Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Obamas in London For G20, Foreign Adoptions, Unprotected Drug Trials, World Leader Gift-Giving And Queen-Meeting Etiquette

Hi everyone. I'm just going to get right to it. We kick things off with an Ed Henry piece on the G-20 Summit. The Obamas have arrived in London, ready for some meetin', greetin', and economy fixin'. The obligatory contrast with our prez's last overseas visit is painted, with Ed reminding us he was a rock star back then when he was a candidate. Now? Well, now he's really got the job and the whole global recession thingee has changed the tone a wee bit.

See, our foreign friends don't take too kindly to our capitalism, nor are they all that thrilled about Obama's request that they lay down stimulus cash. German Chancellor Angela Merkel especially didn't like that last part. Aw, c'mon Merkel. At least this guy didn't touch you inappropriately. That's something, right? Anyhoo, Obama is actually more popular than some of these naysayers are in their own countries, so there's that.

Ali Velshi at the Wall of Doom/Explanation now and there are percentage points and arrows and other numbery type things, but at this point all I'm hearing is the Charlie Brown teacher. Sorry.

Panel time! Tonight we're being rocked by Ed, Ali, and our man David Gergen. Not much of note here. The general consensus regarding whether or not anything will actually happen at the summit? "Eh." Well then. I'm glad everyone got all gussied-up and flew across an ocean. As reported yesterday, the possibility of France's president walking out in protest is again brought up. "France's president seems to walk out of a lot of things," says Anderson. And yet he sat through the entirety of Gigli.

Moving on to Tom Foreman at his wall in order to give us the low down on the summit security situation. Lots of world leaders, one location, throw in some protesters, and you have the recipe for someone getting an ulcer. As for our prez, he'll be traveling in the cool comfort of his limo, "The Beast," which can fight off chemical, biological, rocket, and one would assume, zombie attacks. Because really, if you're not protected against zombies, you may as well just pack it in. Besides our commander in chief's wheels, officials also have the water covered and they're all over protecting the poor bankers from the evil protesters as well. Plus? There's a "ring of steel," which is a big-ass system of cameras. Unclear as to whether there is also a "cone of silence."

Erica Hill has the news bulletin tonight and she puts the kibosh on some "over- the-top headlines" that have been trumpeted regarding a new sex scandal at Oprah's Africa school. Turns out no adults were involved and it was just kids being, well, kids. Anderson Cooper has his boxers in a twist over the ridiculousness of it all. It is ridiculous. And it is because she's Oprah. But that didn't stop me from cracking up as soon as the story was mentioned. Not because of the subject matter, but because oh my God, can Oprah do anything that 360 will not deem worthy of a mention? Anderson loves her so. Get a (platonic) room you two!

Transitioning now to Madonna news. For serious. Okay 360, you can't go from Oprah to Madonna. That's, like, too much female iconage at once. Plus, I'm pretty sure you just broke about five news laws. Anyhoo! We all know the Material Girl is trying to adopt a kid from Malawi and since she is Madonna, everyone has to be very concerned about this. Or something. For discussion, we're joined by ethics dude Randy Cohen and adoption dude Adam Pertman.

They start out by talking about Madonna's case and Adam says, "I just simply don't have -- none of us has enough information yet." Exactly. Moving on. Except we're not moving on. The rest of the segment is actually better because they broaden out away from Madonna and talk optimal environments for children and how hard it can be to domestically adopt. So, that wasn't too bad. But if she goes for a third kid, can we please ignore it next time?

Moving on now to Anderson introing a Joe Johns piece by saying, "You won't believe what a sting operation commissioned by Congress has found." Duuude. Quit telling me what I won't believe. If it's about the government screwing us over, I will believe anything. This is a doozy though. Okay, before a drug can be approved by the FDA, it has to go through a clinical trial, performed on living people. To ensure the safety of these people, the trials are monitored by institutional review boards (IRB). The little rascals at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) decided to test how this whole system was working by setting a couple of stings. The GAO has all the fun.

In the first sting, they set up two completely fake review boards with no real people, and registered online using a pet's name and the address "1234 Phulovit Lane in Chetesville, Arizona." Clever. Yeah, nobody at HHS caught that. In the next sting, the GAO went to already established IRBs, wanting to use a gel called "Adhesiabloc"on women's abdominal cavities. The proposal left out 97% of the products ingredients, which got it rejected by two IRBs, but not a third. The CEO of that IRB swore up and down to Congress that the gel wouldn't kill anyone...even though he had no idea what was in it. And, in fact, it didn't even exist in the first place. Lordie. Good rule of thumb? Don't let people experiment on you unless you're dying anyway.

Moving on to an Erica Hill piece that brings us back to the G20 and the Obamas. There's much focus on the economy during this trip, but apparently, the gift-giving is where the real action goes down. What are they going to get the Queen?! Man, and I thought my grandma was hard to buy for. One thing Obama won't be picking up is some electronics. Been there, done that, faux pas lesson learned. See, when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown came to visit in early March, he gave our prez "a pen holder, carved from the sister ship of the vessel whose wood was used to make the desk in the Oval Office." Ooh, snazzy. And Obama gave him...25 DVDs. Oopsie! I did kinda dig the adorable cluelessness though. Hey man, if bad gift-giving is our president's biggest fault, I think we're doing good. (Though I am sorta hoping for a pony at some point.)

After her piece, Erica talks a bit about curtsying and a few members of the 360 crew demonstrate. I liked Adrianna's. Very nice. This brings us to an amusing talk with etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore. I was sorta expecting Richard Quest, since he gave this talk the last time people were meeting the queen. But perhaps he was otherwise engaged. Ahem. Anyway! Our anchor got quite a kick out of this. Not much news value, but fairly amusing. Referring to Michelle, Anderson asks, "would it be a mistake for her to wear a sleeveless dress while having tea with the queen?" I'm sure he's been dying to ask that question all day.

They then get into the topic of food, and Jacqueline suggests they might serve, "some petit fours. Maybe scones with clotted cream." Anderson wonders if clotted cream might be like Cool Whip because he "likes Cool Whip." Bwah! Well, good for you. Discussion then moves on to conversation topics, with Jacqueline musing that the Obamas dog search might be a good place to start, since the queen loves dogs and horses. " Yes, that's the perfect conversation starter," Anderson says with amusing enthusiasm. Then goes all Valley Boy on us: "Totally. I hadn't thought of that. You're brilliant. Yes. They can talk about the dog, and she can talk about how great corgis are." Did he just sip the spirits in between questions or what?

Now Anderson's telling us that he's never seen a corgi, but he likes dogs. Again, good for you! Jacqueline wraps up by saying that one should never turn one's back to the queen. No, you don't have to walk out backwards, but you do have to wait for her to leave first or walk out together. "You know that as soon as they exit the room, they're going to, like, look at each other and be, like, you know, that was that. That was interesting. You know?" says Anderson. No hon, I don't know. Bwah! Also? Anderson thinks the queen can drink anyone under the table, and the Obamas shouldn't be intimidated because he's, "sure the corgis will loosen it all up." That was hilarious, but um, please keep Anderson away from the queen.

The "shot" tonight is a 911 call from a dude reporting that another dude injured himself falling off a motorized bar stool. Yes, motorized bar stool. I have to say, Rachel Maddow totally bested the 360 kids on this story. She had on the bar stool maker and he rode around in circles for her. Heh. I love the 911 operator's total non reaction, like he hears about motorized bar stool accidents everyday. What's with comparing the operator's drawl to producer Charlie, who I'm assuming to be Charlie Moore? I don't recall him having a southern accent. Oh Charlie Moore, why must you hide from us? Anyway! This can only be followed up with the classic pot brownies tape, which we are played while we watch Anderson and Erica laugh. Love it.

The show was a bit on the light side tonight, BUT on the plus side, it's alive! They finally have their energy back, which was lacking for weeks on end and made the show so boring sometimes it was like watching paint dry. I'm not advocating getting cutsie every night, but it's nice when they're into what they're reporting. My only real beef is that there was no mention of the North Dakota flooding. Last night they were all over it. Tonight, not so much. Follow up fail! Bueller? Bueller?

It seems the Silver Fox is on his way to London, which should be interesting. I just hope that their ratings solution isn't to spit Anderson all over the world. Field trips are a great start, but they can't always be in the field and it's sorta like putting a band aid on a deep laceration. At least it appears they're moving in the right direction. That'll do it.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

North Dakota Flooding, Obama's Auto Plan, G-20 Summit, Madonna Adopting Again, North Carolina Shooting, And Michelle Obama Is Cool (Plus A Naked Guy)

Hi everyone. Happy New Week! Anderson Cooper and crew are safely back in the studio and we begin with the BREAKING NEWS that Mother Nature is being kinda a bitch to North Dakota. We know that Fargo has been trying to save itself from massive flooding lately and it initially looked like they were getting a break, but now a blizzard has blown in, posing a threat to the levees.

This brings us live to Gary Tuchman who is in Briarwood, North Dakota, and currently standing in the middle of the water. Anderson has totally jacked my mocking of this by doing mocking of his own in a later segment, so I guess I'll hold my fire. Anyway, Gary tells us he's never covered a flood that is accompanied by a snowstorm. It does seem pretty weird. And I live in a city where it is not unusual to experience three seasons in one day.

Moving on now to a clip of President Obama laying out his auto plan and we learn from Anderson that this includes General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner stepping aside. Pushed out by the prez. Ooh snap. We then go to Ali Velshi at his Wall of Doom, which lately has been transformed into the Wall of Explanation. But that sounds way less dramatic. Ali tells us that under Obama's plan, the government will back auto warranties and the auto companies will get more TARP money if they can come up with a good plan to save their businesses--i.e. something better than what they've got now.

For discussion of all this we're joined by David Gergen, economist Stephen Leeb, and ethics guy Vince Crew. Zoh mah God, an economist! Plus, according to a quick check of the Google, he appears to be neither insane, nor has a proven track record of being comically wrong, so...thumbs up! The big topic of conversation here seems to be the firing of Rick Wagoner and whether or not it is a double standard, seeing as though the bank dudes weren't shown the door too. This issue was mostly absent the last time everyone was talking about the Big Three, so it's good to hear it brought up now.

