Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Best & Worst Of Anderson Cooper 360 In 2009

UPDATE: Hi guys. Yes, a post on the New Year's Eve show is forthcoming. Was gone all New Year's day and am expecting a busy weekend, so there's a possibility it won't be until late Sunday. But hey, better late than never, right? To make it up to you, I shall promise screencaps. Make sure to check back soon!

Hi everyone. No review tonight. It's listicle time! You all know the drill: At the end of every year, we take a ponder over the past 12 months--whether we want to or not. It's a requirement to get your blog license renewed. Yes, we all have licenses (laminated and everything!). My regular readers might recall that for 2008 I did a couple of indepth posts for both the 'best' and 'worst' categories.

Well, that's not happening this year (sorry!). Technical difficulties and a general apathy towards the show itself has left me with some pretty big gaps in my 2009 blogging. Not to mention the fact that this whole end-of-the-year thing kinda snuck up on me. BUT there's no reason we can't dust off those tried and true bullet points (which haven't seen a good usage since the conventions) to see how far our 360 peeps have come (and haven't come) since last year.

From many viewpoints, 2009 has been a rough one for the 360 kids. Last year there was a period where the show was actually dominating in the demo ratings; this year it seems a small victory when they don't come in dead last. There are a myriad of reasons for this of course, one major one being the current landscape of straight news versus opinion. But there are those of us loyal viewers who could see the trouble brewing back when the ratings were still good. I worried that they wouldn't be able to smoothly transition from their easy-ratings election coverage once the ballots were counted. And that's pretty much what happened.

They began to cover the economic crisis through a political lens (panels, Panels, PANELS!), waiting too late to send Anderson Cooper out into the field (his obvious strength). Meanwhile, I witnessed viewers who had been watching for years jump ship, which propelled me to blog an open letter to the show. The broadcast has blessedly been tweaked since that time, but ratings continued to sink.

And that's where we find ourselves now. The following bullet points are some specifics that stood out to me (in no particular order). Add your own in the comments, if you're so inclined.
  • BREAKING NEWS!!!: There was a time when it didn't matter if it was "breaking" or was even really "news," but 360 was GOING to put up that freakin' graphic at the top of every broadcast whether we liked it or not. Beyond annoying. Not to mention manipulative and Fox-like. But a funny thing I've noticed lately. That graphic? Not so much used anymore. Now maybe some day I'll see that graphic and actually be able to really believe what it says.
  • PLANET IN PERIL: Last year I praised the special. This year it seems to have disappeared (not counting repeated packages). Kinda a bummer. The absence in 2009 is a bit surprising given that they were able to produce the special during a busy election year. Perhaps that's the economy talking. In any regard, irony alert! Remember how Jon Klein justified the firing of Miles O'Brien and the rest of the science team by claiming that coverage would fall under PIP in the future? Yeah...
  • DAVID GERGEN: Oh, what has happened to our Gerg? Don't get me wrong, I still like the guy, but as I've been noting on this blog quite a lot lately, he seems to have morphed into an extreme Villager. I like the no BS analysis; not the latest beltway meme. Come back to us, Gerg. Come back!
  • COVERAGE OF LGBT ISSUES: Continuing from last year, 360 is mostly ahead of the pack when it comes to covering gay rights. Though substantial coverage of the D.C. gay marriage rally was surprisingly absent, their focus on DADT is to be commended.
  • GARY TUCHMAN AND RANDI KAYE: The correspondents never get the glory of the anchor, but these two continue to do awesome work not just this year, but every year. Of note in 2009: the cases of Cameron Todd Willingham and James Arthur Ray.
  • REAL INTERVIEWS: The over abundance of panels was mentioned in both my 'worst' post from 2008, and the open letter I blogged earlier this year. One of the reasons they were so hated was that they seemed to take the place of real interviews. Quite frankly, I found it shocking that a major television anchor was going months at a time without really interviewing anyone. This has since changed, thank God. In 2009 we saw many news makers on the broadcast and even saw Anderson interview the president more than once. Here's hoping 2010 brings even more sit downs.
  • THE WAR NEXT DOOR: What's happening at the Mexico border is important and 360 has kept up the coverage. Good for them.
  • CHICAGO VIOLENCE: That one city is losing so many children to violence is inexcusable. Though I've sometimes felt 360's approach to the story was misguided (way too much focus on the 'stop snitchin' angle), they deserve nothing but praise for their continued coverage of a crisis that so many others are ignoring.
  • MICHAEL WARE: Yes, the Aussie is clearly insane. But from his reporting of the warlords in Afghanistan to the drug cartels in Mexico, Michael Ware is never not awesome.
  • FLUFF/SENSATIONALISM: The Octomom. Jon and Kate Plus Eight. Every frickin' move Sarah Palin makes. BALLOON BOY! And on and on. I swear, this crap will be the death of me. And for a while there, this year seemed to see a surge of it. Let's not repeat.
  • MICHAEL JACKSON: What is there to say, really? Wall-to-wall coverage was understandable on the day he died and the day of his funeral. Most of what we saw in between and since was absolutely deplorable. No, 360 was not in any way alone in cashing in on the ratings (though CNN as a whole seemed to be one of the worst offenders), but I guess I thought they were better than that. I'm not going to lie, respect was lost. Though I eventually made my way back to the show, that's not true for my other CNN viewing. I can't seem to quit 360 (insert Brokeback Mountain joke here), but I did quit everything else I used to watch on the network.
  • AFGHANISTAN TRIP: Last year I lamented the sharp decrease in the coverage of the wars. This year Anderson Cooper spent a week in Afghanistan, a fact that should be noted and commended.
  • ANDERSON COOPER: Our anchor does a fine job, but though it pains me to say it, there's a general feeling that Anderson checked out over a year ago and still hasn't returned. It's hard to describe, really. Yet I've found that I can mention it to any long time viewer and they know exactly what I'm talking about. Being a news anchor, it's inevitable Anderson will be hit with criticism. Read the comments of any media site that mentions him and you'll find the ridiculousness: He's a liberal! He's a conservative! He's not qualified! But this year, I've noticed a new one: He's boring. I don't claim to know the reason behind any of this, and given that I don't know Anderson at all, I'll refrain from making assumptions. I just hope he comes back soon.
  • THE EXTRAS: This year saw the death of some of 360's bells and whistles. I say good riddance to the webcam, which I never watched since it made me feel like a stalker. I miss the webcast a bit though. Aw, who didn't love Floor Crew Friday? As for the blog, it's had its phases hasn't it? Right now I'd categorize my feelings toward it as "meh." It's basically become a news aggregate and while those are nice, you can find them anywhere these days. I liked it better when it was more personal and offered more behind-the-scenes info. It's no longer on my must-read list for the day. Plus there's the fact that they seem to never release comments, which is an excellent way to take away the motivation to leave one, or even read. I guess it goes without saying that Anderson's total non blogging these days kinda sucks. But on a positive note, I'm loving the 360 tweeters. Too bad more don't join them.
I think that about does it. What a year! I hope I didn't forget anything major. Though there's a lot of criticism contained in those bullet points, I obviously wouldn't be watching if the show wasn't of better quality than most of what's out there. I know the 360 kids work hard. Hopefully 2010 will be better for everyone.

Don't forget to watch Anderson Cooper ring in the New Year with Kathy Griffin. Will there be another Youtubeable incident? Fingers crossed! I hope to have a post up on Friday. Until then, happy new year!

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Analyzing Intelligence Failures, The Yemen Factor, Sanjay Gupta's Year In Review, And Charlie Sheen Arrested

Hi everyone. Your blogger is feeling a little under the weather, so this will be another one of those less than thorough posts. But my snark can easily withstand the sniffles. Don't be going anywhere. Tonight Erica Hill continues her reign in the anchor chair. Anderson Cooper better watch it; she's getting pretty good at his gig.

We kick things off with the news that the father of attempted-bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab not only reported his son's radicalization to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, some of those communications involved CIA officials. From Jeanne Meserve we learn that there was even a report sent to the agency's headquarters in Langley, but it was never received by the wider intelligence community. Ohhhh bureaucracy, you're going to be the literal death of us, aren't you? I'm so glad we spent all those kazillions of dollars to take care of this stuff. Man, I need one of those stress balls.

Next up, we're joined by Barbara Starr, who has more on what is sure to be the first "it" country of 2010. Move over Iraq. Step out of the spotlight Afghanistan. As is the American custom of learning our geography through conflict, Yemen seems to be the next candidate the masses will soon be able to locate on a map. Barbara tells us that the U.S. is looking to hit back at the country, which appears to be where this latest attack attempt originated. Now, were we still under the last administration, this news would have me thinking "Oh God, now we're going to invade Yemen." What a difference a little over a year makes.

Peter Bergen then talks more about the strikes against Yemen targets, which we've actually already been conducting on the relative down low. This leads us into discussion with Frances Townsend, and Jeffrey Goldberg, author of that amazing piece on the TSA that I linked to yesterday. Frances has absolutely no credibility with me. Plus her status as a CNN contributor, coupled with her direct involvement in this story, makes this all very weird, if not outright conflict of interest-y. She should be held to account, yet she has this relationship with CNN. I guess everything is incestuous like that these days.

As for Jeffrey, he makes the excellent point that if a terrorist makes it to the airport, it's probably too late to stop him. In other words, our focus needs to be on things that occur way before we're taking off our shoes in the security line. The panel also talks about ramping things up in Yemen.

