piece on that Viagra problem that was just mentioned. See, earlier this week McCain campaign co-chair Carly Fiorina made the mistake of saying something true--she pointed out that it's unfair that some insurance companies will cover Viagra and not birth control. Then some enterprising reporter actually asked McCain about it on the campaign trail. And here's where things get interesting. What followed was the longest and most awkward pause known to man before the "straight talker" simply mumbled about not knowing enough about it. You know, when people are already talking about your age, it's probably best not to look like you're having a stroke when someone asks you a simple question. And kudos to the reporter for asking the question, but man, I wanted to smack her for giggling with McCain instead of continuing to follow up. Our panel thinks this makes McCain look out of touch. Um, duh.

The political coverage then continues with the topic of Jesse Jackson's "nuts" comments. I like how they keep replaying that clip, yet bleep out the word. Because that makes sense. Anyway, we get a Randi Kaye piece on the generational shift going on in black America and then there is, of course, a panel. I do like to see Amy Holmes, but I don't really see any point here. Bill Cosby has been talking about this stuff for years.

Thus endeth the political coverage. Well, it was still pretty irrelevant, but hey, at least it was material I could have fun with, right? I'm looking for the silver lining here, people. Although I am truly glad to finally have McCain, who has been getting a complete free pass lately, have to contend with bad press. I wish it was because of his own actions and not a surrogate's, but oh well. And actually I will agree that both Gramm's statements and the "Viagra problem" were worth noting, but man, those "strategy sessions" have got to go. But keep The Gerg. Because we love him. I know I sound like a broken record, but here we are talking about the economy and it's all about perception of the candidate, and not about what's really going wrong. Where's the piece about the economy? I realize that stuff takes time to produce, but hell, they could have shown a couple quick clips from Gary Tuchman's report on poverty (or just used it for b-roll) and then had on an actual expert on the subject to talk about how things are really going for Americans and how the candidate's plans may or may not help them. Think outside the box, people. I'm just saying.

The show then moves on to an interview with those Colombian hostages. One of them apparently has five-year-old twins he never met. So that's pretty aw-worthy. And we also learn that they made their own chess set and played to pass the time. That's pretty amazing.

Then we're on to more JonBenet Ramsey coverage. Ahh!!! Okay, actually we're probably only at the level of eye roll on the news suckiness scale because this has some actual news sprinkled in in the form of new science. And then we get Jeffrey Toobin to talk about the case. I love me some Toobin, but does he have to talk about this? Why can't he be here to discuss, like, Rove ignoring his subpoena. Oh, right. 360 doesn't do that kind of news anymore. Sorry hard news, you've been relegated to the headlines.

Finally tonight, we get a very cool little film from CNN producer Chuck Hadad. Basically, he drives all over the country talking to people about the election. Nothing fancy, but this is the kind of stuff we need to see more. Actually, Chuck's film is sort of promotion for this thing they're doing called the "iReport film festival." Hm, don't know how I feel about that. It screams gimmick, but hey, they'll probably get some stuff that's better than what they've been putting on air a lot of nights lately. I just hope the prize isn't a t-shirt. Heh. Anyway, I wanted to see all of Chuck's film, but the link wasn't working for me for some reason. After some searching, I found it here for those interested. I really hope he corrected that woman on Obama's "Muslimness." And to the guy with the ridiculous argument against gay marriage: Dude, it's not going to lead to marriage with an animal. There's this thing called consent. Comprende?

Because it makes me smile, I leave you with The Shot from a couple of days ago ("Where the Hell is Matt?") and a little extra joy below it to kick start your weekend.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

In Other News, R.I.P. Fourth Amendment

Hi everybody. Sorry I missed yesterday. I watched, but was not feeling very bloggy. Well, I am never going to get my issue-driven campaign coverage, am I? Because some surrogate somewhere always has to say something stupid. And then of course the media, who apparently can't help themselves, get whipped up into such a tizzy you'd swear someone found the friggin cure for cancer. Case in point, today I happened to flip on The Situation Room and the Wolfbot's circuits are shorting left and right over the BREAKING NEWS that Jesse Jackson had said something "crude" about Barack Obama. Knowing immediately that the kerfuffle was going to be 360's top story, I have to say, the word that came out of my mouth was pretty crude as well.