Yes, there's a huge double standard. Washington (and a lot of the media) apparently view Wall Streeters as equals. One of Them, if you will. Blue collar workers and their industries? Not so much. On the panel, the Gerg and the ethics dude, Vince, side with me, although I think they're against the firing (Vince actually wants us to let them fail), whereas I want everyone fired. Heh. As for Stephen, he doesn't see a double standard and thinks there was no alternative to the firing.

The subject then switches up slightly to the question of whether the government should be "firing" people in the first place. The Gerg thinks the decision was political and I'll have to agree with that. Just like the AIG bonus outrage. I mean, duh. Vince continues to say we should just let them fail and when Anderson brings up the notion of "too big to fail," he replies that, "if it was too big to fail, it wouldn't." Um, yeah, that makes no sense. Stephen then points out that Chrysler and General Motors are almost 2 percent of our GDP, so there you go.

Stephen agrees that the firing was political, but defends Obama and what he's trying to do with the company. "There's another crisis coming down the road. And I think President Obama definitely sees it, definitely gets it. I think he's making the right decisions," he says. That quote stood out to me because as I watch Obama, even though I'm unsure about or disagree with some of what he's doing, I have this very strong feeling that this guy gets it. He's playing a different game than Washington and the press, and neither institution knows what to do about that. Also, as far as firing Wagoner, I had stuff to say, but John Cole says it so much better.

On now to a Candy Crowley piece about the future G-20 Summit that Obama will be attending overseas tomorrow. Basically? The world totally loves him, but they may not love what he asks of them in terms of economic policy. We're told that reaction to him has been "cool to hostile," which is evidenced by the Czech prime minister going on a rant and the Brazilian president bizarrely blaming "blue-eyed white people" for the world's current financial state. I have brown eyes, so my hands are apparently totally clean here. Also? Wow, the Czech prime minister and the Brazilian president? Yeah, because the news loves to get those guys' opinions all the time.

The piece wraps up with the acknowledgment that Obama will be greeted with love, but oh noes, there might be a random protester. Seriously, we're shown video of one lone guy. Okay, while I've no doubt that Obama will be met with some harshness, this piece reads like they had no idea what angle to go with for the G-20, so they grabbed a couple of crazy soundbites from leaders we would otherwise never hear from and wah lah, story. After Candy's piece, Anderson notes that France is getting pissy too. Candy reminds us that these leaders are always playing to two audiences: the world and home. They then talk a bit more about the summit and out of the blue, Anderson asks, "Is this the one where they all wear the funny shirts?" Bwah! This is why we love him so.

Back to Gary now, and he talks about how the weather seems to be going all Old Testament on poor North Dakota, compromising their levees. In a subsequent Gary piece, we learn about the town where he's currently hanging: Briarwood. It only has 26 homes, 18 of which have been flooded. A couple of the non flooded neighbors walk through the water with a boat, calling up everyone who evacuated and giving them a report on their house. That's nice of them. I guess with only 26 families, they all know each other. Teeny town. Very sad. Also? This piece featured Gary waist deep in water.

Following the piece, Anderson notes that Gary is, "engaged in the time-honored tradition of cable news, standing in water for no real reason." Ha! Our anchor then plays us that Daily Show video from last year of Jon Stewart mocking Gary for standing in water up to his nipples. I have to say, that pops in my head every time I see him standing in water now. Heh. "Gary, thankfully, it's nowhere near your nipples tonight," says Anderson. "No. It is not anywhere near my nipples right now," says Gary. I bet that's a statement he never thought he'd make on national television.

Gary then goes on to give a very emphatic defense of why he stands in the water, and while it's kinda adorable, he's really not making his case. Just use a stick, dude! Also, Anderson, YOU of all people have no room to mock when it comes to crazy shot set-ups. Or was that some other silver-topped anchor who stood in snake and rat infested water for two hours after Hurricane Ike? That's right Mr. Pot, you're black!

Transitioning now to a David Mattingly piece all about the Material Girl picking herself out another kid from Africa. It's like her and Angelina Jolie are in competition to beat the Octomom or something. Anyway, of course there's a bunch of controversy because it's Madonna, so how can there not be? The group Save the Child thinks the little girl is better off being raised by her own people in Malawi, but Malawi is totally impoverished, so yeah. I kinda just don't want to hear about it anymore. We went through this with the last kid. Don't believe me? Look. Nobody would be talking about this if she wasn't a celebrity.

On now to a Joe Johns piece about that horrible nursing home shooting in North Carolina. We're played the 911 calls. In the end, seven residents and one nurse lay dead with three wounded. It was a town of only 2,000 people, so they're obviously devastated. Very sad.

Moving on to something happier: the awesomeness of Michelle Obama. In an Erica Hill piece, we learn she's joining her husband overseas and will be wowing our foreign friends with her dedication to education and down-to-earthness. It's funny how now when the first family goes overseas, I actually want them to come back.

The "shot" tonight is a naked pole vaulter running through the streets of Paris. Yeah, you read that right. Gotta give props to Anderson for his total deadpan of the line: "why is this man running naked through the streets, holding his big pole?" I think I would have had to laugh. Anyway, we learn from our anchor that it wasn't CNN who covered his bits and pieces, so searching for the full monty will probably be in vain. Sorry.

I actually logged onto the webcast tonight. Haven't done that in forever due to laziness and computer issues. Erica Hill is back, so, hopefully people can chill the hell out now. As for her whereabouts, my guess was crime fighting, but apparently she was just in Europe or something. Anyway, she talks to Anderson and the elusive microphone is brought up for the 567th time. Anderson then tells us he's being told that it would cost $3,000. Yeah, right. Then he pretty much admits he just doesn't want one. No, really? Because that's not at all apparent.

The subject of Twitter also comes up and he tells us that, "I Twitter." Oh, Anderson, you adorable liar, you. It's not that he doesn't like us, people. He just doesn't want to interact with us. Heh. Hey, it's cool though. It's fine. We don't need no Silver Fox. We've got Jack Gray, who gives awesome tweets. Suck on that, Mr. Cooper!

The show wasn't bad. Save the Madonna piece, everything was pretty relevant and even that was short and relegated to the end of the broadcast. Friday's ratings were less than to be desired, but I think it's going to take some time for them to find their place again post-election. They were clearly failing at that a mere two to three weeks ago, so these signs of improvement are a big plus.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Day Three Of Live Coverage From El Paso, Fargo Flooding, And Obama's Plan For Afghanistan/Pakistan

Hi everybody. I'm kinda tired tonight, so I think I'm just going to do a semi bare bones version of a review. Just call it Slacker Friday. We kick things off with the BREAKING NEWS that Fargo, North Dakota, is having a bummer of a time lately. The Red River is set to crest maybe in as little as a few hours and the sandbags and dikes holding the water back are straining under the pressure. We go live to Reynolds Wolf, who appears to be standing in the water and he explains that people are still sandbagging their little hearts out, trying to save the city. Good luck, Fargo.

We're back to Anderson Cooper's live shot in El Paso now, though he appears to have chosen a different location than the last couple days. He does a little of his fast-talking thing and then throws us to more of that interview that he did with the mid level drug cartel dude, who I have named "CD." Most of this is stuff we saw yesterday, but I don't remember CD telling us that a $10,000 bribe is usually enough to corrupt a cop. Of course, that doesn't mean that Mexican cops are just all about money because as CD points out, "if they don't accept the money, then they will accept a bullet in their head."

Moving on now to an Anderson piece that is all about those in Mexico who are simply disappeared--and there are many. The 6500 number of those who have been killed corresponds only to the bodies they've been able to find. For example, there's one guy who claims to have dissolved 300 bodies in acid, which, just...God. Anderson goes to the outskirts of Juarez where shallow graves were found recently when excavators saw a foot sticking up from the ground. The victims were never identified, and apparently, that's pretty common.

Juarez mayor Jose Reyes says that about half of the bodies found in the city last year were never claimed, and therefore buried in mass graves. Anderson takes us to where the unclaimed lie. "There are no tombstones, no names, just these metal grave markers with serial numbers indicating how many people are buried in each plot," he tells us. It's sad because you know they can't all be hardened drug criminals--there are innocent people in there. The piece ends with Anderson telling us that dozens of more communal graves have already been dug...in anticipation of what's to come.

Transitioning back to Reynolds Wolf now and he intros us into a piece in which we learn that thousands are evacuating. We also get to see a lot of people working together to protect their homes. I hope they succeed. Hey Fargo, at least you guys stayed out of the sub prime mess, right? Silver lining and all? Yeah, I know, Mother Nature sucks sometimes.

Moving on to a clip of President Obama talking about his plan to defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan (more troops and civilian advisers). Anderson then explains further and we go to Peter Bergen for analysis. Peter thinks the plan for Afghanistan is "excellent," but he's skeptical about Pakistan because Pakistan itself doesn't even have a strategy. That's a problem given that Pakistan is pretty much the most important factor here. Anderson then notes the more troops and asks, "how does this not become a quagmire?" I have to say, when I heard him ask that I made an audible shocked noise. Holy leading question, Batman! But anyway, Peter explains that this is no Vietnam because the Afghan people actually still like us pretty much. Eh, give them time. Kidding.

Coming back from commercial break, we're played a Mexican song, and as I'm wondering if 360 has lost their damn minds, Anderson explains that it's about drug traffickers and very popular in Mexico. Oh. Okay then. After that, Anderson gives us a little tour of the fence near them. This one is different than last night, in that it's actually easy to climb. It's also apparently easy to cut, because we're shown a section that border control has had to re-weld. Geez, there has to be a better way.