Moving on to a Randi Kaye piece on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's online activity. Apparently, he was lonely. I'd recommend Cymbalta over blowing up a plane full of people, but hey, that's just me. From here we talk with Peter Bergen and Kirk Lippold, former commander of the USS Cole. They discuss Al Qaeda recruitment and it's noted that the reason Umar joined up probably can't be pinpointed. Kirk is adamantly against returning Gitmo detainees to Yemen right now, which I suppose sounds reasonable.

Transitioning to Sanjay Gupta's Year in Review! How'd Sanjay get to be so special? Will we have a Gary Tuchman year in review? Randi Kaye? Anyway, Octomom. Natasha Richardson. Swine Flu. Mammograms. Oh my! Save the untimely death of Natasha, Sanjay has seen his share of freak out stories. Remember the very initial swine flu reporting when the media was like, "Zoh my God, swine flu!!" Dun dun dun!! Good times.

Next up, we have an Erica Hill piece on Charlie Sheen, who apparently got himself arrested for assaulting his wife. And I guess we're all supposed to care or something. I mean, don't get me wrong, domestic violence=very bad, but I'm not sure why I need to know about this specific couple. I do, however, appreciate the "History of Violence" graphic. Clever. In the piece, we learn that years ago Sheen shot then girlfriend Kelly Preston in the arm. This is relevant to me because a couple of months ago I went to a trivia night and it was one of my questions. Yeah, I got it wrong. Too late!

The "shot" tonight is a mashup of Billboard's top 25 hits, which Jack Gray has been rather enthusiastically pimping out on Twitter. It's pretty cool. Though I have to say, when it comes to videos that make me smile, this one-shot done to the Black Eye Pea's "I've Gotta Feeling" (Billboard's #4) totally takes the cake. No, it's not perfect, but it's a lot of fun.

The show was okay. Kinda veered off in the second half there with the Sanjay and Charlie Sheen stuff. But eh, holiday week. Guess we can't expect much different. That'll do it.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Terror Does Not Take A Holiday: The Attempted Explosion Of Northwest Delta Flight 253

Hi everyone. For those who celebrated, I hope you had a nice Christmas. I had a great time with family, and was still riding high with holiday spirit when I went to check out the latest happenings on Twitter. Always nice to get rudely slapped in the face with reality. Le sigh. For those who have blessedly been rock-dwelling these past few days, the basics: on Christmas day, a 23-year- old Nigerian named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to bring down Detroit-bound Northwest Delta Flight 253 by lighting a-flame explosives sewn into his underwear. Yes, his underwear.

To tell the truth, I've pretty much been avoiding all television news since this story broke. That tends to be where the majority of the inevitable stupidity is concentrated. The show tonight doesn't really fall in that realm of utterly ridiculousness, but I still think I'm going to bulldoze through it. I just can't get into this coverage. Intellectually, I know this is very important and the topics being discussed absolutely should be investigated. Yet I can't help feeling a visceral reaction of "meh." And I blame Bush.

Yes, scoff if you must. But I've realized that after everything we went through under that administration, I am no longer capable of believing anything I'm told about terrorism plots. My default is now stuck on "bullshit" and I don't know how to turn it off. I think my apathy also comes from a strong desire to just skip the political and media ridiculousness that always follows these types of incidents. Can someone just please let me know when the world becomes semi-rational again?

Anyway, Erica Hill, who appears to have a cold, is manning the ship tonight for an absent Anderson Cooper. Remember those explosive underwear I mentioned? CNN has pictures! Yeah, okay. Al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula is claiming responsibility for the attack, but eh, it's too early to really pin that down.

We then move on to a Randi Kaye piece about all of the failures that allowed the suspect to get as far as he did. It really is jaw-dropping. The guy was on a Watch list, his own father reported him to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria...I mean, c'mon! But I suppose this shouldn't be surprising. I've always regarded the TSA as a joke. You really think taking your shoes off makes us safer? It's theater. The perception of safety; not actual safety. Check out this must read piece from the Atlantic published last year. When will we ever learn?

After Randi's piece, there's discussion with Ben Venske of IntelCenter, Jeanne Meserve, and Peter Bergen. Topics include underwear and crotch areas. This is really just a weird dream I'm having, right?

Erica then talks with some of the passengers on the flight. Again, this is information I can't quite believe. I can't help but wonder if they're embellishing to get on TV or maybe even simply misremembering certain facts. I don't want to assume these things, but you learn to be skeptical. As for the flight's hero, Jasper Schuringa (he tackled the guy), he wasn't on 360, but you might be interested to know he's making a pretty penny. The whole thing makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, huh?

Next up, a Candy Crowley piece on the response from President Obama. Oh my God, he waited three days before saying anything AND he didn't wear a tie! Personally, I didn't need him to say anything at all. The attack wasn't successful, and it's not like it was ongoing either (think Katrina). But from a PR standpoint, probably not a good move. And Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano screwed up big time by initially saying the system worked. Um, if a working system results in a dude almost blowing up his underwear, we're more screwed than I thought.

Moving on now to the requisite explosive demonstration. This is not the first time 360 has blown something up for our viewing benefit. Nic Robertson is our tour guide. I like how he runs away, but expert dude just kinda calmly walks. Anyway, ka-boom! End package.

We wrap things up with a Joe Johns piece on, well, that ridiculousness that I talked about previously. Now the TSA has even more rules AND there's talk of 3D body scans. Yes, that means naked you at the airport. It always flabbergasts me how quickly people will give up their rights for a little perception of security. As one of the guys in the piece says, at the airport, "we are essentially searched without a warrant."

I'm not an irrational person. Some security is definitely needed. But where does it end? How long before we're all handcuffed to our chairs in our skivvies? Back when Richard Reid made us all take off our shoes, some jokingly pondered what would happen if someone put a bomb in their underwear. Well folks, we're here. Are we all going to be required to go commando now? You know, at a certain point it becomes clear that we've stopped defending ourselves against terrorism and simply surrendered to it. All they have to do is send one yahoo who isn't even successful, and suddenly we're changing our way of life. Smart prevention. Some day maybe we'll try that way.

The "shot" tonight is Jib Jab's end of the year video. Most of that stuff I'd like to forget. That'll do it.

Edited to add: Another reason I can't get my freak out on over this latest incident: According to stat guru Nate Silver "you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning."

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Hi dear readers! It's that time of year again--a time for excessive eating, (forced) family togetherness, and most importantly, lots of chillaxing. I'll either be checking back in over the weekend, or I'll catch you with a review on Monday. I wish everyone a safe and happy break. As always, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and greetings to all those hanging at Osama's homo-abortion-pot-and-commie-jizzporium.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Latest On Health Care Reform, Goldman Update, Texas District Attorney Indicted, & 360's Favorite Moments of 2009

Hi everyone. Erica Hill is once again holding down the fort for a vacationing Anderson Cooper. I have to say, our 360 peeps are really using that wall technology of theirs. Like, a lot. So, can you guess what we're starting with tonight? Can you? Can you? Yep, health care reform. Things are still slowly inching along here, people.

Jessica Yellin pops in to tell us that, actually, the next vote has been moved up to Christmas Eve morning. I guess some of us will be wrapping presents by light of CSPAN. Bottom line: POTUS wants this finished up before his State of the Union address, which upon returning from their break, will give Congress about a week to reconcile the Senate and House bills. This is going to be fun.

Moving on to Randi Kaye, heavily using the Magic Wall to show us how lobbyists have basically just written our health care reform. There are facts and figures, and Senator Max Baucus's extreme douchebaggery on this topic is pointed out, though, uh, not quite in those terms. This is all very good. It's the kind of reporting we need. Yet I can't help feeling it's a little late. I mean, a focus on Baucus would have been nice when the bill was still in his committee. Just sayin.'

Next up, Tom Foreman gets his turn at the Magic Wall. The subject: who this bill actually helps. It turns out it's pretty progressive. The less you make, the less you pay. Even better, in the end everyone saves some. At this point, I'm not sure how anyone can say that status quo is adequate.

It's that time of year again, people. The holiday season, when everyone seems to be drinking the egg nog. Now, our Congresscritters practically live and die for political stunts, but for some reason it's this time of year that they start rhyming. Case and point: Senator Roland Burris, who took the beloved "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and gave it a pro-health care reform twist.

Now, we all know 360 doesn't take sides (not even with new interpretations of classic holiday stories!), so what did they do? Got former Bush speech writer Matt Latimer to give us another perspective. I'm not sure a professional speech writer was really required to write that thing, but I digress. The highlight is that it's dramatically read by Floor Crew dude Bob Angle (hope I have that name right). Loved the delivery; not so hot on the poem. After his reading, Bob appears to dance himself out behind Erica. Now there's a guy who knows how to get airtime.

Moving on to our requisite talk with David Gergen, who makes me smile by giving a shout out to "Twitter King" Jack Gray. Unfortunately, my joy is short-lived. I think I might have to break up with our Gerg, and I am sad about that. As regular readers know, I've been growing more and more disillusioned with his analysis, and Sunday night might have been the last straw. He was live for CNN's coverage of the Senate cloture vote, and as tonight, noted that no Republicans voted aye.

