Friday, January 29, 2010

Home From Haiti

Hi everyone. As many of us suspected, today Team 360 left Haiti. I am both saddened and relieved. The CNNers have spent two-plus weeks operating in hellish conditions. They surely deserve to see their families, and I hope they're taking the opportunity to get some much needed rest. Their work has been astounding and all involved should be proud.

Perhaps it's evidence of my growing cynicism over the years that I'm not anywhere near as devastated today as I was the day Anderson Cooper officially left New Orleans. Always the last reporter standing, he had been there for a month. Obviously at that point he needed to leave to take care of himself, but there was the general feeling that his departure represented something larger: the beginning of the forgetting.

I suppose I'm simply resigned to the fact that eventually--maybe even soon--Haiti will be forgotten. We all know the lyrics to this song. It's an election year. Politicians will be making ridiculous statements at a greater frequency than usual, and The Best Political Team on Television will be there to cover every moment of idiocy. Somewhere, a celebrity scandal will break, a pretty co-ed will go missing, and Americans will clamor for the details. Viewers will begin to complain about Haiti coverage: "You need to move on from this story. There are important things happening in our own country."

That's not to say all will turn away. Many of those who saw the tragedy unfold with their own eyes will go back. But their visits and pieces will become fewer and farther between, and though they may fight for the coverage, they will be up against a media system & culture that rarely encourages extensive follow-up reporting. Independent journalists will write meticulously researched articles based on months of work. Not many people will read them or know of their existence. Significant milestones will bring network coverage, but for the most part the country will disappear into the background. Like other stories before it, this is how the story of Haiti will play out.

I don't write this to be depressing. Maybe I am wrong. I hope that I am wrong. But this is what I see in my crystal ball. I'm sure the CNNers we've been watching these past weeks will do their best, as will I in my own way. I'm not one to remain quiet when I see important stories bumped out of the headlines by fluffier fare. Of course, blogging an issue can be akin to screaming into a black hole, so there's that. For Haiti's sake, let's hope the world's eyes don't leave for a long time.

At this point, what I most want to express is thank you. Thank you to the entire team who brought the story of Haiti into our living rooms every day. Thank you to the correspondents and reporters, the producers and photojournalists, the fixers/translators and drivers, the coordinators, the engineers, the security personnel. Thank you to those back in New York and Atlanta who worked to get their colleagues reporting to air. And a special thank you to Anderson Cooper, Sanjay Gupta, Gary Tuchman, Ivan Watson, Karl Penhaul, Charlie Moore, Neil Hallsworth, Vlad Duthiers, and Danielle Dellorto for doing what you do.

In prior posts, I have included behind-the-scenes videos of the CNNer's Haiti reporting. Below are some additional segments that might interest you. In the first video, producer Alec Miran shows us the complicated logistics involved in getting coverage of a rescue live on the air. Senior photographer Dave Rust, Charlie Moore, and Anderson Cooper also appear.

The next video follows Chris Lawrence as he attempts to enter Haiti, and then tries to find gas. Gary Tuchman has a cameo.

Karl Penhaul had trouble getting into Haiti as well, which we see in this video. Producer Terence Burke is featured.

In this video, Karl Penhaul and cameraman Jerry Simonson talk with Michael Holmes of Backstory regarding the day they witnessed police officers shoot men over bags of rice.

Finding a bank in Haiti can be difficult. In this next video, Luis Carlos Velez attempts to do just that.

Finally, producer Alec Miran again acts as our guide, this time giving us a tour inside CNN's Haiti operations. We hear from assignment desk producer Samson Desta, engineer Darryl Trimm, Tim Crockett of security, and producer Terence Burke. Anderson, Charlie, Sanjay, Karl, Gary, and Brian Todd are all seen as well.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Anderson Cooper 360 Reports Live From Haiti, Hilarious Stimulus Reporting, Centrists, and Justice Alito's Joe Wilson Moment

Hi everyone. The 360 kids have wrestled control of their broadcast back from Wolf Blitzer and his merry gaggle of pundits. Anderson Cooper is once again coming at us live from Haiti and we start things off by viewing video of people singing and dancing in the street, a sight that occurred just minutes before the show began. We then get a recap of recent Haiti news. Since last we met our heroes, a 16-year-old girl was amazingly pulled out of the rubble alive, and the Haitians performed a distribution of aid gone wrong.

Gary Tuchman and Sanjay Gupta then join Anderson at the live shot for some explainers. From Gary we learn that the rescued girl had been entombed in her bathroom, leaving her unharmed. She had been presumed dead, but then yesterday neighbors heard a sound and French rescuers eventually pulled her out. For the "how" of this seemingly unbelievable story, Sanjay notes that she must have had access to water to be able to survive this long, and even then, it's still amazing. Here's a pretty good write-up of the situation that's worth reading.

From glimmers of hope from the living, we next transition to disrespect of the dead. Those following the coverage know that Anderson has been reporting on the mass graves he and his crew saw with their own eyes, still uncovered weeks after the quake. Raymond Joseph, Haiti's ambassador to the U.S., finally got back to Team 360, speaking with a producer. Anderson relays their conversation. Joseph is not happy with our anchor's prior reporting, and deflects responsibility by noting he is not on the ground and "not God." Was the last part ever actually on the table as a possibility?

Through Anderson, we learn that the producer went on to ask if Joseph had spoken to the Haitian government...and then eventually the ambassador just hung up. Allow me to do my best Stephanie Tanner impression: How rude! So, that avenue got them nowhere. But Anderson was also able to personally speak with Marie Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue, the Haitian Communications Minister. When our anchor confronts her about the mass graves, she actually flat out denies what he's telling her. Wow. "Yes. I have seen it with my own eyes," says Anderson. And he's shared it with CNN's worldwide audience. Her ignorance is rather astounding.

Anderson then moves the focus onto CNE, the state-run company in charge of dumping the bodies. Jocelyn-Lassegue states they're doing a good job. Really now? In the end, she claims she'll look into things, so I guess all we can do is wait and see. I think it's great the way Team 360 is pursuing this. It's smart to go after the company. Good reporting. On a related note, I guess Anderson is in a feud with Joseph now. Think this much more important story will get as much press as the Lohan spat? You already know the answer to that.

Moving on now to a Sanjay piece on Haiti's newborns. We're introduced to an infant who is seven weeks premature. If he was in the states, he'd be in an incubator. Instead, he is in a hot tent, flies buzzing around his tiny body. Whether or not he will survive is an unanswered question. There is also a growing concern that the women giving birth are now vulnerable to trafficking and abuse. Hopefully these fears will go unfounded.

Following Sanjay's piece, Anderson talks with Dr. Jane Aronson, pediatrician, about Haiti's orphans. She contends that excepting those children already set to go home to a new family, adoption is actually not the best thing for Haiti's kids right now. You can read Dr. Aronson's journal from Haiti here.

