Friday, February 27, 2009

President Obama's Iraq Plans, Question Time, Calling Out Jindal On Katrina, And Anderson Cooper Gets A Midshow Lesson In Onion Chopping

Hi everybody. We kick things off with the BREAKING NEWS that two other banks have bit the dust. I was hoping that I misheard and instead of saying "bank failures" Anderson Cooper was actually reporting about delicious candy inexplicably falling from the sky. But sadly, no. So, yeah...things still suck. On a related note, today President Obama gave a speech to the troops at Camp Lejeune concerning his plans to get us out of the suck, otherwise known as Iraq. So here's the deal: all "combat troops" will be out of Iraq by August 2010 and the 50,000 remaining will come home by the end of 2011. That...actually...sounds reasonable. Wow.

Next up, we have a Tom Foreman piece that takes a further look at the topic. We learn that before the last administration left office, they actually struck a withdrawal deal with the Iraqis too. However, what's not mentioned is that the plan so was not their choice. No props for them! It's also noted that the whole "non combat" troop thing is totally just political. To that I say, uh, duh. Obama is a politician and I'm not going to pretend like he's not. The 50,000 troops will definitely be involved in combat and though I'm not thrilled with it, I'm not ready to be really ticked either. If he breaks his 2011 promise though...

We then go to Ed Henry and Michael Ware for discussion. Michael calls the 50,000 troops thing "a political shell game" because there's not enough to deter anyone posing a threat, but they themselves can still be killed. Yep, pretty much. Which again is why I'm not thrilled with that part. Michael then brings up the Status of Forces Agreement, which basically ended the war under the last prez anyway. "That's not what the Bush administration wanted, but they really didn't have much choice. That's what the Iraqis wanted," clarifies Anderson. Good on him for pointing that out. Too bad the coverage of the SOFA was almost nill (on 360) when it was actually happening. Always great to hear from Michael on this, especially since his views on the war have not always matched up with my own. It's hard to find someone from the other side you can trust.

Ali Velshi at the Wall of Doom now and I just can't take this anymore. Somebody tell me when it's over.

Moving on to a Candy Crowley piece that breaks down Obama's tax program. After the complete and total failure of trickle down economics, Obama has decided to take a stab at trickle up. You know what that means: zoh my Gawd, socialism! Well, at least that's what the conservatives are saying--what they'll always be saying. Meh. The only possible bad I see here is that the new budget scales back the amount a person can deduct for a charitable donation. This has charities worried, especially in this economy. It's a legitimate issue. But then again, I have to say, if you're just donating to get the tax deduction, you're kind of a dick.

Ask the "expert" time! We've got Ali Velshi and CNN Personal Finance Editor Gerri Willis taking your questions. I'm not really into these kinds of segments, but I will say thank God it's not Suze Orman. There were a couple of things of note here. I love how Gerri's advice to the guy with the credit card problems was to "remember that it's a privilege to have a credit card." How helpful! The advice to the broke and jobless 23-year-old wasn't much better. Ali suggested he move to a mountain state (that have better employment rates). I don't know if the TeeVee people who jet around all over the place understand this, but for a lot of regular people, it's a huge deal to move.

And the guy was from New York. Does he really want to be North Dakota guy? Because if he gets a good job there, it's going to be hard to quit a good thing to go back to a city where he doesn't have a job. So suddenly, that's his life. It reminds me of when I worked in retail during and shortly following college. I was actually afraid of promotion because I didn't want to get stuck. The higher you move up in a job, the harder it is to leave, and I always knew I did not want that life. I just needed money; I didn't want to wake up in 20 years and realize my temporary job for cash had turned into a career in retail management. Anyway, instead of segments like this, I'd much rather see more reporting on what it's like out there. Or maybe instead of suggesting people move, Anderson could interview a job counselor or something.

So, have you guys heard that CPAC was this week? It's the annual convention for conservative activists, in other words, wingnut heaven. Anyway, they're trying to figure out how to pull their party back together and apparently a new poll of Republicans point to Sarah Palin as the leading contender for 2012. Bwah! Oh please oh please oh please let her run. Could these people be more out of touch?

Speaking of out of touch, it seems that once again a Republican has forgotten that people, like, actually record news and stuff and can therefore go back and fact check their statements. Even about things that happened years ago! I'm of course talking about Bobby Jindal, who totally bombed his Not-SOTU rebuttal. However, while everyone was mocking his Kenneth the Page delivery, most of us failed to notice he was very much not evoking the Kenneth the Page honesty. That little story about government red tape stopping rescue boats during Katrina? Yeah, well, the part about him actually being there when it happened was true in a not kind of way. But he, like, totally heard about it though...and apparently added his dialog in later. Mmhm.