The Gerg then went on to concern troll about what a terrible thing that was, but the kicker was when he said both sides were to blame for the lack of bipartisanship. Excuse me? He can't be serious. Obama and the Democrats have continuously reached out to try to placate the Republican babies. What have they gotten in return? Nothing. I'm tired of the media elites worshiping at the alter of the almighty center. The bill does not suddenly become better just because a handful of Republicans vote for it. That's ridiculous. Newsflash: they were never going to vote for it.

Transitioning now to an update on the David Goldman case. Good news, the court has ruled in his favor. However, there are still no details on when he gets to bring Sean home. I can understand why he's being cautiously optimistic. Erica talks with David's father Barry, and also Representative Chris Smith (via phone), who is in Brazil with David. Fingers crossed.

Next up, we learn the news that former Kimble County DA Ron Sutton has been indicted on charges of misapplication of fiduciary property. Gary Tuchman has been covering the corruption coming out of Texas for a while now, and this new development leads us into a background piece from him on the situation. The gist: in Texas (and other states) police are allowed to pull over drivers and seize their valuables if they're suspected of a serious crime. As you might imagine, this has opened the door to mass corruption, and even uglier, the targeting of minorities.

Sutton got himself into hot water because of how the seized money was used. If you guessed a week-long all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii (spouses included!), you win the prize. The former DA defends himself by claiming the trip was for a work-related conference, but Gary tells us there were only 10 hours worth of seminars. Oh, also? The people on the trip got $6,000 in spending money. Our intrepid correspondent actually tracked Sutton down, and when asked about that piece of information, we're fed some bull about cost of burgers and drinks in Hawaii. Seriously.

I haven't even gotten to the judge part yet, people. See, one year a man named Emil Prohl was invited on the Hawaii trip. Who's he? The judge who hears forfeiture cases. Good lord. And wait! Wait! It gets better: Team Gary found that there were checks written directly to the judge from the forfeiture account. They really do do everything bigger in Texas. Even, apparently, corruption.

After Gary's piece, he joins us live for discussion. Actually, Gary's head is joining us for discussion, as he's being Skyped in from--wait for it--Hawaii! It's a Christmas Irony miracle! Hey mister, who's paying for that trip? Erica assures us that our correspondent is vacationing on his own dime. And he's nice enough to take a break and talk to us? Aw. News is being stubbornly inconvenient this holiday season. Enjoy your fun in the sun, Gary.

The "shot" tonight is 360's favorite 2009 moments, most of which feature the Silver Fox in some stage of humiliation. This will teach him not to go on vacation. Should I drop some bullet points on this bad boy? I think I shall:
  • Number Five: Kathy Griffin and Suze Orman surprise Anderson with Happy Birthday wishes, complete with balloons and crayon cake. As Anderson birthdays go, I rather liked this one. Less awkward than the Wii gifting and less traumatic than the clowns. I mean, it's his birthday, let's not give him nightmares.
  • Number Four: Anderson meets Nancy Grace's twins. Personally, I find Nancy Grace terrifying, but her kids are cute, and Anderson is very cute with them. Okay, yes, he made the boy cry. But he makes a mean paper fish.
  • Number Two: Richard Simmons visits the 360 set, dances to Lady Gaga, and terrifies everyone. Okay, maybe he just terrified me. Anderson, as per usual, just did his giggling thing. But seriously, nightmares, people. Nightmares!
  • Number One: The 360 Crew dances to Single Ladies. Destined to be a classic. What can I say, those crew guys know how to shake it.
I guess that about wraps things up. The show was pretty good. It was nice to have some fun. When the bosses are away, the children will play. This is my last review of the week, but I'll be doing my annual Festivus post tomorrow. If I don't catch you then, happy holidays! I might also try to get a post done this weekend about Tom Foreman's special. You know I have to weigh in on our Jack Gray! See you on the flip side.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Health Care Reform Wheeling And Dealing, Update On David Goldman, Punished For Pregnancy, RIP Brittany Murphy, And Double Dose Of Jack Gray!

Hi everyone. Happy New Week! Erica Hill is taking over anchoring duties for us while Anderson Cooper is hopefully enjoying a little R & R. We begin with the ongoing saga of health care reform, which moved one step forward late last night with a successful cloture vote in the Senate. But what did it take to wrangle that magical number of 60? Well, a lot.

In a Dana Bash piece, we learn of all the little (and big) sweeteners that "helped" everyone (every Democrat, anyway) get on-board. Senator Ben Nelson got a great Medicaid deal for his state of Nebraska, Bernie Sanders of Vermont now has funds for community health centers he's been championing,...the list goes on.

As you might imagine, Republicans are none too pleased. In fact, they're accusing the Democrats of bribery, which I'm sorry, just made me laugh out loud. Are they kidding? I mean, seriously? Seriously? As Dana says, they basically mastered the art of deal-making. That's right Republicans; the Democrats learned it from you!

Next up, Tom Foreman takes us to the Magic Wall where we get a headache over the difficulties of reconciliation. This isn't going to be pretty, people. The House bill and the Senate bill have to come together and lovingly make a baby bill. And right now the parents are just not that into each other. The public option, abortion, cost, illegal immigrants...all still need a final agreement. Yes, this will surely end in tears of sadness.

Moving on now to a clip of Tom Coburn bitching about the Democrats, which is laughable because Tom Coburn is a huge dick. We're then joined by David Gergen, Tanya Acker, and Michael Gerson for discussion. It's good that they're pointing out the wheeling and dealing, but the narrative developing here is just kinda dumb.

The Gerg does some concern trolling, though I don't think we expect anything different from him. Tanya does a nice job of cutting through the BS by pointing out that, duh, this is how things work in Washington. Erica then weirdly steers the questioning to how open Harry Reid is being about the process. Yes, because transparency is the real problem here. Michael tries to act like he's never seen anything like this before, but that statement is too stupid for me to even respond to.

The segment wraps up with poll numbers on health care reform--bad ones. Pretty irrelevant with no internals or context. Anyway, though it's great 360 is diving into what it took to get this vote, I really hate that they're taking their cues from the Republicans. The hypocrisy of the opposition party is stunning. If this were the Daily Show, we'd be played a clip to demonstrate this. You can't tell me they don't exist.

Transitioning now to Erica speaking with David Goldman by phone. You'll remember that David is in Brazil trying to get back his son. He's currently still being jerked around by the process. Of note is this from Erica: "I know you have said that, were he to come home with you -- and that is what I think pretty much almost everyone is hoping for at this point -- that you wouldn't keep him from his Brazilian family; you would allow them to visit."

This is of note because later when Erica introduces the attorney for Sean Goldman's Brazilian family, she says this: "As you know, though, we don't take sides on 360." Erm, but you kinda just did. Frankly, even if she hadn't said that, all of the coverage of this story has so far been heavily skewed towards Goldman. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that. But 360 has a chronic disconnect regarding what they say, and what makes it to air.

On now to a discussion with Thomas Kenniff, former JAG officer, and Kayla Williams, former Army sergeant, regarding the new rule that soldiers in northern Iraq will face court-martial if they get pregnant or impregnate someone else. Lots of controversy here. In fact, Thomas doesn't think it's even legal. Kayla brings a great perspective to the table, pointing out issues such as the prevalence of sexual assault, lack of emergency contraception, and repercussions on a child who has both parents in jail. This was a very good discussion that was unfortunately made slightly comical by the b-roll of soldiers mixed in with pregnant bellies. Seriously?

Next we have a preview of Tom Foreman's Christmas Eve/New Year's Eve special. Normally I don't deem previews worthy of mention, but zoh my God, Jack Gray! Yes, the Jack Gray has hit the big time and will be appearing in the special. You know all those VH1 "I love the whatevers" series? The ones where semi-famous people talk snarkily about events past? That's going to be Jack! Except, you know, on CNN. Frankly, I think he was born for this job. The preview contains Jack talking about Sully the Magic Pilot. Aw, the little blogger is all grow-ed up. Suddenly that webcast cameo seems so long ago. *tear*

Transitioning from the exciting to the really, really depressing. Actress Brittany Murphy dead at 32-years-old. So sad. I didn't know much about her, but I loved her in "Clueless" and thought she seemed nice. A Randi Kaye piece breaks things down, but I say we resist speculating and just move on until the autopsy results are back.

I'm going to skip the "shot" tonight. Why? To make more room for a double dose of Jack Gray! Besides his upcoming Big Time on-air debut, Jack also recently hit the one million mark with his Twitter followers. Seeing as though I was probably his 100th-and-something follower, this is pretty amazing to me. Anyway, this celebration is complete with video of Jack at his desk--or a desk-- working hard. Also? It looks like he has bed head. Now some might argue it appears he just removed a big headset, but I'm going with bed head. Because that's how I roll.

A pretty good show tonight actually. I wasn't sure I was going to watch this week (stuff to do!), but I'm glad I did. Congrats to Jack. Someday I'll be telling everyone that I knew him when. (To read his blogs, go to my links. Follow him here. And follow me too!)

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Obama In A Slump, The Kidnapping Of Roy Hallums, A Setback For David Goldman, Hate Crime Cover-up, And Where Is Indiana Again, Anderson?

Hi everyone. Hey, have you noticed that lately we've only been getting the awful BREAKING NEWS graphic when there is actual "breaking news"? Improvement! Somebody deserves a cookie. Of course, now that I've said that, it'll be back tomorrow. Tonight, however, we're starting with the POTUS and his recent sucking. At least, that's the new narrative. Meh. Copenhagen's going badly. Health care reform might crash and burn. Sinking poll numbers. Oh the dramaz!