Tom Foreman at his wall now, educating us on the cartels. Then we're back to the interview with CD talking about where the cartels operate and violence spilling across the border. After that, we have Tom again, this time showing us a map of all the active cartel cells in the U.S. I couldn't tell for sure, but it looks like my city has one. Yay? This was actually pretty interesting. It seems the cartels don't do the dealing themselves, but instead act as wholesalers and leave the street selling to U.S. gangs. Also, meth isn't as prevalent in the northeast because the Colombian cartels still control that area and want to push their own products, i.e. cocaine/heroin. That's craziness. I knew illegal drugs were a business, but man.

On now to discussion with FBI special agent David Cuthbertson and counterterrorism analyst Fred Burton. They talk violence and I think I'm going to skip most of this, though I found David's story about the Santa hat (they put it on a body) particularly disturbing.

As we come back from commercial, we're assaulted with what can only be described as an insane graphic. They've been using versions of it throughout, but that time...man. We've been talking about drugs; I hope no one high was watching--they're probably cowering in fear right about now. Anyway, up next is a John Zarrella piece, which can be filed under "sadly ironic." See, this guy Felix Batista went missing from a Mexican restaurant this past December. What does Felix do for a living? Kidnapping consultant. In fact, he was in Mexico to attend a seminar on how not to get kidnapped. My head really wants to explode right now. There's video of Felix getting into a car, but his family is convinced he did so under duress. Hopefully they'll find him alive.

The final piece of the night is from Randi Kaye. Yes, it's a piece, 360. They're calling it the "shot" like we're not going to notice they just ran a whole fluffy package on some movie producer's unbelievably expensive house. Oh, those kids. Anyhoo, not much to see here. Candy Spelling, wife of the deceased Aaron, is "downsizing" from her $150 million dollar home to a more, ahem, modest $47 million condo. All I can think about is how much it must cost to heat that thing.

That about wraps it up. Goodbye and good luck to Ashley Corum, who I think worked in the control room, and who is apparently leaving the show. The second hour tonight was a Money Summit. I didn't watch, but my guest blogger Arachnae did. You might remember she's (both of us, really) had some, uh, issues with CNN's economic coverage. But according to her, the special was, "really quite good." So hey, there ya go. These last few days have actually been, "really quite good." Tonight was probably the weakest of the three, but it's Friday. Whaddaya gonna do? I'm not sure they were even initially going to do a live show tonight. So anyway, I hope they go home, rest up, warm up (Anderson was sporting a wee bit of a Rudolph nose), and hit us on Monday with some more quality. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Night Two of Live Coverage From El Paso, Texas, Regarding The Mexican Drug War

Hi everybody. Wow, we're two for two. Another great show! There was a small issue I had at the end of the broadcast, but other than that, they continue to rock with this coverage. Once again, Anderson Cooper is coming at us live from El Paso and we begin with the BREAKING NEWS that a US marshal has been found dead in Juarez, which is just across the border from where our anchor is currently standing. The show has been getting better with their BREAKING NEWS lately, so I guess I won't complain too much that I myself tweeted this news hours ago. Whatev. Also? Yikes! The story is kinda strange because the marshal was actually wanted for stealing federal guns and stuff. I won't speculate, but there's definitely more to this.

On now to an interview Anderson did with a mid-level member of a drug cartel, who was verified by two CNN sources. He tells us it's an interview we'll see "only on 360." EXCLUSIVE! Okay, now that the slightly eye-rolly horn-tooting is out of the way, we can get to what is actually a really good interview. I'm going to refer to cartel dude as "CD" because he's on the down low and not giving up his identity. Sorta don't blame him there. They begin by talking about guns and how people--many of them young--legally buy weapons here and then smuggle them into Mexico. The subject then switches to violence and Anderson notes that the level is actually down in Juarez. CD gives us the chilling response that the cartels are still there, they're just lying low and waiting for the military to leave. We've heard this story before. Just on a different continent.

CD tell us the flow of drugs will never stop because the money is too good. And demand? "That depends on you guys," he says. Touche. Cocaine and heroin are easier to ship across the border because they come in smaller packages. Anderson then switches the subject to the brutality of the violence, noting that people are not simply killed, they're beheaded and worse. CD explains that this is a way to send a message. Again, parallels of Iraq. Remember the torture by drilling? Anderson asks if the beheading is a signature of a particular cartel, which is a very good question. CD says yes, and they go on to talk more torture. The segment ends with CD basically stating that the cartels will torture and kill anyone, even women and children. This is where I'd normally place a quip or something. I got nothing.

Next up, we have an Anderson piece on the military side of the drug battle--Mexico's military, not ours. The soldiers we see just arrived in Juarez last month. There are 45,000 deployed throughout the country by president Felipe Calderon, who realizes that the police force is way too corrupt to really make a difference. Anderson tells us more as he rides along on patrol and then talks with Juarez mayor Jose Reyes, who tells us that violence is now down, but yeah, he's still got body guards. There have been threats against his life and his own chief of police resigned under threats. The mayor still doesn't trust the police force--even after firing half of them. A truly messed up situation.

Back from last night, we're joined by filmmaker Rusty Fleming and Arvin West, sheriff of Hudspeth County, Texas. This segment was unfortunately pretty drown out by the wind. Oh Silver Fox, can your hotness not control the weather? Best laid plans and all. But I think I caught most points made. They talk about the dead marshal, which doesn't shock Rusty and Arvin tells us the military on the ground is definitely helping with the violence. They then go into the subject of corruption and both in their own ways make the important points that the problem is more situational, rather than just being about bad apples. Rusty notes that the cops have to live there and Arvin states that it's play the game or be killed. Most people would do anything, anything, to keep their kids safe.

Tom Foreman is at his wall now, breaking down how we Americans like to get high. The ganja is the most popular of course, with one in six people over the age of 12 saying they used it in the last month. Damn. That's a lot. You people are a bunch of potheads! Reefer nation, indeed. Then there are all of the prescription drugs that are abused, followed by cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, and heroin. I've only ever used that last one. Kidding!

On now to a Gary Tuchman piece that begins with a man handcuffed to a bench at a US border patrol station. Why? According to the man he was hauling tomatoes, which is true. He just left out the part about the $720,000 worth of pot that was with them. Hey, how'd that get in there? We then leave tomato man and Gary goes out on a border foot patrol with Sarah the drug-sniffing dog. Pretty soon the pooch is jumping around by a green shrub thingee and lo and behold, pay dirt. That's no shrub--that's thousands of pounds of marijuana! Craziness.

Gary then takes us to a drug lock-up where a bunch of pot confiscated over the last couple of days is being kept. For demonstration of what happens with some of this wayward ganja here, he puts 64-pounds of the pot on his back (heavy!) like he's a smuggler and then suddenly drops it because that's what people do when they see an agent. Also, because it's heavy. Then Gary's at the border fence (dude's everywhere for this story) to show us how pot might be brought into the U.S. Using a rock as his "pot," Gary simply, uh, walks around the fence. Yeah, there's a gap. Effective! Also? Gary just smuggled in rock contraband! And he then throws it down like he's spiking a football.

Apparently, this whole scenario is frowned upon by the border patrol who then proceed to literally sic their guns on Gary and crew. Oh noes! That's right, you keep this country free of Mexican rocks! Seeing as though Gary is probably the least shadiest person on Earth, irony abounds here, but really, they're just doing their jobs. A little explaining makes the mess go away, though, uh, they probably want to give the guys with the guns a heads up next time they decide to smuggle fake drugs in from Mexico. Good piece. In terms of news, Gary hit the jackpot--lots of stuff happening to report. In terms of the situation overall, yeah, we're kinda screwed, aren't we?

Tom and his wall again. This time he's breaking down the demographics of drug users. It seems that men are twice as likely as women to toke up, but everything else is pretty equal gender wise. The drug using in general starts young and tends to increase until around 30 or so, when it drops off. So I guess I'm about past my drug prime. Tom also tells us that going to college makes you more likely to try drugs. ZOMG, higher education will get you hooked on smack, yo! Or, uh, not. Actually, not going to college makes you more likely to be a regular user. The jobless are more likely to partake as well, which is not a welcome stat in this economy. Native Americans have the most problems with becoming addicted and city dwellers are twice as likely to use as their country counterparts. But what about meth? Last I heard that was the white trash drug of choice. Just saying.

Back now to Anderson's interview with CD and they talk torture specifics: removal of nails, ice picks to the feet, burning testicles with a torch. Lovely! CD thinks that 9 of 10 people are probably corruptible. I might actually say 10 out of 10. The power of any given situation can be enormous. As CD says, it's not just about the money, it's about these people's families. I'm not saying everyone can be corrupted to commit murder, but I bet many people would be surprised what they're capable of if the alternative was to have their child injected with acid. As for the killing, well, apparently hits are a bargain these days. A hundred bucks for a kill in Mexico and $500 to $1000 for one in the US. So disturbing.

Next up, we have Anderson live, walking along the border fence. It's 18 feet high and double mesh steel, which he demonstrates makes it hard to get a good grip for climbing. But that's all kind of moot given that it just stops a little way down. Sigh.

Transitioning to the interview again, CD tells us he doesn't trust the people he works with and he's afraid his family will be hurt because he's speaking out. Anderson then brings up Americans who use these drugs that are being smuggled and CD points out that "they have blood on their hands." Honestly, I don't think that notion is going to make any difference. People are too far removed from it. You can say the same thing about oil. People fight, die, and commit terrorist acts over it. Anyone who drives, indirectly has blood on their hands. And most of us drive. The interview wraps up with CD stating some of his regrets (people dying). Good interview. Very creepy.

Now we come to the part of the broadcast where I have to give out a demerit. According to 360, President Obama opposes legalizing marijuana. This comes from an answer given to a question at today's online town hall. The problem is, Obama wasn't asked about legalizing marijuana. He was asked if legalizing marijuana would result in job creation and he answered that, no, he did not think doing so would grow the economy. It's subtle, but there's a difference there and as a viewer, it did not seem black and white. Now, later, Press Secretary Gibbs got more specific and flat out said the prez is against legalization, but that's not mentioned by 360. I'm just saying that even though they were correct in their statement, by leaving out the latter follow up, it looked like they were misinterpreting. That's all.