Transitioning now back to the states, and Tom Foreman has taken Ali Velshi's place at the stimulus desk. The binder fort has been demolished to make way for a binder skyscraper that is taller than Tom. Okay, now I think they're trying to get on The Daily Show. Anyway! Tom gives us a little preview of some stimulus projects, but we're going to have to wait until a later segment to find out if they're truly stimulus-y. Oh, cliffhanger!

Moving on to Anderson interviewing John Avalon, centrist guy pundit. Honestly, I don't even really believe in centrists/independents. To me they seem like they're either 1) Simply not that politically informed/engaged. 2) In denial. Or 3) Are lying in order to appear neutral/because they believe the label will give them more credibility when they argue their true secret ideology. Pick a side you wusses! I realize that centrist doesn't exactly equate to an "undecided" in an election, but while watching this segment, a friend reminded me of a fantastic quote from David Sedaris regarding the 2008 race:

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

I mean, really, what’s to be confused about?

To be clear, I don't think everyone falls in neat little political packages and a Democrat could never vote for a Republican (and vice versa). That would be insane. But why WHY is the magical center always deemed the best place to be? From my vantage point, the center seems to be the place where good legislation goes to die. Yes, both parties contain annoying partisans. That does not make them equal. Please stop trying to balance everything. And how has Obama governed too far to the left? Was it the universal healthcare? Gay marriage equality? The "left" was never even on the table. In conclusion, I have to say, John Avalon looks like a political Ken doll. Not even like a real person. Perfect for punditry.

On now to Jeffrey Toobin talking about Supreme Court Justice Alito's little Joe Wilson moment. While Obama talked about (and kinda dissed) a recent decision, the justice mouthed the words "not true." Toobin goes on to explain that there might be some bad blood in the relationship because Obama didn't vote for Alito's confirmation. And during a courtesy call Obama had with the court, Alito was the only justice missing. Oh no he di int! Then there's the whole issue of the Lilly Ledbetter Act being the first bill Obama signed into law, which overruled one of Alito's decisions. So, yeah, they're not BFFs. You can read more from Toobin here, and Anderson urges you to read his book as well, which is nice of him.

Back to Tom, to fill us in on those stimulus projects he mentioned earlier. I'm not really going to go into this, but I didn't understand the hand-wringing over the high speed train. Tom did a pretty nice job explaining, I guess I'm just baffled that there's an issue regarding the infrastructure. This is what Obama campaigned on. He never promised the infrastructure would be cheap or fast.

Next up, we have a Randi Kaye piece that is quite amusing. Randi's done a fine job. My mocking is directed at Senators McCain and Coburn, both who have their boxers in a twist over stimulus money going to a Napa Valley wine train. Or is it? Dubbing the project the "stimulus waste express," the senators are playing on images of hoity-toity rich people eating their fancy-pants lunch as they travel in style (on our tax dollars--ZOMG!). Except, well, the money isn't actually for the train. It's for raising the train tracks to complete a massive flood control project. Research fail! That's embarrassing.

We wrap of the hour with Karl Penhaul and Ivan Watson discussing a food distribution that went bad, as well as the efforts to restart the power grid. As always, the Haiti coverage was great, but I think they also did a good job tonight balancing in the other stories. I thought the stimulus reporting was better, though I still don't understand why they insist on the pointless previews that just waste time. I don't want to go to Tom just to hear Tom tell me what he's going to talk about later, you know? Anyway, that'll do it.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Post State Of The Union Punditry And Live From Haiti For Literally About Two Or Three Minutes

Hi everyone. Happy State of the Union Day! Our cup runneth over with pundits tonight, so I actually don't have a huge amount to say. President Obama's speech was very good (and very long--ZOMG!), but talk is cheap. I'm more concerned with what he's going to do. I would have liked to have heard more dedication to health care reform, and while the mention of Don't Ask Don't Tell was very welcome, it was briefer and less forceful than initial reports insinuated.

The Republican response from Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was pretty unmemorable, so I'll call it an almost-win for the GOP. No appearance of Kenneth the Page tonight. Say what you want about the party of old white men, they know how to diversify a back drop.

CNN was of course ready and waiting with their army of pundits the minute the festivities ended. Tonight The Best Political Team on Television (TBPTOT) welcomed newbie Erick Erickson of First of all, who names their kid Erick when your last name is already Erickson? Somewhere a John Johnson would love to weigh in on this. Anyway, second of all? Do. Not. Want. Another conservative. Awesome.

I hope you like polls and focus groups, because CNN had them coming out the wazoo. I don't think a one of them was statistically significant, but I suppose that's neither here nor there at this point. I mean, how do they know what states people are tweeting from? Despite my parade-raining, I actually think the snap polls are one of the best things to happen to politics ever. It used to be that the public's opinion was shaped by the pundits, but now the pundit's opinions are shaped by the public's polling.

Watching this occur in real-time during the 2008 debates was nothing short of hilarious. The debate would end and though it was always pretty clear Obama had won, many of the pundits/analysts/reporters would chatter about how close it was. This wasn't due to a bias toward McCain, but rather a bias toward conflict. No conflict, no story. Then the snap polls would come out declaring Obama the winner and TBPTOT would spin, spin, spin to fit the new narrative. As I said, hilarious.

The only thing to write home about from the bloviators tonight, was the near shouting match that broke out during the discussion of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's little Joe Wilson moment. (No, no one yelled this time, but it seems there was a bit of mouthing.) Alex Castellanos actually tried to argue that the president shouldn't criticize the Supreme Court. Puhlease. Yeah, that did not go over well.

The whole reason I was even watching all this hot air was because it was during 360's hour and we had been promised Haiti coverage. Eventually, Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta did join us, looking like two guys who've spent two-plus weeks in hell (which they kinda have), wondering why they're standing there being asked about the State of the Union address. So, Anderson said a few words on the president's comments regarding Haiti and Sanjay touched on health care reform and...that was that.

Literally they were on air less than five minutes. They probably wouldn't want me to be, but I am annoyed on their behalf. Seriously CNN, you couldn't give the Haiti team the night off? I think most viewers would understand. Then maybe they could have been sleeping (or working on something that would allow them to be sleeping later) instead of hanging around a live shot, waiting for Blitzer to shut up and throw to them. It's not like the SOTU was a surprise. Maybe they wanted the airtime. I dunno. Seemed pretty pointless.