Anderson Cooper jumps up and practically runs to the Magic Wall to show us more. Must. Use. Technology! The subject is the Democrats as a whole...and Lieberman...and Nelson--oh yes, he's still bitching about abortion. You didn't think that matter was actually settled, did you? It's all enough to make a democracy-loving citizen curl up in the fetal position and cry.

To pontificate about all this (because I guess they must), we're joined by James Carville and Bill Bennett. There is literally nothing of note here. Well, other than the fact that no one seems aware that Senator Bernie Sanders might not vote for the health care reform bill. Ruh roh. As for the overall theme here, while I'll concede that Obama is definitely not having his Best Week Ever, I pretty much loathe these beltway narratives and find them worthy of nothing but mocking. It gets better though: at the end of the segment, Anderson pimps out Bill's book. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Transitioning now to the truly harrowing tale of American contractor Roy Hallums, who was kidnapped in Baghdad in 2004 by Iraqi insurgents. Three months later, a proof of life video emerged--the kidnappers were demanding $12 million for his release. Eight months after that, he was rescued by Special Forces. Michael Ware joins Anderson in the studio to talk about the story, because not only did he interview Hallums, he was also able to shoot video of his underground cell a mere two days after the contractor was rescued.

From Michael we learn the horrific details. As noted, Hallums was kept in a dark underground cell, his hands and feet tied. The ordeal spanned an unbelievable 311 days. During the last three months, his kidnappers would actually concrete over where he was kept. Then every three days they would chip the concrete away to give him food. I cannot even imagine. I'm surprised he didn't go completely crazy. As the New Yorker reported in March, that kind of confinement can really destroy a person.

An interesting angle to this story is the dynamic between Michael and Hallums. Some of you might remember that our Aussie reporter had his own run-in with being kidnapped. In fact, he would have been beheaded by Al Qaeda if not for a turf war with Iraqi insurgents. Scary doesn't even begin to cover it. Both men talk about how their kidnappings were almost like out of body experiences. They note they're lucky to be alive. But then there's this sobering point from Michael: "And yet as lucky as we are, Anderson, the Roy Hallums of the world know all of this comes with a price that we'll just keep paying forever." Indeed.

Hey, have you played the CNN Challenge game? Well, it's about that time again. And when I say "that time," I mean time for promoting the thing. It seems our anchor has been sucked in. We're told he's going to play at the end of the broadcast. There's a countdown clock and everything. Good lord, WTF is with CNN and their countdown clocks? I still remember when they had one for the big Larry King/Paris Hilton interview and I will never--EVER-- let that go.

On now to a follow up of the David Goldman case. Unfortunately, he had a setback in his quest to get his son back. Yesterday, Anderson spoke with Goldman when he was en route to Brazil because it was thought that the courts had finally ruled in his favor. Upon landing, things all fell apart. For discussion, we're joined by Jeffrey Toobin; Senior CNN Producer Adam Reiss, who flew with Goldman; and Sunny Hostin, former federal prosecutor. There are no winners here. Sad.

Next up, we have a Soledad O'Brien piece on a possible hate crime cover-up. I'm assuming this is from the "Latino in America" series. Luis Ramirez was an undocumented immigrant who was walking down the street looking for work, when he was savagely beaten by four white high schoolers who allegedly yelled ethnic slurs. He later died. The crime took place in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, and initially the killers were only charged with assault. Then, right before their release, they were slapped with federal hate crime charges and are now facing life in prison. Federal prosecutors are accusing the police chief and other officers of actually coaching the high schoolers in order to get off. What a messed up world.

CNN Challenge time! Let's see what's in that Silver Fox head. But first, we must pick a host to guide us through the quiz. For those who haven't played, all the candidates pretty much beg you to pick them. It's rather amusing. Erica Hill demonstrates by first clicking on Wolf Blitzer and then herself. Both sales pitches contain little jabs at our anchor. "Is this game all about dissing me?" he asks. Yes, Anderson. Yes it is. Also? I love it when you say "dissing." That's how he rolls, people!

Anyway, the quiz commences and the first drag and drop questions goes by without fan fare. For the next question, Erica informs him he has to move all the letters around. "Oh, you're kidding," says our anchor. No, she's not. Just be glad you get to use your hands. Doing it with a mouse is a bitch. Seriously CNN, why?

Skipping ahead to the football question. Because if there's anything Anderson Cooper knows, it's football. Specifically, the question is about the location of Notre Dame, and luckily Toobin is there to provide an assist. Now all the Silver Fox has to do is hit Indiana on the map and he's golden. Easy-peasy, right? Um, not so much. "Do you know where Indiana is?" Erica jokes. "I don't think I do," replies our panicking anchor. Dooood! Really? Geography fail! But we've got Erica for the assist.

"I will never live that down," says Anderson. You really won't. Because I'm totally going to bring it up all the time. From Toobin: "Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, who can keep them straight. Right?" Yeah, because we're all just flyover states to you losers, right? I see how it is. No, really, it's fine. Can I get you a latte to go with your elitism, Jeffrey? Don't worry, I'm just kidding the Toob. As for our anchor, here come the excuses: "Let me just say, I've had a very long day. I'm very tired. I was down in D.C. earlier. I've done interviews all day." Oh, yadda, yadda, yadda. It's Indiana, dude. I'm getting you a map for Christmas!

Anyway! I'm just funning with the Silver Fox. Though I've pretty much got Indiana down, I'm sure there's a state or two that would flummox me as well. But to see Anderson in all his humiliation glory, here be the video. Regarding the game, it's weird how at the end they tell you it seems like you should watch their show more. I mean, I get the promotion aspect, but half the questions are not about stuff you'd see on 360--at least not currently. I once got a question about Batman. Seriously, WTF?

I'm just going to skip the "shot" because it's Palin related and it's hard to top the last segment anyway. It's unclear whether the quirky/fun stuff we've been getting lately marks any real change or if it's just because it's December (360 tends to get frisky in December), but I like it. As for the meat of the show, not bad, though I'd wish they'd focus more on accountability and less on punditry. Always great to see Michael Ware. That'll do it. I hope Anderson doesn't lose too much sleep tonight kicking himself over Indiana. He'll now know where that state is located as long as he lives.

Oh, also? Our anchor told us to have a good weekend. I'm not sure if he was just all frazzled from Indiana or what, but even if there's a show tomorrow, I won't be blogging. Places to be, people to see. Maybe I'll try to check in this weekend.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Senate Screws Us On Cheaper Drugs, Palin vs. Terminator, Parental Abduction, And More Tiger Woods (Plus Dickens Reading and Anderson's Momma On R&K!)

Hi everyone. We begin with the news that the Senate has just voted down two proposals that would have allowed us to buy cheaper drugs from other countries. Thanks Senate! Because our friends at 360 are always "keeping 'em honest," we get played a clip of Campaign!Obama pledging to bring on the cheap drugs. Now, I love me the Daily Show-like accountability we got going on here, but one wonders, dudes, where were you four months ago?!

See, this drug deal is not new. It was first reported in August, and it would have been nice if it would have gotten some traction. I guess the news cycle was otherwise occupied. Probably trying to suck the last ratings morsel off Michael Jackson's death. I just love the media sometimes, don't you?

Anyway! Better later than never. Anderson Cooper once again takes us to the Big Wall. Is it just me, or does it feel like a "Use the Big Wall more!" memo went out to our 360 peeps? They are getting their frickin money's worth, people. Our anchor demonstrates what most of us already know: drugs are a lot more expensive here in the U.S.

Joe Johns joins us to talk about how this is essentially a trade-off; the administration gives Big Pharma what they want, Big Pharma doesn't kill the bill. Awesome for them, huh? Safety issues are brought up, which is an excuse used not to import. I'll take my chances. Finally, David Gergen shares his insider-y insider-ness. He thinks the drug companies got a "sweetheart deal," so he's got his clear glasses on there. But he's still implying reform opposition is strictly a center/right thing. I'm surprised there's been no talk of the growing progressive split.

If everything you just read wasn't reminder enough that our Congresscritters are idiots, 360 would like to demonstrate this fact to you by using a member of their Floor Crew. We'll call him Jerry, because, well, that's his name. Jerry will be spending the hour reading from Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities." No, this is not a segment about torture. See, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced an amendment to the health care reform bill that would have established a single-payer system. Though an exciting prospect, um, it obviously wasn't going to go anywhere.

Unless a senator objects, amendments are not usually read out loud. Well, guess what. Apparently a little of Lieberman's dickishness has rubbed off on Senator Tom Coburn, because he demanded the 787 page amendment be read. With the President-imposed end-of-the year deadline for getting this bill wrapped up, time in the Senate is very tight--hence people being none too thrilled with this stunt. This brings us back to poor Jerry. I guess 360 said to themselves, hey, let's make someone read something and see how far they get. And there you go. Personally, I might have rather just read the bill.

Transitioning now to an epic fight to the death battle: Sarah Palin vs. The Terminator!!! Dun Dun Dun! Alright, fine. It's actually way less exciting than it sounds. A Candy Crowley piece breaks it down. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as you know, is a green governor. While former governor Sarah Palin, likes to shoot wolves from helicopters, and isn't too keen on combating that whole global warming thing. Apparently, the two have had words. Or at least gotten snarky via Facebook. It never ends.

