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.

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Blogger Anne said...

Hi Eliza,

The last three paragraphs, I agree with you, especially the 1st of the 3. It's hit and miss so much. Ted Turner needs to come back and breath life, if possible, back into CNN. They were the first, it's a shame they seem to be rating last. I feel we are being held captive when it comes to the insurance companies. We are at their mercy, it's just sickening. Their stronghold on politicians can only be weakened by the conscience of those to do the right thing. All the money the insurance companies are throwing at stopping health care reform would help so many in need. Anne D.

12:58 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

@Anne: Hit and miss. Exactly. And I just don't know how you build and hold a loyal viewership with that kind of inconsistency. It's no secret that CNN's regular viewers are smaller than both MSNBC and Fox News.

CNN will argue it's all about partisan politics, but I don't buy that. It drives me nuts because CNN has vastly better resources, reach, and talent than their competitors. They just don't put it to good use. So much potential squandered in the name of easy ratings.

4:12 AM  

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