Thursday, October 29, 2009

United Nations Compound Attack, Combating H1N1 Vaccine Fear -Mongering, Job News, Palin Talk (For Some Reason), & Wanda Sykes Interview

Hi everyone. We continue our week of Anderson Cooper-lessness while John King steers the ship. Our sub anchor, however, does not have the "Big 360 Interview." No, that super-sized honor actually goes to Michael Ware (ooh, unconventional!), and it's where we begin tonight. On Wednesday morning, the Taliban launched an attack on a United Nations Compound in Kabul that left eight dead. It was brutal and brazen, and actually could have been a lot worse if not for American contractor Chris Turner.

He tells Michael that when he heard the small-arms fire, he knew they were close, and immediately grabbed his rifle. Everyone attempted to evacuate and he was the last out. About 24 people hid in a washroom while Chris stood guard, keeping them safe. He downplays his actions, noting that they were in the back of the compound and most of the action went down in the front. Still a compelling story nonetheless, and a smart move to have Michael do the interview.

Transitioning now to the subject of the H1N1 virus and--I kid you not--the Magic Map is deployed. Oh John, is there any subject you can discuss without waving your hand in front of a board? Anyway, he shows us a map of the US and all the swine flu states are red. If this were election night, that map would be giving me a heart attack right about now.

Randi Kaye then joins us to talk about some of the public resistance to the vaccine that's happening on the Internets. The 360 kids are a bit behind on this angle. Bill Maher's tweet is mentioned ("If you get a swine flu shot, you're an idiot.") and I'm pretty sure it's at least a couple weeks old because I remember seeing it in real time. There's YouTube and blog fear-mongering as well. Not to mention email forwards (which Randi doesn't mention). I had to do a big debunk for a family member a couple weeks ago due to one of those.

As I've stated before, I'm in the middle on this issue. Do I think the vaccine is perfectly safe? Of course not. Nothing is fool proof and medical mistakes are not uncommon. But do I think the government is out to get us? Um, no. They don't have their act together enough to orchestrate a full blown biomedical conspiracy. There's always a risk with any medical procedure or medication; vaccines are no different. I sort of wish Randi would have done more of an in-depth fact check. This segment kinda plays like, "weird crap we found on the Internets."

Then we're joined by Sanjay Gupta, who gives us some more info on the flu, as well as a bit of an explainer on where all these crazy theories are coming from. Guillain-Barre syndrome is mentioned, though Sanjay points out there's no proof people really developed the syndrome due to receiving the 1976 swine flu vaccine. Also, I don't really endorse the reporting of Inside Edition, but I am curious about this video and would like to see it examined by a more reputable news agency.

Moving on now to an interview John has with Christina Romer, chair of the president's Council of Economic Advisors. Funny story: A few years ago, the Bush administration was trumpeting the economy because Wall Street was humming along and GDP numbers were good. But they just couldn't understand why the poll numbers on the subject were in the tank. Well, now we are through the looking glass, people. GDP numbers are up and guess who's screaming about the lack of jobs. That's right, the Republicans. Now suddenly they're all about the average American. Funny how that happens.

As for the interview, nothing hugely of note. Though the Obama administration's job expectations aren't being met in a timely fashion, there's still no gotcha because the time period given has yet to end. It's definitely a subject they should keep up on though.

Next up, we learn that Sarah Palin is sticking her nose in a New York congressional race, and apparently now we have to talk about it. Oy. I don't get this. She's not a governor anymore. She's not any kind of official. She's not seen as a credible candidate by the majority of the country. She's nothing! Why must we continue to talk about every little thing she does. Seriously media, it's time to let go. Anyway, there's talk with Paul Begala and David Frum, but yeah, totally don't care.

Moving on to an interview with comedian Wanda Sykes. Wha? When they do stuff like this, I'm left scratching my head. I'm not complaining exactly; I just don't understand why she's on the show. I can't even explain this with synergy. All CNN has been doing this week is defending their ratings by noting how newsy they are, and then they have on a comedian (and Campbell Brown had on Tracy Morgan a week or so ago).

Personally, I think they should just have some sort of (short) pop culture segment every night. When they're able to book someone, they can have an interview. When they can't get anybody, Anderson can talk movies or TV (or Levi Johnston stripping for Playgirl--*shudder*) and you know it will be entertaining. The segment would help shake up what most now agree to be a totally stale format AND it would take away the WTFery of these kind of seemingly odd and out-of-place interviews. A little fun on the news is fine, as long as it has its place.

Anyway, the interview with Wanda is a little odd in that John focuses a bit on the White House Correspondents Dinner, where yes, she performed, but it was also forever ago. That dinner was not without controversy. Rush Limbaugh had recently remarked that he hoped Obama would fail. In response, Wanda cracked that she hoped Rush's kidneys would fail, a remark that sent a gasp through the crowd. "Washington wasn't quite ready for that one," says John.

Hey, remember the 2004 dinner when Bush pulled that great bit about how he couldn't find WMDs? You know, those same WMDs that never existed, which were used as a justification for a war that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people? Remember that? Wasn't that just Hee-fucking-larious? Listen to the press laugh. Good one, Bush! Too funny! But yeah, a crack about Rush's kidneys failing? Washington wasn't quite ready for that one.

Also? Apparently Wanda Sykes is gay. I'm not sure if I already knew this. I think I probably did, but it's not exactly something that concerns me all that much. I bring it up, because John does this really abrupt transition and starts asking her about the human rights campaign, which threw me for a second. I guess this is how they classify the interview as news.

That about does it for me. The show was okay. I think they beat the Olbermann repeat in the demo ratings last night, so...yay? It's kinda sad how bad they're getting pounded lately. A part of me thinks they should just bulldoze the format, do some outside-the-box thinking, and rebuild the show from there. But I don't see that happening. Anyway, until we meet again.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Obama's Promises, American Samoa Investigation Part 2, Legal Implications For Gang Rape Bystanders, And Karzai Brother On CIA Payroll

Hi everyone. John King continues his guest reign. I think this is going to be one of my quasi-abbreviated blogs because I am, quite frankly, tired. We begin with Joe Johns breaking down a "Washington Times" story that found Obama fundraisers are getting special access to the White House. So basically, people pay...and then they get to play--as in go golfing with the prez and that kind of stuff. Democrats are saying no big deal; Michael Steele has his boxers in a twist. Me? I am solidly at "meh" on the outrage (and even interest) scale.

Paul Begala and Ed Rollins join us to do the whole tired left/right thing and I'm all around unimpressed. As Paul says, unless there is a quid pro quo involving policy, I don't see anything to get upset about. There are more important things, in my opinion, to hit Obama on. But I do think it's perfectly legitimate to note the unkept transparency promises. Let's just keep it all in perspective.

Also, this is probably neither here nor there, but does it seem like our news is more politic-y when John King is hosting? Perhaps more State of the Union-like? I hope I'm imagining things--not because I have anything against politics or John, but because it probably means Anderson Cooper deserves more of the blame for the tabloid-y coverage than I would have hoped. And I don't want to blame him. Because he's so cute. Ahem.

Moving on to part two of Drew Griffin's investigation of American Samoa aid money. Long story short: the American territory gets walloped by a tsunami, we've been sending them US tax dollars for years, the money never gets anywhere, they look like a third world country now. Drew talks with Eni Faleomavaega, American Samoa's congressional delegate who is very proud of the tax money he secures. In a voice over, Drew says us: "In a satellite interview, he told us his responsibility doesn't include making sure that money is spent correctly."

Except, um, that's not exactly true. Or if it is, it's not what we are shown. This is what the delegate says: "If the local administering authority is not in compliance with the federal requirements on how that grant is supposed to be spent, then, by all means, they should be noted, and grants should not be given." I don't really know what to think. This reporter is no stranger to insinuations. Nothing personal. Just what I've observed over a period of two to three years. As I said yesterday, I really hate that I can't trust the facts of this story.

Transitioning now to the subject of that horrible gang rape in California. Lisa Bloom and Jeffrey Toobin join us for the legal perspective. The focus here is on the kids that watched and did nothing. Lisa manages to make my blood run cold by informing us that, allegedly, photos and video were taken of the crime. If those go can't ever fully erase that kind of thing. As if the girl hasn't been through enough already. How sickening. But anyway, Lisa's point is that the bystanders could be charged with child pornography.

They also talk a bit about the responsibility of the school officials. You know, it's probably a safe bet that this kind of lax security is going on in most public schools in the country. Actually, it's not about lax security per se, but attitude of officials. We're shown a clip in which a student even states that the vice principal saw the men outside and did nothing. I am not the least bit surprised by this. She could have been talking about my high school. Maybe this will be a wake up call for the school system, but I'm not holding my breath.

At the end of the segment, John says this: "I do want to say something to our viewers. This is a horrible story, and we do not enjoy covering it. But there are responsibility and accountability questions here that we think need to be answered." Kinda weird. I wonder if they're receiving a lot of criticism. It's definitely a legitimate story and they haven't (yet) been exploitative, so like I said, kinda weird.

On now to the news that Hamid Karzai's bro is on the CIA payroll. So yeah, we're paying a drug lord. Holy complication, Batman. To talk about this, we're joined by intelligence analyst Bob Baer, Michael Ware, and David Gergen. A sum up: The Gerg thinks this isn't going to go down smoothly at home. Michael is like, duh, of course we're paying people. And Bob thinks this will taint Karzai (as in Hamid), which subsequently screws us. Going back to Michael, I was hoping to hear more from him because according to one of the pieces he filed while 360 was live in Afghanistan, Ahmed Wali Karzai is an "old friend." So...

I'm just saying, kinda weird he doesn't mention that he just talked to him last month. I really hope this isn't some sort of CNN thing. The guy reports on terrorists; he's going to have some relationships that aren't exactly politically correct. Anyway, this was a good--if a tad disjointed-discussion. It sounded like Bob and Michael disagree on paying the Afghans off. I would have liked to hear them debate. Oh wells.

We wrap things up with a Candy Crowley piece about Sarah Palin. Yes, she's still around. And bickering with her daughter's baby daddy, apparently. I'm not sure I could care less.

