Thursday, October 01, 2009

David Letterman Bombshell, Chicago Violence And The Stop Snitching Code, Iran Talks, More On Polanski, And A CNN Hero

Hi everyone. Sorry about yesterday. Sometimes you just want to blog. Other times you just want to veg out and watch the TeeVee. It happens. I see they've gone back to their regular first shot again. Anderson Cooper isn't doing any more of that fancy standing up stuff. Oh well. We begin tonight with the "breaking news" that David Letterman was blackmailed and, uh, apparently has slept with members of his staff.

A few different reactions come to mind, the first being, wow, holy crap. The second being, really, this is really the top story? We all know the deal with 360 and their stupid constant "breaking news," so even though Randi Kaye (who pops up with more info) is telling us they've learned this stuff "over the last few minutes," and Anderson is saying it's "literally a late-breaking story," I kinda don't believe them.

In fact, it wasn't until I logged on to Twitter and saw that it really was just coming out, that my indignation over the top slot placement subsided a little. You see what happens when you cry wolf with your "breaking news" graphic, 360? I just had to use Twitter to check your credibility! So anyway, as I said, Randi has more, and from her we learn that Dave testified before a grand jury today. It seems the blackmailer wanted $2 million, but was busted in a sting operation. Anderson reminds us that Dave is recently married and Randi points out they had been dating since 1986. Sad. I'm guessing that's not a happy house right now. Here's more info and video of Dave's monologue in which he explains the situation.

Moving on now to the horrible violence among youth in Chicago. Anderson relays the disturbing fact that even though it's apparent that many people know who the police are looking for regarding the murder of Derrion Albert, not one person has come forward. In a subsequent Joe Johns piece, we get a recap of the "Stop Snitching" movement, which 360 and Anderson individually have covered extensively. It pertains to the idea that inner city youth abide by a kind of code that prevents them from going to the police with information.

Now, it's clear that Anderson is horrified by this phenomenon and the silence, but I want to point out that in Joe's piece, a young man admits that if people come forward, they're going to be beat up. It seems to me that though "Stop Snitching" is real and is a big problem, this might be a bigger problem and shouldn't be dismissed. Maybe not everyone is following a code, but some are simply just scared to death and don't trust the police to protect them if they were to come forward. I think relations between the police and community is probably a huge issue that needs to be studied.

For discussion of all this, we're joined by hip-hop artist Common and Steve Perry, CNN education contributor. I don't want to say that the men only contribute platitudes or truisms, but we've heard all these things before. It's the parents. It's the community. It's kids who need to be taught self worth. All true. We heard all this the last time a kid was killed, and we'll hear it the next time too. Everyone nods in agreement. But then nothing changes and it all happens again. I really hate being critical here. It's so clear Anderson really cares about this and all these men's hearts are in the right place, but something feels off about this coverage.

If they want to focus on the "Stop Snitching" angle (and I've already stated I think that might be overemphasized in the overall story), why not really tackle it? Anderson notes that there are corporations promoting the phenomenon. Well, who are these corporations? Name names. Get people to talk if possible. Anderson does actually name Tyson Beckford (and later Busta Rhymes), noting he's on a Bravo show. Well, what does Bravo think about this?

The thing is, 360 can't stop kids from killing each other. They can't make people better parents. They can't make police more trustworthy. That's not even their job. But they can investigate and identify those who are profiting off of all this and need to be held accountable. Will it cause controversy? Probably. Isn't that the point? Instead of going through the same routine every time some poor kid gets gunned down or beaten to death, why not regularly investigate different factions of the "Stop Snitching" movement? Maybe then someday things would actually change.

In the headlines tonight we have the earthquakes in Indonesia and the aftermath of the disaster in the Samoan Islands. I guess this is their only mention. That's pretty messed up.

Transitioning back to the Letterman case, we're joined via phone by Lisa Bloom and Howard Kurtz. Of note is Lisa bringing up the potential hostile work environment that Dave's behavior might have caused. I agree with that, but from Anderson: "We shouldn't go down the road of speculation. We, frankly, know nothing about the nature of these relationships, the timeline of them, when they occurred, or really anything about them." Hey, look at that. Good for him. See, I may slap him with speculation charges from time to time, but I can praise for speculation-quashing as well.

Anderson then turns to Howie and notes that he's been tweeting about the situation. "I'm glad you follow Twitter so closely," says Howie. Pshaw! Yeah, we know that ain't the truth. "Sorry. I don't. I was just told you have been tweeting," says Anderson. Will someone please teach Anderson Twitter? I mean, seriously. He doesn't have to actually talk to anyone, but for a journalist not to be taking advantage of a potential personal news aggragate just kinda boggles my mind. It's not hard, Anderson. I promise.

