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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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Bennett is bad enough, but when Carville starts laughing during these panel debates, I want to scream because ain't NOTHING funny about what's happening in DC with health care, etc. I wish they'd bring in different commentators for a change. I really hope AC was told to promote Bennett's book.

I think some long time 360 viewers have begun to catch on to the fact that the program seems to be a little more interesting and fun in December like you said, it IS a pattern, the big bosses must be out of town or something.

The CNN Challenge segment was great. I don't think I could've found Indiana either, but I don't have an image as a smart newsman to maintain so I give AC props for playing and having fun with it. The right wing and lefty bloggers who don't care for him will have a field day with his Indiana mishap.

5:30 PM  

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