The "shot" tonight is a couple dudes dressed up like big iPhones. I don't know. I don't really get it. But it allows John and Erica to (sorta) ironically pimp out the CNN app. So...there you go. The show wasn't too bad.

You know, I miss the Silver Fox, but I have to say, John King is totally kicking his ass when it comes to social media. Not only does he live-blog like 10 times more than Anderson ever does, he even tweeted during the show. Now that's multi-tasking.

Also, for all you Jack Gray fans, our young Jack is all grow-ed up and just attended the big 140 Character Conference. Since I am a fan of Twitter, conferences (geek alert!), and Jack, I was very excited and hoping I could find video (not only of Jack's panel, but also the big bossman--Jon Klein). Well, mostly I suffered Google fail. But! I did find this little gem. Oh Cherie. Poor, poor Cherie. By the way, doesn't Jack's real life experience sound like some sort of warped dream you had one night? I was talking in front of all these people and Punky Brewster was there. Man, life's a trip sometimes.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

American Samoa Investigation, Odd Year Politics, Horrific Gang Rape Of A High Schooler, And Interview With Sweat Lodge Victim's Children

Hi everyone. Night two of Anderson Cooper 360, minus the Anderson Cooper. John King again keeps the anchor chair warm. This hour must be a breeze for him, what with the four hour marathon he does on the weekend. We begin with a story about American Samoa, a US territory that was last month devastated by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami. John takes this opportunity to get in a little Magic Map action. I swear, it must be in his contract. Anyway, 34 people died in the disaster due to lack of a warning system--a warning system that was paid for, but never built.

Drew Griffin investigates for us and we learn that the US has provided $13 million in disaster preparedness grants to American Samoa since 2003. Yet, the governor doesn't seem to know much about the money or the system. However, Birdie Alailima, American Samoa's former homeland security adviser, says that he was working to get the warning system built, but much of the money went missing. U.S. Homeland Security investigators have found that some of the money was spent on stuff like plasma TVs. So...that's pretty bad.

Wise to the swindle, the US put the kabash on the money, demanding reimbursement of some of the funds before they would unfreeze aid. Meanwhile 34 people are dead and the territory is still not prepared. This all appears very outrage-inducing. Yet, because of the reporter, I have that little nagging feeling that appearances may be deceiving. I hate that. Admittedly, it seems that all i's are dotted and t's are crossed here, but I can't just make myself trust someone that I long ago stopped trusting (for good reason). Your mileage may vary.

Hey, did you know they sometimes have elections in years that don't end in an even number? Crazy, huh? This makes our cable news friends very happy, especially John King. Why? Oh you know why: More Magic Map! It seems we have ourselves a couple of governor races in New Jersey and Virginia, which means we need a couple of pundits--stat! Filling the void, are James Carville and Kevin Madden. We're even thrown an irrelevant Gallup poll to boot. Aw, 2008 nostalgia! Anyway, as is their wont, they try to make WAY more out of this than necessary. A lot can happen in a year, guys. A LOT.

Moving on to Sanjay Gupta talking H1N1. Again. Don't get me wrong, important topic, but I think I'm kinda swine flu-ed out tonight.

Transitioning now to one of those stories that makes you question humanity. In a Dan Simon piece, we learn that a student at Richmond High School in California was gang raped for two and a half hours on school property after she left her Homecoming dance. Even worse? Police believe about 10 people watched and did nothing to help. So disgusting. Dan talks with school board member Charles Ramsey who admits they should have kept tabs on the premises during the dance. Apparently the girl had left to be picked up by her father, and was instead lured into an alley by another student. She's currently hospitalized with non life threatening injuries.

For discussion, we're joined by CNN education contributor Steve Perry and clinical psychologist Mary Koss. I feel a little bad for pointing this out, but Mary is clearly nervous. John asks her how people could just stand around and watch this happen and this is her response: "John, thanks so much for having me and, Steve, thank you so much for expressing the outrage about this tragedy that we all feel. This is a horrible, horrible thing." And that's all she said. Um, yes, I think this being a horrible thing has pretty much been established.

John then tries again, and this time she does hit on the bystander effect, but not very well. C'mon, Kitty Genovese? Diffusion of responsibility? Bueller? Like I said, I feel a little bad since I know that if I am ever on live TV it'll be way worse than what we just saw. Anyway, as a student of social psychology, I definitely believe in the idea that the more people there are witnessing a situation, the less likely any of them will be to help. This is a part of the human condition.

That being said, I also agree with Steve, who believes that there was no doubt a "buzz" going through that dance regarding what was happening outside. So if we're looking for the "why" in this horrible story, I'm more apt to think it can be found in the melding of the ideas of both of the guests. It doesn't stem solely from the depravity that Steve seems to think is poisoning our children, but it doesn't stem solely from studied psychological principles either. Human behavior is complicated. More often than not, there simply is no "why" to be found.

Moving on to Gary Tuchman live to talk about the interview he did with the three children of sweat lodge victim Liz Neuman. Doctors tried to save Liz by putting her in a medically-induced coma, but she ultimately succumbed to massive organ damage a week and a half after the sweat lodge. Her daughter, Andrea Puckett, tells us that during that period when her mother was still alive no one connected to James Arthur Ray contacted her. The guru and Liz had been friends for seven years, so Andrea assumed he would be by her side.

When Ray finally did call--after Liz's death--Andrea immediately hung up on his ass. Good for her. Bryan Neuman, Liz's son, thinks Ray acted like a "heartless, soulless coward." Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. In addition to being devastated by their mother's death, Liz's children are also outraged that Ray continues to make money and be uncooperative with authorities. This guy is really a piece of work. I take solace in the fact that the last freaky cult guy that Gary reported on significantly is now in prison. Sometimes justice just takes time.

Are you aggrieved that I deprived you of your Sanjay earlier? Well, rejoice, because the doc with the 1000-watt smile is back. He's talking about Liz's heat stroke--so it's not exactly party time--but he's back nonetheless. Sanjay explains that the human body actually has an excellent cooling system, but in a sweat lodge the system is unable to work properly because things are so humid. Obviously dehydration occurs and sometimes even disorientation, which can prevent people from leaving a situation they would otherwise know was dangerous. Actually, that part I just kinda filled in for you since this is edited in a way that cuts Sanjay off. Hm.

The "shot" tonight is a five year old body builder. I'm with Erica Hill on this one. That's just creepy. John gives us a little Schwarzenegger impression. Oh, don't quit your day job, John. I kid because I love!

Last night I blogged a bit about CNN's ratings problems--a subject I could for some reason speculate about forever (it's a sickness!). But don't worry, I won't. Anyway, about a gazillion posts and write-ups on the subject have hit the Internets in the last day or so and this one from Variety caught my eye--particularly the last paragraph:
Still, it’s surprising to see Anderson Cooper disappear into the ideological mist. Cooper himself seems bored, if not robotic from time to time. Further, the convention of “panels” seems pathetically outdated – the same talking heads saying exactly what you know they will say. Cooper’s format is failing him, and so are his producers.
It kinda pains me to say it, but if I'm going to be honest, I can't disagree.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, October 26, 2009

Barney Frank Interview On Our Money, More H1N1 Talk, Sex Addiction, And Health Insurance Gender Inequality

Hi everyone. Well, it seems Anderson Cooper has ditched us for no doubt more interesting surroundings. But never fear, John King is here, and he's more than qualified when it comes to holding down the fort until the silver-topped one returns.

Tonight we begin with...outrage! Okay, we're all well aware of the bailouts...and the taking of our money...and the perks and yada yada. At this point, some of us would like to see the CEOs of these companies, I don't know, perhaps made to cry like little girls. But I digress. Joe Johns tells us that now companies like Citigroup and Bank of America--takers of OUR money--are pouring cash into lobbyists, who in turn are (most likely) trying to water down regulations that might have kept us from getting into this whole bailout mess in the first place. To sum up: ahhhh!!!!!

We're given a bunch of caveats. Like, John isn't telling us specifics of the lobbying and the companies are claiming they're not using federal funds. In fact, they apparently even sent CNN charts and graphs as proof. Oh, well, if we can't believe something made in PowerPoint, what can we believe? Seriously, are we sure we can't make them cry like little girls?

Next up, John has an interview with Representative Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. I like Frank's no BS-style, but I'm not going to lie, following his interviews can be challenging. Of note to me is Frank stating that money doesn't necessarily make the lobbyists effective. Basically he's trying to say he and his colleagues can't be bought. Okay, fair point. Money doesn't guarantee they'll get the legislation they want, but it sure as hell helps.

Frank also talks about his plan to set up a systemic risk council in order to prevent the whole "too big to fail" problem from happening again in the future. "We're going to have death panels. But they're going to have death panels that are going to put to death these institutions before they can cause us problems, not old people," he tells us. Yes, killing old people is generally frowned upon. But death panels for companies is something I can get behind. It'd be great if this actually came to fruition.

Then the very good point is made that, originally, financial companies acted as a means to an end, with the end being goods and services. Now some of these companies are the end. All they do is move money around. Frank doesn't see much value in it, and quite frankly, neither do I. From here, the conversation turns to health care reform, with Frank expressing his support for the new proposal that states can opt out of the public option. He thinks the option will actually become popular and states won't opt out. Again, I agree. It's not the strong public option I'd like, but at least it makes the bill worth passing.

Transitioning now to more on H1N1. Sanjay Gupta is here because President Obama just declared the flu to be a national emergency. But no freak out needed. As Sanjay explains, the declaration refers to how wide spread the flu might become; not how severe. Also, it's mostly a technicality, in that it streamlines procedures and cuts through red tape. Sanjay brings up Hurricane Katrina as an example, which is actually exactly what I thought of when I heard about the declaration. Erica Hill then pops in to talk about availability of the vaccine. Things are pretty behind. Keep washing those hands, people.

If it's true that sex sells, let's hope our next segment gets the 360 kids some ratings because otherwise...ugh. It seems some ESPN analyst got fired for having an affair with a production assistant and now we're talking about sex addiction. Yeah, I don't know why either. We're joined by Lori Brown, associate professor of sociology at Meredith College, and addiction specialist Reef Karim. I can't say I'm all that interested. If I wanted to watch Dr. Phil, well, I would.

