Monday, March 16, 2009

Live From Los Angeles For Coverage Of The Economy, Including AIG Outrage And...Dr. Phil?

Hi everyone. Wow! I have done some major neglecting in these here parts, haven't I? Sorry about that. Good thing these blog doohickeys don't require watering. In all honesty, I just haven't been feeling the show lately. My regulars know I've had some, ahem, issues regarding CNN's coverage of the economy, so when I heard that's all they were going to do this week 24/7, well, it pretty much made me want to jam a pencil in my eye.

But, BUT my feelings about the special coverage changed somewhat when I read about 360's plans. Pack your virtual bags kids, because it's road trip time! Woohoo! Okay, well, the whole point of leaving the studio is to take a look at sucky economy related things around the country, so you'll probably want to leave your swimsuit behind, but still, road trip! So, to all of you recently bemoaning the lack of "field Anderson,"... you've got your Anderson Cooper, you've got your field...Wah lah!

Speaking of Anderson, our anchor is coming at us live from Nokia Plaza near the Staples Center, where hundreds of people have showed up to apply for 40 jobs. This is why the gathered crowd is a little less, uh, rambunctious than what we usually see from people standing mere feet from the Silver Fox. I don't expect to see anyone mouthing to the camera about Anderson's hotness (yes, that happened once).

So anyway, we're kicking things off with a massive dose of OUTRAGE. I feel like we've heard this song before, but today comes the news that insurance giant AIG, who we gave billions of dollars, is going to be handing out big ol' bonuses to its employees. You know, because they've done such a good job. Sigh. For his part, President Obama has put his angry face on, but I'm guessing that's not going to translate to us getting our money back.

In a subsequent Joe John's piece, we're reminded that AIG is one of those lovely "too big to fail" companies. I'm sorry, nothing should be too big to fail. And since no one ever thinks ahead in this country, I'm calling it right now: Wal-Mart, too big to fail--future problem. Back to the bonuses, $165 million is going to be going to 400 employees. AIG claims the bonus deal was made before their major troubles and they have to pay because the law says if they don't, they'll have to pay double. What a mess.

After Joe's piece, Anderson tells us that 15% of all mutual funds held shares of AIG at the beginning of 2008 and now it's trading for under a buck. So, in terms of who this is affecting, you do the math. "This hits home," says Anderson, very emphatically, I might add. He then takes a question about AIG from the live crowd and Ali Velshi in studio does the answering. After that, we move on to a clip of Obama talking up his plan for small businesses, which Ali further explains by using the Wall of Doom, this time not so doomey.

Panel time! Tonight's edition being extra complicated. It appears we've got David Gergen via satellite and a couple of newbies in studio: personal finance expert Lynnette Khalfani-Cox and innovation consultant Frans Johansson. I really didn't get much out of this. The Gerg's on a roll with his concern trolling, this time noting that the AIG thing might be the turning point in Obama's bailout efforts. He actually might be right about that, but still, Gerg, leave the Villager status at the door for once, you know? The other panelists each took a question from the crowd. Man, that Frans guy talked a lot, but as far as I can tell, didn't really say anything.

Transitioning now to an Anderson piece in which our waspy anchor goes on a little trip to Watts, where I'm sure he totally fits right in. He talks with Gregory Thomas, one of the founders of Kush, a local gang prevention group. This is included in 360's economic coverage because Kush is hoping to get some of that stimulus money. Reverend Jeff Carr, who also fights gang violence, wants to see this country start investing in human capital, and stimulus money going to the type of program he runs would do just that. Sounds logical to me. All of our problems are connected in some way. We now have a president that thinks big, so it's time to start tackling the roots.

Hm, it seems that the surrounding crowed of business professionals is becoming a little less, uh, professional. I see jumpers! That never looks idiotic on television. Speaking of idiots and television, we're next joined by Dr. Phil, who we are promised will be talking to us throughout the rest of the hour. They have got to be frickin kidding. Please excuse me while I go bang my head against the wall.

On now to Tom Foreman at his wall, for a rousing game of "winners and losers," regarding who's doing well in the economy and who's not. Okay, so I guess the info here is framed this way to make it seem more interesting or something, but really it just confused me at first. To quote Jon Stewart, "it's not a f****** game." Manufacturing? Loser! Construction? Loser! Restaurant business? Loser! But we're also told that small manufacturers are doing okay, there's work in renovation and remodeling, and the wine trade is up. Why they can't just tell us that without the extra graphics and framing, I do not know.

Now to the moment everyone has been waiting for: Dr. Phil is here to help, people! Britney Spears, Octomom, now the economy. Does this man have to weasel into everything? Anyway, he starts off by telling us that we've been "living large" with the "big house, the big cars." Is Dr. Phil trying to quote Cypress Hill? Heh. He's going glass half full on this economy thing, stating that it could help bring families together. Orr it could do this.

We're also joined by L.A. Times business reporter David Colker, who explains that there is a lot of government-backed help out there for free regarding loan counseling and whatnot. Now see, this is a good guest. He's the kind of person they should have had on weeks ago for indepth discussion. Here we only get him for a moment and they're having audio problems. In fact, I can't really even hear Ali's answer to a question about stimulus allocation. Oh wells.

Next up, we have a Randi Kaye piece about how people are turning to pills to deal with their economic stress. We meet an investment banker with chronic insomnia. He tried therapy, but that got too expensive. Now he's on Xanax. Great, more people on drugs, specifically Ambien, which we all know has strange side effects. This should end well.

The hour wraps up with Dr. Phil talking to Anderson about how people need to get real about losing their homes. Or something. Again, seriously, Dr. Phil? Well, I'll give them one thing, this shot is pretty good for a laugh. The enormity of Dr. Phil makes our anchor look like a teeny tiny man by comparison. I want to put him in my pocket.

That does it for me. I think they showed Anderson's piece with the LA mayor in the second hour, but I wasn't sticking around through repeated coverage for that. Besides, Jon Stewart was waiting for me. The show was okay. The energy level wasn't off like it was last week, but I could have done without the questions from the crowd. Anderson's piece on Watts was good. Tomorrow we're on to New Orleans. Yay!

Finally, I've decided to go public on the blog with my twitter, for anyone who wants to follow me.


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