I guess that'll about do it. Most of the fun of a SOTU happens live while people are reacting. Was there any site that didn't live-blog that thing? That's how you learn things, like, Chris Matthews said, "I forgot [Obama] was black for an hour tonight." For serious. No word on whether or not that hour contained a thrill up his leg. Anyway! I myself live-tweeted. As always, you can follow me at @newsjunkie365. Back to more Haiti tomorrow.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Anderson Cooper 360 Reports Live From Haiti, The Louisiana Watergate, And More Stimulus Nonsense

Hi everyone. Tonight's broadcast begins with a focus on the Americans caught up in the Haiti disaster, an estimated 4500 to 5000 who are now listed as missing. This moves us into a very disturbing piece from Anderson Cooper. Though workers are still combing through the rubble of the Hotel Montana, a lot of debris throughout Port-au-Prince will simply have to be bulldozed. We're reminded of a man who had been looking for his American family member after the quake. It turns out that the woman's husband later found her corpse and was in the process of getting a coffin, when the Haiti government took her body away. Now he doesn't know where she's buried.

Our CNN friends talked with both the State Department and the U.S. Embassy about the situation, but no one seems to have any idea what's going on. This, unfortunately, is just one case. Unbelievably, the mass graves we saw after the quake still have not been sealed. Limbs haphazardly stick out of the ground. No respect for the dead. This clearly infuriates our anchor, as it should. After his piece, Anderson informs us that they called Haiti's Ambassador to the U.S., Raymond Joseph, as well as the Haitian government. No one is willing to come on the show.

I was going to make a Landrieu joke here, but Anderson's final words on the subject take away the desire: "... for a government to treat their own civilians or foreign civilians like this is simply unconscionable. The dead deserve better than that. And certainly so do the living." Below is Anderson's piece, along with the calling out of Joseph and the Haitian government. Warning: graphic.

Moving on now to an interview with Lauren Bruno, daughter of Richard Bruno, who is among the missing at the Hotel Montana. It's a sad conversation. We also learn that the man pulled out of the rubble today after allegedly 14 days may have actually only been trapped for an hour. That's quite a difference.

Next up, we have a piece from Christiane Amanpour on the garment industry in Haiti. The country produces t-shirts for popular American stores like the Gap. Low wages, high quality, you know the drill. Until recently, the industry had been crippled due to the country's checkered governmental history, as well as a U.S. embargo. But new U.S. legislation had resulted in a boom and things were thriving. Then came the earthquake. Capitalism is very unsympathetic, so now workers are scrambling to get the factories up and running before they find their jobs moved elsewhere. Good luck to them. You can view Christiane's report below.

Transitioning back to the states, where we find Ali Velshi surrounded by binders filled with stimulus projects. Oh my God, he built a binder fort! I know what someone's been doing during their commercial breaks. Paging Jon Stewart. Anyway! Ali then gives us a preview of a couple of projects he's going to talk about coming up in the show. I am totally on the edge of my seat.

Back to Haiti, and a meeting of the Live Shot Boys' Club. Karl Penhaul, Ivan Watson , and Gary Tuchman tell Anderson about the goings-on of their day. Disturbingly, Karl saw Brazilian forces pepper-spray Haitians who were seeking aid. Yes, things were chaotic, but did they really have to do that? They're desperate people; not animals. You can see Karl's report from earlier in the day below.

Ivan tells us he saw missionaries giving out food and things were calm. Gary is then in the middle of talking about an ignored village called Bourdon, when suddenly scary things happen. There's a noise, and Gary's all "what's that?" And for the next two seconds everyone--including viewers--is very alert. Everyone that is, except Anderson, who almost immediately says, "It's fine. It's fine." Apparently, there's been a power surge and a line went down. Will someone please inform our anchor that though he has recently added "awesome rescuer" to his resume, he is still not an electrician. Yeah, it's fine, it's fine. What does he know?!

What's hilariously sad is that if that were a frog? He sooo would have been out of that live shot. Oh Anderson, I do not understand you sometimes. Anyway! This is reminding Gary of that first night almost two weeks ago when everything got all scary behind them because people thought there was a tsunami. I think he was a tad freaked for a second there, with good reason. Then Anderson's all, "sit down." Dude. Okay, Live Shot Boys' Club, I love me some Anderson Cooper, but I think you all need to make a pact that when there is potential danger, he is not in charge. Just sayin.'

Moving on now to a Sanjay Gupta piece on Haiti's doctors in training. The country only has 2000 doctors for nine million people, so to say that they are understaffed would be an understatement. Now the quake has demolished the medical schools. More problems and hardship on the horizon.

On now to some domestic news with Joe Johns. Remember that asshat James O'Keefe who posed as a pimp in order to discredit ACORN? He just got arrested for worming his way into Senator Mary Landrieu's office and trying to tamper with the phones Watergate-style. Schadenfreude! For the record, ACORN did nothing illegal (though the doormat Dems still pulled their funding), while this guy's crimes might cost him 10 years in prison. Maybe justice really isn't blind.

The approaching State of the Union address is also brought up, with our anchor noting that he doesn't think anyone ever even remembers them after a day or two. Not true! C'mon, SOTU 2006 was a classic. Bush pledged to save the world from the scourge of animal-human hybrids. That's some good stuff there. Now that we have a sane president, these speeches are not nearly as fun. But it's a price I'm willing to pay.

Back at Anderson's shot, there seems to be some sort of spontaneous religious procession going on. It's a bizarre and stark contrast to the politics we were just talking about,which suddenly seem a world away.

Transitioning to Ali again, and he tells us about a couple of stimulus projects...and it's all pretty context-free and pointless. I think I've figured out what's going on here though. CNN always does this. All their shows have to be focusing on the same thing. This is their "stimulus week" or whatever. Fine and dandy, except 360's kinda ocupado at the moment with the whole horrible earthquake thing. So, in order to be able to check off the box noting that they have in fact participated in this project, we get these very pointless segments with Ali.

True contextualized stimulus reporting is going to take time. Yesterday, I was pretty hard on CNN's economic reporting from last year. But to be fair, it wasn't all bad. Actually, there was some good information online. In fact, while I railed against the television counterpart, some of the online reporting actually contradicted what was being said on the TeeVee. I suspect that when this stimulus project is over, there will be a decent report online, and perhaps even an okay hour long special. But these segments they're trying to throw into every show are just stupid.

After Ali, we have a Randi Kaye piece, which I thought was pretty good. She looked into the issue of some states (specifically Ohio) using stimulus money to pay for signs that point out projects being built with stimulus money. Maybe I just like irony. Anyway! Lots of money wasted, and while I sympathize with the transparency defense, there's got to be a better way to do this.

The hour ends with an update on little Monley. He has an aunt in Florida who wants to adopt him, so that's great news. I don't have any extra video for you tonight, but Anderson did an interview with Mediaite's Steve Krak. It's worth a read. Anderson still isn't giving a date to come home. It sounds like the team will probably have to be ordered to do so. Hopefully this weekend, especially if everyone is getting sick. The reporting has been phenomenal, but they need a break. They can always go back, and I hope that they will.