A bit of hilarity though: you know how 360 does that "Text 360" thing even though they have the feedback form, Facebook, and Twitter already? Well, tonight I saw my Twitter pal Vanessa tweet Anderson's Twitter account a question, and not even about three minutes later, they were reading it on the air. So, either "Text 360" isn't very popular (especially since they didn't even use a text) or the 360 kids give a new meaning to last minute decision.

Next up, the Silver Fox is back! Well, sorta. We have a taped interview Anderson did with Christina Turner, a woman who was sexually assaulted and then dropped by her insurance company. This whole story is just so so wrong. Christina was drugged by men at a bar, and subsequently did the right thing by going on anti-HIV medication. Unfortunately, that move, coupled with the therapy she required to deal with the traumatic event, made her essentially uninsurable.

This pisses me off so much I can't even recap it properly. So go here to read Christina's story, watch the extended interview with Anderson, and finally, check out the website

For more on the gender inequality of our health insurance system, Sanjay returns and we're also joined by Marsha Greenberger of the National Women's Law Center, and Candy Crowley. Marsha tells us that unfortunately Christina's case is not an anomaly. There are even states that consider domestic abuse a pre-existing condition. Sanjay adds on, noting that pregnancy can be viewed as a pre-existing condition as well. Plus, plans are often more costly for women and may not even cover obstetric care. On the political front, Candy talks a bit about how Michelle Obama is now out there on health care reform. Good couple segments. I'm glad 360 did this.

There's more show, but I actually got distracted and missed the end. From what I saw, besides the (IMO) pointless ESPN sex addiction segment, everything was good. A couple things of interest: Brian Williams will be reporting from Afghanistan this week with special reports from one of my faves, Richard Engel.

Also, remember how I said I hoped the Balloon Boy coverage would at least get 360 some good ratings because their October numbers were going to suck? Yeah, well, their October numbers suck. Ouch. Not exactly a surprise. Obviously this is a network wide problem, but it looks like 360 might be bearing the brunt.

I wouldn't deny that much of CNN's ratings have to do with the fact that they're not a partisan network, but I also believe some of their woes are self-inflicted. Simply put, CNN has no identity, and this trickles down to individual shows. To be honest, I cannot recommend 360 to anyone because I don't know how. I, a loyal viewer of over four years, am unable to succinctly define this show. Sure, we've all read the blurbs about holding people accountable and going behind the headlines and blah blah.

Some nights that's true. Other nights it's total crap. I don't really want to tell someone, "hey, watch this show because they might do a provocative hour of news." I feel like I need to add the caveat that the provocative hour will go out the window if a balloon flies through the air for two hours, or a celebrity does something really stupid. The last time I recommended 360 to someone, she sat down to 20 minutes of Paris Hilton. After the embarrassment of receiving her WTF email, and having to explain that, no, I don't think celebrity news is the mark of a quality program, I was a tad turned off from ever singing CNN's praises to non newsjunkies.

So, my view? There's a large group of news viewers out there who view CNN as a total joke because, well, sometimes they are. Thing is though, the network also does really great work that's not being seen by as many people as it should, because the stupid coverage alienated the potential loyal viewers. Does CNN really want to be at the mercy of events? There's a loyal audience out there just waiting to be found. I know Jon Stewart is a comedian, but his smack down of CNN a few weeks ago was spot on. Reporting...fact-checking...CONSISTENTLY--I think it's an identity a lot of people could get behind.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Flight 188 Mystery, More From Willingham's Attorney, Balloon Boy Hoax Confirmed (Shocker!), Fox News vs. The White House, And More On Ray

Hi everyone. Well, better late than never, huh? We begin with the BREAKING NEWS that, brace yourself, the Balloon Boy debacle was all just a hoax. Gasp! Okay, first of all, duh. Second, this isn't really "breaking news." And third, really, we're still doing this? You're kinda killing me here, 360. Anyway, Erica Hill has more about the sworn affidavit given by Mayumi Heene, and we're promised more info later. Meh.

Moving from one flight-related story to another, Tom Foreman has a piece on Northwest Flight 188. Carrying 144 passengers, the plane safely landed at its destination of Minneapolis, but not until after they had to whip back around because the pilots overshot by 150 miles. Um, whoops? Apparently no one in charge on the plane could be contacted for an hour and 18 minutes, which as you can imagine in this post-911 world, made people a tad bit antsy.

But check this: military officials say they weren't contacted by the FAA until AFTER the flight passed over its destination, so by the time they went to scramble jets, the whole thing was pretty much over. Um, what?! Forget about what the pilots were doing, I want to know WTF is up with that. But right now I guess all the focus is on the mystery. For their part, the pilots say they weren't sleeping, but rather having a "heated discussion." Yeah, okay. As I said on Twitter, my guess? Playing Twister.

For discussion of all this, we're joined by former pilot Jim Tilmon. He assures us that the plane was most likely on autopilot the whole time and therefore the passengers weren't in danger. Anderson Cooper asks if it's normal for pilots to fall asleep in the cockpit. Jim's very unsettling reaction? He laughs. Dude, not the way to alleviate fears. "I don't want to say that it's normal. It does happen from time to time," he tells us. Well, I feel safe, don't you? Why are they so tired? Also, according to Sully Sullenberger, it might help to stop slashing their salaries. I'm not going to argue with a hero.

Transitioning now to Randi Kaye live with the latest on the Cameron Todd Willingham case. Actually, a lot of this feels redundant, but we do learn that though an arson expert faxed his findings to Governor Perry's office on February 13, 2004, the governor wasn't told about it until four days later--the day of the execution. So there's definitely some more digging that can be done there. Also, Randi sits down with Willingham's attorney David Martin, who previously appeared on the show. He's sans cowboy hat this time and seems to have toned the crazy down a bit, but he still sounds more like a prosecutor and maintains that his client was guilty. So much for a right to a fair trial.

Erica brings us the "360 Bulletin" and we learn there is a new world Monopoly champion. "Isn't Monopoly for, like, little kids? Not to disparage his win, but isn't there sort of an age limit?" says Anderson. No there is not! I wonder about you sometimes, Silver Fox. Oh, and I like the top hat, in case you were wondering.

Transitioning now to...Balloon Boy. Oh joy. Erica has the time line and then we have a reunion with our snarky guests from last time: Jeffrey Toobin and Lisa Bloom. Anderson again teases Jeff for calling this so massively wrong (he had previously proclaimed it not a hoax). Our anchor better laugh it up while he can now--you know that reality show is coming. "I just thought they were an ordinary American family with a flying saucer in the backyard, OK?" says Jeffrey. "But, you and Lisa "Hang 'Em High" Bloom, you were right." Then he declares the case closed. Well good! Let's move on then, shall we? Yeah, not moving on.

Lisa gives us some legal lowdown, ending with: "P.S., no charges have been filed. No arrest has been made. We're still waiting for that. Where is that?" Anderson throws the question to Jeffrey, who replies with: "Why? Why not, Anderson? Why are these people still walking the streets? Why isn't this danger to the community -- I mean, can we just relax for a second?" Gotta love the Toob's flair for the snarky dramaz. He reminds us that the Heenes are not the most dangerous people in the world. No, I believe it goes Bin Laden and then the Heenes. "They could be building a balloon as we speak, Jeff Toobin," says Anderson. Eep! I'm totally clutching my pearls.

While the boys are having their fun, Lisa, bless her heart, is still trying to do her job, and gives us a bunch more legal information. When she stops speaking there is dead silence and it is totally clear the other two weren't listening to a word she said. I would cyber-slap them both upside the head right now, except, uh, I wasn't really listening either. Sorry, Lisa! "Your knowledge of this case, Lisa, scares me a little bit," says our anchor. "This is my job, Anderson," replies Lisa. Ha! Comical snap!

The Silver Fox then informs us "for the record" that he has officially lost interest in this story. Way ahead of you on that. But thanks for keeping us posted on your interest level. Anyway, there's some more serious discussion with sporadic snarking from Jeffrey, before Anderson wraps the segment up by playing us the "Who the hell is Wolf? clip. And at that point, Toobin is completely in stitches. If they're going to talk about this stupid story, I suppose I wouldn't have it any other way.

Transitioning to the newest political controversy: The White House versus Fox News. Dun dun dun! Personally, I think this is much ado about nothing, but Paul Begala and Mark McKinnon are here and we're going to talk about it, dagnabbit. Paul and I seem to be on the same page and he sums it up nicely: "I mean, no serious person thinks FOX News all the time is a news network." The network is simply not the same as its competitors, I don't care what any journalist says (I'm looking at you, Jake Tapper).

Anyway, Paul then brings up some of Fox's talent and tries to be cute with our anchor. "There's one guy. I don't think you've ever heard of him. His name's Glenn Beck," says Paul. Obviously the goal here is to get some sort of reaction out of Anderson, who of course is well aware of Glenn Beck. For his part, the Silver Fox attempts to stay stone face, but doesn't quite succeed. That's right, I saw that split-second smirk there, mister!

Anderson asks Mark if it's hypocritical to shun Fox News and embrace MSNBC, noting that MSNBCers were invited to the White House for an off-the-record chat. Yes, but so were other people, including CNN's own Gloria Borger. And I guess we all have amnesia now and have forgotten about Bush hosting conservative radio hosts. One of the perks of winning the White House is you get to control the invite list.

Paul thinks the Fox News attacking is better left up to the strategists. "This is why God created James Carville," he tells us. Mystery solved! He also thinks that if the White House is going to freeze out Fox News they should stop talking about it and just do it. "If you're going to seduce a girl, you don't say, 'Now I'm going to blow in your ear, honey. Then I'm going to put my hand on you' -- you just blow in her ear." I'm almost positive I have heard Paul say this before. I'm not sure if I'm more disturbed that he apparently has a "line" about blowing in a girl's ear, or the fact that I know this at all.

