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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