Moving on to an unbelievable child abduction piece from David Mattingly. We're shown video of a terrified Jean Paul Lacombe Diaz as he is taken from his school bus by Texas authorities in order to be turned over to his father, Jean Philippe Lacombe. Lacombe had presented misleading Mexican documents to a San Antonio judge, which wrongly showed he had custody of the boy. On the tape, Jean Paul calls out for help, stating that his father will hit him. Essentially, the state just assisted an alleged child abuser kidnap his son. Like I said, unbelievable.

Now no one knows the location of either Lacombe or Jean Paul. We're joined by the mother, Berenice Diaz, and Lisa Bloom. As you might imagine, Berenice is pretty beside herself given that she hasn't seen her son in two months. Surprisingly, Lisa found that the judge actually followed the law. She notes that they're presented with documents everyday and assume them to be true. Well, that's scary. Still though, you'd think the bus scene would have warranted a call to DFS.

On now, strangely, to another abduction case. We're played an interview Anderson had with David Goldman, which was taped literally as he was on a plane to Brazil that was about to take off (we can hear the announcements). He's taking the trip to finally (hopefully) get his son. The back story: In 2004, David's wife Bruna Bianchi took their son to her native Brazil for a two-week vacation. But that vacation turned out to be indefinite. They never came home. Bruna divorced David and remarried in Brazil. She then later died and her new husband took custody of David's son. It's been a battle ever since. Let's hope the battle is truly over.

Time for your Tiger Woods news! We're given some Magic Wall action, and since the subject falls in the medical realm, we also get some Sanjay Gupta action. But I'm skipping ahead because...meh. We're not off the Tiger train yet though. Now we're going to do some sister network promotion, by showing a clip of Robin Meade talking Tiger with Spike Lee and Charles Barkley. They're worried because they can't get in touch with him. Well, I hope the guy's okay. This too will pass. Can we be done with this story now?

No, apparently we cannot. Because now Anderson's going to talk with Robin about the talk she had with Spike and Charles. My head is spinning. The fact that Tiger changed his number is brought up, but then the train just completely derails because the next thing I know, we're talking about the Real Housewives. No, really! Why do all conversations with our anchor end with the Real Housewives?

To make this even more bizarre, the Silver Fox tells us a story about his encounter with Charles Barkley at a Turner company party in New Orleans. From the delivery here, I'm assuming Mr. Barkley was a little sloshed, but don't quote me on that. It seems he yelled our anchor's name, tried to kill him with a bear hug, and then said something along the lines of: "You try to keep them mother******* honest. But you can't keep them honest. They ain't honest!" Well said. Someone should sew that on a pillow. And you know Anderson just kinda stood there and nodded until he felt comfortable enough to pretend he had a phone call.

Speaking of Mr. Cooper, he finished up a co-hosting stint on Regis and Kelly this morning, and who was in the audience. His momma! You and I know her as Gloria Vanderbilt, American royalty. I'm not all that familiar with her, to tell the truth. I know she made jeans and isn't shy about writing books about the sex (no, I have not read them). Ahem. Anyway, she tells a story about a young Silver Fox. Take a gander at the vid. Oh, and bonus inbox!

We wrap up the night by checking back in with Jerry. Only made it to page 41. He does not like this book, people. He does not like this book at all. Poor Jerry. Eh, it can't always be about dancing to "Single Ladies."

The show was okay. It felt like there wasn't a lot of there there. I really wish they'd go more in-depth on the health care stuff, but I've learned not to hold my breath. I hope they stay on the Jean Paul case. This isn't true crime sensationalism. There's a real chance media exposure will help find that kid. That'll do it.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CT Scans And Cancer, The Latest On Health Care Reform, Earmark Reporting Sans Context, And Talking To Larry King About "Nine"

Hi everyone. We're going a tad unconventional tonight and kicking things off with health news. The skinny? ZOMG, CT scans will give you cancer! Okay, actually, no. Well, maybe. Basically what researchers have found is that no one really knows how much radiation you're getting when you undergo a CT scan, and that could possibly lead to 15,000 deaths per year. It's obviously a legitimate story, but I still can't help hearing "Dun dun dun!" in my head. Why? Well, because 72 million CT scans are performed in this country every year, some of them no doubt saving lives. I wouldn't say the risks outweigh the benefits.

My guess is this is our lede tonight because Anderson Cooper saw the report and got a wee bit freaked out. Our anchor notes that he's undergone these scans due to a history of heart disease on his father's side. In fact, the Big Wall is employed to show us one of his scans performed in 2004. Weird. Then we talk with Sanjay Gupta, because this is a medical story, so it's required. I actually join Anderson in the crappy my-dad-had-heart-disease club, and have had more than my share of tests, yet I'm still not the least bit freaked about this. It's always something. Good to know, but not something I'll be losing sleep over.

Transitioning now back to the Big Wall to take a look at how President--excuse me--Senator Lieberman took down health care reform. The math is done. You know the deal here, people: 60 votes needed. The Dems had 58, which left two more votes to get from a pool of Lieberman, Ben Nelson, and Olympia Snowe. Now party leadership is trying to buy Joe-mentum's vote by ditching all the best parts of the bill. If you're looking to join the "I hate Joe Lieberman" club, raise your hand. I get to be president.

Dana Bash actually sat down with the current most hated man in D.C. for a short interview. Lieberman claims this isn't a vendetta against the Left, which I think is crap. We all know he felt burned when he was primaried out of the party. And yes, he is that petty. This guy was hated long before health care reform (hence the primarying). Whenever the Republicans needed a Democrat to provide bi-partisan support to whatever idiotic legislation they had cooking, Joe was there. Standing on principles? Puhleese. Love of attention, more like it. Lieberman tells Dana that he doesn't enjoy being hated. Well, there's a real simple solution for that: stop being such a dick.

For discussion of this, Dana sticks around and we're joined by Michael Gerson and Tanya Acker. One point brought up is that Lieberman just left the door open to run as a Republican. After everything he's putting the Democrats through. See what I mean about being a dick? Can't say I'm surprised though. From what I understand, he won his seat as an Independent by getting the Republican vote. Anyway, this whole thing has left me with a strong urge to throw my shoe at the television. Definitely not the first time, won't be the last. Best to move on now before I have to self-impose another cable news ban like the one I had after my 2005 Robert Novak-inspired incident. Ahem.

Next up, earmarks! Oh joy. See, when it comes to reporting on the little buggers, CNN has a history of being...oh, what's the word I'm looking for? Bad. That's it. They have a history of being bad. But they're persistent (and consistent) about it, as they've been on the story for years. Back in 2007, there was no transparency with earmarks, which is a legitimate issue and I supported their reporting at the time. But now the rules have changed, yet our 360 peeps are still pretty much going, "ZOMG, earmarks!"

Joe Johns takes us to the Big Wall for a breakdown of some of the pork in the new omnibus spending bill. One item mentioned is $655,000 for equipment at the Institute for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Research in Los Angeles. As someone with a family member who is having a horrific time dealing with IBS, I fail to see how this is outrage-inducing or laughable. That's the thing about earmarks; one person's unnecessary spending is a Godsend to someone else. I could go on and on about my problems with this coverage, but actually, been there, done that.

Earlier this year, my friend Arachnae did a guest post about the subject, which is unfortunately just as relevant today. Give it a read if you're so inclined. After Joe, Anderson has an interview with Senator Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) who is advocating that Obama veto the omnibus bill due to the spending. Good luck with that.

Transitioning now to Larry King sitting with Anderson in studio to talk about the interview he just did with the cast of "Nine." No, really! I'm not complaining, but it's a little strange. To make it stranger, Anderson asks which of the ladies caught Larry's eye. Says the suspendered-one: "Fergie ain't bad." Oh, now that's just disturbing. Dude, you're like 157-years-old. Don't be the creepy old man. I'm just sayin'.

Then there's discussion about the singing by the actors and how they hadn't done that before (except Nicole Kidman has, but hey, who's counting). Next thing I know, they're talking about the Johnny Cash movie "Walk the Line" and Anderson is telling us he bought the soundtrack, which features Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix. This was one of the very rare nights where I was watching with someone else. Said my viewing partner to Anderson: "Why don't you just buy a Johnny Cash album?" Yes Anderson, why?

The "shot" tonight is our anchor being his charming self on Live with Regis and Kelly. There's confuzzlement over eyebrows, an impersonation of a botoxed lip-injected person in denial...oh, the fun was had. You can watch the host chat here. And hey, bonus inbox! Just because. Don't say I never get you anything.

The show was okay. I found the top story choice and the Larry King segment both to be a little odd, but not bad. Can't be as charitable about the earmark coverage. And the Lieberman stuff makes me want to pull my hair out, though I suppose I can't really blame 360 for that one. That'll do it.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

How The Lieberman Stole Real Health Care Reform, Bailout Blues, James Arthur Ray Employee Speaks, And Chicago Violence Discussed

Hi everyone. Happy New Week! I'm a bit short on time, so this will have to be one of those lovely abbreviated reviews. There's a lot to get to tonight. On we go! The broadcast kicks off with the "breaking news" that our Democratic leadership is once again contemplating completely rolling over on important legislation in order to placate attention-seeking cry babies. That deal with the Medicare buy-in they just finagled last week? Forget about it.