That'll do it. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter (@newsjunkie365) and check out my Haiti Twitter List.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, January 25, 2010

Anderson Cooper 360 Reports Live From Haiti And CNN Gets Stimulated

Hi everyone. Welcome to the new week. As 360's coverage slowly becomes more normalized, I guess this is as good a time as any to return to my regular reviews. It should go without saying that the snark factor is still going to be lacking a bit, but I'm eager to at least get back to my present-tense format. So, away we go.

The broadcast begins with Anderson Cooper apologizing for any coughing he might do in the near future. They've just burned dead bodies near his live shot and now the "air is thick with the smell of the dead; the air is thick with their ashes." Not even a minute into the show and already a brutal slap in the face by the cold hand of reality. Our anchor goes on to give a general update: a man rescued over the weekend, no one today. At this time there are 4,000 missing Americans. There is a new video from the aftermath of the earthquake.

Anderson has the first piece of the night, with the focus being Haiti's orphans. Security has become a major issue, as there is a palpable fear of the children being kidnapped for trafficking. Besides that horror, workers are having to deal with a situation that is beyond confusing. There are many people back in the states who would love to adopt these children, but first they must determine that every presumed orphan actually is an orphan. The last thing anyone wants to do is take these kids away from family members in Haiti.

Following his piece, Anderson speaks with Deb Barry of "Save the Children" about security concerns. He points out that in the past, rumors of child trafficking haven't always been true. Deb admits that their reports are preliminary. One can't be too cautious, I suppose. Especially with the Restavek situation the country already has.

Next up, a Sanjay Gupta piece explores the trauma that quake survivors have experienced. It's hard to imagine that there's not going to be country-wide PTSD. Many people now live in tents--not because they don't have a home--but because they're terrified of the aftershocks. How do you restore the confidence of a nation?

Transitioning now back to the states, where we find Ali Velshi hanging with a stack of binders that is almost as tall as him. CNN has decided to get themselves stimulated (yes, I stole part of my title from TVNewser). I'll refrain from the Viagra joke. The whole idea here is that they're going to look into how the stimulus money has been spent. We're given a beyond meaningless poll that shows a good percentage of Americans believe the money is being used for political purposes. Now, there are no actual facts involved in their poll--this is just what people think are the facts.

The irony that these very opinions are shaped by media outlets is apparently lost on CNN. Annnnd because the media is usually skipping along about five paces behind public opinion, I'm not going to bother getting my shocked face out if this new round of reporting reinforces the beliefs of that poll. To be clear, I'm not exactly a stimulus cheerleader, and I do very much support investigations such as this one, BUT after surviving last year's atrocious reporting on the economy (seriously, so bad!), I've got pretty much no faith that this little project they're doing is going to produce anything worth writing home about. Fingers crossed that they surprise me.

We're jumping back to Haiti now, where Gary Tuchman has a piece on the demolished presidential palace. In fact, all their main governmental buildings are gone, forcing officials--including president Rene Preval--to work out of the police station. This might be a stupid question, but, like, what are they doing in there? Specifically what governmental work are they getting done? Maybe they're doing very important things, but we're certainly not seeing evidence of that on our TV screens.

After Gary's piece, we're joined by him, Ivan Watson, Anderson, and Christiane Amanpour for discussion. Christiane! The Live Shot Boy's Club has been infiltrated! I've been loving the guys (don't take away the guys!), but it's nice to have a little gender representation. Plus, c'mon, it's Christiane Frickin' Amanpour. Just her mere presence makes things feel more newsy. But going back to the Boy's Club, 360, some of your regular viewers have a request: We want you to adopt Ivan. It's not fair that he gets hogged by CNNi. We want to learn about Turkey, we swear!

In seriousness, I have advocated several times on this blog for the inclusion of more international reporters. I follow all these great people on Twitter and I never get to see their work unless they put the piece online (or something horrible happens in the part of the world they cover.) Anyway! The live shot gang talks about governmental corruption and the possibility of another big earthquake. Scary.

Transitioning back to the stimulus stuff. Ali tells us about a stimulus project where it sounds like the funds have been wasted. But, uh, he doesn't know because they're not done investigating it yet. Okay then. This being CNN, if they don't balance that sucker out the place will apparently catch on fire, so, yes, then he tells us about a good stimulus-y project. Yawn.

After that, we go to a Drew Griffin piece about Aggregate Industries, a recipient of stimulus cash. I think I'm going to have to pass on this one. My regular readers are well aware of my bias against this reporter. This might be a completely accurate piece, and Aggregate Industries might be evil incarnate, but at this point I can't even get past Drew's near unprofessional delivery. He never just reports the facts; he makes them fit into whatever narrative will make a better story. Remember his report on the stimulus money used for that Missouri bridge? I mean, good lord. I was flabbergasted that even make it to air.

Moving on now to Anderson talking politics with David Gergen and Candy Crowley. It's a little weird given that he's standing near bodies being burned. The news tonight is that Obama is proposing a discretionary spending freeze. I'll need more facts to give a full opinion, but my initial reaction was that of Nate Silver: seems a little tone deaf. Another thing for the pundits to idiotically chatter about. Oh joy.

The hour wraps up with updates on a couple of the children we've met in Haiti. First we see new video of the rescue of little Monley. As for his current condition, he apparently has pneumonia and a fever, but doctors think he'll be okay. Hm, still a little troubling though. Anderson also talks with Bea, the little girl he witnessed being rescued. She's lost 10 members of her family, but she's staying strong.

The video below is from the program Backstory. Host Michael Holmes talks with Sanjay Gupta, producer Danielle Dellorto, and photographer Jonathan Schaer about the night the doctors abandoned their patients at that field hospital. From Sanjay: "For a while, my faith in humanity was trashed."

This next video was taken of Team Gupta actually working on patients that night. We've seen part of this via Anderson's end, but it's really worth a viewing to see what it was like for them.

That'll do it. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter (@newsjunkie365) and check out my Haiti Twitter List.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Haiti: Beyond The Pictures

Hi everyone. As the images of death and destruction continue out of Haiti, so too does the criticism of those broadcasting these images. A prevalent complaint is a lack of context regarding the history of the country, as well as the complicated issues associated with its future. While I believe that the media (cable news specifically) have generally failed in their duty to provide a full understanding of the issues of the day, I do not fault them for their current coverage of Haiti.

An important lesson I've learned during my years of amateur media study is this: You have to have the pictures. The horrible abuses of Abu Ghraib were reported in print prior to the release of the accompanying images, but it was the pictures that horrified the nation and caused a scandal. As human beings, we're visceral creatures.

We empathize with suffering on an individual to individual level. In a perfect world, one could cover a disaster by writing about statistics and facts, and it would propel people to take notice and act. But we don't live in a perfect world. You have to have the pictures, as well as the personal stories that go along with them.