This brings us to a drug debate. In one corner, we have Terry Nelson, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition board member and cowboy hat-wearing guy who supports legalizing and regulating. In the other corner, we have Robert Almonte, executive director of the Texas Narcotics Officers Association, who is dead set against the legalizing notion. I'm too tired to go through all this, but it was a pretty decent discussion. I don't think Robert backed up his side very well, but maybe I'm biased. Legalizing just seems practical to me. I love that they found a conservative-looking calm guy to argue the legalize side. He doesn't fit the usual stereotype.

I think I'm just going to wrap up now because there's not much left of the show. As I said up top, another great broadcast. The ratings from last night weren't fantastic, but I don't think they were bad either. Encouraging is the word I would use. I hope they can keep this up. And I really hope they understand they don't always have to take a road trip to do good shows. That'll do it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Live From El Paso, Texas, For Coverage Of The Mexican Drug War

Hi everyone. Now see, THAT was the 360 we all know and love. I knew they were still there somewhere. Just been hiding lately for some reason. Anyway! Let's get to it! Tonight Anderson Cooper is coming at us from El Paso, Texas, right on the Mexican border in order to cover the very scary drug war that is currently spilling from that country into ours. According to Anderson, 6500 people were killed last year by the cartels, a lot of them publicly executed or beheaded.

Anderson gives us a little tour around his set-up on the border with Juarez. He's doing that mile-a-minute talking thing that he does when he's really excited about a story. I missed that. The gist of the info is that drugs are being trafficked from Mexico into the US and weapons are being trafficked from the US into Mexico. Supply, demand, and death all over.

This brings us to a Drew Griffin piece that focuses on the drugs-for-weapons free market hell we currently find ourselves in. Apparently, it's really hard to get a gun in Mexico. The poor police there are protecting themselves with piddly little small caliber rifles, while they're up against AK47's that the cartels got from US. Thanks for letting that ban expire, Dubya! Why does anyone need an AK47? But God forbid you mention that semi-automatic weapons might not be what the founders had in mind, lest you incite the wrath of the Charlton Heston crowd.

Next up, we have some discussion with filmmaker Rusty Fleming, who has spent a lot of time documenting the war, and Arvin West, the sheriff of Hudspeth County, Texas. Arvin is sporting a big old cowboy hat. You know, just in case you weren't clear he's a sheriff from Texas. This was a pretty good discussion. Most of note to me was Rusty's point that much of this situation is about rival cartels battling for control of the ports into and out of the two countries. I didn't initially understand it to be a turf battle, but that's clearly what we have here--much like gangs in the US.

A positive I took away from the talk was that according to Rusty, the Calderone administration seems to mean it in terms of cracking down on this stuff. The problem, of course, is that cornered animals lash out--hence the violence. Also, authorities on both sides of the border are corrupt, though more on the Mexican side. "...that's the rule and this is the exception," says Rusty. In a response to a question about militarization of the border, Arvin tells us that really, he'd just like a button he could press for help when he needs it. He tells us that he's tried to work with the officials in Mexico, but all the uncorrupt ones end up dead. "...my chief of police that's the counterpart in Mexico, they put his head in an ice chest." Damn.

On now to a truly frightening piece from Randi Kaye that appears in the current issue of Men's Journal. She interviews the Halls, a family of four who were vacationing in Mexico, when one night just before midnight, they were pulled over by a vehicle they thought was the cops, but turned out to be a group of masked gunmen. And so their night of terror began. They had been pulling a camper decorated with race car stickers, leading the men to assume incorrectly that there was a race car to be stolen. The Halls had no race car to give.

They were therefore driven to a deserted road and made to kneel face down in a ditch. We've all heard this story before. This is what happens right before you are executed. I have to say, I'm not sure I would have knelt. Of course, that probably would have been a stupid move in this situation because the Halls were not killed. After they realized the men were gone, they spent the next two hours walking back to civilization. They then got a ride across the border, had to borrow a quarter from a stranger, and used a payphone to collect call a relative. All in all, an experience so horrific, they no longer feel safe even in their own home. They will never go back to Mexico. Good piece.

Transitioning now to Tom Foreman at his wall, giving us a little explainer on the logistics of drug smuggling. A shipment of cocaine is ordered from Colombia, hidden inside a shipment of coffee, driven through Central American, and then smuggled into the US when the border officials are distracted. I love how we get to see the truck "drive." Ha.

On now to discussion with Fred Burton, security expert. This is the part where, after scaring the crap out of us, CNN wants us to know that hey, Mexico really isn't that bad. They need your tourism money, yo! Anderson tells us that he just recently vacationed in Baja and it felt safe. Yes, but Anderson...you're crazy! I have long stopped listening to the Silver Fox when it comes to what's safe and what isn't. Seriously though, it sounds like as long as you're smart and aware of your surroundings, you're going to be okay. Most of the killings seem to be drug related.

Anderson then shows us a map of Mexico that lays out all the drug cartels. Pretty much? They're everywhere. That was not a warm and fuzzy graphic. Then we're back to Tom Foreman and his wall, for completion of the story of how drugs get from the border to a city near you.

From there we're joined by Jill Doherty, who has recently interviewed Secretary of State Clinton regarding this drug war issue. We get a clip in which Clinton goes partly Nancy Reagan on us, talking about how we need to convince people to just say no. Thing is tho? Demand will never be stopped. Ever. I'm as anti-drug as they come, but I'm to the point where I think we may as well legalize. Would things really be worse? It's not like tobacco and alcohol aren't just as harmful as most illegal drugs, so why the double standard?

Tom again. They're putting him to good use tonight. This time he's talking about how the money gets back to Mexico. He tells us it's estimated that $4 million dollars worth of drugs come into the US every hour. Holy crap! Oh yeah, we're going to be able to stop that. Please. Anyway, it's kinda interesting because apparently sometimes they buy a bunch of stuff with the profits, perfectly legally take said stuff back to Mexico, and then resell it there. Ingenious, really.

Anderson is talking to us now about how people illegally get into the US from Mexico and we get a clip of him in the huge-ass tunnel that they found in 2006. Oh man, I remember that! I seem to recall him playing with some sort of rope. Good times. That was before this blog was created. Also? For some reason this reminds me of Bin Ladin's hole. Remember Anderson climbing in that thing? I actually have a picture of that one. Is there anything our anchor wouldn't climb into? After the clip, Anderson is doing the whole show-and-tell thing again regarding his location. Vintage Anderson.

Our final piece of the night is a repeat from Ed Lavandera on American teens who become assassins for the Mexican cartels. Still disturbing, even the second time.

The hour wraps up with some really amazing and disturbing pictures of Juarez from Getty Images.

I feel like I haven't said this in forever, but the show was really great tonight. Good job, 360! Finally, I get to praise you. They didn't even do that annoying thing where they go to a location and then spend half their time talking about stupid stuff that isn't at all relevant to why they're there. I mean, sometimes other news breaks and you have to cover it, but that hasn't always been the case for the annoying reportage. I hope they get rewarded with good ratings. I won't hold my breath though. You can't alternate between mediocre and crappy for months on end and then suddenly do one good show and expect people to still be there. Hopefully I'm wrong. After all, they did promo. Anyway, yay, quality! It'd be great if it sticks around.

Here's a good interview Anderson did with the local news in Texas. Guess we'll be seeing more Field! Anderson in the future.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Obama Presser And Mind-Numbing Analysis With The Best Political Team On Television

Hi everyone. This post is going to be short and sweet. Well, short for me, anyway. The whole Obama presser thing kind of snuck up on me. But I did end up watching. My verdict? Meh. I mean, I think Obama did fine and everything--it just wasn't a very enthralling hour. Then again, it really wasn't supposed to be. I like that he once again took questions from more than just the usual suspects.

Like probably everyone else, CNN's own Ed Henry caught my attention the most. I'm a sucker for an aggressive follow up. They're such a rare sight. Ed's been reminding me of David Gregory lately circa the Scottie McClellan days. I might have to claim him as my White House Press Corps Boyfriend. He best not go dancing with Karl Rove though. Otherwise, it's ovah!

And how great was Obama in that exchange? At first I thought he was getting a wee bit singed from Ed holding his feet to the fire regarding AIG outrage, but then he was all, "It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak." Oh snap! Ed got pwned. Somebody's off the Christmas card list.

That's pretty much all I have to say about the press conference. As for 360, well, it really seemed like just one big non stop panel. And when I say big, I'm not kidding. Anderson Cooper practically passed out trying to introduce all their names. A lot of hot air in that studio. To be honest, I tuned much of it out because as my title states, it was mind-numbing.

First of all, the gloating and back-patting regarding Ed's question totally ruined any praise I wanted to heap on him. Then there was Alex Castellanos ruminating about Obama being a one term president. Is he insane? The guy has been in office for just over two months! A gazillion and one things are still going to happen over these next four years. Obama could fix everything or we could all end up living in some Mad Max-like hell hole. That kind of talk now is just asinine.

Also stupid, was the new popular beltway narrative: Obama is becoming overexposed. The president has done a press conference and a few TV appearances. Oh noes!!! Of course the media thinks he's overexposed--they cover him all the time. I'm betting your average American hasn't really noticed. I may not be sure about everything Obama is doing, but it really astounds me how much he gets it, and how much the media...doesn't.

That's all I can tell you about 360 because, well, I sort of...switched over to Rachel Maddow. I know, I know! I didn't mean to, I swear! It's just that I knew she was live and I wanted to see if she was doing a regular show, so that I could better judge the ratings when they come out. But then when I flipped over, she said Matt Taibbi was coming up and I love Matt Taibbi and...I stayed. Yes, I am a traitor. *Sobs* Sorry, 360. That's all from me tonight.

If you haven't gotten to already, be sure to read and comment to my posts (part 2 linked at the end) regarding 360's ratings and identify issues.

Also, follow me on Twitter! If you're patient, I might tweet the secret of the world.