Also? Anderson introed this story by saying that they were "keeping him honest." It kinda bugged me this time because all the legwork was done by bloggers. To be fair, he notes that (though he completely fails to mention Daily Kos where the original sleuthing took place), but I don't know. It's more like they're reporting the story of other people keeping him honest. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they mentioned it. I'm just saying.

Erica Hill has the headlines tonight and as she finishes up, she tells Anderson to stick around, which causes him to flash an oh-I'm-probably-not-going-to-like-this face. See, this morning Anderson once again co-hosted Regis and Kelly and there was a cooking segment. You all know the Silver Fox is totally my TV boyfriend, but sleep is my best friend, so I missed over half of the show. However, I did see the cooking and fer serious? Not pretty. Anderson's job was to chop an onion and he went after that thing like it had wronged him in a past life, facial expressions and all. Somebody needs to get Anderson a punching bag or one of those stress balls. It's not safe to work out life's frustrations by violently attacking an onion.

Watching him slice it, my first thought was, "lord, don't hurt yourself." And my second thought was how ironic it would be if after braving hurricanes and war conflicts, it was ultimately a morning cooking segment that left Anderson needing medical attention. The 360 kids must have been doing their own cringing while watching this morning and thought to themselves that it might suck for them if their anchor chopped off his fingers. Solution? Let's teach Anderson to slice an onion. Like, right in the middle of the show. And we'll use Iron Chef Bobby Flay to do it. And that is exactly what they did. I'm watching the show and it's all Iraq, economy,...slicing an onion. What the hell just happened? Can you tell it's Friday?

Anyway, they go to a table that's all set up and it's the 360 Cooking Show. First step, getting Anderson to hold the onion. He's not keen on smelling like one. "There is soap and water, Anderson. You'll be fine," says Erica. You really have to coddle these anchors, I tell ya. Anderson then gets to chopping and Bobby gives him credit for trying. "I have no choice because you came on the set," says Anderson. Haha. The end. Oh, also, on the blog Anderson said he was surprised by the whole onion cutting thing, but I'm finding it hard to believe given the table with the onions on it set up there in the studio. Not a noticer, that Cooper.

I think I'm going to cut this short early. There were pieces from Gary Tuchman and Randi Kaye still to come, but sorry guys, sleep calls. Don't forget to check back this weekend for my friend's editorial.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems as if Mr Cooper is not keeping himself honest,either.
After all,he was the one who said we should never forget what happened down there,was he not,
referring to NOLA and the Gulf Coast.Gee,seems as if someone has indeed forgotten it even exists anymore.
Funny about that(and not in a good way),NOLA did not get a mention at all during Mardi Gras,did it?Or did I blink and miss it in the news bulletins?
And,didn't he say on his NYE show that he was going to be there in a few weeks,while talking to Sean Callebs?
Sorry for the rant,but I am so disappointed in not only the direction of this show,but him,too.

Did they forget that the rest of the world IS indeed out there,with things going on?Sure the economy is important,but so are a lot of other places!
Was this not the show that USED to be two hours long,with plenty of coverage from everywhere?
This is the show that CLAIMS to be giving us the news from all angles?
Well,where is it?
Could have fooled me on that one,the only angle I see these days is the different camera angles in the studio,because that is the only place Anderson seems to prefer these days.
Where is the field Anderson,he goes nowhere anymore.We KNOW how good he is at that,but we never see it,unless you count a couple of days in Israel.
He just seems,IMO,a shadow of the Anderson I started watching nearly 4 years ago during Katrina,the one who stuck it to Mary Landrieu?

Most of you,or none of you,may agree with me here,but it seems as if,to me,IMHO,Anderson has lost his 'bliss' for all this.

It may seem foolish,but I long for the old days when the show was tolerable,and Anderson actually seemed to care.
To me some nights,he seems to be just phoning it in,and cannot wait to get out of there.

I admire the man,I just wonder,where he went,if you know what I mean?

Once again,sorry for the rant.
I am just disappointed in the direction things are going,and am actually,not surprised that ratings are crappy.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Eliza - I love the way you write, it's so witty, entertaining and intelligent at the same time.

Like that a lot: "And my second thought was how ironic it would be if after braving hurricanes and war conflicts, it was ultimately a morning cooking segment that left Anderson needing medical attention."

Lol, too funny and SO true.

I also liked when you mentioned that AC was your TV boyfriend but sleep was your best friend. lol. I know what u mean.

@ anon 9:52 am - I totally get you. I also tend to write a lot when I am frustrated about stg. some of us are natural writers who express our emotions best this way is my guess. dont apologize for ranting. it feels good to rant and you ranting proves that you are genuine and truly care about the ac360 show.