"Mark, is that your advice for dating a girl, as well?" asks Anderson. Ha. Well, we're really off the rails now, aren't we? But bottom line here, people? This isn't even really about Fox's opinion shows. This is about the network as a whole, which no, is not objective and is not the equivalent of MSNBC. Yes, the latter network has liberal hosts in prime time. They also have a Republican on for three hours in the morning. They are not an arm of the Democratic party. Fox News and Republicans, however? One big family.

Moving on now to a Gary Tuchman piece on James Arthur Ray. Gary finally gets the opportunity to sit down with former follower Danielle Kaprowski and her husband John. They tell us that they really became disillusioned with Ray during a challenge in which he instructed followers to break concrete blocks with their bare hands, which left about a dozen people with broken bones. The injuries weren't even acknowledged by Ray. But the Kaprowskis still went to a sweat lodge because they had already paid. John became ill and left halfway through, but Danielle stayed and witnessed others become sick, including one woman who was unconscious. As for the guru? "James Ray came out of the lodge. He smiled. And he hopped on his golf cart and rode back to his room," says Danielle. Unbelievable.

Next up, Anderson interviews Jill Borsos, a Ray follower who is still a believer. I was sort of confused throughout this as to her exact relationship with Ray. She kept defending him by providing information concerning things she did or knows, but then quickly played ignorant when Anderson turned up the heat. Seemed too convenient, but who knows.

I think I'm just going to skip the "shot." The show was fairly good, for a Friday anyway. Will this be the last we hear of Balloon Boy? Eh, don't hold your breath.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine Debate, Hate Crimes Bill To Include Sexual Orientation, (Very Short) Pervez Musharraf Interview, And Immigration Limbo

Hi everyone. Well, this is getting ridiculous. Last night my Internet went down, and then tonight I not only had satellite problems, but Blogger decided to crash and burn for a while. Obviously the technology Gods are trying to tell me something. So anyway, it is now very late, but the show was good and I really wanted to blog. I think you know what that means: one super-abbreviated post coming up!

We kick things off with the news that New York has suspended its mandatory swine flu shot order for health care workers. Tom Foreman joins us with more, stating that though some objected to the mandatory-ness, officials say things were shut down mostly because there's not enough shots anyway.

Next up, we have discussion with Dr. Jorge Rodriguez and Registered Nurse Lorna Patterson, who actually sued in order to not have to receive the shot. She doesn't trust the vaccine, while Jorge thinks her view sends a bad message. I'm pretty much in the middle here, but it was hard to know how to take the discussion given we have no idea how many health care professionals hold Lorna's view. Is she the rare exception or the voice of a substantial percentage? Just because you have two views, doesn't make them equal.

On now to the excellent news that the Senate has voted to add sexual orientation to hate crimes protection and Obama has pledged to sign the provision into law. About time! This segues us into a Dana Bash piece, in which we meet Todd Metrokin, a gay man who was brutally beaten for nothing more than being gay. This will now be a federal offense. Not everyone is cheering, however. Many Republican are unhappy (surprise, surprise) because they think the legislation will be like charging people for thought crimes. Okay, someone smashed their foot on Todd Metrokin's face after calling him a gay slur. Yes, they may have thought about it first. But then they DID IT. That's a crime.

For discussion of this we're joined by one of my favs, Dan Savage, and Corey Johnson, Political Director of (a site with homosexual tendencies-heh). Whoa, whoa, WAIT! Did we just get sucked into some alternate cable news universe where we're not forced to endure stupid fake "balance" regarding every discussion? Two gay guests and no representative from an organization with a family friendly-sounding name with a viewpoint bordering on homophobic? This pretty much never happens.

But anyway, alternate universe is awesome! We get a nice intelligent conversation about how, yes, the hate crimes addition is a "yay" moment, BUT Obama still has a long way to go when it comes to actually addressing issues important to the gay community (and the rest of us who support human rights). They also talk a bit about how the Obama situation has fostered a divide between gay rights supporters. And aw, it's kinda cute how they seem excited to actually be agreeing with each other. Like I said before, two gay guests at the same time without a Tony Perkins-like foe doesn't happen very often. I also had to slightly chuckle over Dan pointing out that the new legislation is in fact not magical. Gay people aren't suddenly invincible. You gotta be bitten by a radioactive spider or something for that.

Transitioning now to the "BIG 360 INTERVIEW" with Pervez Musharraf. How do I know it's "big"? Well, because the former president of Pakistan and Anderson Cooper are sitting at the "map table" in front of a graphic that looks like it's about to swallow them both up. Subtle, and not at all distracting. There's talk of Mullah Omar and Musharraf tries to deny he's in Quetta, but Anderson's not having any of that and presses. Then they move on to the subject of US aid. After that they play us a clip of Cheney, who has apparently slithered out of his lair again to criticize Obama. Stop giving him airtime!

And...then suddenly we're talking to Michael Ware and Peter Bergen, so apparently interview over. Well, that was shockingly short. Later, Anderson tells us that there's an extended interview online and I was floored to find a discussion that is almost 30 minutes long! Honestly, I'm not sure what to say about this, or if I would do things differently. The full interview is good, but from a strictly TV perspective, Musharraf doesn't have the same magnetism that, say, Michael Ware does to get the viewer through a long complicated discussion. Airing the whole thing probably would have been a ratings killer.

But why pimp out the interview so much if you're only going to show a few minutes? I think Anderson should have at least stressed how much more was left online because I was expecting maybe an extra five minutes at most--not an extra twenty five. As for Michael and Peter, I'm definitely not complaining about their sudden appearance. Always love them. They hit on the subject of troops for Afghanistan and then move on to discussing some of Pakistan's issues. A good talk.

The final piece of the night is from Soledad O'Brien on the immigration limbo that some children find themselves in when they cross the border on their own or have a parent go to jail. The kids are detained in shelters. It must be terrifying for them. After Soledad's piece, Erica Hill talks with former Senator Mel Martinez, who came over legally from Cuba, but also initially spent some time in a Boys Town shelter. They discuss immigration.

That'll about do it. Good show.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Paycuts For Top TARP Recipients, More On Cameron Todd Willingham, Immigration Debate, And James Arthur Ray Story Gets More Disturbing

Hi everyone. My Internets have not been playing nice tonight, so I think this is going to have to be one of those semi-abbreviated blogs. You may send your complaints to AT&T. Anyway, we're kicking off the broadcast an hour later tonight due to "Latino in America." Sorry CNN, I did not watch. Nothing personal, but this Gleek had other TV programming calling. Besides, it's not like you won't rerun it five billion times.

But enough about that. We've got money to worry about. Yesterday, we did some WTFing over all these company executives still living the high life after taking our tax dollars. Names? Oh, they were named. Now we learn from Ali Velshi (yeah, he's at the wall) that the Obama administration is taking away the toys--or, essentially ordering pay cuts--of executives at the top seven TARP receiving companies. Booyah!!! Of course, Anderson Cooper notes that this isn't actual reform of the financial system...and Ali tells us it doesn't address the underlying problems, sooo...booyah?

Time now to get our politics on with James Carville and Kevin Madden. Kevin thinks the salary slash is good politics, but as a worshiper of the invisible hand, he's not happy. James' basic viewpoint is that they took our money, so now they can take our orders. Then Kevin starts talking about how the government has good intentions, but always screws things up, and how we need to build partnerships. Okay, uh, let's be clear here: Wall Street doesn't even have good intentions. They don't want to be our partner; they want to make money. Period. And that's the problem. Culture of greed.

As an aside, hey, you know that whole conversation we just had here? The one about whether or not the government should control aspects of compensation regarding private companies? Um, haven't we already done this? I mean, seriously. I seem to remember a House bill imposing a 90% tax on bonuses. I guess down the memory hole it went.

Back to the discussion, apparently there's a new meme being floated by the Republicans: Obama is just like Nixon! I'll pause a second while you laugh. So, it seems Congresscritters like Lamar Alexander are implying our prez has an enemies list, which is just so...what is there even to say to that? I think there's a bit of amnesia going on, because not only did the last administration target specific news outlets much more than the Obama camp has gone after Fox News, they also outed a friggin CIA agent for political purposes. But Obama is Nixon.

We're also shown a poll that says more people now disagree with the president on the issues that matter to them. Wow. That might be damning...if it had any meaning whatsoever. Okay, who were the people polled? What issues? How are they interpreting Obama's stand on these issues? And so on and so on. Seriously, if you're going to throw up a poll, can it at least have a tad bit of relevancy?

Transitioning now to a Randi Kaye piece that brings us more info on the Cameron Todd Willingham case. She talked with Gerald Hurst, an arson expert joining the chorus of those saying what occurred was not arson. Actually, he's not just joining--he wrote a memo to Governor Perry regarding his finding before the execution. Perry's office states the report was just an opinion. This story is starting to make me nauseous. The state of Texas most likely killed an innocent man, and the Governor is trying to cover it up.

For the legal low down, we're next joined by Jeffrey Toobin who tells us that the law does not say Perry had to read the memo, or do anything with it really. He and Anderson then talk the politics of the case, but then Toobin moves to the most important point: the huge moral issue. Again, the state of Texas most likely killed an innocent man. Due to the new revelations about junk science, this case could blow the death penalty debate wide open. I'm guessing a lot of these "experts" and officials are going to be digging in their heels for that very reason.

Moving on to a Soledad O'Brien piece on Araceli Torres, an undocumented 26-year-old who was brought into the country illegally by her parents when she was a child. One day her place of employment was raided and officials discovered she had been using a fake ID. She was detained for five months and separated from her daughter, a US citizen. Worse, she faces deportation even though she doesn't know a soul in Mexico. I don't understand why we're wasting our energy on going after people like this woman. If someone was brought over as a child--meaning not their choice--and they've been here almost their whole life, they should get to stay.

I think it's about time for a debate, don't you? In one corner, we have Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio--whip cracker when it comes to illegal immigrants. On the other side, we're got Araceli's attorney, Isabel Garcia. Okay, so I start out clearly rooting for Isabel, but things get weird pretty quick. Joe says he has sympathy for people like Araceli, but then he moves right into the "they're taking our jobs!" meme. This leads Isabel to go off on the economy of Arizona, as well as start talking about how this is like "post slavery" and "black codes." Um, what?

