Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Speculation Nation

Hi everybody. I think maybe I was being nice yesterday in saying 360 was sort of getting their groove back. Because today I browsed around in my archives and there's a lot of hard news in there. Tons of war coverage. Remember the war(s)? The 360 of today pales in relation to some of those shows. Sure, we went through the Anna Nicole Smith marathon and O.J. Simpson debacle, but the informative and interesting shows seemed to have outnumbered the bad ones. So yesterday I guess I was just trying out being an optimist. Apparently it doesn't work for me.

Tonight wasn't all bad. The show actually kicked off with a really good piece from Candy Crowley on the candidates and their plans for the economy. A real issue! With bullet points! But then after the piece there was a "strategy session" and things took a downturn again. As usual, the whole discussion was not really about the issues, but how the candidates can sell themselves on the issues. This reminds me of a particular scathing segment of America: The Book by Jon Stewart and team:
These spineless cowards in the press have finally gone too far. They have violated a trust. "Was the president successful in convincing the country?" Who gives a shit? Why not tell us if what he said was true?
I know the horse race is interesting, ratings-grabbing, and less work to cover. Americans are really having a sucky time of it now and could use the media's help in keeping the national dialogue on fixing our country's problems. Don't get me wrong, I love to hear from people like David Gergen, but all the speculation is getting out of control. It's taking time away from actual news. There's been some criticism (not just by me) of 360's all-politics-all-the-time lately and I really think people wouldn't be so bugged by it if there was more substance.

I suppose the show would argue that they're just covering what the candidates are doing. Okay. I can agree with that to an extent. But there have been times the candidates have talked about issues and the show decided to cover an irrelevant controversy. And if, say, the candidates are discussing the economy, instead of having on a panel of political analysts, why not have on, I don't know, economists. You know, to talk about the actual plans, not how they're going to sell them to the public. (They came close with having on Marcus Mabry, but he just talked politics.) But anyway, I'm just blogging into the wind here, people. Because when the ratings are rocking they could care less if critics come a-knocking.

The rest of the show went like so: Jessica Yellin brought us a story on Obama getting his God on by laying out his plan to expand Bush's faith-based initiative program. Not sure how I feel about that. From there, Susan Roesgen brought us the news that a serial killer was caught in Illinois. Um what?! Apparently there was a serial killer about 30 minutes away from me last night. Hm, I need to pay attention to the local news more. Anyway, that little news was followed by completely pointless sensational speculation from a psychologist. Can't get an update from Iraq, but we can go into the mind of a killer.

After that nonsense, we have a horrible story from Mary Snow about another woman ignored and left to die in an emergency room. You might remember the case of Edith Rodriguez from a year ago. What is wrong with people? Finally, after watching the blog go nuts on the topic, 360 decided to revisit the story of Joe Horn, the Texan who killed two men robbing his neighbor's house. Now Horn claims that he's not a hero, was scared out of his mind, and was only defending himself. Duuuude, you shot two guys in the back. Sorry if I'm not buying your story. This, of course, leads to a debate with Lisa Bloom and my new not favorite person, radio host Lars Lawson. Lars is a total shoot first, ask questions later type of guy. It's not the friggin Wild West, dude! Thank God, Lisa brought some sanity: "And you know, under American law, we've elevated human right over property rights." Word.

In other news, during tonight's Beat 360 we finally learn the source of Anderson's t-shirt hostility. It seems no one ran them by him first (oh noes!). His beef? The graphics are too big. But the out-of-control graphics on his show? Apparently just peachy. Oh, irony. The Shot tonight was that horrific Ped Egg commercial because it's getting pulled from CNN (and I guess everywhere else?) due to a law suit. I have to say, when I first saw the part where they dump it out, I think I threw up in my mouth a little. Because, ewww! But 360 is going to miss the disgusting hilarity and have therefore sent it off with a fitting tribute, complete with "Memories" soundtrack. "Ped Egg, we hardly knew you," says Anderson.

Speaking of things we hardly knew, has TV Talk already died a sad and quiet 360 blog death? Readers might remember I felt the new posts were a bit gimicky and apparently they only did two. Of course, it's only been a week or so and it might very well come back, but I think I shall give it a proper send-off anyway, just in case. Goodbye, TV Talk! You're on your way to the land-that-360-forgot. Don't be scared though. You'll have the Blog From the Back Row, Voice of 360 contest, 360 Political Theme Song contest, and Erica Cam to keep you company.