I'm glad you ranted actually bc I thought I was the only one who noticed that on so many nights, AC seems like he cannot wait to get out of the studio. he seems in a hurry, like looking at his watch a lot (now he lost it lol), hurrying through segments (I dont know, you just can tell he's in a hurry and thats not bc he tends to talk fast)...and if you watch the live webcam of the ac360 studio, you'll c that he hurries off his chair as soon as the show is over, looks very bored during commercials, clips or when other ppl are talking. When he talks he does a lot of "alright let's move on" and his tone of voice sounds like he can't wait to go home.

I also was a bit disappointed in all this initially... then I figured there must be a good reason. Personally, I don't think that it's that AC is not interested anymore or doesn't care. I think he's genuinely concerned and all that... but I also think he's genuinely tired.

He looks like he's tired. he really does. All those years have taken their toll. And all the ppl attacking him doesn't help but discourage him.

To me, he looks like he's tired of traveling all over and wants to start a family.

The guy deserves to rest a little. and deserves some happiness, not that he isn't happy now but I think he could be happier. he seems lonely and like he longs for a family. nothing wrong with that and I'm not judging.

I wouldnt be surprised if AC steps out for awhile after his contract with CNN is over. He's fed up. ( do you know when his contract is up...I think it's in 2-3 more years, right? anyone knows ?)

No one is perfect. Cooper is a great guy and his show is great but everything becomes old and tiring. I too am sometimes tired of watching ac360, but then again I will watch it at times and it will brighten my whole day.

I guess some like Cooper for his reporting abilities on the field, others like him bc he's hot and cute, yet others like him for himself, whatever mode he's in, even when he seems fed up with it all.

whatever happens, the future is VERY bright for Anderson, whether it's 360 or something else, I know he's going to be very very happy and extremely successful.

I personally am very grateful for ac360 and Anderson, even when it's not all it used to be. you know what ? bc it speaks to me as a young person (and nothing else in the news does). At least they try to care...

Just give AC some time. it's just a phase he's going through.

10:49 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

@anonymous 9:52 AM: Your point is well taken regarding Mardi Gras. I had also noticed that it wasn't even given a mention. I've often railed on this blog about the lack of coverage of the Gulf, as well as other world events, so I'm in agreement with your outrage.

However, I think it's unfair to Anderson to assume he's stopped caring about these places. Though the reality of the situation pains me, the fact of the matter is that he works for a business.

Becoming "field Anderson" requires several days off camera each trip, which I'm sure the bosses loath, not to mention that there's important domestic news going on that the public is engaged in right now, so I'm sure they want him in studio for that. Plus, you have to think about the financial aspects. Field trips can cost a pretty penny and even a company like CNN is feeling the effects of this economy.

I'm not saying any of the things I stated are the exact reason for the coverage these days, but I think it's important to remember there's always another side of the story and I'm not ready to blame Anderson when I don't know exactly what that story is.

As for the phoning it in sometimes, yeah, I've noticed that. Sometimes he seems bored, and it just might be because he's not being allowed to do more of the field work he loves. Or not. We just don't know.

2:13 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@anonymous 10:49 AM: Thank you. Yes, though Anderson is adorable, he will never rock as much as sleep. :P

A lot of your points were similar to the first anon's, so I already covered them, but in regards to saying "let's move on," he has to do that--and is most likely being told in his ear to do that--because they have to keep the show moving. The show is a precise length of time, which means they have to be very conscious regarding the length of every segment they do.

You might be right that the phoning it in corresponds with him being tired and hey, that occurs with most people--they're just not on TV for everyone to see.

I'm not so sure he's going to leave CNN anytime soon. He keeps saying how much he loves it there (though I realize that means nothing). Plus, he's right when he says there are very few organizations that have the resources of CNN. If he wants his job to be able to send him all over the world, he needs to be employed with a large organization.

At least they try to care...

This is one of the reasons I like the show so much. It seems small and obvious and something that should be inherent in everyone, but then you look at other shows out there and you realize, sadly, it's not.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Arachnae said...

I have to chime in with some useful information - soap and water does not remove onion smell from your hands. What does? Celery juice. So if you're chopping both, save the celery for last; you won't be able to tell you've been chopping onions. If you don't need chopped celery in your cooking, just break open a celery stick and rub the cut ends over your hands. Try it - it's amazing.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding New Orleans, I cannot think of any anchor who has shown more devotion to that story or tried more to keep it alive. He also sent out word to NO during the New Years show. I don't think we can expect his whole life, mind or career to completely revolve around NO forever when he's not even from there and he has covered troubles in so many areas.

You need to remember also that tourism is very important to the NO economy and vital to the city's recovery. It got to be so every time Anderson did a story about all the continuing problems, devastation and violence in NO (even though he started going out of his way to talk up the restaurants and idea of going down there on vacation) there would be a fury in resident's and business owner's blogs asking why AC is trying to ruin their tourism possibilities when he'd supposed to be a friend of the city. I'm sure there were a lot of complaints sent in to 360 as well.