Monday, March 23, 2009

An Open Letter To Anderson Cooper 360: The News Cycle Kidnapped Your Show And Is Holding It Hostage In The Media Bubble (Cont'd)

Hey, 360. Eliza again. I'm baaack. I know, I just won't go away. This must be very annoying for you. Very Sarah Palin-esque. I'm sorry. I promise not to drop my G's if you'll just bear with me a little longer. In my last post, I noted that your broadcast had gone from 'quirky and hip' to 'one of the same' and now even sometimes flirts with 'part of the problem.' I did a lot of explaining regarding 'one of the same,' but didn't really get to hit on 'part of the problem' much, which is where we find ourselves now.

I think you probably already know where most of my ire lies. That's right, the panels. During the election, I was sometimes slightly annoyed by their horse race focus, but I think overall they served you well because the majority of the public was so engaged--that's what they wanted to see. So what's the problem since that time? Well, we are now plunged into the greatest economic crisis of our lifetimes and you're still treating the panels like the election never ended-like it's all just politics.

Look, I'm not going to pretend like the depressing nature of our current situation isn't a big factor in people tuning out. It most certainly is. But what I'm seeing from you guys in terms of the panels is becoming increasingly more and more irrelevant to the average American. For example, just last Friday, Anderson Cooper kicked off a panel by asking whether or not President Obama had "won" the week. Now, perhaps you mean for your show to be skewed to political junkies like CNBC is skewed to the trader crowd. But I'm thinking that's not the case.

Do you understand how out-of-touch that makes you sound? Things are really, really bad for a lot of people in this country right now. It shouldn't be about who's up and who's down on a given week, you know? To quote Jon Stewart in his interview with Jim Cramer, "it's not a fucking game." It's people losing their savings. It's people unable to afford health care. It's a father sobbing an apology to his young daughter regarding his inability to stop their eviction. The down-to-earth show has become just another cog in the beltway machine.

Lately, all you seem to do is channel the pundit narrative-of-the-day. Has the GOP declared war on Obama? Is Obama doing too much? Did the Democrats set a trap for Rush Limbaugh? All of these lines of discussion originated with someone else. This is particularly annoying, because nowadays many pundits and media outlets are nothing if not self-promoting. They want themselves quoted. They want you saying their name. Hell, Politico, pusher of the Limbaugh story, even sent out a memo to their people that was all about getting their name out there.

So, they write something shallow yet shiny, you quote them, they get more prestige and credibility, they write something else, and then you quote them again because hey, they have prestige and credibility. It's like one big chattering-class case of incest. Meanwhile, the rest of us out here are wondering what kind of crack the media is smoking. I don't understand why you can't come up with the important questions of the day by yourselves. That's not to say that the pundits never posit any ideas worth mentioning, or that you shouldn't address persistent issues, but c'mon. Surely you're more in tune with what your viewers care about than some beltway pundit/reporter.

Also, if you do go with a media narrative, can we have some challenging of the analysts? Hell, can we have some challenging at all? David Gergen is probably almost as beloved as Anderson Cooper at this point, but I'm afraid he's gone a bit villager on us lately. For example, the current meme of the Washington elite is that Obama is trying to do too much. Our Gerg is totally on board with this idea and that's fine. Obviously he's entitled to his opinion. I just wish I could see someone challenge him, because you know what? Maybe he'd convince me.

I want someone to ask, for example, given how many people declare bankruptcy due to health care costs, how can we ever expect to fix this economy without addressing that crisis at the same time? Maybe he has a good answer for this. But I don't know because you've never had on an opposing view to debate him. I can't look to Anderson Cooper either. He rarely ever challenges the panel and this goes a long way in explaining why the segments can sometimes feel boring and other times incredibly frustrating. To be clear, my point isn't at all about fireworks and yelling. I love that you guys are anti-yelling.

But the panels are so formulaic. They usually go as so: Anderson presents the latest media narrative or plays a clip for one of the panelists and then asks what they think or if they agree. That person answers and then Anderson takes that answer and presents it to the next panelist, usually on the opposite side of the political aisle. Panelist number one could say something batshit insane--for an absurd example, let's say they said Obama eats babies. Anderson would then take this idea to panelist number two, "so what do you think about that, panelist two? Does Obama eat babies?" It's pretty mind numbing.

Watching a panel of people just spouting their agendas isn't exactly helpful. Anderson is always stating that a reporter should never act like they aren't there. When he's said that, he was talking about the field, but I think it should apply in studio too. He's acting like he's not there and allowing other people, like the Gerg, to do the accountability. This is all pretty peculiar because Anderson can interview. Very well. I've seen him do it. We all know he's smart as a whip, so this leaves me to assume that the lack of challenges is all due to some notion of objectivity that he's afraid he'll sully.

Before I get into specifics, I want to say that I really respect that you guys are an objective show and Anderson is an objective journalist. I can sympathize with how hard it must be becoming to remain that way--you're getting squeezed by both the left and right in terms of your competition. Opinion shows are where it's at right now and you're not giving in just to grab some easy ratings. Good for you. Also, in case it isn't obvious by my links, this is probably a good time to disclose that I'm a liberal. But I like to think that above everything, I'm a realist. And this realist isn't sure why you can't just call a spade a spade.

For example, panelist after panelist has been allowed to call Obama's tax policy a "redistribution of wealth" without any challenge whatsoever. I'm not asking Anderson to be all, "no, it's not." What I don't understand is why he can't state the fact that Obama's policy is simply to let the Bush tax cuts die, thus taking us back to the Clinton years. Then ask the panelist if he/she thinks it was a redistribution of wealth back then. He wouldn't be saying he agrees or disagrees or giving an opinion at all. How would that be unobjective?

I get that the panels are a daily thing (though to be fair, you made them that way) and you all aren't going to put as much research effort into them as, say, Anderson's interview in the Oval Office. I would also never expect the anchor to just know everything off the top of his head. But a lot of this stuff is basic. It's really frustrating when someone like me, whose foray into the news/political world is totally hobby, is left yelling follow ups at her television. I'm also aware that probably sometimes during these panels Anderson is missing a line of BS because he's got somebody jabbering in his ear. I can sympathize with that to an extent. Then again, I think about this country's situation and how fucked we are, and a part of me just doesn't care about your obstacles.

Next, I want to talk about your economic coverage itself. Oh boy, 360, where to begin? Maybe I should just start with a question: where are the economists??!! Seriously, what the hell? The financial system is imploding and you have had on a total of two economists by my count, one of which was Stephen Moore, who in 2004 wrote a book called, "Bullish on Bush: How George Bush's Ownership Society Will Make America Stronger." It gets even better than that. According to the product description, the book, "explains how Bush's tax relief policies have helped the economy grow, reversed the collapse in the stock market, and put America back to work."

Are you kidding, 360? Is this some sort of satire game? First of all, the non disclosure of this was pretty egregious, but there's a bigger issue here. You are a show that prides itself on accountability. Right now the big discussion in the country is why AIG employees who screwed up are being given bonuses. Well, where's the same outrage for the punditry class? I'm not even asking you to call out people who got it wrong, but good lord, don't invite them on your show to give us advice! There are people who saw that we were going to take this financial tumble. There are people who got it right. Would you like a list? These are the kind of people we need to be hearing from. Please stop rewarding incompetents, whether it be having them on or quoting their work.

As for the rest of your economic coverage, the field pieces are good. When you're giving facts, it's good. I'm not a fan of your "ask the expert" segments, but maybe that's just me. I'll let the commenters weigh in on that. I just think they're a big time waster that usually don't help anyone. I like that during your road trip you started to think outside-the-box. The story about the artists rehabbing Detroit homes was great--interesting and positive! You're at your best when you're out of the beltway (I don't necessarily mean physically) and connecting with viewers on a human level. But seriously though? We need some friggin economists.

So, 360, you've got some issues in my opinion. But all of this is fixable, if you do in fact think you have a problem and want to fix it. Yes, I think you rely way too much on the panels and it would be a really good idea to cut back. However, you can still make them work if you just freshened them up a bit. Besides economists, have on people who match what you're talking about. The panel you had on education that was filled with educators? Good! I talked to several longtime viewers who were pleasantly surprised by that. It's time to tweak the format.

Also, I've blogged this many times before, but I'm still wondering why Anderson hardly interviews anyone anymore. Yes, he interviewed Obama. That was a rare exception. He used to interview news makers a lot. What's the deal? His colleagues interview people all the time. No, I do not consider a panel an interview. Speaking of interviews, just to throw this out there as I wind up, I'd love to see there be a regular segment where Anderson interviews authors. Maybe a weekly thing or something. Viewers could make suggestions. It would be cool if these were authors who probably weren't going to get much face time anywhere else--sort of like many people Jon Stewart interviews. In other words, no, not Bob Woodward's latest.

That's just an idea. Maybe reader's of this post have more and they can add them to the comments. Anyway, wow, I've gone on (and on and on) forever, haven't I? As I said in my last post, I'm just a blogger. I don't really expect you to make changes based on anything I've said and my suggestions certainly don't come with a ratings guarantee, but if you're out there, I hope you at least think about what I wrote. You're a talented group and capable of great work. I wouldn't be watching you if you weren't. I just think you need to step back sometimes. I want you to do well, and I'm afraid that if MSNBC puts a successful live show up against you like they've been hinting, you're going to be reduced to fighting Nancy Grace for third place. And that makes a blogger cry sad, sad tears. Well, not really, but still, that would suck. Good luck, 360. I'll be here watching you, for the time being anyway.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

An Open Letter To Anderson Cooper 360: The News Cycle Kidnapped Your Show And Is Holding It Hostage In The Media Bubble

Hey there, 360. It's me, Eliza. That blogger that talks about you on the Internets. Lately I've noticed you've been having some trouble. Things aren't going so hot ratings-wise, are they? Just last week there were at least two nights when you were beaten in the demo by Olbermann's repeat. Losing to Greta is one thing, but an MSNBC repeat? Ouch!