What's funny (and/or stupid, depending how you look at it) is that the Wolfbot would not spill on exactly what it was that Jackson said, leaving me to wonder, "why am I even watching this, then?" So I turned off the tube and took to the Internets, because at that point I was thinking of all kinds of obscene things he could have said. The 360 blog was a little more specific, but there was still a blank. Finally, during the 360 broadcast we learned that the missing word was "nuts," which turned out to actually be a lot milder than the word my brain had put in that blank. So, Jesse Jackson expressed a desire to go all Lorraine Bobbit on Obama because he thinks Obama is talking down to black people. Disgusting and offensive? Yes. But too "crude" to put on the air (or in a blog post)? Really? Aren't these the same cable news shows that like to give us every gory detail of the latest sensational murder? Or remember those disgusting Cho pictures they bombarded us with after Virginia Tech? Now suddenly they have standards.

So anyway, of course 360 had to whip out a panel with Campbell Brown (in for Anderson Cooper) to talk about all this and blah, blah, blah. Whatever. But I do have to note that David Gergen might just be the most reasonable person on earth. Seriously, we need to appoint him Reasonableness Czar or something. That way when the country starts to go all crazy he can just say, "hold on a second folks, I've got some reasonableness to lay down on you." There would be a lot less yelling in the world if everyone was like The Gerg, I'll tell you that.

Then the show goes into even more political non issue stuff and at that point I was actually lying down with my finger on the remote to turn off the TV . . . when suddenly Reza Aslan appeared. Ooh and he brought actual insight into an actual issue! Yay! That discussion with him and The Gerg was actually informative. Two points, 360.

After that, Campbell talks with The Gerg about Obama's regrets over letting Access Hollywood interview his daughters. I don't see what the big deal is. He let America see his kids, who are adorable. If he was doing this every week it would be different.

Then we're on to Gary Tuchman with an update on polygamy dude, Warren Jeffs. Apparently they thought he was dying or something and took him to the hospital. But it turns out he wasn't dying, at least not right then. All I have to say is no fair dying before you do your time. I'm looking at you, Ken Lay.

The final story of the night is about--wait for it--the murder of JonBenet Ramsey! You ever get the feeling at some point that the news cycle is just messing with you? No? Just me then? Well, it is all about me. Seriously though, what the hell? This case won't go away. I mean, I know what happened was horrible, but it's been over a decade and it wasn't exactly newsy news to begin with. I will give 360 props though for sticking it at the end where it belongs because I wouldn't have been surprised if they stuck this puppy at the top and went all BREAKING NEWS with it.

The fact that this story broke today is kind of perfectly fitting. In 2006, there was an out and out newsgasm when some freak named John Mark Karr confessed to killing the beauty queen. And while all our reporter friends were bringing us the very important details of what Karr ate on his plane ride, a little bill called the Military Commissions Act of 2006 quietly became law . . . and killed habeas corpus. Today, the Democratic-lead senate capitulated on the FISA vote . . . sending the fourth amendment to its grave. Since 360 gave this extremely important story all of about 30 seconds, you might want to read up on what just happened.

I don't know what to say about the show anymore. They're doing a wider variety of topics, I'll give them that, but they don't seem to be covering hardly anything I care about anymore. What's funny is that I started watching this show in the first place because it seemed like 360/Anderson cared about many of the same things I do. Now most of that stuff seems to be gone. I know a lot of long time loyal fans have stopped watching. A lot of others are waiting it out until after the election. The problem with that is by that time the show is going to be so used to easy ratings, I don't see them ever going back to the great coverage that we now miss. It kind of sounds like I'm give the "it's not you, it's me" breakup speech, doesn't it? Except, well, it is totally them. But don't worry people, I'm not for sure tossing in my blogging towel yet. 360 goes in quality cycles. They're due to get better soon, right? Right?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Obama's Perceived Centrism, McCain's Makeover, Colombian Hostage Rescue Update, Celeb Nonsense, Big Bertha, and California Fires (Monday's Show)

Hi everybody. I hope everyone had a nice holiday. I decided that fireworks and combustible oxygen do not mix, so I stayed holed up inside watching movies since my neighborhood tends to sound like Baghdad this time of year (and reek of sulfur). I also spent the weekend trying to explain to my dog that it was really okay and the world was in fact not ending. He was having none of it. Such a baby. And then today when I was driving to work, my car was hit with an American flag. You think that means something? I'm a bit disturbed by the possible symbolism. For the flag purists out there, I swear to God I swerved, but that flag was out to get me. Not the first thing you'd expect to see flying through the air at you.