According to Dana Bash, word on the D.C. street is that whole thing is getting scrapped because Senator Joe Lieberman isn't happy. That's right, it all comes down to one asshole. And if you think I'm being pejorative now, you should have heard what I called him when I initially read the news. The big irony here is that Lieberman is on record as being a supporter of the Medicare buy-in.

What changed? Dana tells us Lieberman's people says it's the deficit, but I call BS. Look, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that some people are going to do anything they can to see that the health care reform bill dies. What flummoxes me is how our friends at 360 continue to ignore the relationships our Congresscritters have with the health insurance industry. Hello! Lieberman and Aetna? At least they had the Medicare buy-in video, which to my amusement, Anderson Cooper referred to as a "flip flop." I was kinda expecting to have to add that in myself. I'm not sure what that says.

Moving on to our anchor hitting the Big Wall for some bailout breakdowns. We've got the whole outrage regarding lobbyists and bonuses going on here. Then Ed Henry pops in to tell us that President Obama is really letting the bankers have it...with his words. Action? Not so much. Also, I've yet to give the big Matt Taibbi piece that's recently being discussed around the interwebs a good read, but I'd love to see his perspective on the show.

New segment name alert: "Insider's Briefing." Oooh, fancy. Who's the insider? David Gergen of course. As if you had to ask. He's here to talk about Obama's no good, very bad week. But I'd like to begin with my own question: What has happened to our Gerg? Ok, yes, he's always been a bit of a Villager, but we tolerated it--even grew to find it adorable. Now though? It's like he's entrenched in that beltway bubble and dude is it annoying.

Case in point, he talks about how the liberals are upset about the death of the public option. All of the D.C. elite keep trying to equate the PO with far left thinking, when in reality, it's more popular than the overall bill. It has more than just liberal support. Another annoyance was the Gerg deeming the PO and Medicare buy-in as first steps to single payer. I'll give him the buy-in, but if he actually listened to the arguments on the left, the PO has always been about holding insurance companies accountable. Oh, also? Oprah! As in, this segment contained an Oprah clip. Because this is 360 and it is therefore mandatory.

Transitioning now to Gary Tuchman live in the studio. He's still on the case of James Arthur Ray and recently sat down with one of the self-help guru's former employees, Melinda Martin. She was there that night that three people died in the sweat lodge. Once again, Ray's callousness and indifference to the situation around him is relayed. Melinda says he left while victims lay dying. She herself performed CPR.

As for the woman who committed suicide, the guru flat out lied when Melinda asked him if she had been found. Ray assured her she had, but she had decided not to return to the event. While it's true she did not return, one might quibble with the word "decided," given her being dead and all. Melinda also tells us 10 people might be indicted, though she doesn't know specifics. From Gary we learn that Ray is still allowing people to sign up for courses next year, but he canceled the seminars a few days after Gary's team crashed one of them. Go Ismael!

Moving on to tape of T.J. Holmes sitting down with Vashon Bullock, a Chicago teen involved in the fight that left Derrion Albert dead. Vashon's brother Eugene Riley was there as well, and is now one of the teens charged with the crime. This is pretty depressing. Though police maintain that Darrion was an honor student who inadvertently was caught up in the fight, Vashon claims it simply a situation that got out of hand. Someone is dead, but he doesn't feel anyone needs to be held accountable. It's sad he thinks so little of life.

After the piece, we're joined by Steve Perry for discussion. Steve points out Vashon's inarticulateness and ties that back to education. Anderson notes, as I have on this blog previously, that all the same things keep being said, but nothing ever actually changes. He's only referring to government officials--I'd expand that to include these segments. What do you do though? I suppose depressing repetitive coverage is better than no coverage at all. Most other outlets have the "no coverage at all" angle, well, covered. Also? I think Steve implied Chicago is more dangerous than Afghanistan. Um...yeah...I don't think being hyperbolic really helps the situation.

The last segment of the night is the requisite Tiger Woods coverage. At least they dumped it last. I couldn't even watch Friday. I mean, top story? Puhleese. Anyway, your moment of WTF, courtesy of guest Rick Horrow: "(Tiger is) one of the most, if not the most, recognizable man in the history of the universe..." The history of the universe, huh? Wow. Well, mankind does love it's pro-golfers.

In tonight's "360 Bulletin" we learn there's a poor deer on the loose with Christmas lights wrapped around its antlers. Since antlers fall off, it has been decided (most likely by people who do not wish to chase after deer) the situation will be left up to nature. This is all reported by Erica Hill. Our anchor then goes into a spiel about deer and Grinches and...I actually stopped listening (which is ironic given the end of this little recap). The pertinent part is that the Silver Fox then ponders about the deer getting the lights off, leaving Charlie Moore to IFB him the info that Erica just said.

"I'm glad you were listening," she says. "Did you just say that?" asks our anchor. She confirms she did, he apologizes..., which would normally lead me to exclaim "You're not sorry!" except, uh, he kind does seem sorry. Anyway! I bring up this rather pointless exchange for two reasons: First, Anderson is always doing that. Poor Erica. I can't even count the number of times that I'm sitting here going, "dude, are you even paying attention to your own show?" Someone needs their listening ears!

As for the second reason, gratuitous Charlie Moore mention! C'mon, like I wasn't going to note that? I loves me some Charlie. And since he's so into having his name said on the TeeVee, I'm sure he's just as thrilled about being discussed on the interwebs. Him and Ted Fine. Why so shy?

The "shot" tonight is a kid playing a ukulele and singing Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours." I use the term "singing" loosely.

The show was pretty good. I like that we had a lot of variety. I'd like to see more investigative work regarding health care reform and the bailout. That'll do it.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Live From The Otay Mesa Border, Inside A Drug Tunnel, Violence In Juarez, And Obama's Nobel Peace Prize Speech

Hi everybody. Pack your bags, because it's field trip time! Tonight Anderson Cooper is coming at us live from the Otay Mesa border because 360 got themselves EXCLUSIVE access to a recently discovered big-ass tunnel connecting the U.S. to our neighbors to the south. Longtime viewers might be feeling a bit of deja vu, as we went on a similar tunnel trip in early 2006. In fact, they've rerun that footage so much over the years that I initially thought we've actually seen a bunch of these tunnels.

The broadcast kicks off with our anchor showing us around his live shot, and then we go right into a clip of him taking us inside the tunnel, obviously filmed earlier in the day. This is vintage Anderson. Touching everything. Playing show-n-tell. The excited out-of-breath delivery. A few years ago you could have chalked that last one up to being out of shape, but we all know that doesn't fly anymore. Ahem.

If you thought the 2006 tunnel was impressive, this one is even more so. Though not complete, it boasts air vents for circulation, electricity, and even a phone system. I think my favorite part is the entrance, which is located in the bathroom of a commercial warehouse in Tijuana. There's a super-secret drop floor (well, not so secret anymore). I know this thing was built by a drug cartel (so, you know, bad), but you gotta admit, that's pretty awesome.

We watch Anderson climb down a ladder into the tunnel and then take an elevator-like contraption (yes, there's an elevator!) down 90 feet, all of it dug out of rock. After that there's a bunch of walking and climbing and stooping (and almost falling!), and as someone who is mildly claustrophobic, the whole thing was a bit disconcerting.

Back to our anchor live, we're joined by Mike Carney, the deputy special agent in charge of investigation for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego. We learn that when completed, the tunnel would have come up in a commercial warehouse in the U.S. It was most likely going to be used strictly for funneling drugs and money, as building it probably cost upwards of a million bucks and allowing it to be used for human traffic would increase the chance of discovery. Too late!

Moving on to a Michael Ware piece about the extremely dangerous city that is Juarez, Mexico, located just across the border from El Paso. We're first told of a slaughter of 17 people that occurred at a drug rehab center. One cartel heard a rival cartel was trying to recruit from the center, leading to a mass execution. In Juarez, the drug cartels are brutal. They kill men, women, and children--over 2,000 dead from drug-related violence so far this year. Michael spends an afternoon and evening tracking the violence, and by my count he reports at least 17 deaths. Pretty insane.

Transitioning now to a Candy Crowley piece on Obama's Nobel Peace Prize speech that he gave today in Oslo. The fact that this speech comes a mere couple of weeks following the announcement that he is escalating the Afghanistan war is lost on no one. Awwwkward. You'll have to decide for yourself on the level of irony here because I didn't watch. Apparently, conservatives are happy with the speech, so there's that.

For discussion of this, we're joined by David Gergen, Huffpost contributor Tanya Acker, and former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson. Of note is Anderson bringing up a quote from John Bolten, who panned the speech, claiming it "followed the standard international leftist line." Okay, I know we've gone through this before. What part about Bolten being batshit insane aren't you people getting? Like, seriously, why is he quotable? To my surprise, Michael (sorta) backs up my insanity point, stating that Bolten suffers from "Obama derangement syndrome."

But then he has to ruin the bi-partisan-y kumbaya feeling I'm having here by attempting to re-write history. The Gerg notes that he thinks Obama made a clear distinction between Iraq and Afghanistan, the former not being a just war. Michael disagrees, and starts talking about human rights and human dignity. Dude. That is not why we went into Iraq. Sure , the whole "liberating the people" was one of the excuses thrown out there at one point when they were desperately trying to get something to stick. But Iraq was sold to us on a plate of fear. WMDs. Don't try to make Iraq about human rights.