Anderson Cooper has paved his career on this truth. The excellent work he and his colleagues are doing in Haiti right now is absolutely what they should be doing. The situation is still dire and people continue to die. The world needs to see, needs to bear witness. The heartbreaking stories and images have resulted in millions of dollars being donated for the relief effort. People care about Haiti because of what they're seeing on their television screens/computer monitors. Journalists on-the-ground are saving lives with their cameras.

While I strongly defend 360's coverage, there is other excellent Haiti reporting being done that goes beyond the pictures and devastation. In my ongoing quest to provide as much information related to the country as possible, I'd like to highlight some of that reporting in this post. Following the quake, Fareed Zakaria GPS aired an excellent concise history of the country that is worth watching:

Amy Goodman is an award-winning journalist and host of the program Democracy Now! She has covered Haiti for years, and is currently reporting from the country. Her show site holds a plethora of videos and information related to Haiti, ranging from current on-the-ground reporting, to archived coverage of the ousting of democratically-elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide. An excellent resource.

Without fail, every disaster suffered by the world is accompanied by those wishing to make a profit. In her book "The Shock Doctrine," journalist Naomi Klein posits that "disaster capitalists" will exploit post-disaster chaos to push through their own free-market agendas. She is currently keeping a keen eye on this issue in regards to Haiti, and you can find a collection of articles and other pieces at her website. It was there that I found this good report from Rachel Maddow on debt relief:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Finally, there is the disturbing related issue of profiteering through private contracting. If there is anyone who is an expert on this subject, it is journalist Jeremy Scahill, author of "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army." Unfortunately, as he reports, the exploitation has already begun:
The Orwellian-named mercenary trade group International Peace Operations Association didn't waste much time in offering the "services" of its member companies to swoop down on Haiti for some old-fashioned "humanitarian assistance" in the form of disaster profiteering. Within hours of the massive earthquake in Haiti, the IPOA created a special webpage for prospective clients, saying: "In the wake of the tragic events in Haiti, a number of IPOA's member companies are available and prepared to provide a wide variety of critical relief services to the earthquake's victims."
These are just some of the issues we need to be conscious of as the ongoing story of Haiti moves forward. I applaud the work of the journalists I have mentioned in this post, and continue to applaud the work of the CNNers on the ground. All are providing an important service, and at this point in time I wouldn't have things any other way (in regards to the coverage). I will continue to highlight all reporting being done on this story.

My readers are encouraged to email or leave comments if they come across a piece they think others should see. You can also reach me on Twitter (@newsjunkie365), where I provide both Haiti and non Haiti related information. My Haiti Twitter List has grown, and I am continually working to keep it current as individuals rotate in and out of the country. I've found the medium enormously helpful in keeping up with the situation. I will have another post for you after Monday's broadcast, if not before.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Anderson Cooper 360 Reports Live From Haiti Following The "Hope For Haiti Now" Telethon

Hi everyone. I hope you donated during the "Hope For Haiti Now" telethon. If you missed out, there's still an opportunity to do so online. The benefit featured some pretty cool musical acts. For those wondering about Wyclef Jean's shout out to Anderson Cooper, I'm pretty sure it was just because he's high profile and was the first network reporter to make it into the country. Anderson interviewed Wyclef on 360 the night he left. There's no "beef" there. No anger.

Tonight's broadcast felt like a wrap-up of sorts. There were a lot of updates on stories our CNN friends have been following the past 10 days. For those visiting here for the first time, you can see my prior posts for more extensive recaps of those stories and accompanying video. The show began with a report from Anderson on little Monley Elize, the five-year-old boy pulled from the rubble by his uncle after almost eight days. At that time he looked near death. Now he looks amazing! That's the (very) good news. The bad news is that Monley is now an orphan. He's currently living in a tent with his uncles, but they cannot afford to continue caring for him. His future is still very much up in the air.

After his piece, Anderson talked live with Gabriella McAdoo, a registered nurse who helped treat Monley, and the little boy sat with them as well. Our anchor then interviewed George Clooney--host of tonight's telethon--via satellite. Of particular note was the discussion about keeping Haiti in the news. We've all heard this song before. Sure Haiti's on our minds now, trending on Twitter, but soon people will forget. The news cycle moves quickly, and unlike Katrina, our politicians have no constituents in Haiti. This is an election year. The suits of the networks will be tempted to move on. It will be up to the reporters who have seen the horror to keep the story alive. A big burden to bear. You can view the interview with Clooney below.

Sanjay Gupta reported from a tent city and found conditions relatively clean. There is a worry of a wave of infectious disease spreading throughout the people, but the doctor believes these concerns may be overblown. However, the heat continues to present a risk to survivors' health. Sanjay came across one adorable baby girl who was wearing a shirt that said, "Does this diaper make my butt look big?" You can find a laugh in the most unlikely place.

Karl Penhaul then talked with Anderson about the mass exodus out of Port-au-Prince. Residents simply want out. He also relayed a very disturbing story about a woman who was leaving the city. Her two young children were crushed to death in the earthquake and when asked if she had time to bury them, she simply replied, "I threw them away." Karl then asked her, "Why don't you Haitians cry?" Her reply: "There's no point." We've barely scratched the surface on the trauma these people are going through. Karl and Anderson's talk is below.

As noted up top, this broadcast contained some recapping and updating of previous stories. Gary Tuchman has been covering the story of the Bresma orphans and tonight he happily gave us the good news that's occurred. When his initial report (see my prior posts) on the orphans aired, Elizabeth Dowling was watching and was delighted to see her daughter Jenna featured. After a lot of previously reported logistical maneuvering, Jenna is now home in Colorado.

A little boy named Alexander David was also one of the Bresma orphans. His parents, Jean Griffith and Ross Haskell, contacted CNN to try to find information on their son and Gary was able to find him. Again, much logistical maneuvering, but again another child ultimately ending up home in the states (Kansas this time). Ironically, these orphans' adoptions would still be pending if not for the earthquake.

As they have been most nights lately, Anderson, Sanjay, Gary, and Ivan Watson all gathered at the live shot to talk about their day's experiences. Ivan reported learning of a localized tsunami that had killed at least seven. Video of Ivan at the location is below.

Gary spent time with a 109-year-old woman and her family today. She's blind, her house was destroyed, yet she still smiles. Amazing. The men also gave us some behind-the-scenes info. According to Ivan, there really is no plan on a given day. They just drive and the stories are all around. As for at night, the CNNers are shacked up in a hotel, but Gary informed us not all of them are comfortable sleeping inside. Given the aftershock we saw on camera last night, I can't really blame them.