Anyhoo, tonight I'm going to do a sort-of review, meaning I'm going to do this puppy in the present tense like I used to and sort-of go through the hour. Ready? We kick things off with Anderson Cooper playing us some sound bytes from the campaign trail. McCain claims Obama is going to screw up the economy even worse than it is by raising taxes, while Obama shoots back with a firm denial, or a, "nuh uh," if you will. The show then goes on to analyze both candidate's economic plans, explaining to us who is telling the truth and which plan will be best for today's current economy. Kidding! Kidding! That would be too helpful. No, like usual, 360 just gives us the standard he said/he said and then drops the subject all together. (This semi answers the tax question for those interested.)

Next up, Jessica Yellin tells us all about the "new" McCain and how he just had a staff shake-up. Hm, can they make him a good speaker, younger, less prone to gaffes, and not a republican? Because that might actually help. And though 360 isn't going to spend any time fact checking his economic plan, we do get a bizarre tax-related sound byte from some woman who has obviously mistaken the town hall for some kind of audience participation improv show.

We then move on to Obama. Unexpected Obama! Well, unexpected for my city, anyway. Apparently he had to make an emergency landing here in St. Louis after "an emergency slide deployed in flight inside the plane." I hate it when that happens. So anyway, Joe Johns has this piece and it's all about how Obama is, oh my God, moving to the center. Meh. This is so overblown. But we have to talk about it with a panel. Of course. David Gergen is totally on the he's-shifting-center bandwagon, but I don't think this is a stark a change as some are saying. The truth is, though Obama currently has rock star status with many on the left, he actually wasn't their first choice. Sometimes not even their second choice.

Look back at the polls done on at the beginning of the primary season. Obama was not liberal enough for most people there and there have been documented issues with him and some in that very left leaning community since back in 2005. Am I disappointed in his stance on FISA? A little. Do I feel some sort of betrayal because he's not the liberal candidate I thought he was. Um, no.
Besides, Anderson pretty much sums it up best when he asks, "As much as some on the left may complain about this move to the center, does it matter? Where else are they going to go?" Exactly.

Clinton was even worse with the centrism, but if she was the nominee the left would be fighting for her right now because there's no where else to go. Sit out? The netroots don't do that. Vote for McCain? What have you been smoking? The panel also discusses the "new" McCain and Anderson quotes Bill Kristol. The quote is irrelevant, but I've said this once and I'm sure I'll have to say it again, why why would anyone ever quote that man? He's been wrong every single time. I mean, drag some random dude in off the street and he's going to be right more than Bill Kristol. Quit rewarding incompetence, 360.

The review is going to go a lot quicker now because there's not much to say. We transition to coverage of the Colombian hostage rescue. There's some amazing footage of when the hostages first found out they were free and there's a great Karl Penhaul piece. Then we move on to Gary Tuchman bringing us the high profile world of celebrity breakups and Randi Kaye tells us how Madonna wooed A-Rod with Kabbalah. What, no panel for discussion? Jebus. Seriously, 360? On a day when a suicide bombing leaves 40 dead in Kabul, these are the kind of pieces you think deserve coverage?

Next up, we have the always awesome Chad Myers here to talk us through the looming threat of hurricane Bertha, or "Big Bertha," as she's already been dubbed. Then we're off to California to tackle another natural disaster: fires. Dan Simon brings us a piece on some guys that set a backfire in order to save their home, which they did. Problem? Setting backfires is totally illegal and now they are totally busted. What they did could have gone really wrong, but you have to feel for people who were just doing what they could to save their home.