Back to the tunnel again for repeat footage. Then we're joined by Steven Tomaski of the DEA in San Diego and Richard Salinetti of the U.S. Border Patrol. There's lots of wow-ing over the tunnel's amazingness. We also learn that increased border security is driving the cartels underground. I guess it's nice to know that progress is being made somewhere. These cartels are persistent. Once the underground problem is tackled, they'll probably start pole-vaulting over.

Next up, we have an Erica Hill piece on Roman Polanski, which is followed by related discussion with Jeffrey Toobin, but I'm taking a pass on this story.

The "shot" tonight is a happy 38th birthday shout out to veteran photojournalist Neil Hallsworth. We're treated to a couple of pics of Neil hard at work, and then a surprise live shot, which clearly thrills him. Hey, if you're showing behind-the-sceners...Charlie Moore back there anywhere? What? No reason. Anyway! Did you know you can experience Neil's awesomeness on Twitter? Well, now you do. Unfortunately, that doesn't include experiencing the sexy accent (oh, I'm a sucker for accents).

The show was pretty good. Very old school. A nice change of pace, anyway. That'll do it.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Homegrown Terror, Pakistan Arrest, Interview With Senator Ben Nelson, And The Plight Of The Polar Bears

Hi everybody. Hide the kiddies, because apparently it's homegrown terror night. This is where 360 takes the opportunity to freak us all the hell out. And they're employing their technology to do it. Anderson Cooper takes us to the Big Wall, where we find a map of the United States that is filled with terror-related doings. Kinda like when Ali Velshi used to show us the Dow everyday. Except, instead of viewing our crashing economy, it's people who potentially want to kill us. So there's that.

Our anchor takes us through a whole mess of information about plots and arrests that I don't have time to recap. Actually, I'm wondering if they lost people here, because there's no way anyone can take that all in at the speed it's coming. I don't really have a solution to that. I certainly would never advocate dumbing anything down. Just a ponderance.

Anyway, this is the lede tonight because five Americans--possibly from Virginia--were just arrested in Pakistan. A Randi Kaye piece has more about their terrorist intents, but a lot of this still isn't completely confirmed.

From here we go to Peter Bergen for discussion. The rub: homegrown terrorism is on the rise (Peter doesn't know why). BUT it's also way harder to pull off. BUT it's way hard to catch people with clean track records. So...there you go. Sleep tight, I guess.

Peter then surprises me by stating that he believes it is untrue that there have been no successful terrorist acts on American soil since 9-11. He gives the attack on an El- Al counter at LAX and the guy who shot up the Little Rock recruiting center as examples (Hassan is mentioned as well, though there's still so much we don't know).

I don't really go for his reasoning here. Shouldn't there be a difference between someone connected to terrorism who commits an act out of an agenda, and someone who's mentally unstable and just latches onto radical Islam for whatever reason? I guess I just don't see why we would treat the unstable "lone wolves" any differently than the unstable guy who shot up Virginia Tech. Obviously they are still extremely dangerous, but terrorists?

That being said, the threat of homegrown terrorism is very real. Joining us to discuss how it can be combated, is
Texas Muslim leader Mohamed Elibiary. It seems jihad is the new cool for some Muslim youth. Mohamed likens it to kids getting caught up in gangs. Ironically, most of these kids don't even understand Islam or the causes being fought. Anderson asks what can be done and it's noted that our government never adopted a counter-radicalization policy. So hey, let's do that.

Your moment of randomness: During the "360 Bulletin" we learn there's a boycott of some trashy show called Jersey Shore. The Silver Fox tries to claim he hasn't seen it and has no plans to ever do so. "That is what he says on TV," says Erica Hill. "No, it's true," protests our anchor. Oh, honey. I'm sorry, but we sooo don't believe you. Adorable liar.

Transitioning now to the topic of health care reform. Yesterday, we learned that Senator Ben Nelson's abortion amendment was struck down, and ultimately it will come down to him, Joe Lieberman, and Olympia Snowe as to whether the whole bill passes. Next, we have an interview with Nelson himself. The senator proclaims the loss of his amendment a deal breaker, unless similar language from Stupak survives in the final bill. Anderson brings up the Hyde Amendment, which already ensures federal money will not fund abortions, but Nelson isn't buying it.

The public option is brought up as well and Nelson goes on about buying coverage across state lines, but c'mon. How do you keep insurance companies honest without a public option? Anderson wonders if he's worried about being labeled the Democrat who killed health care reform. The senator brushes it off, stating there still might be reconciliation, so he won't be blamed and blah blah. Eh, I'm actually hating on you quite a lot right now and you haven't done anything official yet. You're going to be reviled.

On now to discussion with Dana Bash, Joe Johns, and David Gergen. There's still no done deal by any means, so this is a lot of speculation. Very informed speculation though, so that's not a criticism. This segment makes me want to pull my hair out in frustration. No reflection on 360, just, why does our government have to be so stupid? Le sigh.

Transitioning now to Al Gore talking on American Morning about the hacked climate emails. Then we once again get a mention of Sarah Palin's take on the whole controversy, specifically polar bears. I don't know why. Wait, actually, yes I do. Segue! Cue the Planet in Peril piece on polar bears! We see Jeff Corwin and scientist
Steve Anstrep track the animals. The species is now experiencing nutritional stress due to the melting of the ice, which has resulted in difficultly hunting seals. So, basically a big bummer. Check out my post from yesterday for lots of Planet in Peril related links.

The "shot" tonight is the year in auto-tune. Oh yes. This would more accurately be described as the ridiculousness of the year in auto-tune. Sully soo did not belong. Anyway, the 360 kids wrap things up with the oft-played "Who the hell is Wolf?" clip. Because, hey, why not?

The show wasn't bad. Nice and newsy. I'm wondering if they need to make the homegrown terrorism stuff more accessible somehow. It's definitely an important story. Thoughts?

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tentative Senate Agreement On Public Option, Massive TSA Security Breach, Greenland's Melting Ice, & More On James Arthur Ray

Hi everybody. We've got "breaking news" tonight. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says they now have a broad agreement on health care reform, as the "Gang of 10" (five liberal and five conservative senators) have reached a deal on the public option. But hold onto that "yay!" or expletive you're about to utter, because this information is coming at us sans details. Basically? We don't really know what the hell just happened.

Dana Bash then joins us to share her insider-y insider-ness. She's hearing that the senate has tentatively decided to drop the public option and instead set up a not-for-profit private insurance plan, as well as allow people to buy into Medicare at the age of 55.

Since we're talking politics, David Gergen is brought in and he sagely notes, "the devil is in the details." Word. Dana also points out that not all the liberals have signed onto the agreement, and everyone is still waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to take a look at things. So this is all very up in the air right now. But some good news? The Nelson abortion amendment was defeated. So yay for that.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to bring you right back down. The Gerg reminds us that basically this whole healthcare bill now rests on the votes of three senators: Ben Nelson, Olympia Snowe, and Joe Lieberman. Two out of the three are needed. Isn't it absolutely disgusting that the healthcare of millions of people is now in the hands of only three senators? They probably can't even remember what it's like to go without, if they ever even experienced it at all. Sometimes the system sucks.

Moving on to the totally amazing (in a really non-good way) story of how the TSA just accidentally put all their secrets on the interwebs. Seriously. This is what went down: the TSA posted a bunch of documents on another government web-site for would-be contractors to read. Now, they weren't completely stupid. They did redact the super-secret parts, but they did so in such a way that pretty much anyone can undo the redactions. So...wah lah! The biggest security breach since 9-11. Great job, guys. Why don't you just give terrorists a manual on how to attack us? Oh wait, you just did.

By the way, as Anderson Cooper is relaying all this information, he's holding (and waving around) some of the documents in his hand. He's been doing a lot of document-waving lately for some reason. This might sound stupid since it's such a small thing, but I kinda like it. I don't know, it makes him more life-like or something. Anyway, our anchor is also sure to note that he's not going to tell us anything in the documents--no doubt wishing to deflect any angry emails, as well as, you know, not personally endanger national security.

For discussion of all this, we're joined by Clark Kent Ervin, former inspector general for the Office of Homeland Security, and former TSA air marshal Robert MacLean. Robert was actually fired from the TSA for going public with the fact that the agency was cutting corners on flight security. You'd think there'd be some sort of whistle-blower protection for him. An interesting discussion follows based on a lot of WTFing from everyone. Seriously, TSA, WTF?

Speaking of WTF? You know that whole "climate-gate" thing? Well, the Washington Post recently got a great scientific mind to opine on the subject for the paper. Who you ask? Sarah Palin of course! Yes, she who shoots wolves from helicopters was asked to pen her thoughts on the environment. Kill me now.

Anderson then tells us that they "...want to kind of go beyond just the talk and discussion among scientists..." Well, good. Because as evidenced last night, you suck at that. This of course is all just leading up to a re-running of a 2007 Planet in Peril piece,which did not suck at all. Before I get into it, here are the two blog posts I did on the special back then, and here is an extra bonus post with pretty pictures and tongue-in-cheek fangurling (you know you love it). Back in 2007, PIP was a very big deal for CNN. They even made a freakin trailer and had a song done by REM (which has a rather amusing back story involving one Mr. David Doss and one Mr. Charlie Moore). Ah, memories.