For the record, Anderson confirmed that he does sleep inside, but I think regular viewers already knew that. Because we're well aware he's crazy. Not that sleeping inside is crazy, but I think you know what I mean. For our light moment of the night (there always miraculously seems to be one), a quote from our anchor: "I will say when one of the aftershocks hit I put on a pair of jeans and stood in the doorway and I kind of thought to myself, is this how I would want to be found?" I'm not laughing at him, I'm laughing with him. Whenever there's tornado weather here, along with finding a flashlight, I always do a quick clothes check. Because nobody wants to be found in their stained sweatshirt and socks with the holes in them.

The broadcast basically wrapped up with Anderson introducing photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik who has been taking pictures for Getty Images. You can view some of his work here. Given the general tone of the show tonight, I assumed that the reporters we've been watching are getting ready to rotate out of Haiti. But then Anderson said they will be there all next week if they can.

The State of the Union address is coming up, so I'm not sure how that will all work. I have a feeling that Anderson (and perhaps others) will have to be pried out of the country. He stayed a month in New Orleans, as well as Israel. I want them to stay, but I also think they need a break. I guess we'll see what happens. The coverage remains stellar. Besides Jonathan Torgovnik, other shout outs tonight included photojournalist Neil Hallsworth, producer Charlie Moore, producer Mary Anne Fox, and translator Vlad Duthiers. I also know that Sanjay's producer's name is Danielle Dellorto. Kudos to all. CNN needs to name-check all their people on-the-ground. Their hard work should be acknowledged. (Update: Anderson's "Reporter's Notebook" is below.)

I hope to get another post up sometime this weekend, be it Haiti-related or not. I'm just going with the flow right now. My spiel: At this time, my main focus is distributing information, and highlighting the stellar work of the CNNers, which is causing the world to take notice of the crisis. As previously noted, I've been doing a lot of Haiti-related tweeting, and you can follow me at @newsjunkie365. I've also set up a special Twitter List of journalists and a few others on-the-ground in Haiti. And as always, check out CNN Impact to learn how to help.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Anderson Cooper 360 Continues Live Reports From Haiti

Hi everyone. I guess the back-and-forth between Haiti and "The Best Political Team on Television" (TBPTOP) is going to be the format for 360 now, at least while Anderson Cooper is still on the ground. Wolf Blitzer and his rag-tag team of pundits covered some important domestic news, but I'm going to keep this post Haiti focused. If I have some time this weekend, I might try to highlight some of the non-Haiti stories I have been ignoring.

It's becoming increasingly difficult to describe the quake-ravaged country without becoming repetitive. Devastation. Catastrophe. Crisis. Desperation. Heartbreaking. Unfathomable. I feel like I need to invest in a thesaurus to do these blog posts. It's the same situation regarding the work of our CNN friends. Stellar. Excellent. Exemplary. Fantastic. Heroic. Awe-inspiring. Every night a solid broadcast produced by people who have seen too much, and who have to be at the point of beyond exhaustion.

But it's another day and there are more stories to tell. The show starts with an extremely disturbing report from Karl Penhaul. He and crew witnessed young men shot in the back by Haitian police over bags of rice. Their camera catches the bloody aftermath. In a scene reminiscent of the death of Neda during the Iranian uprising, we're shown a 20-year-old man taking his last breaths. There's confusion over exactly what happened, but witnesses are adamant that the victims were not looting. Whatever happened, it's a disconcerting development. The video below contains Karl's piece, as well as discussion with Anderson afterward.

Anderson Cooper again spent time at General Hospital, this time in the pediatric ward. An 11-year-old with broken legs continuously screams. It's pretty horrific. There Anderson also meets a little boy named Johnny, one of Haiti's newest orphans. They don't even know his last name. Unlike the children who had adoptive parents waiting for them in the states, orphans like Johnny have no one and nothing. What will become of him and others is anybody's guess. As for the hospital, supplies continue to be an issue. And most of what they do have is not meant to be used on children. Large needles for tiny veins. Large masks for tiny faces. Nothing seems to fit in Haiti.

Tired of watching patients suffer due to lack of supplies, Sanjay Gupta and his producer Danielle Dellorto headed out to the airport themselves to see what they could acquire. There they found crates and boxes of must-needed aid. Just sitting. This. Is. Infuriating. I am trying to believe it just got there. I am trying to believe it was then quickly distributed out. I am trying not to think of the post-amputation patients writhing in pain with only Motrin to alleviate their symptoms. Eventually, Sanjay finds antibiotics and pain medications, and uses what appears to be a trash bag to transport them to the Bitar brothers we met yesterday. A success, but one made with a camera and one of America's most recognizable doctors. What about the rest?

While talking with Anderson after his piece, Sanjay notes that CNN's Brian Todd stopped him at the airport because there was a little boy with a brain injury who needed help. I'm sure by now many of you have read some of the ongoing criticism/questions regarding TV doctors blurring their journalistic roles during this crisis (see this TVnewser post for links to several examples). I don't really want to give the arm chair quarter-backing too much focus while Haitians are still dying, but this seems like a good time to note the ridiculousness of the hand-wringing.

This isn't about promotion or ratings or picking the most photogenic patient for the shot (yes, that idea has actually been posited). Sanjay Gupta can't seem to go more than 10 feet without coming across an individual who is in dire need of his help. And thank God he's there. What should he have said to the injured child Brian showed him? "Sorry dying boy, but right now I'm in my journalist role." Ridiculous.

I like to refer to myself as a news snob. I have great affinity for journalistic principles. But in my opinion, those doing the criticism should tread very lightly unless they've actually been on-the-ground themselves. As Anderson noted previously, the camera lens can only capture so much. We're only seeing a fraction of what they're seeing. We're not hearing all the screams, smelling the endless death, feeling the panic of the earth suddenly shaking. They're reporting from hell and back home the media is nitpicking their methods. It's disgusting.

For a lighter moment--if one could call it that--there was an aftershock that occurred while Karl Penhaul's piece was running. We're shown video of Anderson's live shot in order to get an idea of what the experience was like for them. Obviously initially scary, but I love how he and Karl nervously smile at each other when it's over. A completely normal reaction, of course. It's a look that says "that was a little scary, but yay we're okay." You can see the aftershock at the beginning of the following video, and that is then followed by Sanjay's piece and subsequent talk with Anderson.

If there's anything sadder than orphans struggling following a disaster, it's orphans who didn't make it through the quake at all. Gary Tuchman reports from Our Lady of Nativity Orphanage, destroyed. Now workers are attempting to recover dozens of tiny bodies, while 74 surviving children live outside. French families had been waiting to adopt the orphans, many of their dreams now dashed. We do get a glimmer of good news though. Little orphan Jenna who Gary introduced us to previously is now with her mom in Denver. Gary thinks he may have spotted a future champion skier. Give us a future happy, healthy little girl and we'll call it a win.

The broadcast wraps up with Ivan Watson, Sanjay, Gary, and Anderson talking about their experiences and any updates they can give. Of particular note, Gary tells us the nursing home he reported on last night has received some supplies, but the residents remain outside and there is no plan. So sad.