So then Joe starts muttering about a pinata, leading me to think he's being a jerk, and possibly racist. But no! There's video of a pinata in Joe's likeness being beheaded by children (oh, yes) and paraded around. And the kicker? Isabel totally defends this. Even Anderson has to note that if it had been Obama, people would flip out. So...there's that. Not really doing her cause any favors, is she?

Kinda reminds me of that debate a couple years ago with that incredibly annoying immigration rights activist. Any other long time viewers remember that? I simultaneously agreed with her side and wanted to smack her. Even Anderson got so mad he (admittedly quietly) threw down his pen. And you don't see that everyday. The Silver Fox is usually so mellow, it was like his equivalent of "We'll do it live!"

Speaking of live, we transition now to Gary Tuchman who is standing in front of the hotel where James Arthur Ray is holding one of his seminar deals, or whatever he calls them. Trying to make a buck, is what Ray's doing. All the while not talking to officials or the family members of those who died in his sweat lodge. Earlier, Gary talked on the phone with Beverly Bunn, a woman who was there the night the incident occurred. We hear their conversation and the picture she paints is nothing short of horrific: people throwing up, passing out, being chided by Ray for wanting to leave or pointing out the condition of others.

Beverly is CPR trained and states she was prevented by "Dream Teamers" from helping to save lives. If this is remotely true, people need to go to jail. On another note, Team Gary is staying at the same hotel to try to get close to Ray, but security is tight. Not quite tight enough, however, for producer Ismael Estrada, who managed to not only get into the seminar, but also stood up and asked Ray a question. "This is not a press conference," was the guru's reply and Ismael was met with attendee boos until security took him away. So, unfortunately nothing gained there, but still, kinda badass.

The "shot" tonight is office workers getting their Backstreet Boys on. The hook here is that it was all done simultaneously. I love the non participating woman. Anyway, then Anderson has to play the Falcon Heene "Who the hell is Wolf?" clip because, hey, why not? Yeah, we're going to be seeing a lot of that one. Anderson wants to put the phrase on t-shirts. I would totally buy that. Remember those fangirly heart-shaped 360 shirts they used to sell (and maybe still do)? I always wanted them to make some for Blitzer. Because I wanted to buy one. You know, for the hilarity. The show was good. That'll do it.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Calling Out Greedy CEO's, Afghanistan Discussion, Sweat Lodge Update, Eva Longoria Interview, & ZOMG Balloon Boy Dad Has A Theme Song

Hi everyone. We begin tonight with Gary Tuchman bringing us the latest on those sweat lodge deaths. He's not staying long though. This is just a little whetting of our palate, if you will. I guess they figure Gary's awesomeness will keep us sticking around. They are right!

Our real top story is how all these Wall Street people keep frickin taking our money and giving it to themselves. Dudes, not cool. We all remember TARP, right? Yeah, well, top executives at recipient companies have been getting fancypants perks. But never fear, 360 is here. Says Anderson Cooper: "We think it's important to know who got what. You have to name these people. You have to hold them accountable. You have to keep them honest." Ooh, I love it when they name names.

Joe Johns has the naughty list: Jeffrey Peek, CEO of CIT Group; Ken Lewis, CEO of Bank of America; and Alvaro de Molina, CEO of GMAC Financial Services. Joe had all the numbers too, but I don't have time for that. The names are enough for you to get your hate on. Start with Ken Lewis. Let's just say I really hate Bank of America. Anyhoo! Good piece. Anderson and Joe discuss a bit more and there's a Goldman Sachs mention. Can we sic the investigative dogs on them next please?

For related coverage, we're then joined by Representative Marcy Kaptur (D) Ohio and David Walker, former GAO head. This segment can be summed up as Anderson saying, "what the hell?" and the two guests replying, "we suck at this." Okay, that's probably not a fair assessment. Marcy hits on the culture of greed, and notes that she has a bill to recoup the bonuses. I actually wish the bill part would have been fleshed out more.

There are A LOT of bills floating around out there that don't have a prayer. Does this one have a chance? If not, what or who is standing in its way? Same thing with her point about the underfunding of the FBI. Why is that? As for David, he thinks we need better regulation of the bailout program. It seems to me there are probably people--as in, Congress people--who are for whatever reason gumming up the works here. Hey 360, you know how you just named names a few minutes ago? Do it again.

Transitioning now to the subject of Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai has finally admitted that, hey, maybe he didn't win that totally corrupt election after all. He's agreed to a runoff two weeks. See, thing about Afghanistan, not exactly a place you want to "winter." The snow is coming soon and all else stops--even the war, basically. Michael Ware joins us in studio and notes that putting on an election in two weeks is going to be a huge logistical challenge. Not to mention that whole fraud thing.

We're played some dueling soundbytes from Rahm Emanuel and then Secretary Gates. One makes it seem like Obama is waiting on the troop decision, while the other implies full steam ahead. Holy contradictions Batman! But Michael doesn't seem too concerned. According to him, the Afghans don't care much who wins the election. "Whether it's Hamid Karzai returning or Abdullah Abdullah, in many ways, in Afghan eyes, it is one bunch of crooks vs. another," he tells us. Yay?

For the political angle, Paul Begala and Kevin Madden are brought in. They talk Karzai and credibility. Wow, shades of Al-Maliki, anyone? Kevin hits my pet peeve by bringing up the Iraq "surge" as an example, but thankfully Paul smacks that down by saying it was more the Sunni Awakening that improved Iraq. Then Michael chimes in (I didn't even know he was still there) that there's actually a possibility of an Afghanistan Awakening, which, sounds good? I just really don't want this all coming back to us in another 20 years. Again. Also? Michael should always be kept around to chime in.

Now it's finally time for the Gary Tuchman sweat lodge story. Our intrepid reporter--who I guess has just been cooling his heels for the last 40 some odd minutes--has been talking with a former follower of James Arthur Ray. The plan was for an on-camera interview, but she freaked and canceled. Pretty weird. This is sounding more cultish by the minute. So anyway, the woman was at a retreat last year where 20 people got sick and one woman even had to be dragged out unconscious. Now after the latest retreat, three people are dead and Ray is still doing his thing. At least there's an investigation underway. The guy sounds like one sick cookie.

Next up, we have a Soledad O'Brien piece about Latinos in Hollywood. This is because of her big special, which I think is tomorrow, so uh, watch! Yeah, I don't do promotion well. Anyway, it's also because Eva Longoria is in the piece and that segues us nicely into Anderson's interview with the actress. I actually don't know anything about her except that she's a housewife, and, apparently, desperate. Wha wha wha. I'll be here all night.

Okay, there's actually serious discussion here. Eva talks about the under-representation of Latinos in film/TV roles, immigration reform, and her work as an advocate for farm workers--many of who are children. I would have liked to hear more about that last one. I think this was taped, so if there's more, they should put it online.

For "the shot" tonight, hold onto your hats people because it seems Richard Heene wrote himself a theme song. Oh yes. And Anderson is like a kid in a candy store with this stuff. So...behold: Richard Heene, Psyience Detective. And while I'm sure my regular readers have realized by now that this blog isn't edited, no, I'm not that sloppy. That's how Heene spells it. "The kids love that kind of spelling," says Anderson. It's how we roll.

What's annoying is that the song is kinda catchy in a horrible way, so it gets stuck in your head. The camera catches Anderson doing the white guy head bob, but he immediately stops once he realizes. Oh please. Like he's going to spontaneously combust if we see him bust a move. But the real award has to go out to Erica Hill who goes for the high notes. Well done. They then discuss their vast collection of creepy songs. Anyone plays Warren Jeffs and I am so kicking some ass. You have been warned.

So, I thought the show was really good tonight. Yes, look at me, I'm being complimentary. Good job, 360! Of course, now that I've said this, I can pretty much guarantee they're going to get stomped in the ratings. It's fate or something. Sorry 360. It's in writing now. I can't undo it. You can just blame the annoying girl with the blog. I'm cool with that. Until we meet again...

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fun With Balloon Boy (Now With Even More Vomit!), Women In The Workplace, And More Swine Flu Vaccine Questions

Hi everyone. Yeah, I slacked on Friday's show again. But it's okay because I'm going to give you a super-speedy recap of that broadcast right now. Ready? First we all took a trip in a DeLorean back to a time when white and black people weren't allowed to marry. Then there was Balloon Boy and vomit. Then there was Anderson Cooper laughing about Balloon Boy and vomit. Oh, and the "shot" came back. Aaaannnd that's about it. Exactly how it all happened, I swear.

Anyhoo! Now it's a new week and we're past all that ridiculousness, right? If you said "right," you don't know cable news. Get ready to clutch your pearls, because those same authorities that told us on Friday that they believed the Heene's story, now are crying hoax. Gasp! Actually, they thought it was a hoax back then too, but were playing it cool to get the Heenes to cooperate. Sneaky.

We learn from Dan Simon that the couple is now looking at possible felony charges. He also speculates about domestic abuse, which I would believe, but let's not get ahead of ourselves, mmkay? As for what these people actually do, it kinda seems like their occupations are full time fame whores, though neighbors say the dad was some kind of carpenter or contractor. BUT CNN's crack investigative team found out he doesn't have a license. Zoh my God, he's like Joe the Plumber!

Back to that whole hoax thing, Anderson presents us with an evidentiary timeline, snarkified for our--and apparently his--amusement. I'm going to assume most of you have seen these. My apologies to the rock-dwellers. First up, obviously our anchor is going to pimp out the Blitzer interview where young Falcon Heene says they "did it for a show." Then we're on to the Today Show clip for that always fun mixture of live TV and vomit. "And I love that Meredith Vieira just keeps on trucking ahead," says Anderson. Hey man, Meredith Vieira is a professional. She's not going to let a little vomit ruin her segment.

Then we're on to the hysterical 911 call of the mother, home video of the balloon floating away, home video of Falcon telling the camera he's going to sneak inside the balloon, and video of the dad's reaction when his other son tells him Falcon is inside. There you have it. Anatomy of a pretty impressive (though in retrospect, not really) hoax. I'm kinda surprised they didn't include the whole big Gawker exclusive. Oh, and if you thought this story couldn't get any more pathetic, well, think again.