In the piece, Anderson and Jeff Corwin check out the melting happening on Greenland's ice sheet, with Dr. Konrad Steffen of the University of Colorado as their guide. Much of this I've already recapped at the above link, including the rappelling into the moulin, which is a deep hole made from rivers of meltwater. Our anchor is NOT a fan of rappelling, though one really can't blame him given that they set it up in a way that he had to free fall. Not cool, guys. But anyway, if you thought Mr. Wasp was cussing a lot (aw, he was scared!) in the clip they showed tonight, wait until you see the outtakes.

After the piece, Dr. Steffen joins us for discussion about the hacked emails. Hey, look at that: no fake balance. While a part of me feels like they're laurel-resting by running footage that's two years old (especially given that poor PIP seems to be dead), I'd rather them do that than subject us to the crap we had last night. Besides, they're tying it in nicely by having Dr. Steffen back now. Resourceful! Anyway, the doctor is not at all surprised that climate critics have resorted to breaking into computers. He then goes on to do some brief debunking, basically noting the "scandal" is much ado about nothing.

Anderson tells Dr. Steffen that he hopes to see him in Greenland sometime, but I totally don't believe him. Why? Because despite his desired studio temperature, our anchor does not like the cold. At all.. I still don't understand why he didn't brush his teeth. Also? Shigloo! Anyway, Anderson says he'll have to work on his rappelling. Says Dr. Steffen: "OK. Come back. And then lean back," Ha! Aw, everybody likes to mock the Silver Fox.

Moving on to the continued saga of snake oil salesman James Arthur Ray, who much to my chagrin, is still out there making money. Gary Tuchman has discovered that before the loss of life in the sweat lodge, there was actually another Ray-connected death. Back in July, Colleen Conaway attended a three-day seminar in San Diego entitled "Creating Absolute Wealth." One of the exercises of the seminar involved being dropped off in the middle of the city with no phone and no I.D., as if they were homeless. The idea was to teach self sufficiency.

For unknown reasons, alone in the city, Colleen Conaway jumped off a ledge and fell to her death. Without identification, she was labeled a Jane Doe. In fact, participants of the seminar seemingly had no knowledge she was with their group. The bus left without fanfare. About seven hours later, Ray's people reported her missing. The guru himself never contacted the family. A sympathy card was sent later. When asked why a refund had not been given for the seminar fee, Ray's group said no request had been made. I'm not sure Ray is as at fault in this case as the others, but he's consistent with the callous bastard streak, huh? This is all going to catch up with him at some point. You know what they say about karma...

After Gary's piece, Anderson talks with Deepak Chopra about the self-help industry. There's not really much of note here.

The "shot" tonight is more mocking of our anchor for his Battlestar Galactica love. Dudes, why?! I stand by my assertion that his love of the Real Housewives is much more mockable. Anyway, the Silver Fox only has four episodes left, so DO NOT EMAIL HIM WITH SPOILERS, PEOPLE! Oh man, I feel him on this one. Every Sunday night I find myself yelling at people not to spoil Dexter for me. Dexter, by the way, is the most awesome show about a serial killer ever. And yes, spoilers will cause me to hunt you down and go all, well, Dexter on you. But I digress.

The big to-do here is that director Eli Lazar found a framed print of the show. I've actually never seen BSG (but I've heard good things), so I pretty much have no idea what's going on here. Thirteenth cylon? My knowledge of all this basically begins and ends with "frak." What's funny is that Eli is not actually giving Anderson the print (hey man, that might be worth money some day!); he's just lending it to him for his viewing pleasure. That's...nice?

"Now that I'm a complete nerd," says Anderson. Dude, what is with this complex? You are not a nerd. You're a dork. Let's get it straight. Then from our anchor: "I'm glad at least the director of this program is also a complete nerd." Finally, he jokes that the print had actually been hanging in Eli's bedroom "on the wall next to his big 'Star Trek' poster." Oh, don't go after the Trekkies, man. You don't want that kind of trouble. (Edited to add: Video!)

Wow, what a difference a day makes. The show was newsy, not annoying, and actually quite enjoyable. Hey, let's do this again, shall we? Also? Did you have fun going on that little nostalgic PIP trip with me? Lots of fun links for you guys tonight. Enjoy!

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Amanda Knox Case, Abortion's Role In The Healthcare Debate, Leaked Climate Emails Cause Stupidity, & Another Reason To Dislike Senator Max Baucus

Hi everyone. Happy New Week! Tonight we're kicking things off with the very important story of...Amanda Knox. Oh. Yay. On Friday I didn't even watch the broadcast because I knew it was going to be a true crime-apolooza. Now here we are. Le sigh. I have no opinion whether this woman is guilty or not. I haven't been paying attention (duh). If she's really innocent, I feel bad for her.

when it comes to the coverage, despite knowing Knox's location, this is essentially a missing white girl story. Unless there's some sort of international incident I'm not foreseeing, those caught up in the case are watching just another sensational true crime saga. It affects no one except those directly involved. I'm not saying it shouldn't be covered at all, but I definitely think this time could be better spent.

Anyway, Anderson Cooper talks with Senator Maria Cantwell, who doesn't think Knox got a fair trial. Then there's discussion with a panel that's not really even worth going into, though Lisa Bloom does note that many people are convicted on the same evidence in this country that Knox was in Italy. I'm sure the outrage in this particular case has nothing to do with her appearance. No sir.

Moving on to the subject of health care reform, and how abortion could derail the whole thing. Like Stupak in the House, the Senate will now have to contend with the Nelson amendment, which limits abortion access. Before we get into the politics of all that though, 360 shakes things up a bit by having Anderson actually go to a Planned Parenthood clinic. Nice to see him doing reporting. Given it's his strength, I have no idea why we don't see it more often.

Of note from the trip, we learn that while the amendment most likely won't change the number of women having abortions one way or another, restricting insurance coverage of the procedure will likely affect when abortions occur. In other words, if a woman has to worry about obtaining payment, there's a greater chance the abortion will be performed during a later stage of pregnancy. After Anderson's piece, we talk politics with David Gergen. This subject is important, but I think I'm going to take a pass tonight.

Moment of randomness: During the "360 Bulletin" we learn Anderson's colleagues have been mocking him for his current new love of Battlestar Galactica. Dudes, why the mocking? I haven't seen the show, but isn't it supposed to be kinda awesome? And aren't we talking about a guy who has publicly admitted to watching the Real Housewives? At this point, I think the only direction his TV tastes can go is up.

Transitioning now to the biggest hoax, like, ever perpetuated! Ever! Or...another stupid nontroversy. It's definitely one of the two. President Obama is at the Copenhagen Climate conference, but the big story is hacked emails that allegedly show scientists have been cooking their books to perpetuate the "myth" of global warming. ZOMG, climate-gate!!!

This story has actually been screeching around the blogosphere for a while now. I hate to say it, but when 360 didn't initially pick it up, I was glad. I can't speak to what other CNN shows did or did not report, but the network has become so bad at this kind of stuff that I'd rather they just not touch it at all. Firing the science team was a really great decision, huh? I was hoping to be able to do a thorough recap and review of the segment, but apparently they're not posting a transcript tonight, so I'll have to be vaguer than I would have liked.

My ire here lies in the fake balance and lack of context--two things that unfortunately seem to be becoming CNN's trademark these days. What's really strange is that previously 360 has been very good when it comes to context and global warming. I distinctly remember praising them on this blog. Their Planet in Peril special was a fine piece of journalism that managed to give skeptics their say, yet still keep the science in perspective.

Yet here we are, pitting one side against the other, as if both viewpoints are equal. Infamous fake balance. We've all seen this formula: take a guy from the Cato Institute, we'll call him Patrick Michaels, who's funded by the fossil fuel industry, and have him debate a real scientist, in this case Bill Nye the Science Guy. And yes, that too is an odd choice, but I don't think that's either here nor there at this point.

Look, this isn't brain surgery. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the fossil fuel industry has spent years trying to murky up the waters of the global warming debate by funding "scientists" to act as skeptics. This is not new. Check out this Mother Jones article from 2005 that lays it out. For his part, Michaels does not deny global warming, just that it is man-made,which is,uh, the overwhelming scientific consensus. Bill seemed to try to touch on the discrediting that scientists have had to endure through the years, but he didn't do a very good job.

It's not 360's fault that Bill did a poor job arguing his side, but it is rather inexcusable not to disclose Michaels' background. In fact, why is someone like him allowed on the program at all? They are so much better than this. At least, they were. As for the emails, the ones cited are easily debunked with a little simple reporting. If you don't like the reading, I'm quite fond of this video, though I admittedly can't personally verify the contents, as I am not a scientist. Of course, an international news organization shouldn't have a problem. Too bad we don't seem to have one of those.

So, I don't know what else there is to say. CNN likes to claim their ratings problems are strictly due to the public wanting opinionated news, but I say THIS--what we just witnessed--has a lot to do with it too. The public doesn't want lukewarm journalism. We want journalism, with, well, balls. Putting aside the fact-checking fail, where were the other angles of this story? The industry's meddling in the global warming debate? How these emails are being pushed by the right-wing? Context? Bueller? I'm getting tired of having to go to other outlets to get the news about the news that I just watched.

Bleh. I hate doing bad reviews. I think I'm going to just wrap things up. In regards to Max Baucus, I guess nepotism rules.

Also? Happy Birthday Tom Foreman!

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