The Shot tonight is this crazy guy who's flying around in a lawn chair being held up by balloons. Some people have too much time on their hands. As for the show, um . . . let me first say something positive: Beat 360 tonight was totally full of win. Oh, and I also am generally happy to see they seem to be trying to include a wider variety of topics lately. But . . . the political coverage is still not helpful and those two celeb pieces? What the hell? 360, I know your prior self is out there somewhere. Come back!

Friday, July 04, 2008

From Around The Internets

Okay, I wasn't going to do a whole new post for this stuff, but when I try to update my last post, everything just disappears. So, uh, I think I'm going to leave it alone. Anyway, you know how Anderson Cooper and Greta Van Susteren made nice on their respective blogs and everyone was so impressed with the civility? Yeah, well that's totally over. I especially like how she accuses him of making money off of Katrina and exploiting the tragedy. Although, implying he's nothing more than a teleprompter reader comes in a close second. But it's okay 360, apparently you're still tops in polygamy. And yeah people, I'm being sarcastic. Low blows, Greta. Low blows. This is why I still have to cheer them on for kicking her butt even though I'm not happy with their coverage right now.

Speaking of their coverage, random columnist dude feels the same way I do.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Flip-Flopping And Truthiness

Hi everybody. So, apparently 360's still on the irrelevant politics kick. When Obama said he would make decisions about Iraq based on facts on the ground, shouldn't we all have been saying, "thank you!" instead of clutching our pearls? But no, once again 360 essentially played the role of a cable news-shaped rubber ball, being bounced back and forth between the two campaigns. I mean, seriously, the fact that the McCain camp is calling Obama a flip-flopper is completely ludicrous. The supposed "maverick" has flip-flopped more than those fish that hit David Mattingly. Say what you want about Keith Olbermann's partisanship and penchant for occasional immaturity, at least he calls this crap like it is. Check out all these McCain flip-flops he was able to document:

So anyway, this was a total non story. And I was mildly amused at Obama's do-over press conference. You know he wanted to be all, "why are you being retarded?" There is a real issue here: the war. We could have gotten coverage of that, but instead we got another useless panel (more on that in a sec). Where's Michael Ware? Peter Bergen? They just extended the tours of marines in Afghanistan because it's pretty bad over there. In fact, more troops died in Afghanistan last month than at any time since 2001 when we invaded. But I guess that's not worthy for discussion on 360. At least not anymore.

I actually didn't set out to complain about war coverage. What I'd like to focus on are a couple of exchanges between Cliff May, president of the conservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and radio talk show host Ed Schultz. First exchange:
MAY: Yes. And I think also on some of the more left-wing blogs, Obama is taking some hits.

But this does move him to the center. And, look, I want to put -- I'm not a big fan of his, but I'm going to put the best spin on it, which is that he understands the situation fairly well, certainly better than the Daily Kos does and some of those on the left who would like to see America defeated in Iraq as a demonstration exercise that U.S. power never, never can be used for good.

SCHULTZ: Whoa. Whoa.

That is absolutely outrageous. That is outrageous for you to say that people on the left want to lose in Iraq. I'm not going to sit here and listen to that. This is the Fourth of July. We are Americans. We don't believe in fighting in Iraq the way we are doing. We're depleting our resources. That's ridiculous.
You know, I'm not really a fan of Ed Schultz because he's a yeller, but boy was I cheering him on. I cannot believe in 2008 this BS is still being said on national television. It's extremely insulting to a large portion of the country. And I really wish that, instead of ceding the floor to a partisan food fight, Anderson Cooper would have jumped in there and got May to actually defend his statement with actual evidence. Or, you know, got him to reveal his magical power of knowing what other people want. This brings us to the second exchange:
MAY: Yes. Yes.

And also, on the FISA, just so people understand, this is a vitally important bill. It restores to our intelligence authority -- agencies the authority they used to have to monitor terrorists overseas, foreign terrorists on foreign soil.

COOPER: With oversight.

MAY: Now, Obama was against this -- with oversight -- Obama was against this bill, and Nancy Pelosi wouldn't let the House vote on it, where it had a bipartisan majority. We were losing vital intelligence. It's now passed the House.