For discussion of all this (you know we need it!), we're joined by Jeffrey Toobin and Lisa Bloom. Right off the bat, Anderson turns to Jeff and deadpans, "Jeff, I just got to start off with you, because, you know, when you call it right, you deserve to be praised for it. And you were way ahead of the curve on this one." He then plays us a clip of Jeff from Friday...proclaiming his belief that this was not a hoax. Oh, snap! "Oh, that's harsh," says Lisa. Hey, the Silver Fox is just keeping him honest. "Can I just say in my defense, whatever. OK?" says Jeffrey. Excellent comeback! That's just how he rolls, people.

Okay, then there's, like, some legal talk, but blah blah. We go out to commercial and when we come back we get a clip of Jim Spellman who has an up close and personal look at the balloon. Oooh! Nine-volt batteries are mentioned. Seriously. After the show-and-tell, we're back with our three musketeers, and Anderson has a bit of a treat for us in the form of a clip from prior to Blitzer's interview. The Wolfbot is saying hi to them and Falcon is all, "Who the hell is Wolf?" Bwah! That was pretty awesome. "I'm going to play that for years, by the way," says Anderson. I would actually encourage that.

Then there's more legal talk. Blah blah. I'm sure you've guessed by now that I'm only in this strictly for the entertainment value at this point. This isn't news any of us should care about. Anyway, the next bit of lively banter involves whether or not the Heenes will end up with a reality show, with Jeff and Lisa arguing against Anderson.

Our anchor thinks there is too much, "...anger and outrage that people wasted two hours of their lives watching this ridiculous stuff..." Eh. First of all, get out of that news bubble. Most people didn't watch this whole saga. And second, I'm probably just as annoyed at, uh, you, for airing the ridiculousness. I mean, you bumped NOLA coverage for Balloon Boy. C'mon.

But regardless of the arguments, the Silver Fox is taking a rare stand: "I don't believe they will get a deal." Where's this sudden naivety coming from? Aw, I kinda want to pat him on the head. I mean, isn't even Michael Vick going to have a reality show? Okay 360, that pronouncement is on video now, so when the Heenes come out with their new book/reality show/vomit-proof clothing line, I expect anchor humiliation. Annnnd I think that's a good place for me to end this craziness.

Transitioning now to...girl power! Says Anderson: "By the end of this year, for the first time, more than half of American workers will be women." That's right, we females are kicking butt and taking names. Scratch that, we're kicking butt and having our secretaries--our hot male secretaries--take the names. Or something like that. I think I might be getting off track. Anyhoo! "TIME magazine" has a special woman centric issue out right now and, you know, synergy! So here we are. We love the parent company, yes we do. And, apparently, no disclosure necessary. Nice.

Erica Hill hits us with some working women stats, and then we're on to an all female panel that's rocked out by Suze Orman, Arianna Huffington, and Faye Wattleton. From there Tom Foreman puts the Magic Wall to use for stats on office bullying. Blog comments are also entered into the mix and before each comment there's a picture of someone at a computer. Are those supposed to be the bloggers? Bwah! Then we're back to the panel for their take, and unfortunately everyone pretty much agrees the whole "mean girls" thing doesn't completely end in high school. This discussion was good, but there wasn't anything that particularly stood out to me as interesting or surprising.

On now to talk with Dr. Jorge Rodriguez regarding the swine flu vaccine. If you haven't noticed, H1n1 is spreading pretty rapidly and it seems they're now behind when it comes to planned availability of the vaccine. Why am I not surprised? Dr. Rodriguez tells us production is not going exactly as planned. Then he takes some questions, but it's mostly retreading of stuff already reported. Still an important story though.

For the "shot" tonight we're replayed the "Who the hell is Wolf?" clip. I need to see Blitzer's reaction to that pronto. Then, because Anderson is apparently 12, we're AGAIN shown the Today Show vomit clip. I guess there's nothing like some live TV vomiting to bring out the anchor's inner little boy, but uh, please stop. Mmkay?

As for the show, it was, well, I don't know. I was very much entertained by the Balloon Boy segments. It was funny. And it's great to see that Anderson still has a personality, even in prime time. But the top story and a third of the show for something that's, well, not really anything? That's just wrong. There's real news out there and it's a disgrace this is being covered in its place. I suppose you could say, "but Eliza, most of your recap was of Balloon Boy." In response, I would quote a very wise man: "Can I just say in my defense, whatever. OK?"

Look, despite self-identifying as a "news snob," I actually don't mind a silly segment every now and then. I'd much rather ridiculousness be treated as ridiculousness (as they did tonight) than have them report it with the same seriousness that they would Afghanistan or health care reform. But if I turn on tomorrow and Balloon Boy is still their lead story, Falcon Heene won't be the only one who's nauseous.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Boyless Balloon Flight Results In Cable Newsgasm, A Defense Attorney Who Isn't Big On That Whole "Defense" Thing, And NOLA Gets Thrown A Coverage Bone

Hi everyone. Balloon boy lives! Good gravy, this was one wacked-out news day. The story that unfolded in Colorado this afternoon had everything: a sympathetic figure in peril, suspense, mystery, and oh yes, cable news anchors awkwardly trying to fill airtime with little to no information. A complete and total spectacle of a story that some believe was totally blown by the media.

So anyway, in case you've been living under a rock or just awoken from a coma, today the nation became transfixed by a runaway experimental balloon hurtling through the air in Colorado, because we were all led to believe there was a terrified six-year-old boy inside. Turns out? Not so much. Balloon landed sans kid, who was later found safely in his own home--specifically hiding in a box in the attic. So yeah...

Except for the two minutes I turned on CNN to see what the balloon looked like, I followed the whole thing via Twitter. Why? Well, first I have that whole life and job thing. But also because at the time, everyone thought there was a very real chance a six-year-old was going to die, and I wasn't about to watch it all unfold on live television like some morbid voyeur--tape delay or not. Plus Twitter really helps filter out all that previously mentioned anchor awkwardness.

Anyway, in an Erica Hill piece we learn the details of what went down. Like, the kid's name is Falcon Heene, the dad is a storm chaser, and the parents had previously been on the reality show "Wife Swap." You really can't make this stuff up.

Next comes the part where we hear from someone who is somehow tangentially connected to the major players of the story, no matter if they have anything relevant and/or interesting to say or not. Hm, will it be a cousin? Co-worker? Teacher? Neighbor it is! Throw in a balloon expert dude and we're good to go. Meh.

We're shown a clip of the dad in "Wife Swap," I guess, I dunno, because they can, and Anderson tells us what's sad is he actually saw that episode of the show. Ohhh duuuude. The Silver Fox needs a reality show intervention STAT!

Still clip-happy, we next get one from Larry King Live. Wolf Blitzer was filling in for the suspender-ed one and apparently the whole Heene family found time in their very trying day to fame-whore this whole thing out. Speaking of that, when asked why he didn't come out when he heard his parents calling him, young Falcon replies that, "“You said…that…we did this for a show.” Let cable newsgasm part II begin.

Okay, before everyone starts screaming "publicity stunt!" I'd like to remind people that the kid is six. Have you ever spoken with a six-year-old? They say weird things that have no real meaning. That being said, the dad's weird reaction to Wolf's follow up didn't exactly put any suspicions to rest. Also? Hey, Wolf, just because you're filling in for Larry doesn't mean you have to emulate his style. A little more pressing might have been nice. Just sayin'.

Anderson Cooper notes that about 90 percent of the live-bloggers are suspicious of Heene's story, and when he tells this to Tom Foreman, he's all, "reeeally?" Cracked me up for some reason. Tom is here to tell us about costs of the rescue and whatnot, but I'm done with this story. Please Newsgods, do not go wall-to-wall with this crap tomorrow.

Next up, Randi Kaye gives us some info on that Texas execution arson case that 360 has been covering. Then we're joined by Cameron Todd Willingham's defense attorney David Martin and Steve Mills of the "Chicago Tribune." David begins by apologizing for his attire because he was apparently out checking cows or something. Um, okay. The hilarious thing is that there's nothing unusual about what he's wearing, other than a big old cowboy hat, and I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure those are easily removed.

Anyway, there's a whole lot of craziness that goes down here because the defense attorney is a piece of work. First of all, he's convinced Willingham was guilty and completely dismisses all the scientific reports that say the fire wasn't arson. How's he so sure he's right? Because he burned some carpet himself and it looked the same. Man. With defense attorneys like this, who needs a prosecution?

Also, he gives Anderson a schooling regarding the role of defense attorneys, which according to him, is not actually to defend. So hmm. Then he starts bringing up how Willingham allegedly bought people drinks after his kids died. Um, the guy's dickishness was not on trial. Anderson starts to note that, and is shut down by David, but Steve quickly picks the point up. Then David has the gall to be all, "you're way off topic." Wha? Anderson then reiterates that being a jerk does not equal being a murder.

Well, that was a hot mess, wasn't it? You can watch it all here. I think Anderson actually did pretty well with calling out the BS. It's looking more and more like an innocent man was put to death. Sickening.

Transitioning now to Obama in New Orleans. Well, briefly in New Orleans. He only stayed less than four hours, which has resulted in some criticism. We're joined by Candy Crowley live to give us the low down of all that, but this whole segment is basically slanted toward politics and perception. Pretty disappointing. For a show that's all about "keeping them honest," a fact-check on Obama's speech and what's he's actually done kinda seems like a no-brainer.

Of course, who has time for that kind of research when there's an empty balloon to watch for two hours? I'm a little sad to say this given how dedicated they've been to the story in the past, but I've pretty much given up on 360 when it comes to covering New Orleans. I'm not saying they've changed and don't care now. I'm just saying they're no longer doing better coverage than everyone else.

Hey, didja happen to hear that Sanjay Gupta has a new book out? It's called "Cheating Death," and it is time to pimp that bad boy! We get a piece from him about a woman who technically died in icy water, but they were able to bring her back. These kind of stories are both amazing and freaky. Anybody read the book? Anderson was a good little soldier today and even tweeted about it. Kinda sweet.