Because the coverage is a team effort, I want to try to highlight the work of as many people I can. So this is my shout out to Vladimir Duthiers, translator:

And because we can always use a smile:

My regular readers are probably getting sick of his by now, but here's my spiel: At this time, my main focus is distributing information, and highlighting the stellar work of the CNNers, which is causing the world to take notice of the crisis. As previously noted, I've been doing a lot of Haiti-related tweeting, and you can follow me at @newsjunkie365. I've also set up a special Twitter List of journalists and a few others on-the-ground in Haiti. And as always, check out CNN Impact to learn how to help.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Anderson Cooper 360 Reporting Live From Haiti On The Continuing Humanitarian Crisis And Political Punditry At Home

Hi everyone. Tonight CNN once again bounced us back-and-forth between two very different worlds. The team on the ground in Haiti continues to produce amazing work. I am in awe of these people. All of them. Correspondents. Producers. Photojournalists. Translators. They work in hell to tell stories that are ultimately saving lives. It's hard to reconcile that with chatter from "The Best Political Team on Television" (TBPTOT). To me, Wolf Blitzer now sounds like the teacher from Charlie Brown, except more monotone. So, I'm not going to be covering what the pundits said...because I simply don't care.

This morning in Haiti there was a 6.0 aftershock, as if they don't have enough problems. But among the despair, the country still exhibits glimmers of hope. Anderson Cooper tells us about little Monley Alise (ph), a five-year-old that was pulled out of the rubble by his uncle, almost eight whole days after the quake. The boy is severely dehydrated, but has no broken bones. Good news. Earlier today, Anderson talked about the moment the boy was brought into General Hospital:

While at the hospital, Anderson learned that the facility is in dire need of supplies. They have no gloves for surgery or cannulas for oxygen. Literally the lack of simple rubber and tubing is going to result in people dying. Motrin is the only pain medication the doctors have to give patients post-amputation. It's unfathomable. And because of the aftershock, the patients spent the day outside, baking in the sun. After his piece, Anderson and Sanjay Gupta discussed the situation, and how medically things will probably only get worse. I can imagine that postoperative infections are going to be out of control. Also, our anchor may be known for his opinionless sleeves, but in Haiti, those sleeves have been replaced. Good for him. (The video below contains Anderson's piece from General Hospital and talk with Sanjay afterward.)

Ivan Watson's piece on the crowds waiting for ships to take them out of the city was pretty troubling. There's such a desire to leave that thousands are climbing on-board vessels that are only licensed for 600 people. As pointed out, it's a disaster waiting to happen. While on land (and actually again later on the ship), Ivan talks with a beautiful smiling little girl name Aniaka (ph). I could be mistaken, but I believe she has the same first name as the little 11-year-old who died after rescue. Not sure why I point that out. Maybe I'm hoping it means something good this time.

Anderson also visited a collapsed school where over 100 children died. The blackboard still holds the lessons from the day of the quake, math problems and a sentence to copy: "May God receive us in open arms." There's not really anything I can add onto that.

Sanjay spent some time with Haitian surgeons Jerry and Marlon Bitar. The piece is below. He also talked with Anderson, and again frustrations were aired. While our anchor has been exhibiting palpable outrage, the past couple of days Sanjay has been looking pretty dejected. I was hoping maybe he was just tired. But tonight he told us, "I feel a little hopeless. And I hate saying that. I hate feeling that way."

Perhaps the most disturbing piece of the night came from Gary Tuchman, who spent the day with survivors from the Port-au-Prince Municipal Nursing Home. The senior citizens there have nothing--no food, water. They're lying in soiled clothing. A doctor came to help today, but he has no supplies. It's sickening. The elderly always seem to be the first ones forgotten. In the video below, Gary sits with a woman with dementia. She doesn't respond to him, but he tells us that she put on her necklace because she knew she was going to be on TV. Heartbreaking.

The broadcast ends with Ivan, Sanjay, and Anderson talking about how aid organizations are putting too much emphasis on security for their people. None of the reporters have ever felt threatened in the country, and all seem to agree that there's mass over-cautiousness occurring that's leading to needless deaths. Sanjay makes the good point that providing aid will automatically improve the security situation because it takes away the desperation. You'd think the organizations would know that. But I suppose if I were to play devil's advocate, I'd have to say that if on the off chance something did happen, people would be asking why the group wasn't more careful. It's an un-winnable situation. The good news is that aid officials will now be sitting in the tower of the Port-au-Prince airport to ensure supplies get in.

Here's a Karl Penhaul piece worth watching:

In the coming days as the situation in Haiti hopefully improves, I will begin to talk about things like ratings and media write-ups currently being discussed. Eventually I will go back to my snarky review format. Those things just don't seem important now. At this time, my main focus is distributing information, and highlighting the stellar work of the CNNers, which is causing the world to take notice of the crisis. As previously noted, I've been doing a lot of Haiti-related tweeting, and you can follow me at @newsjunkie365. I've also set up a special Twitter List of journalists and a few others on-the-ground in Haiti. And as always, check out CNN Impact to learn how to help.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Anderson Cooper 360 Reports Live From Haiti One Week After The Earthquake And Republican Scott Brown Wins Ted Kennedy's Senate Seat

Hi everyone. Tonight's broadcast brought us a tale of two worlds. Anderson Cooper continued his anchoring from Haiti, a country that remains in hell, death and destruction everywhere. But we were also reminded of the political realities at home--partisanship, bickering, all covered by mind-numbing punditry. The contrast was so stark, it was as if the show was coming at us from two different planets. And it was.

I'll touch on the politics in a bit, but first want to start in Haiti. It was exactly one week ago that the country was devastated by the earthquake, and today there was some amazing news. A woman in her 70's named Ena Zizi was pulled alive from the wreckage of the National Cathedral. That's one tough lady. Her femur was broken, and like with many others, there was great difficulty getting her treatment, but she was eventually transported to a ship for surgery. I hope she makes it. Below is Anderson's live report from when the rescue occurred.

Our anchor's second report was from a Doctors Without Borders clinic where there simply aren't enough supplies to treat the patients. Quake survivors with infections have no choice but to wait and pray that help comes before death. The doctors have been reduced to avoiding eye contact with patients because they know they will be asked for assistance they cannot give. They've even resorted to using saws normally used to cut metal as surgical instruments. To make matters more infuriating, cargo planes with supplies have attempted to get to them, but have been diverted away from the airport on several occasions. It's unbelievable. The organization really needs help. To donate, click here.

Anderson also did a lot of talking with both Sanjay Gupta and Ivan Watson regarding the rescues they've been seeing (Ivan tells us an eight and ten-year-old have been pulled out today also), as well as the general frustrations of the overall situation. I know it's not exactly reporting, but I like to see these conversations among the boots-on-the-ground. It's more raw and gives viewers a better sense of what it's like there.

