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: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com