A few days ago I blogged that your broadcast had gone from 'quirky and hip' to 'one of the same' and now even sometimes flirts with 'part of the problem.' I've been musing about that lately and thought maybe I'd do some explaining. First of all, I don't want to imply that you've always been some sort of perfect show beacon of cable news, radiating light and truth, and then suddenly went bad. Um, no. Non stop Anna Nicole Smith. O.J. overload. A whole show on Paris Hilton getting out of the clink. Oh, you've had your shame-faced moments to be sure. But you were different. You were better than most. You were interesting and informative.

I've been a loyal viewer for going on four years now. I was with you through Katrina, Sago, a month in the Middle East in 2006, a zillion other field trips, two major elections...you get the idea. If you were reporting, I was watching. Heck, I can even remember back when Rick Sanchez was one of your correspondents and you used to send him to do stupidly hilarious things, which both amused me and made me ponder whether or not you might be trying to kill him. Good times.

I used to jokingly refer to you as "my friend with ADD." Man, those days I never knew what to expect from you. Would you kick it off up top with indepth news about Iraq or the latest chaos in the life of Britney Spears? Damned if I knew. It was like watching several shows in one. But, BUT somewhere along the line you took your Ritalin and wow, improvement! I have actual confidence now that when I turn on your show, you will be leading with something relatively important. You even made a special segment to drop all that crime junk. You made a blogger proud.

I guess that's why it pains me to see how much you've lost your way. Where did your voice go, 360? Now the show I watch looks like all the others, and I don't like all the others. That's why I watched you in the first place. You've been sucked into the media bubble and I'm not sure you even know you're in there. Before I get into specifics, I think there's a couple fundamental questions you need to ask yourself: does immediacy trump everything, and are you a slave to the news cycle?

For instance, it always flummoxes me when I hear reporters lament about how little coverage the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are getting. They're the ones that are in a position to do something about that! I fully realize that there are majorly important things going on in this country right now that are a part of the daily news cycle, but for the life of me, I don't understand why that seems to be all you can cover. Why do you have to wait for a news maker to mention, say, Afghanistan, before you can do a story on that conflict? I can only speak for myself on this, but it was infuriating that day when Drudge outed Prince Harry's location and suddenly the news media was again interested in the forgotten war.

Can we agree that this kind of stuff is absolutely shameful? Because I have to say, when I hear Anderson Cooper talk about our brave men and women and how he emails their parents and whatnot, well, it all rings a bit hollow. This is sad because I do believe that he cares--that you all care. It's just that sometimes your rhetoric doesn't match your coverage. Where are the regular war updates? Do you realize you barely touched on the Status of Forces Agreement at all? The sixth anniversary of Iraq was on Friday and you didn't even mention it. What's going on?

Then there's the other international coverage. Um...where is it? For a while there you were going full bore with the Burma story, doing a great job and then...nothing. Same thing with the recent fighting between Hamas and Israel. You went, they made things difficult, and then you just...gave up? You're good with being all over it when a story breaks into the news cycle in a big way, but you're not so hot with the follow up. I get that you only have an hour and there are a zillion stories you could cover. But that's the whole point. The show I used to know and love doesn't seem to be choosing anymore--you're letting the news cycle do it for you, which destroys the individuality that attracted so many of us initial viewers.

Now, to be fair, I was very pleased with your recent interviews with Ben Affleck and George Clooney on the subjects of the DRC and Darfur, respectively. I'm probably one of the first people to eye-roll over celebrities, but you know what? These guys know their stuff and it was a perfect opportunity to talk about the two regions. If you have to use a celebrity to shine light on the darkness, then so be it. Do. This. More. Often. I am not suggesting trotting out every celebrity to talk about their cause (please don't), but if a columnist or reporter writes something about the conflicts, hey, have them on to talk about it if possible.

There are lots of outside-the-box opportunities to cover these kind of stories. I don't understand why it seems like the show has to physically be in the location of the story, for that story to get a significant amount of coverage. Does Anderson Cooper have some sort of reporting powers that only work outside of the studio? Don't get me wrong, I love it when the show goes out into the field. Anderson's at his best as a journalist and as an energized and passionate anchor when he's in the field. And of course, I'm totally on board with any opportunity for a possible tight t-shirt sighting. Ahem. I just wish it didn't seem like the only time we get any good, say, New Orleans coverage, is when you guys are there.

For example, this past Tuesday night, Sean Callebs had an excellently done--yet infuriating--piece on Katrina cottages in the Big Easy and I couldn't help but wonder why we hadn't heard a lot about the story before. Will we get a follow up, or do we have to wait until the next time you decide to go to the city? Loyal viewers know what you care about, 360. That's why we're loyal viewers--we care about it too. Anderson, dude, it's your show. You worked your butt off to achieve your position. Do the news you care about. Because you know what? When the show isn't into the story, it shows.

I know, I know. Ratings, blah, blah, blah. I'm not going to pretend to know the data you see, or to understand all of the obstacles and limitations you have to work with. I'm just one of those bloggers on the interwebs. I'm not typing from my parent's basement, but I am, in fact, wearing my pajamas. I have no professional qualifications to give you advice. But I've been watching the show longer than probably some of the staffers have worked there, and I can tell you that you've lost your way. Maybe you don't want to be that show anymore and I should just move on. I don't believe that though. The media world spins fast. Sometimes you have to step back.

This post became annoyingly long. I hate to break it to you 360, but I have much more to blog, specifically regarding your in studio coverage (yes, the panels!). So, this is the part where I say, "to be continued."

Friday, March 20, 2009

President Obama Is Everywhere, Palin Turns Down Stimulus Money, Recession Scams, Plastic Surgery For Work, And A White House Veggie Garden

Hi everyone. Well, home sweet home. No more road tripping. Our anchor is safely in studio, uh, anchored to his chair. I'm just going to get right to this thang. We kick the night off with a Candy Crowley piece that trails our commander in chief through his very busy week. President Obama has been giving the country quite a bit of face time--17 sitings by Candy's count. He's meeting about the stimulus, taking questions at town halls, and even going on Leno. Dude's day planner is filled!

But every story needs a concern troll: enter Mitt Romney who moans about no one being home reading about the economy. He sets up a total straw man about AIG, positing that it was something the Obama administration missed because they were too busy being other places, when in reality they knew all along. Also? Our problems are much bigger that AIG bonuses. Yeah, they're an outrage, but guess what. No one asked about them at the town halls.

Regular Americans have more pressing problems. If Romney thinks that going out and talking to real Americans (yes, even via Leno) is the problem here, he's more out-of-touch than I thought. Actually, this whole piece is kinda framed in a missing-the-point kind of way, but whatever.

Ali Velshi is at the Wall of Doom again. On a side note, last week I learned that Jon Stewart once called Ali a "prophet of doom" on the Daily Show and even though I don't remember seeing that, I'm sorta wondering now if I did some unconscious internalizing that popped out when it came time to name his wall. Just having a ponder, that's all. Anyway! Turns out, there might be some bright spots that are making the wall less doomey. The Dow has had two weeks in a row of increases, the jobless claims are down a bit, and the Fed injected money into the economy. These aren't trends, so we can't say we're saved yet, but it's better than nothing.

After Ali, we have a taped clip of our prez talking to the people of Iran, which I think is a good move. I'm guessing a couple of wingnut heads just exploded. From here we go to the dreaded panel, tonight being rocked out by Joe Johns, Ed Henry, and Dana Bash. There is only one thing of note here and it is of note for its stupidity. Anderson Cooper asks Ed what the consensus is regarding whether the week was a win or loss for Obama. Because that is totally relevant to the majority of Americans. *Sigh* Oh, 360. You're better that this. I don't know why you walked into the media bubble, but it's time to come out.

On now to a Tom Foreman piece on how Governor Sarah Palin (Ah! She's back!) is turning down about 30% of the stimulus money meant for her state. So what's getting denied? Eh, nothing important. Just, you know, money for senior care, immunizations, and unemployment benefits. Suck it, seniors! For her part, she claims that taking the money will expand programs that the state will not be able to afford once the stimulus money runs out. Oh, c'mon that...wait, that actually kinda makes sense to me. Oh, I'm sure this has more to do with an anti-government stance than what she said, but it still makes a little sense to me. Sarah Palin just made sense. I don't know what to do. World spinning! Help!

Thank God we next have a clip of Obama on Leno. I'm feeling better now. I confused you back there though, didn't I? After the clip, we have our panel back and Anderson notes that on Leno our prez said a lot of banks that got bailout money aren't lending yet. This leads our anchor to wonder if Obama just admitted the plan isn't working. Ed says yes, but hold up. Both Ali and Tom Foreman have previously reported that the credit situation has slightly improved, so...what's up with that guys?

Ed then goes on to say that the prez is going to have to ask for more money too. "That's how messed up the situation is." Yes, the situation is quite messed up. Anderson asks Dana how the whole asking for more money thing is going to be received by Congress and Dana actually makes this weird laughing noise in reply. She then says words, but the noise pretty much said it all. Joe notes that despite all this, Obama is pretty loved by the public. Anderson then asks if Obama is overexposed. New meme alert! For the love of God! If he wasn't showing his face everywhere, they'd be concern trolling about that.

I'm not accusing you of being partisan, 360, but can we get away from this idiotic beltway stuff? Anderson wraps this thing up by stating that, "If he shows up on 'American Idol,' we're in trouble." Yes, a president who would go on "American Idol" is definitely someone who could do some damage to this country.

The swooshing sound effect is still here. And still very annoying. But anyway, we're on to a Joe John's piece on recession scams. Actually, they're pretty much just plain old scams. I've heard the lottery one before: guy gets notice that he won the lottery, but needs to pay the taxes. Yeah, obvious scam. But there's stimulus scamming going on too. People calling and saying they're from the government and asking for your social security number. Or sending official looking emails. You give up the info, your identify is stolen. The bottom line is the government will NEVER call you up or email for that kind of information, so don't give it out. People suck.

On now to a Gary Tuchman piece on how those who were supposed to be entering their golden years in life are actually re-entering, or holding tight to the job market. Times are too tough for a lot of people to retire and not only are they not retiring, they're taking extreme measures to stay competitive with the youngins--including plastic surgery. We see before and after pictures of a real estate agent, who admittedly looks better now, but she's more done-up and smiley now as well. I don't know. I find the whole thing fairly disturbing, but you do what you need to survive, I guess.