Only those on the very far left are opposed to the Senate passing it. The Senate probably will pass it next week, and the president will sign it. And Obama is now for it. This is an issue I have been very involved in. And I say I am glad to see he's come around on this very vital piece of legislation that helps protect Americans. I'm not going to criticize him for changing his mind. If he will study the issue and move to the center, I think that's something that should be praised.
May is right. It is a vital issue, which makes one wonder why Bush threatened to veto the bill if it didn't include immunity for the telecom companies. Yeah, you read that right. Your safety is important to him, but not as important as protecting the telecoms from being sued by people that had their rights violated. Funny how May didn't mention that part, huh? If anyone is responsible for us losing vital intelligence, it's Bush. Of course, if he said that, he couldn't paint us all as terrorist-appeasing commies. And again, Anderson says nothing while truthiness takes over his show.

Okay, I'm probably being too hard on him. He's under time constraints and I certainly don't expect any anchor to be a walking encyclopedia of information, able to fact-check anything on the fly. But for a show that takes pride in sticking to the facts and letting us decide, it would be nice if these kind of misleading statements weren't just let go. Maybe I wouldn't be so bugged if the show had consistently been covering the FISA fight, which has been in the news for quite a while, though you wouldn't know that by watching 360. Anyway, this guest problem isn't new. I remember when Jon Stewart ripped into CNN back in 2005 when Kyra Phillips let some anti-gay spokesperson use a discredited study to prove why gays shouldn't adopt. This is the problem with filling your time with talking heads instead of actual news. That's all from me tonight. Happy Fourth!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Good News From Colombia And Why Good Ratings Don't Necessarily Always Equal Quality News

Well, I had this all typed up after the show and then lightening struck my Internets. The provider of my Internets, anyway. Don't you just love hanging on the phone with tech support? Sigh.

Hi everybody! Tonight was all BREAKING NEWS, but it was shockingly about something good. So, as always, let's take a moment to savor. You done? Okay, so for the past five years three Americans (and others actually) have been held hostage by FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and today, after Colombia's military intelligence finagled some awesome punking of their captors, they're coming home. Woo hoo! You might remember that 360 covered the hostage story back in May 2007 and then again that June (at which time I apparently learned to correctly spell "Colombia").

In terms of coverage criticism, this is a toughy. So I'm going to start with the pats on the back. Stories like these are when CNN's wide-ranging reach really gets its chance to shine. Doing a story on Colombia? Dude, we've got somebody living there. Get him on the phone. And kudos to Anderson Cooper and the rest of the 360 team for smoothly handling a changing story, all the while supplying us with mostly informative guests.

Now onto the criticism. Regular viewers know 360 has a big tendency to shark-jump with stories, be it over one day or several. We've all seen it. You start watching a story and you think, "this is a good/important story." Then they cover it more and you think to yourself, "still a good/important story." Then they cover it more and start adding in speculation, causing you to think, "okay, when are they moving on?" At this point all the newsiness is gone from the story, but they're still covering it and you're angry, thinking, "Jeebus, is nothing else going on in the world?" And the next thing you know you're watching a reporter stake out a prostitute. For example.

Did they shark-jump tonight? Honestly, I'm not really sure. I mentally checked out due to distractions about 40 minutes in. Everything I paid attention to was pretty solid, but I do know it was the only story they covered. Playing devil's advocate against myself, the show would argue that they're keeping on the story for viewers just checking in to catch the breaking news and besides, isn't that kind of the point of a 24-hour news network?

So they'd have a good case. One does wonder, however, why they went to tape during most of the second hour if the story was important enough to drown out all other coverage in the first hour. And about that, I've said this before, but 360 seriously needs to throw up a "previously taped" bug for their second hour, especially when they have breaking news. Because the average clicking-around viewer doesn't realize that what they're watching isn't live and when Anderson or a guest talks about something to come "next hour," it's not cool because there is no "next hour." Next hour is Larry King. And nobody wants unexpected Larry King. It's jarring.