Finally, TVNewser has this interesting quote from 360 Executive Producer David Doss regarding his view that Greta is actually not their direct competition:
"Are we on at the same time? Yes. Do we want to win? Of course we do. Does she want to win? Yes. But it's apples and oranges," Doss says. "We're a news program — that is not a news program. It's missing-person-of-the-day. There's an audience for that, but it's not what we do. We're covering the world, not just covering who's missing today."
And it didn't take long for the Fox News mouthpiece to shoot back:
A Fox News spokesperson tells TVNewser: "A top story on the AC 360 blog right now is titled, 'Missing 12-Year-Old Girl — 'Stranger Danger' doesn't help.' Enough said. The level of Doss' hypocrisy is staggering — way to 'Keep Them Honest', fellas..." The spokesperson also says Cooper has covered, "an array of crime stories such as Joe Horn and the pregnant soldier's suspicious death, not to mention polygamy ad nauseam."
Oh snap! Look, I like David Doss (though in all honestly I know virtually nothing about him). I've defended David Doss. But, man, he's got some denial going on about his show these days. Because the Fox mouthpiece has a point. And typing that sentence makes the baby Jesus cry. No, 360 is not as bad as Greta. But I think sometimes they're a lot more similar that they'd ever want to admit. And do they really want to be driving around with the bumper sticker that says, "360: Slightly better than Greta and Fox News!" No, they don't. Let's hope this little (ratings) spat doesn't end with poor Anderson in the trades again.


Blogger Lulu said...

Great post Eliza.

I agree, I like hearing David Gergen's perspective on politics, but GOOD GRIEF, enough already!!! But like you said, the ratings are rocking. It's pretty sad that the show's format now is getting ratings, but when they brought us a more worldly format, the ratings suffered. That says something.

I just couldn't get into The Shot. The whole Ped Egg thing was a little too silly for me.

That David Doss/ Fox News spokesman spat: YIKES! But with all due respect to Mr. Doss, 360 has covered a lot of crime stories lately. Anyone remember what Anderson used to say about Natalie Holloway? Now more time is being given to titillating stories. When was the last time we heard anything on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan? And what the heck happened to New Orleans?

I've been thinking more and more that Anderson should do more pieces like he does for 60 Minutes and less anchoring. I would love for him to show more stuff from the field. He really excels there. Wouldn't it be great if the first hour were news of the day and the second hour were a long-piece on a single topic? I think he'd blow everyone else out of the water doing that. But that's just wishful thinking.

1:07 AM  
Anonymous rosephile said...

Lulu's idea ROCKS, but I think they're too used to easy ratings and lazy programming for that now. It's really unfortunate. I mean, they've known for years that the international coverage (aka REAL NEWS) doesn't get good ratings--I remember Anderson saying that during his Niger coverage back in summer '05--so I wonder what/who finally made the decision to cut out that coverage and really just go for the ratings?

I'm dismayed that the ratings have spoken and they want the sensational and the brainless (no "letting [us] decide" going on now! Instead, it's two viewpoints yammering at us deigned to numb the critical thinking part of the consciousness). Whee!

2:05 AM  
Anonymous rosephile said...

(not deigned!)

2:07 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

@lulu--Right on about all the stuff we're missing. I'm really upset about the lack of war coverage since it's so important and I can't quite believe how the show has seemed to drop New Orleans. I've seen other CNN shows actually cover stories from the area that weren't touched by 360. I'm not even necessarily of the belief that Anderson needs to get down there a lot. But for goodness sake, at least have somebody do a package every once and a while to update.

As for your idea, it's awesome, but probably not feasible. We have to remember that while a "60 Minutes" piece is only about 10-15 minutes for us to watch, it takes an unbelievable amount of time to produce. I think what you're talking about is basically like having a new CNN special run every night and that's just not realistically possible. But that doesn't mean they couldn't do it on occasion or do an hour long show again like they did with Michael Ware and the four wars in Iraq. Actually, I think Anderson said they were going to do more of those. I wonder what happened to that.

As for all the recent "Anderson needs to get back in the field" talk. You know, maybe the guy's tired. I love seeing him in the field, but I'd be plenty satisfied just to get consistent quality news.

@rosephile--yeah, stuff like Niger doesn't get good ratings. But then again, how long did people have to realize what he was doing and watch? Not long. I have maintained all along there's an audience out there for that kind of coverage; the show just needs to be given time for the viewers to find them.

3:47 AM  

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