Transitioning now to discussion with Sanjay Gupta and attorney Chris Davis regarding the news that there's a discrepancy in the timeline of when Natasha Richardson arrived at the hospital following her fall. The resort had said about an hour, the ambulance service said it was about four. This results in speculation of whether or not she could have been saved and whether the resort is at fault. Honestly, this whole segment left a bad taste in my mouth. Lots of implication, not a lot of facts.

But there was a bright spot: Anderson notes that Sanjay is back for the first time after having his third daughter. The good doctor says he is "delighted and overwhelmed." You're overwhelmed now, wait until they're all teenagers. Dude's not going to know what hit him. "You're glowing," says Anderson. Aw, that he is. But Sanjay always glows.

Next up, we have a Randi Kaye piece on Michelle Obama's new White House vegetable garden, but before that, Anderson informs us that he doesn't like vegetables. Heh. He's like a 10 year old in a 40-something year old's body. Anyway! The First Lady and some student broke ground on the south lawn today to plant a 1,100-square-foot vegetable garden. Everything grown there will be cooked in the White House kitchen or donated to a local soup kitchen. Very cool.

The "shot" tonight is Sesame Street explaining the Madoff scandal. This is courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel, so the ending is decidedly not for the kiddies. Oh my. But hilarious.

I really wasn't feeling the show tonight. The pieces from Tom, Joe, and Gary were good, but the rest? Eh, not so much. Olbermann beat them again in the demo on Thursday. It's not going so well for 360 right now. As I said before, it's a shame too because their Road to Rescue coverage wasn't bad. Reportedly they're doing two days live from Mexico next week, so we'll see what that does. If they keep up shows like tonight though, I don't see their numbers improving.

On another note, some kind soul uploaded a bunch of YouTube clips from the Hofstra broadcast and Anderson's speech there. It's interesting to see the behind-the-scenes workings if you're interested. Also, if you are like me and have a hilariously amusing crush on hottie producer Charlie Moore, you will not be disappointed. Usually it takes more than hotness to fulfill my requirements of crush-worthiness, so I'm not sure what's going on there. I think it's his Where's Waldo-like mystique. Heh. That'll do it.

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Updated to add: Friday was the six anniversary of the start of the Iraq war and the conflict didn't even get a mention. Damn.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Live From Hofstra University, STILL With The AIG Bonus Outrage, Madoff's Cell, Richardson's Cause Of Death, And National Women's History Month

Hi everyone. Our traveling newsies are still in the field, but the road tripping winds down as they make their way back to New York, tonight coming at us live from Hofstra University in Long Island. Hm. Didn't Hofstra get to host one of the presidential debates? Spread the love, people. Also, I think they're fairly expensive. Odd choice given the theme of the week, but apparently, practical. Anyhoo! The college kiddies love them their Anderson Cooper, so I'm guessing this broadcast was a probable lovefest behind the scenes.

We begin with a Dana Bash piece and it seems the country--or at least Washington--is still all about those AIG bonuses. Pretty soon I'm going to be outraged over the outrage. I am in no way supportive of these payouts, but once again, we've all got a laser-like focus on a very small part of the overall story. Meanwhile there's a whole mess of crap related to this crisis that no one is talking about. I mean, as reported by Ali Velshi, this bonus thing isn't even new. Sigh.

Okay, so now the House Democrats have passed a 90 percent tax on the bonuses of employees making over $250,000. It applies to not only AIG, but also other companies that got at least $5 billion from us. Whether this is even legal is up in the air, so...yeah. But we're not done here. Not until we sprinkle in a little hypocrisy, anyway. The Republicans are OUTRAGED! It's all the White House's fault. Except, um, many of them voted against limiting the bans. Gotta have that free market and all. And now they're getting bitch slapped by the invisible hand.

As for Senate Dems, we already know Dodd tried to do his part, but then caved to supposed pressure from the Treasury Department. Now Senator Ron Wyden says he tried to stop the bonuses too and was rebuffed by the administration, who for their part, give legal reasoning. Good lord, my head is spinning. It's quite possible that all of these people are playing each other. The only thing I know for sure is that the Republicans are idiots, and that's pretty much where I start anyway.

I've got a skeptical eye on Treasury, that's for sure. Good piece from Dana. There's been a lot of screw ups by others (I'm looking at you, New York Times) in reporting the basics of this story, so it was nice to see them get in right. The fact that I'm pleased about that is probably all you need to know about the state of journalism in this country. (I still wish CNN would start looking around the trees to see the forest though.)

Moving on now to an Ed Henry piece on the President Obama perspective. Like everyone else, he's mad about the bonuses too, though again reiterates how his administration totally didn't write the contracts. He's also taking some hits from the Republicans, who are becoming downright sadly pathetic in their criticisms. Oh noes, Obama is going on a talk show! Good God, he filled out an NCAA basketball bracket! Doesn't he know he's supposed to be fixing the economy even when he's going to the bathroom?! I'm clutching my pearls over here.

Yeah, this is all very stupid. It's the really petty version of the he's "doing too much" argument. Newsflash, the problem isn't that our prez is doing too much. The problem is that his Treasury Secretary appears to be either incompetent or corrupted by the banking industry. After Ed's piece, he and Anderson discuss a little whoopsie Obama made during his Jay Leno appearance. While discussing his bowling skillz, he joked that he could only compete in the Special Olympics. Ohh...crap. That's going to leave a mark.

Lots of excitement from the crowd now. Wooo hooo! Then we get a short clip of Ali Velshi's interview with Tim Geithner. And when I say short, I mean short. They cut it off before we even got the full answer to Ali's question as to who pressured Dodd. This interview was promo-ed and that's all we get? WTF?

Moving on to some discussion with Gloria Borger and Joe Johns. Of note is Anderson wondering why Dodd didn't say no when Treasury asked him to do away with his bonus ban, stating, "It's not like his arm was being twisted, for all we know." You sure about that? Last I checked, Dodd was politically vulnerable and I'm guessing his arm isn't feeling too great right about now. Anderson also brings up the taxes on the AIG employees and their unprecedented-ness. Joe hits on my point about seeing the forest, noting that the larger issue is accountability regarding the money already given out. And Geithner? Gloria thinks he's safe for now. Well, duh. Obama isn't going to chuck a Treasury Secretary lightly. Big political mess involved there.

It's about that time for our nightly game of "winners and losers" with our rockin' host, Tom Foreman. He's rockin' because this is the college edition of this game. Woo! If you earned a degree, yay for you. But I hope it wasn't in an outdoorsy field because if it was, you're a loser! The winners are those who studied anything related to health care. As boomers get older, the industry is, well, booming. Yay for people getting old and sick!

Then there's manufacturing, a definite loser, seeing as how we don't make anything in this country anymore. Service jobs, however, are going strong. Finally, if you're a youngin, I hate to break it to you, but you're a loser. It's all the baby boomers' fault. They're not retiring! Stupid boomers. Hurry up and need health care. (Yes, I am of course kidding.)

Question time! No, not the amusing British version. We've got innovation dude Frans Johansson and "Money" magazine dudette Donna Rosato talking with the crowd of kiddies. First off, they talk to an investment banker wannabie. Bad timing for him. Frans wants to know why investment banking is his goal and the guy starts talking about how it's his passion or whatever, but Anderson is putting the kibosh on this BS: "Come on, you want to make a lot of money, " he says. Bingo.

Frans give him advice, which I'm not sure was all that helpful and then we're on to another student who is very clearly of the girlie variety, but Anderson's all, "Your name is Sean?" Um, no. That would be Melissa and his little blunder causes a chuckle through the crowed. "Hey, hey, it could be," Anderson says. He is correct, it could be. But that does not make it less funny. For the record, the first guy was named Sean. Anyway, just a bit of amusement there.

The girl's question makes me cringe though because apparently she's drowning in student loan debt--tens of thousands of dollars. Anderson says, "wow," but unfortunately that's getting to be the norm these days and as with Melissa, it's factoring into future plans. "How many folks in this crowd have debt, like thousands?" asks Anderson. You all can't see me right now, but I'm totally raising my hand. And I'm several years out of school. (It's almost paid off though.) Also? I love how the crowd is cheering loans. Yay debt!

The last question is about diversification of skills and Frans makes the important point that many jobs the students are training for right now might not be around in the future. Yep. When my college-aged brother decided to change his major a couple years ago to a much less employable field, I told him to study what he likes because there are no guarantees the job market will be the same when he graduates. And guess what? It's not. You may as well enjoy getting the education. This segment ends with Anderson walking by one of their cameras before they get a chance to switch to his camera at the stand up spot. Extreme closeup! Heh.

Breaking news: the Obama administration likes the Special Olympics. I repeat, the Obama administration likes the Special Olympics. Yeah, they had to put out a statement to quell criticism over his Leno comments. Live and learn.

Next up, we have a Randi Kaye piece that gives us a sneak peak of what the rest of Bernie Madoff's life is going to look like. Gotta say, not pretty. He's reportedly being housed in a special unit where he has to stay in his cell for 23 hours per day, there's hardly any human contact, and even the windows are coated so he gets no natural light. Ever. Lisa Bloom thinks this is cruel and unusual and though I'm torn here, I think I agree with her somewhat. I mean, give the guy some sunlight sometimes, you know? After Randi's piece we learn the unit is supposedly infested with mice and roaches. That's disgusting. I see we're still rocking with our human rights record.

Transitioning now to the sad story of the death of Natasha Richardson. Oprah has weighed in and 360 is apparently legally obligated to play us a clip. Liam Neeson went to a vigil in the theater district. Very sad. In a subsequent Gary Tuchman piece, we get the official cause of death: blunt impact to the head resulting in an epidural hematoma, a rare and not usually fatal condition. We also learn that paramedics were initially turned away, but honestly I don't think it would have mattered.