I'm going to transition now to Anderson Cooper's kind of unusual post on the blog today. Unusual for him anyway--he's not much of a ratings talker. So, 360 is beating Greta. Woo! Pizza party! I'd take issue with the ratings skewing, but I'm about to rain on their parade anyway. Before that though, let's take a look at this part of the post:
Some people seem to spend as much time trashing their rivals as they do reporting the news. I understand why they do it, I get it, but I don’t want to take part in it, and I respect the fact that my competition on FOX, Greta Van Susteren has chosen not to do that as well.
Uh, come again? Has somebody forgotten about being crowned "The Paris Hilton of News"? Okay, you could argue that Greta had nothing to do with it. But what about when she dissed how many people 360 has on their staff? Or when she recently did some kind of mocking about the "Beat 360" t-shirts (granted Anderson has also done mocking of those) I'm not completely sure what all she said because I came across the post on the Google, not long after it was made, but it had already been taken down or something. You can see a little bit of it here. Perhaps this was just Anderson's way of saying, "hey there Greta, how about we play nice and not make nasty ads about each other, k? Thanks." A preemptive strike with kindness, if you will.

Now, on to the meatier criticism. Says Anderson:
We’ve focused a lot on politics these past six months, and our viewers have responded. It’s great to win, but it’s even better to win reporting on things that are important. So, thank you, and I promise we will continue to work hard to bring you in depth coverage of the day’s most important stories.
Look, I can't argue about the viewers responding. Clearly they're tuning in. And tripping over each other on the blog to heap praise, though that's another story. But all that doesn't automatically mean they're bringing us "in depth coverage of the day's most important stories." You know the phrase, "you don't know what you're missing"? Well, I think a lot of viewers think they're getting great coverage simply because they don't know what they're missing.

I have two examples of this from my own life. First off, I have this family member who is very smart and very educated. One day I started talking to her about the news and somehow the latest missing white girl came up. She was upset about the story and asked me what I thought. I explained that I of course hoped everything would turn out alright, but quite frankly didn't think it was something the national news should be focusing on. And you know what? She completely agreed; she just really hadn't thought about it like that before. Another time I was discussing the Military Commissions Act of 2006 with this same family member and how it ripped away habeas corpus rights. She was upset and said something I still remember to this day: "but I didn't hear anything about that."

The other example took place in college and might just be what I would call my media awakening. I actually minored in Media Communications, but funnily enough the biggest media lesson I learned in college was in an intense psychology class on the Holocaust. The professor came into the room and split the blackboard in two with her chalk. At the top of the first section she wrote, "Lewinsky scandal," and at the top of the second section she wrote, "Kosovo." She then opened the floor for us to call out everything we knew about each subject, which she subsequently wrote down. By the time all the responses had peetered out, the "scandal" section of the board was completely covered, while the second section was only about a fifth covered. And almost all of that information had been provided by one woman who explained she was an avid NPR listener. Obviously the Lewinsky thing lead to very important news, but all the irrelevant details of the scandal itself were covered ad nauseam. We all know about the stained dress and Linda Tripp, don't we?

I think a lot of us left that room feeling a sense of shame. The thing was, I did try to keep up with the mainstream news. I was a busy college student, so I didn't have time to sit down and do a lot of newspaper reading, but I thought I had things covered. Sure, I was aware that the news could be sensational. I just never really thought about the fact that while they were being sensational, they weren't telling me really important things. There was my lesson staring me in the face in the form of a blackboard. It was a good lesson to learn. That afternoon I programmed NPR into my car radio and that night I found an international news broadcast to watch on PBS.

So what's my point here? People are busy. They have lives and work and kids. And 99.9% of them aren't freaks like me who count news as a hobby. They don't know half the important things they're missing. I'm not trying to claim that something like habeas corpus was never covered at all. What I'm saying is it never got the kind of coverage that let it get to the tipping point where it becomes a topic of national conversation. Imagine if that, or troops getting electrocuted in Iraq, or any number of very important things got Imus-type coverage. News would be different. Better. More informative. Americans need a little help right now. Some of us are working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. People don't have time to be editors. I would never expect (or want) the media to tell us what to think. But whether they like it or not, they do tell us what to think about and it would be nice if we could see more of those "most important stories," that Anderson seems to think 360 is covering every night.

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