No "shot" again. It was noted that the arson discussion went over, so I suppose that could be why, but I'm really beginning to wonder. The show was...well, definitely not what I would have liked. I guess I couldn't expect them not to lead with balloon boy though. Hopefully it at least got them some ratings because their October numbers have been...bad. Here's hoping for newsier news tomorrow.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Limbaugh Loses Rams Bid, Rick Perry Possibly Covering Up Execution Of An Innocent Man, Jaycee Dugard Pictures, and A Sweat Lodge Tragedy

Hi everyone. I found the show pretty uninteresting tonight, so this is going to be short and sweet. Well, short anyway. I make no promises on the sweet part. Your mileage may vary. We begin with the news that the NFL has spoken and their message to Rush Limbaugh is: no Rams for you! Actually, he wasn't going to be the sole owner, and there's this whole process involving three-quarters of NFL owners approving a bid, but I could really care less about the details.

This news would have been quite enough for me. However, this is 360, so yeah, here come da panel. Al Sharpton is back and he's joined by Stephen Smith and McGraw Milhaven from KTRS here in St. Louis. There's nothing of note, except maybe McGraw calling what happened to Limbaugh a "high tech lynching." He actually does an excellent job of being even more annoying than Sharpton, which usually is a hard feat. Impressive! I love it when they have on people from my city...and then they act like idiots. Thanks for representing.

We next move on to Randi Kaye in studio to talk about the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, a man executed in Texas for the arson deaths of his daughters. But now fire investigators are stating that it wasn't arson and Governor Rick Perry seems to be doing some shady things in regards to the investigation. I've missed some of the prior reports 360 did on this case, so I'm not really on top of it, but I'm glad they're doing the digging. After Randi, Anderson Cooper talks with Cameron's stepmother via phone and Colleen McCain Nelson, of "The Dallas Morning News."

On now to their week-long series "Politicians Behaving Badly." When I first heard Anderson preview this series a day or two ago, my first thought was, "dude, you are going to need way more than a week." Anyway, tonight's contestant is Nevada Senator John Ensign. The requisite panel includes Joe Johns, Candy Crowley, and Stan Brand, former general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives. I appreciate the effort, but a lot of this just feels like retreading. Even the overall topic seems overdone. Why not do a series on something like legislation that's not getting much coverage?

Transitioning now to Erica Hill talking about Jaycee Dugard. I figured this was coming. No way 360 wasn't going to jump on this story. For the first time we get to see Jaycee (she's on the cover of "People" and looks very pretty), and I actually don't mind hearing about the facts of that. But why oh why did they have to follow it up with Ed Smart and psychiatrist Judith Cohen? I sympathize with the Smart family, but what Elizabeth went through is simply not comparable to Jaycee's situation, and I don't think he has any right to act like he knows what she's going through. As for Judith, good lord, she actually resorted to body language analysis. Embarrassing.

Our final piece of the night is from Gary Tuchman, regarding the deaths of two people at a Sedona, Arizona sweat lodge. The owner of the lodge, James Arthur Ray, is apparently one of those self-help guru people. You know, he's ready to help...provided you pay thousands of dollars. The concept of the sweat lodge actually came from Native Americans and they operate them to this day. The difference between them and Ray is that whole capitalism run amuck thing. They don't charge for their services. It's their belief that Ray packed in too many people and didn't use the right materials to cover the lodge--no doubt all in the name of profit maximization. Nice.

There was no "shot" tonight, as was the case last night. I really hope this is simply a coincidence (it wouldn't be the first time without the segment), and not a reaction to the Daily Show segment that ripped CNN a new one. Don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly a huge "shot" fan, but I'd find it pretty disturbing if they chucked it over that and my reason is two-fold. First of all, wow, that would be some massively thin skin. It's bad enough it's virtually impossible to get a critical comment posted to their blog. I mean, seriously, man-up a bit, guys.

But even worse than that--and again, this is all just reaction to a hypothetical and not confirmed situation--it completely misses TDS's main point. The "shot" is not CNN/360's problem. Jon Stewart's gripe--and where he is totally on point--is that CNN consistently lets their guests spew complete BS and does not hold them accountable in any way. Look, I don't think anyone expects the anchor to be an information superhero. They can't always fact-check on the fly during a live segment. But there's no fact-checking after-the-fact either. If CNN were to really react to the TDS segment, they should brainstorm a way to do this. Of course, that would mean actually holding their own contributors accountable, and we all know that's not going to happen.

So anyway, like I said, maybe the "shot's" absence is just a coincidence. In any regards, the show wasn't that great tonight. I don't understand what's happening with them lately.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Obama's War

Hi everyone. I felt kinda meh about the show tonight and really wasn't in the mood for blogging, so instead I leave you with the new Frontline special on Afghanistan. A must watch:

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 12, 2009

The White House Goes After Fox News, Limbaugh Wants To Buy The Rams, Anatomy Of A Company Bankruptcy, Animals Taking Over Florida, & More H1N1

Hi everyone. Sorry about skipping Friday. I just couldn't handle blogging all those talking heads bickering about Obama's Nobel Peace Prize win. As for this post, I think I'm going to be doing mostly the abbreviated version (of the segments, anyway) because, well, the show just wasn't all that great. Truthfully, I barely got through simply watching the broadcast.

Anyway, over the weekend, White House communications director Anita Dunn went on CNN's Reliable Sources and gave Fox News quite the smack down, saying the organization "often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party

." And this is now apparently our top story. Hmm.

This seems to me to be one of those stories that is huge in media circles, but barely on the radar of the average American. But we all know how much the media loves to talk about, well, the media. Meta alert! I suppose this is a particular win-win for 360 since they get to go trolling for viewers who love a good partisan food fight, all the while maintaining the appearance of being above the fray--with a little promotion of CNN's Sunday show thrown in for good measure.

Regardless of what they're telling themselves, I expect this from MSNBC--CNN is supposed to be better. Our first piece of the night is from Tom Foreman, who breaks down the situation and ponders whether this is a good strategy by the White House. Um, probably not. But does it matter that much? Fox News viewers were never going to be fans anyway.

Before I bring on the talking heads, I want to hit on a related story. Following that same broadcast of Reliable Sources, TIME's Michael Scherer made a blog post calling out the irony of Anita Dunn's claim that Fox News is not "a news network the way CNN is." His evidence of irony? According to Scherer, that morning CNN was airing a new ad for 360, one that featured a woman pitching the show as "essentially a liberal alternative to Fox News."

Yes, that would be prettying damning and ironic...if it were true. Upon reading the story, I was confused. It definitely didn't sound like the show I'd been watching for over four years. And Anderson Cooper often acts like he'd rather be jabbed with something sharp, rather than give his opinion on major news stories. Given that I hadn't seen the ad myself, I started asking around to other CNN viewers and was eventually pointed to the first comment to this Inside Cable News post.

Apparently, it was all just a technical error, which is explained in this post on Mediate (video of ad included). As for the man who started all the controversy, Scherer corrected, but blamed the situation on his television, which I'm sorry, is just total, total crap. You work for TIME and you don't even watch the ad that you blogged about? Talk about shoddy journalism.

It was also disheartening to see how many people jumped on the go-after-CNN bandwagon, all without having seen the ad. I'm not even talking about just random commenters. Shortly after Scherer's post hit the Internets, Jay Rosen was on Twitter pondering how Jon Klein would spin the situation. I don't understand why people can't wait to comment on something until after they've seen it. Or at least use caveats, you know?

Anyway, apparently some of the commenters on the media sites are still suspicious that this was all intentionally done by CNN. To them I say, I've been watching the network a long time and have seen them do many, many moronic things. They are simply not diabolical enough to pull something like that off. You are giving them way too much credit.

Okay, so back to the show and the pundits. Oh joy. Rocking the house tonight we've got David Gergen, Errol Louis, and K.T. McFarland. You don't exactly need to be a brain surgeon to know the gist of what they're going to say. As a classic villager, the Gerg obviously thinks attacking Fox News was a bad move by the White House because it only elevates them. Errol is all for going after the network, and K.T. thinks it's insulting to viewers. So there you go.

Of note is Anderson wondering if it's fair that Obama still goes on MSNBC, which is also partisan. It's a weird line of questioning since it pretty much misses the whole point. Not to mention the fact that Rachel Maddow (and maybe the others too) have been pretty hard on Obama lately. Then when Errol brings up the Fox News producer that coached the crowd at the 9/12 protest, Anderson cuts in with the following: "I'm not in the position to be defending them. But, for accuracy's sake, they did discipline that producer. They said she was a young producer just new to the job."

Okay, dully noted, but it's sorta ridiculous to bring that up and fail to acknowledge that Fox News was a promoter of the tea parties and the 9/12 protests. I mean, good lord, from what I understand, the 9/12 Project was conceived by Glenn Beck. So, you know, for accuracy's sake, that's context we could have used.

Transitioning now from one partisan mostly-non story to another: Rush Limbaugh wants to buy the St. Louis Rams. Being a St. Louisan, this all feels like deja vu to me because the national media is about a week behind the local conversation. Personally I'm against the buy because of the ick factor, but I guess it should be noted that I'm pretty much already boycotting the team because 1) the Rams suck and 2) I don't like football.

Anyhoo! The big to-do here is that some of the players on the team are against the buy because of prior statements from Rush, like comparing players to gang members. Race is brought up and if we're talking about race, well, Al Sharpton appearance in 3...2...1...

Sharpton and the other dude that joins him (yes, he really was a guest), say nothing of note, but looking back over this, I'm sorta confused as to the slant of the segment. 360 definitely implies the issue is primarily about race, whereas Sharpton claims the letter he sent to the NFL never mentions race. So...whatever. Racist statements are just one factor of Limbaugh's all-around douchebaggery.

Transitioning now to a well done piece by Randi Kaye that takes a look at the 130-year-old company Simmons Bedding, and analyzes how equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners essentially borrowed it into bankruptcy. It's amazing--and fairly scary--how these firms can make a fortune by buying up companies and borrowing against their assets.