Tourism is very important to my city's economy too, and I can tell you that the city would be unimpressed if some public figure (even with the noblest intentions) was continually talking about our city's troubles in a way that might turn off much needed tourists.

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding Anderson being the person who keeps NOLA alive the most - I think he keeps is alive the LEAST. He went there only 2 or 3 times last year, once because he had a speaking engagement.

The commenter who said maybe he is anxious to start a family....I take it you mean having kids? Given that he won't talk about his orientation, and I take that to mean he is gay, well, he would have to have a male partner to have kids. and if he didn't involve a partner he would parent alone which would be the Clay Aiken route and IMO he would have to be honest to his kids, he would lose the personal he tries to protect because he can't hide kids like he hides whoever it is he dates.

6:03 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@Arachnae: My readers are so handy! :P

@Anonymous 4:12 PM: I don't think anyone expects New Orleans to be Anderson's whole life. You make a very good point about tourism and I know it's a hard line for them to walk when they do reporting there, specifically regarding violence. However, I don't see a problem in pointing out corruption and government red tape that is still occurring.

And there was excellent reporting done by the Nation (which I blogged about) that I thought for sure 360 would mention, but no. To just NOT cover something because of tourism worries seems crazy to me because most concerns can be tampered down by simply being sure to add lots of perspective.

As for Anderson himself, I know a while back viewers were annoyed with him for talking about how often he went to New Orleans. I think he said something like every three weeks. Now, this very well may have been true for him in his personal life, but a speaking engagement or a personal trip is pretty meaningless to viewers.

@anonymous 6:03 PM: You are more than welcome to express your opinion here on show content (your point on speaking engagements is well taken) or what I write, but let's please refrain from talking about Anderson's personal life, specifically things he has not put into the public sphere himself. I think most people who frequent this blog are well aware of his orientation. I have chosen to respect his obvious decision not to talk about it.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone else had a problem with watching videos on the CNN site?

Every time I try to watch some of the older ones,I get a message come up saying there is a problem with firewall/connectivity issues.

I HAD been trying to get some of the old 'nth degree clips',but it seems as if it is not only the older ones.Some of those from PIP are also not coming up,and those are only about a year old.
I was wondering if anyone else had that message,or problem.

Also,I saw a mention here of Anderson's contract.
I was wondering if anyone knew how many more years he had left on it.
I believed his present contract was signed in early 2007?

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

His contract was done in early 2007 where it was reported it doubled his salary to something around 4 million a year with a 2 year contract which brought him to January 2009. Then I heard another report from page six that just a couple of months later for a 5 year contract and something around 10 million a year, so that leaves 3 years left on that.

So since we are past the date of the original 2 year contract report and he is still there and to my knowledge we heard nothing more, well, I don't know.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous ted cohen said...

I mean, why does Anderson Cooper keep saying I mean.

I mean, can you explain why he talks like a little boy? I mean it sounds so strange.

You know what I mean?

I mean, why does he do this?

How does CNN keep this goof on the air?

How did he, I mean, ever get this job in the first place?

Because his mother is I mean Gloria Vanderbuilt?

I mean I don't get it.

Is America laughing at this guy like I am?

10:26 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

Lots of people have verbal tics, including our new president. Sounds like a personal issue you're having.

How did he, I mean, ever get this job in the first place?

Because his mother is I mean Gloria Vanderbuilt?

He snuck into Burma as a freelancer and covered the war. No name dropping required. What were YOU doing in YOUR early 20's?

Is America laughing at this guy like I am?

No, not so much. See, when you're hardworking, seemingly sweet and down to earth, and, yes, hot as hell, people generally like you. I guess you don't have any experience with that.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Ted Cohen said...

Yes, Eliza, I am hardworking, seemingly sweet and down to earth, and, yes, hot as hell.

Well, maybe not hot as hell.

But if that is your definition of journalistic achievement, then I won't begrudge your judgment.

Thank you for providing this forum for discussion.

I hope you will check out my book.


8:39 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@Ted Cohen: Aw, well it's nice you think so highly of yourself.

But if that is your definition of journalistic achievement, then I won't begrudge your judgment.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but besides your insinuation of nepotism (a charge I already stated is false), your main objection to Mr. Cooper seems to be his tendency to frequently use the phrase "I mean." What substantial criticism!

I doubt you realize this since apparently you're some sort of once-yearly comment fairy, but this blog is actually filled with specific journalistic criticisms aimed at Mr. Cooper and his colleagues. I am under no illusion that he is perfect. But your comment was shallow and uninformed, and I do not suffer fools gladly.

Thank you for providing this forum for discussion.

You're quite welcome. Come again!

I hope you will check out my book.

Haha. Oh Teddy...

12:07 AM  

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