Next up, we have discussion with Reza Aslan; Abbas Milani, the director of Iranian studies at Stanford; and Candy Crowley regarding the recent developments in Iran. So, as it turns out, you can make potential progress with a nuke-wanting evil-doer and not have to bomb them to kingdom come. Who'd a thunk it? See, US peeps sat down with Iran peeps who decided that, okay, fine, you can look at our nuclear site. Iran then gets to send non- weapons-grade uranium to other countries for enrichment, but not enough to make bombs.

Sooo...yay! At least, potential yay, emphasis on 'potential.' I'm not naive. Reza thinks this is significant, and although Abbas is cautious, he too thinks it's step in the right direction, even if a small one. On the political front, we hear from Candy that caution is the watchword with Obama as well. Obviously this is still an on-going process, but I think we can all say diplomacy is so much better than beating the war drums. For more on Iran, here's an informative piece from Juan Cole.

On now to more on the Roman Polanski case. I think you've pretty much figured out by now that I'm not really into the story. Don't get me wrong, a 13-year-old is a child, period. And rape is rape, period. I'm just not sure why everyone has to weigh in. Tonight we hear from Jeffrey Toobin and David Wells, a man who apparently lied about coaching a judge to be tough on Polanski.

Anderson asks why he lied and Wells responds with--I kid you not--the following: "Well, I never thought the documentary would be shown here in the United States. I got the impression from talking to the director/producer on it that it was being made by a French company, that they hoped to sell it in France, and that based on that, I never thought it would be shown here in the United States." Because lies don't count if they're only heard by French people! France is the new Vegas, baby.

Our anchor, who obviously has more restraint than me, refrains from asking, "WTF are you talking about?" and instead says this: "Why would that make any difference, though, whether it was showing here in the United States? I mean, a lie is a lie whether it's here or elsewhere in the world." You think? Good lord, where do these people come from?

Our final piece of the night is from Erica Hill, on CNN's 2007 Hero of the Year, Peter Kithene. Today was CNN's big unveiling of the nominees that culminated in a special tonight. I'll have to check it all out online since I missed pretty much everything. I have to say, I admire CNN for continuing to do this show. It's not exactly a ratings bonanza. Anyway, Peter has a clinic in Kenya and right after his win, the country erupted into violence. He was able to keep the clinic open, while others in the country had to close. Good story.

The "shot" tonight is Bronx hero Horia Cretan, who saved a little boy from a burning building. He joins us by phone and Anderson asks if he has any paramedic training. Horia tells us he knew what to do from watching TV. I had to laugh at that. I was in a situation once where I was asked if I was a nurse and I was like, no, I just watch a lot of ER. See, it's educational! But the best part about Horia's story is that he took advantage of his new-found fame to propose to his fiance on the TeeVee. Awww. All stories should be like this.

The show was just okay. As much as I am genuinely interested in the Letterman thing, um, I can catch that from a more appropriate outlet. This is CNN and if they start going all out with Dave-drama, I'm going to be pretty disgusted. I mean, over a thousand people are dead from an earthquake, and it only got a headline. That's not right. As for the Chicago story, major major props for the follow up, but I do wish they'd take another look at the angle of their coverage. That'll do it.

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Blogger Anne said...

Hi Eliza,

The breakdown of traditional family life has contributed to so many problems of young people. When you have moms who start very young having babies with a different dad for each kid, it definately leads this cycle of violence among teens. It took years to get to this extreme low point, where life has no value. It will take years of committment from those like Common, Steve Perry, coach Pete Carroll, and Blair Holt to reverse this situation. The best way to start is like what you covered, to dismantle this "stop snitching" movement, name names of those laughing all the way to the bank. They are doing it on the blood of those who will never receive justice as long as this perverse code of silence is accepted as the norm. Wow, with Dave's and Polanski's dramas, there wasn't any time allocated to cover Indonesia and American Samoa? MSM basically has resorted to drive-by journalism, pointing cameras at those who scream the loudest or overill on titillating celebrity stories. Eliza, if I have to see faces of Jon or Kate Gosselin anymore I going to scream. Jon dude is everywhere, Larry King, etc. Why is so much attention paid to these two? I know the answer, but I still ask. It's easier to cover those two than delve into the problems like those in Chicago. Good story about Horia Cretan. We need to airlift 100 like him to the inner cities.

6:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. I commend Anderson, he has covered this story extensively since last year. However, the "stop snitching" movement is overhyped. People WANT to tell who the murderers and killers are, but they can't. Part of the problem is that, the police (In chicago, specifically) are often on the payroll of neighborhood drug dealers and generally, the name of anonymous people reporting these crimes are sold under the table to drug dealers who often retaliate as violently as possible to set an example. Google "15 officers caught in Drug Sting". Anyone who lives in Chicago already knows that some police officers will share the identity of people reporting crime. Kids are being killed FOR REFUSING to join gangs, not because they're in them. How do we keep the kids safe?
Also, the problem is more endemic. Some of the gun murders in chicago should be reclassified as serial killings. A lot of the shooters are killing kids and adults for the notoriety and it has nothing to do with gangs. It's like Summer of Sam.

4:50 AM  

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