On now to a John Zarella piece about animals on the attack in Florida. Dun dun dun! Pythons, iguanas, and poisoned toads--oh my!! Apparently, lately the Sunshine State has turned into Animal Planet, without the awesomeness of Jeff Corwin. After John's piece, we're joined by zoologist Ron McGill and a python friend via satellite. But there's no mention of the third party for about a minute of conversation. Then from Anderson: "You do know you have a snake around your neck, don't you?" He just wants to be sure, people.

Next up, Sanjay Gupta is back for more H1N1 discussion. This was actually some pretty good information. Myth debunking! One thing I found interesting is that the vaccines for seasonal flu are essentially made the same way this swine flu one is being made--in that every year's strain of flu is different, so every year it's a new vaccine. I guess I hadn't thought about it like that before. But that's not an endorsement. There are still so many unknowns, and I'm not going to just blindly trust Sanjay--even if he does have a 1000-watt smile.

The "shot" tonight is Jesse McCartney forgetting the words to the National Anthem. Oh, muy embarrassing! "I guess the good news is that being in a boy band is no longer the most embarrassing thing he has done," says Anderson. Our anchor then admits he has no idea who Jesse McCartney is. Gotta say, probably not a big loss for him. Also? I didn't think Anderson was right about the boy band thing, but I used the Google, and zoh my God, he was! Dream Street? What the hell is that?

Anyway, the only thing I know about Jesse McCartney (and yes, the fact that I have this knowledge is embarrassing) is that he starred in that WB show Summerland with Lori Loughlin of Full House fame. Check this: the premise of the show is that these three kids tragically lose their parents in a flood...and then move to California to live a light and summer-y existence with their aunt. Seriously. Three kids suddenly losing their parents is the stuff of five-hanky dramas, yet the show was all about their new world of sun and surf. WTF? Yeah, cancellation came quickly.

But I digress. Heh. Back in the show, Anderson and Erica Hill are having fun running other National Anthem performances gone wrong, such as Roseanne's infamous rendition, and hockey girl. That poor woman not only forgot the words, she then fell on the ice. Anderson asks to see the fall again because he is a meanie, and he then has the audacity to blame it on Erica. Well! You are shunned, Mr. Cooper. Shunned!

Back to the serious, wow, not their best broadcast. Was there no other news today? Health care or Afghanistan troop developments? The march on Washington over the weekend? Bueller? Anyway, if you didn't see the Daily Show tonight, make sure you watch tomorrow. Their entire first block was all about CNN and it was spot on. I'll try to remember to blog it tomorrow when the video is available-or at least tweet. As for now, that'll do it.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 08, 2009

More On Rangel, Political Nonsense, Keeping Obama Honest On Gay Rights, Horrorcore Rap, And Surprise Tickets To The Anderson Cooper Gun Show

Hi everyone. We begin tonight with more coverage of the Charlie Rangel scandal, but I'm still squeeing too much over The Office to really give it much focus. How cute were Jim and Pam? Best wedding ever. But I digress. The fact of the matter is that I'm just not really into this story.

I suppose you could accuse me of partisanship, but honestly, I think it has more to do with cynicism. After everything we've seen from our politicians, a tax cheat seems almost, well, quaint. That probably says a great deal about where we are in this country. I just can't get my outrage on over this, though I do fully support the show covering the story.

Moving on to Tom Foreman giving us some new poll numbers, and oh noes, there might be trouble for the Democrats! Yaaawwn. Why do I suddenly feel like it's last October? Sure the Democrats are having some problems lately, but the midterm elections are over a year away. We live in a culture where there can be more than one news cycle per day and I'm supposed to care about poll numbers that are a year out? Please. There are plenty of actual stories to report.

Anyway, the proverbial "independents" are brought up--those voters the pundits love to pontificate about. Today I read a good post from the Washington Monthly that explains why everything those pundits say is probably crap.

Our panel on all this--oh, you knew there'd be one--is being rocked out by Nicolle Wallace (former Bushie), John King, and Errol Louis. There's not really anything of note here, but I guess I'll point some stuff out anyway. At one point Anderson Cooper states the Republicans seem to have found their voice. To which I say, yeah, and that voice is saying, "No!" To everything.

However, Nicole says that accusation isn't true, and proceeds to use Jeb Bush and Bill Frist as examples of Republicans who are reciprocating Obama's extended bi-partisan hand. As I'm telling my TV screen that Bill Frist isn't even a senator anymore, Anderson says, "But you're kind of clutching at straws." Seriously. I mean, hey, why not see what Jim Talent (my former Republican senator) is up to while we're at it.

Next 360 follows up on their main story from last night--the Chicago violence. We learn that tonight there was a meeting between kids, cops, politicians, and teachers. Sounds like a good start. Gary Tuchman covered the event and he relays some of ideas proposed by Mayor Daley. We get a clip that focuses on the "stop snitching" phenomenon, and the students speaking pretty much confirm what I've suspected. They're scared and they don't trust that the police won't hurt them, let alone protect them.

I'm not saying there is no code (a male speaker does state that being a "snitch" is the worst thing you can be), but I think the distrust and fear is probably more the root of the problem. Anyway, Gary tells us an alderwoman at the meeting offered to be the "snitch" for students who wanted to give tips anonymously. You'd think they'd already have a system like that set up. Baby steps, I guess.

Erica Hill returns to do the "360 Bulletin" for us and when she's done, Anderson welcomes her back. "I have missed being mocked," he says. Well, then the Silver Fox should read my blog during the dry spells. As always, I mock because I love.

Transitioning now to the subject of gay rights, and how Obama is not doing the rainbow proud. Campaign!Obama was very gay friendly. President Obama? He's got a way to go. A piece from Randi Kaye breaks down the yet unmet promises. Repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell"? Nope. Repealing the "Defense of Marriage Act"? Uh uh. Getting a hate crimes bill passed? Not yet. Passing the "Employment Nondiscrimination Act"? Yeah, I think you can see where this is going.

Obama is very good with the lip service on this issue, not so much with the follow-through. As the King himself once said, "a little less conversation, a little more action please." On a related note, blogger Pamela Spaulding is featured in this piece and I came across her blog post regarding some behind-the-scenes aspects of her interview. I'm a geek when it comes to that stuff, so I found it interesting. Give it a read if she share my geekdom.

For discussion, we're joined by activist Cleve Jones, who has organized a march on Washington to take place on Sunday. Anderson begins by asking why he would want to put pressure on Obama, given that he's on his side. But Cleve reminds us of the Clinton years, which saw DADT and DOMA, and he thinks it's always good to hold our leaders accountable. Amen to that. Anderson then points out that Barney Frank is against the march, and we're read one of his trademark blunt statements. A quote: "No member of Congress cares whether people went to Washington or not." Ouch.

But Cleve says that's not true because Harry Reid is on board. He also notes that Barney is always against the marches. Basically Cleve thinks they need to use everything in their arsenal. I guess I agree with that. I've never been a huge protest person, because like Barney, I don't think they change much.

Honestly, I think the most helpful thing is gay people simply living their normal lives in society, showing people that they're the same as everyone else. When it's suddenly about your family member or your friend, it becomes much different than when it's just about whatever stereotype might be in a person's head. This is a human rights issue. It shouldn't just be gay people fighting.

Going out to commercial, Anderson teases the upcoming horrorcore story, which is music with lyrics about "murder, rape, and 'Saden.'" I know I've said this before, but our anchor makes the devil sound positively adorable. Yeah, this is that whole mocking thing I mentioned earlier. Oh Anderson, you make is too easy.

Gary is back again, for a piece on the horrorcore rap we were just talking about. Basically it's music (if you wanna call it that) with extremely violent and graphic lyrics. This isn't exactly news, but the hook to this story is that horrorcore rapper Richard Samuel McCroskey brutally murdered four people. The chryon asks us, "Did violent music drive rapper to murder?" Um, really? C'mon guys...

Okay, so this seems like your classic correlational situation. Did the music make the guy violent or was an already violent guy drawn to violent music? Well, we'll never know for sure seeing as though a correlation cannot prove causation, but given that all the other horrorcore rappers aren't out there murdering people, I'm leaning towards the latter.

We're joined by the requisite experts to analyze the topic, but meh, I'm not into it. As Anderson states later, "It's the easiest thing in the world to blame music for problems." Yeah, the lyrics are horrendous and the overall genre disgusting. I'd definitely advocate that parents keep their kids away. But this just feels like fearmongering.

Erica Hill is back again with the "360 Bulletin" and we learn that Michael Vick is getting a reality show. WTF? BET should be ashamed of themselves. So should anyone who contributes to this disgusting situation by watching. Oh also, Levi Johnson is going to go the full monty for "Playgirl." Oh my God, why?! And, ew! This is a very disconcerting "360 Bulletin," I must say.

Anyway, we're shown some TMZ pics of Levi working out, which totally reminds me of some other pics that someone showed me of someone else working out. Then Erica completely surprises me by showing those pictures too. I didn't think they'd go there. But go there they did. Kinda weird, and a little mean. Anyway, backstory: the Silver Fox got snapped by the paps while he was working out his massive guns (seriously, if they get any bigger I'm going to start calling him Bluto).

The pics aren't really that flattering. They're easily findable with the help of the Google if you must judge for yourself. I won't be linking because I have an issue with TMZ--my issue being I hate them and everything they stand for. So there's that. "It's really nice when you're working out for someone to take a photograph from a block away," says Anderson. "Lesson learned. I will never work out in front of a window again." Poor Silver Fox. Everyone wants a ticket to the gun show.

The "shot" tonight is a Georgia Bulldogs fan going batshit insane. Seriously, watch. Now that's team spirit. The best part is the interviewer asking him why he's painted white when the team colors are red and black. Anderson jokes that the overly enthusiastic fan is actually their producer Charlie Moore, presumably because he's a fan, and not because he walks around the office completely painted white everyday. But hey, it is the news business, so who knows. Some of them be crazy.

I didn't think the show was all that great tonight. Too much political ridiculousness and I'm not sure we needed the horrorcore discussion after Gary's piece. But kudos to them for keeping up with Chicago and gay rights issues. That'll do it.

Labels: , , , , , ,

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from