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.

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