Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fort Hood Shooter Warning Signs, Abortion Rights And Health Care Reform, A Priest With A Secret Son, Palin On Oprah, And Oscar The Grouch Visits 360!

Hi everyone. No blog for yesterday because I wasn't able to watch. Tonight we kick things off with the news that Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of murder. This moves us into a Brian Todd piece regarding the warning signs that were missed, or which never received proper investigation. Hasan's former colleagues are speaking out--anonymously, it should be noted--and two former classmates blame political correctness regarding his religion as the reason the obviously troubled Major was able to skate by for so long.

We're then joined by former military prosecutor Thomas Kenniff to further explore this angle. Though Kenniff does push the political correctness line, it also sounds like Hasan's rank and his profession as a physician might have had just as much to do with people not wanting to come forward and make trouble--possibly jeopardizing their careers. Obviously there were individuals who had reservations about the man, but in those situations you can never be sure you are right. So, as with Hasan's potential connections to terrorism, as of yet, I'd say there is no definitive there there when it comes to why warning signs were missed.

Moving on to a Tom Foreman piece that explores the Stupak-Pitts amendment, which was added to the House health care reform bill. Severely limiting abortion rights, the amendment now poses a big problem for the senate. Take it out and they lose pro-life votes; keep it in get the picture. And it's getting dirty: A Rhode Island bishop wants representative Patrick Kennedy to leave the Catholic faith because he didn't vote the "right" way. Yeesh.

For discussion, Candy Crowley and David Gergen are keeping us company. Nothing hugely of note, though the Gerg does point out that "women's groups also feel very strongly that, as in the past, when there have been conflicts over women's rights vs. other preferences, that women often come last and that men push it." Yes. That is very annoying. Then from Candy we learn that Democrats are pretty much just trying to keep the legislative process rolling and fix the bitter pills as they can. That might make me feel better...if they weren't so incompetent.

Transitioning now to a Gary Tuchman superduper two--yes, TWO--part investigation. The subject? Henry Willenborg, a Franciscan priest who also happens to be a secret baby daddy. Oh yes. This is so going to be the plot for Lifetime's next movie of the week. But this story isn't just about scandal; there's a tragic twist as well. The "baby" (Nathan) is now a 22-year-old with brain cancer who has only weeks to live. Let's back things up. Once upon a time, devoted Catholic Patricia Bond had an affair with, and became pregnant by Willenborg. Instead of having the priest take responsibility for his child, the church had Patricia sign an agreement of silence in return for quiet financial support. Feeling intimidated and vulnerable, she went along with the deal.

Now with her son's illness, she has had to resort to begging the church for money for his care. Besides $1,000, they basically said no, claiming they have paid her about $233,000 over 22 years. Well, Gary can do math, and it turns out that's less than $11,000 a year. Plus, isn't there that whole moral thing? I thought those priest guys were big on that. Perhaps not. Gary then tracks down Father Robert Karris, the lead negotiator of the agreement. The idea is to find out why there was ever an agreement in the first place. Gary asks why they didn't kick Willenborg out and make him take responsibility for his child on his own. Says Karris: "It would have been the best thing. But that's not the reality." Um, yeah. Because you made it not the reality.

Then we find out that Willenborg just got suspended from his current Wisconsin church because of new allegations regarding an affair with a minor. Wow. Protected by the church, and now he's doing it again--this time to someone underage. Now no one knows where Willenborg is, so Gary came here to St. Louis where he apparently used to live. I am simultaneously excited that Gary was here and annoyed that my city just got dragged into this mess. But anyway, to wrap things up, the Franciscans have agreed to pay 100 percent of Nathan's internment expenses, which is good, and completely morbid at the same time. And if you need one more tragic twist, here you go: Patricia was just diagnosed with cancer herself.

So...that was all pretty messed up, huh? I suppose there's an argument to be made that Nathan is an adult and his father would no longer be legally responsible regardless, but I think the main point of this story is the cover-up and secretiveness. We all know the Catholic church has an, um, history. To talk about this, we're joined by Barbara Blaine, founder of the Survivors' Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP), and William Donohue, president of the Catholic League. Donohue has been on the show before. Gotta say, not a fan. And why must he talk so loudly?

Barbara hits on the power imbalance that occurs when a woman has an affair with a trusted member of society such a priest, likening it to a doctor-patient relationship. Donohue thinks the church blew it, but then he tries to somehow equate it with the David Letterman thing, giving us all a collective WTF? Barbara helpfully points out that, uh, yeah, Catholic officials and late night talk show hosts don't exactly hold the same moral ground. Seriously, is this guy really the best they can do as a spokesperson?

Next up, two of 360's favorite obsessions collide to make one horrifying segment. Ladies and gentleman, I give you Sarah Palin on Oprah. The thing hasn't aired yet, so we're just getting clips. Can't say I care much. I like it when she says that her family "don't really like the drama." Really? Because every time I see you, drama seems to be hanging out nearby.

Finally tonight, Anderson Cooper and Erica Hill get to chill with one very special visitor: Oscar the Grouch! No, really! In honor of Sesame Street's 40th Anniversary, the cranky Muppet who lives in a trashcan stopped by the 360 studio to talk about going green and getting healthy. Fun facts: Oscar was originally orange and prefers a blueberry instead of the cliched blackberry popular with the newsies. And...that's kinda all I got. This was both cute and awkward, though mostly cute, so I'll call it a winner. Now, when is Count Dracula stopping by?

The show wasn't bad, though I'll admit to being totally biased when it comes to Gary Tuchman's reporting. I'm probably going to miss tomorrow, so don't do anything too awesome, 360! I'll try to maybe blog something again before next week. Until we meet again.

Edited to add: Happy trails and congrats to Ted Fine. AC360's behind-the-scenes Silver Fox (ahem) is moving on up to an EP position at Bloomberg TV.

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Anonymous candomarty said...

I am amazed that any network asks William Donahue to appear on any show for any reason. He represents Catholics in about the same way that Lou Dobbs is a typical American. Donahue is very good, however, at getting the media to think he is THE spokesman for the Catholic Church, despite his extreme right-wing views.

2:17 PM  
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1:17 AM  
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