Monday, November 09, 2009

New Info On Fort Hood Shooter, Health Care Reform Passes House, D.C. Sniper Timeline, And Oprah Interview About Her Latest Book Club Selection

Hi everybody. Happy New Week! We're kicking things off with the latest on the horrible shooting at Fort Hood. I have to say, the coverage tonight and Friday (which I didn't blog) has made me somewhat uncomfortable. It is still SO early regarding finding out what exactly happened, yet there seems to be a narrative already forming in the media. Is it correct? Possibly. But remember, it's only recently that we learned that almost everything we thought we knew about Columbine was so very wrong.

Okay, so from Drew Griffin we learn that last year the FBI was actually investigating Major Nidal Malik Hasan because he was communicating with someone else they were investigating. The Army did their own investigation, finding that the person was a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen, but determined the communications to be research for his job as an Army psychiatrist. Then Drew's piece delves into a bunch of terrorism stuff, but if I'm understanding correctly, there are no smoking guns here. For example, two 9-11 hijackers attended services at the same mosque where Hasan had his mother's funeral. Maybe this is something. Or maybe this is just some sort of weird game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

It would be unfair for me to say there are no caveats here. From Drew: "There is no evidence Nidal Hasan attended the mosque regularly at that time, nor that he ever met with or was influenced by the cleric al-Awlaki, who left the United States a year later." And: "...a federal law enforcement source very close to the investigation says, don't discount the idea this may be a disgruntled employee, a person who may have had some kind of jihadist views." And from Anderson Cooper: "'s perfectly possible for someone to do something in the name of a cause without being an actual member of a cause or in touch with people in that cause."

But as I said before, I'm still uncomfortable about this media narrative forming, because so far, it seems devoid of real facts. And 360's whole "did the Army make a deadly mistake?" framing isn't really helping things. Seriously, just because you stick a question mark at the end, doesn't suddenly make a statement objective. For the life of me I do not understand why they cannot simply report facts. Everything has to be sensationalized. To be clear, I absolutely think it's warranted to look into that question, but there's a difference between holding people accountable and simply framing your segment.

We then move on to a piece from Ted Rowlands and learn that Hasan's former classmate Val Finnell was very disturbed by his proclamation that he was a "Muslim first and American second." That could definitely be a red flag, but I'm also wondering if some people might find it less disturbing if you swapped Muslim with Christian. Hasan had other problems as well, and the co-founder of a mosque referred to him as "incoherent," so it's looking like there were definitely lots of signs something was up. Why this man was promoted will surely be a much investigated subject in the future.

Anderson does the "360 Bulletin" tonight. Hm, weird. Technical difficulties?

On to an interview with ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Pete Hoekstra. I was fully ready to hear some of that good old Republican fear-mongering we all know and love, but Hoekstra was, dare I say, practically rational. There's a lot of back and forth about briefings, which is kinda neither here nor there. Apparently all that stuff we heard from Drew earlier was somehow leaked to the media and now Congress is catching up. So...that's not good in a myriad of ways. I'm not sure I embrace the Congressman's statement that "... there's indications here that this is more of an act of terrorism than just a criminal act or someone cracking." But his warnings about jumping to conclusions were quite refreshing.

Transitioning now to Randi Kaye at the wall. My God, what has she done with John King and Tom Foreman?! Anyhoo! The topic? Health care. As it turns out, there are more uninsured people in red states than blue states, with Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and Florida being in the worst shape. But guess whose Republican senators are going to vote against the public option? Yep. Randi breaks it all down for us. This was a good segment. More please, 360.

On now to discussion with David Gergen and Candy Crowley. Saturday night the House passed its version of the health care reform bill (yay!), so now things move on to the senate. However, a very un yay part of that bill passage was the addition of the Stupak amendment, which limits abortion rights. President Obama has already indicated he wants to see that changed. The Gerg also talks about whether or not Harry Reid has 60 votes. This kinda drives me crazy. If he has 60 votes for cloture, we only need 51. Are Democrats going to vote against party on procedure? There's a question I'd like answered.

Also, to be filed under "well, that was odd," right when Candy says "the public wants some form of health care," we hear clapping in the studio. Um, I'm guessing that's a no no. Probably not even related to what Candy said, but I bet Glenn Beck can make a whole segment out of it if he really tried.

Next up, we have a timeline of the D.C. sniper shootings that took place in 2002. I'll admit, that when I first saw this advertised on the blog, I was not at all enthused. I didn't know why they were retreading through old material (turns out John Allen Muhammad will be executed tomorrow) and I fully expected it to suck. It did not. What we got was a very well done trip in the way-back machine, complete with CNN's own news footage and interviews with those who covered the story. There's even a clip of Anderson subbing on NewsNight. Aw, I miss NewsNight. Confession: I probably watched that show more than I did the previous version of 360. Regarding the show rearrangement, I guess it all worked out for everyone in the end, though I do miss learning the weather in Chicago.

But back to the piece, we hear a lot from Joe Johns who covered the story for NBC News, and admitted he feared being the next victim. I don't think I knew Joe came from NBC. News peeps jump around so much, it's hard to keep track. Anyway, he tells us the motive for the sniper attacks is still unclear. It sounds like the guy is mentally ill. His accomplice remains in jail, probably for life.

Finally tonight, we have the "Big 360 Interview" with none other than Oprah. See, the Queen of Daytime and CNN and Facebook all got together to do this big book club webcast. Synergygasm! And our own Silver Fox took part. Are you really surprised? It's no secret our anchor has some mad (platonic) Oprah-love going on. Yeah, I may have done some mocking through the years. Anyhoo! The book is "Say You're One of Them," a collection of short stories told through the eyes of African children. It sounds good, actually. I'll probably read it, despite my Oprah snobbery. My two waiting-to-be-read books on Rwanda ("Shake Hands With the Devil" and "We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families") are going to be mad if I buy and read this new one before them.

I tried to watch the webcast for a bit, but it kept freezing on me and I gave up. You can watch the whole thing on CNN's site, which is something I stupidly didn't think about. I should have just waited. It's not like I wanted to participate in the chat. There's not that much to say about the interview. Oprah talks about her school and Anderson comments a bit about the students' resiliency. Two things: First, why all the short story hate? Both Oprah and our anchor say they aren't usually fans. Even David Sedaris?! C'mon, you gotta love David Sedaris. Also, I couldn't quite tell because of the freezing feed, but it looked like they had some pieces on Africa from CNN correspondents. Is there some reason we can't get that coverage on 360? It's pretty sad when you know a network's international correspondents because of Twitter, and not because you've seen their work on air.

The "shot" tonight was the fall of the Berlin Wall. Twenty years. Man.

The show was okay--not a real winner; not terrible either. I'm not sure what to think of their Hasan coverage. I'm guessing they're being much more responsible than, say, Fox News, but I expect more caution from 360. There are real consequences for Muslims in the military here (or hell, just Muslims period). I certainly don't proclaim to know what went down. Hasan might be more involved in terrorism than anyone has reported. But we don't know that yet. Anyway, Randi's segment and the D.C. Sniper timeline were the highlights of the night.

Also? I think my theory about election night ratings panned out. CNN saw a pretty good bump with the Fort Hood shootings. The brand still has it.

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