We're then joined by Dr. Neil Martin for the medical perspective and Anderson asks if epidural hematomas are always fatal. Hm. Someone wasn't watching Gary's piece. They then talk diagnosis (with a CT scan) and treatment (surgery). It's noted that even a minor fall can cause a clot (which is scary) and helmets are brought up. Always wear one, people!

On now to a Joe John's piece on National Women's History Month, which honestly, I'm not sure I knew existed. Ladies, we have our own month! Does this mean we can make the men do the dishes? Anyway, this is actually about Michelle Obama's trip and subsequent talk at Anacostia High School. They're all just sitting around in a circle, chatting it up with the First Lady. Very cool.

The "shot" tonight is filled to the brim with adorableness. Many of you know that our own Silver Fox was on "Ellen" today and we get a clip of him playing the "celebrity game," which is pretty much a TeeVee version of Taboo or Catchphrase. Ever played those? Ever played with people who throw the disc thingee? Board games have never been so violent. Heh.

They're tons of stressful fun though, as too is the "celebrity game." Anderson did really well, though I'm a little disturbed he knows that John Mayer is dating Jennifer Aniston. Ellen's brain freeze on Chris Matthews was hilarious. And who can blame her for blocking his name out? The man molested her for Pete's sake! Seriously, no one let him near Obama because we already know there's thrills going up the leg. God knows what would happen. Oh, also? When Anderson came out, Ellen attempted to get him to dance and he would not. You stay strong, Anderson! But the hug? Not. Smooth. Just saying.

That'll do it for me. The show was pretty good. Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter. All the cool kids are doing it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Live From Warren, Michigan; RIP Natasha Richardson; More AIG Related Idiocy; And Artists Attempt To Remake Their Neighborhood

Hi everyone. The road tripping continues, tonight's location being a pub in Warren, Michigan. Good thing this wasn't their location yesterday. Lots of drunk people and talk of the economy don't really mix. Just ask Jon Oliver. Anyway, we kick things off tonight with "breaking news" and I'm foregoing my normal ironic use of all caps because this is pretty close to actually breaking. Sadly, the unconfirmed reports from last night were true and it is now official that actress Natasha Richardson has died at the age of 45.

In a subsequent piece from Gary Tuchman, the basics from yesterday are covered: she fell and suffered an apparent head injury while skiing on a beginner's slope and initially seemed fine, before everything took a big turn for the worse. She was then flown from Quebec to New York, where reporters played vultures outside the hospital. (Seriously, why?) Natasha leaves behind her husband, actor Liam Neeson, and 12 and 13 year old sons. When I heard she had sons, I was hoping they were adults. Not that it's easy to lose a parent when you're an adult, but 12 and 13? That sucks.

Natasha performed on Broadway and was also in movies such as "Maid in Manhattan" and the 90's version of "The Parent Trap." I'll always remember the latter because it is one of only two movies I've ever seen at a drive-in. To be honest, I haven't seen much of Natasha's work or know that much about her, but it's still very sad. Anderson Cooper, who knew the actress, follows Gary's piece up by saying some very nice things and noting that while some "people light up a room when they walk into it. Natasha Richardson knocked the room out when she appeared."

For the medical angle, we're next joined by Dr. Wendy Wright. Anderson states that he doesn't want to speculate, but when you don't know what happened, well, it's inevitable if you do an interview like this. It's likely that Natasha suffered an epidural hematoma. Dr. Wright notes that normally when someone has a fall and it doesn't seem like a big deal, it's really not a big deal, though she suggests getting checked out anyway. This could actually tie into all the heath care talk going on lately. I mean, if you're uninsured and you initially feel fine after hitting your head, are you really going to want to spring for an MRI/CT just to make sure? Bottom line is that anyone who has numbness or slurring needs to get to the hospital immediately.

Transitioning now to a clip of our prez reaching down into his resources and pulling out a little "Campaign Obama" regarding this mess with the AIG bonuses. He notes that Washington is in "a tizzy" with fingers being pointed every which way, but he wants us to know that the buck stops with him. This notion is immediately followed up with the statement that his administration didn't draft the contracts. So...our commander in chief, like, totally takes responsibility, just so it's known it's not his fault. Hm. To be fair, I pretty much like what he's saying, but hey man, I'm an equal opportunity mocker.

I think Anderson is on my page with this because after the clip he notes that both the Obama administration and Congress could have fixed this. This leads us to a clip of major grandstanding that occurred on Capitol Hill today as AIG CEO Edward Liddy got raked over the coals by lawmakers. I think this clip was supposed to be longer because Anderson seems a wee bit surprised to find that they've cut back to him already. I love his "caught" face. He hid it well, but yeah, there was a half smile there.

For a few days now, the talk of the town has been the identity of the person who added a loophole to the stimulus bill that allowed for the bonuses to be paid. We next have a piece from Dana Bash that finally lays it all out. Okay, so, Senator Chris Dodd had actually attached a measure to the stimulus bill to limit bonuses. Yay Dodd! BUT then at the last second, some mysterious person slipped in an exemption. Everyone wanted to know, who WHO was this person? Well, turns out it was frickin Chris Dodd! Boo Dodd! To make it all worse, up until the reveal, Dodd had been channeling Joe Biden pre-VIP pick, telling everyone he wasn't the guy.

The Treasury Department, however, told CNN he was the guy, and they had asked him to do it because they were worried about legal challenges. Man, I don't even know where the line of this BS ends. All this time Dodd has been LYING (that's right, lying) to reporters, and by extension, us. He has apologized, but c'mon. Now, to be clear, though Dodd is a liar, he's obviously being used as the fall guy for Treasury. The big question now is who specifically in that department pressured Dodd. Your move CNN.

After Dana's piece, she joins us live and tells us that she was told that at the time of the negotiations, no one thought AIG bonuses is what we'd be talking about right now. Oh, so as long as it's not starring in the news cycle, it's okay? Ahhh! Anderson unfortunately kind of misses that point, probably because he's got his own point. He wonders if it might be hypocritical to grill the AIG CEO when Congress is at fault here too. Well, he's definitely no victim, but yes, the grandstanding is idiotic. CNN did some good reporting here. I hate that it's my party being stupid, but this is what happens when you're in charge.

On now to a clip of Obama at a town hall and then we go to Ed Henry live who talks more indepth about the provision to keep the bonuses. Time will tell if this hurts Obama. My money is on no. Treasury however? I'm getting pretty close to thinking that Geithner needs to start spending more time with his family.

After Ed, Anderson makes a point I'd like to quote in full: "I have got to tell you, there's a lot of people right now in Detroit, and right now in this bar here in Warren, Michigan, right across from a GM facility who will say that Washington was very quick to have the auto industry and unions here renegotiate their contracts, but, when it comes to fancy companies and corporate bigwigs renegotiating contracts, they seem much more reticent and, in fact, seem to interfere in that process." Um, yeah. Funny I don't remember this being discussed much when everyone was bemoaning how much autoworkers make (and even that figure was reported incorrectly). I know the AIG thing hadn't happened yet, but the fact of the matter is the two industries have been treated much differently. I hope he remembers this angle to the story if it comes up again.

Ali Velshi at the Wall of Doom is up next and he talks about the Federal Reserve, but I gotta say, though I'm fairly fond of our little financial guru, at his point I'm just hearing the Charlie Brown teacher. Anderson does that whole taking questions from the crowd thing again and it's utterly hilarious how everyone he's talked with lately makes him look like he could fit in my pocket. But not funny is this question: "How upset does it make you when you see AIG executives giving out these bonuses?" Wow, lead the question much? What if he's not upset at all? Reporter fail!

On now to an Anderson piece on artists who are investing in Detroit's north side by buying and rehabbing cheap homes. And when I say cheap, I mean cheap. Couple Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert bought their home three years ago for $1900 dollars and are using the money they saved to make it self-sustaining. A green home. This isn't about investing money-wise, it's about community. One of their plans is to build a community art center. They're encouraging more artists to follow their lead and some have. This was a really cool story.

After Anderson's piece, innovation guy Frans Johansson is back and he answers a question from the crowd . Well, sorta. Look, I've no doubt this guy does right by his clients, because otherwise he wouldn't be successful, but this venue clearly isn't working for him. Lots of words and none of them are anything but generic statements.

Time to play "Winners and Losers" with our host, Tom Foreman. Tonight's theme: transportation! Automakers? Losers! Oil business? Losers! Airlines? Losers! Buuut Zip Cars, public transportation, and railroads are looking at brighter futures. There's actually good info in this segment every night. I just wish it wasn't framed in a kinda ridiculous way. Oh, also? If you're like me and had never heard of a Zip Car, apparently they're "shared" cars that are used and then dropped off in designated spots. Weird.

Finally tonight, we're joined by Jess Cagle of "Entertainment Weekly" and he and Anderson say nice things about Natasha Richardson. This is followed up by the "shot" which is a clip of the actress in "Cabaret" on Broadway.

The show was fairly good tonight. I don't think the questions from the crowd is really working, but all in all not too bad. It's a shame too because 360 is getting stomped in the ratings, even with being on the road. Last night they got beat in the demo by Olbermann's repeat and they were in New Orleans, which is, like, their thing. Or it used to be, anyway. I actually felt pretty bad for them when I saw that. I've been watching the show for going on four years now and given Jon Klein's feelings about the broadcast, I have always assumed them to be safe. Today, for the first time, I'm not so sure. I mean, no one should worry just yet, but this is not a good situation and changes obviously need to be made.

My guess is that they've actually lost a lot of their loyal viewers, which might be why the New Orleans show tanked. Or not. What I know for sure is that the idea is to try to gain viewers, not desperately scramble after the ones you already had. Like I said, not a good situation. Also, not a surprising situation. Many longtime viewers saw this coming back before even the election. The show needs to embrace some outside-the-box thinking. They've gone from 'quirky and hip' to 'one of the same' and now even sometimes flirt with 'part of the problem.' It should be interesting to see how this plays out. But that's it from me for tonight. According to Kay Jones, the Miami shoot is canceled. I guess the road trip is over.

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