Tonight we also learned that Haiti still has a government. Sort of. Gary Tuchman tracked them down and spoke with both the President and Prime Minister. Remarkably, all members of the Cabinet are alive. As for what the hell they've been doing all this time, the President claims to have been giving radio interviews, which Gary was able to confirm with one radio host. My sense is that they're at least trying. I guess the leadership could be worse.

Gary Tuchman also again updated the orphan story. Little David Alexander is with his parents at last! The majority of the rest of the children trying to leave last night made it to the states as well, with only one little girl remaining behind because she fell asleep on the bus. Aw. Don't worry, Jamie McMutrie stayed with her and is following (or already followed) the rest of the group. This blog is posting updates.

Finally, here's a piece from Ivan that we didn't see during the broadcast:

As previously noted, I've been doing a lot of Haiti-related tweeting, and you can follow me at @newsjunkie365. I've also set up a special Twitter List of journalists and a few others on-the-ground in Haiti. And as always, check out CNN Impact to learn how to help.

The other world we visited tonight was the world of politics, specifically the special election between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown for Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat. By the time the broadcast began, we already knew the winner was Brown. But CNN can't get through an election night without analysis from The Best Political Team on Television (TBPTOT), so we were subjected to quite a bit of punditry.

The Haiti disaster has preoccupied my news time lately, so I pretty much only know the basics of this race and am therefore unable to determine whether or not the media retained their tendency to trend toward idiocy regarding specifics. But I'm guessing if I were to shake a Magic Eight Ball, that sucker would tell me "outlook good." What is it about TBPTOT that makes me want to jam something sharp into my eye?

I loved Wolf Blitzer telling Jessica Yellin that Coakley "got a call from the president of the United States, saying, too bad." Yeah, I'm sure that's exactly how Obama said that. Because that doesn't make him sound like a jerk at all. But I think my award for most cringe-worthy moment of the night goes to Dana Bash using the phrase "political tsunami." Little tip: When your colleague was just on air reporting from an actual disaster of imaginable proportions, it's probably best not to use a similar disaster as a metaphor for a political race. Classy.

As for that race, I'm really upset about the Brown win because I'm fearful for the future of health care reform, but there's really no point worrying too much about it now when things are up in the air. Also? David Gergen pondering about Obama governing too far to the left had me wanting to pull my hair out. Our president has practically pulled a muscle bending over backwards in the name of bipartisanship, yet the Villagers think he's governing too far to the left. Unbelievable.

One thing's pretty clear in all this though: The Democrats are idiots. As always, Jon Stewart nails it:

For a little more fun (God knows we need it these days), I give you the CNN Magic Wall Trailer:

CNN Magic Wall Trailer from Marjoe Aguiling on Vimeo.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Anderson Cooper 360 Broadcasts Another Phenomenal Show Live From Haiti

Hi everyone. A new week begins and Haiti remains in hell. But our CNN friends continue to produce amazing coverage. I'm in awe of what I've been seeing. If you're not watching, my only question is: "Why not?" Tonight's broadcast brought us not only scenes of chaos and small moments of triumph, but a palpable growing frustration in our anchor. I haven't seen Anderson Cooper this worked up since Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. Maybe the night of the Sago Mining Tragedy as well, but that's it.

First though, the chaos. Anderson and crew witnessed things take a turn for the worse, with young men looting candles for profit. American businessman Tony Bennett attempted to keep them at bay by having police fire their guns into the air.

Then of course there is the talk of the Internet: Anderson saving an injured young Haitian boy. That video (airing earlier in the day) is below. For the broadcast tonight, that video and the one above were produced into a single exceptional piece, but I'm afraid I don't have that right now (update: here's the piece that ran during 360). As for Anderson saving the boy from the looters, wow. Just wow. I know there will be critics who claim he did it to showboat, or that the incident was even staged. Utter bullshit. The situation was clearly perilous, there was no one helping that boy, the camera wasn't even on him when he began the rescue, and he ditched his D.V. camera to do it (which he uses quite a bit on these field shoots). What he did was heroic. (Regarding the camera, I'm pretty sure he got it back because there was footage from it in the piece.)

Anderson's second piece was absolutely heartbreaking. A search-and-rescue team from the L.A. County Fire Department tried all day to find survivors in the rubble of a daycare center. The experience was no doubt a roller-coaster of emotions, as they intermittently found signs of life and then ultimately silence. I thought Anderson's voice-over during the last try was particularly poignant: "In the movies, this is when a small sound would be heard, a faint tap, a child's cry. But this is Haiti. And this is real. And, despite their best hopes, they hear no sound of life." CNN's translator Vlad Duthiers, who had been helping the rescuers since they didn't have one, then had to assist in breaking the news to the waiting family members. So sad.

Sanjay Gupta continues to be unbelievably awesome. Not only did he and his team stay behind to care for abandoned patients Friday night, he just saved the life of a 12-year-old girl named Kimberly who had shrapnel in her brain. Apparently, there are basically no neurosurgeons in Haiti right now, so the good doctor was tracked down. The following video contains Sanjay explaining the situation, as well as frustration from both he and Anderson.

The situation from Friday was also brought up. Earlier, Gary Tuchman actually interviewed the Chief Coordinator for BFAST to get to the bottom of it all.

We had some non Haiti-related news tonight as well. Jessica Yellin broke down the senate race for Ted Kennedy's seat. Honestly, even though I am very much invested in health care reform (and the Democrats losing this seat could be devastating to the bill), I just cannot get into this race. I'm not up on it at all. Right now political bickering just feels really...stupid.

Soledad O'Brien's report on the orphans was devastating (the video is from earlier). All those little babies.

Gary Tuchman's piece on the Bresma orphans at least offered us a bit of good news. Six of the children we saw Friday have been flown to their adoptive parents in the U.S. We're also told that Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (the women who run the orphanage are from PA) came to Haiti to get more of the orphans, but was only able to obtain approval for about half the number they had hoped (28 granted approval to leave). Gary reminds us that Haiti now has many new orphans as well, showing us a very sick little boy. No one even knows his name. (For updates on the Bresma orphans, you can go to this blog.)

Anderson's conversation with Gary brought us what I thought was the most unintentionally funny moment of the past week. Our anchor is clearly upset and frustrated regarding the bureaucracies of aid and rescue organizations. After implying that it might have been better to prioritize getting aid into the country over flying orphans out (with the orphans obviously being aided where they were), Anderson noted that he would no doubt get angry emails over that. Adding, "I like orphans very much," which caused me to burst out laughing. It was just so bizarrely funny. Yes, Anderson saves a boy's life by day and by night he hates orphans and perhaps kicks puppies. Keep Annie away from that guy. Anyone who sends an angry email to Anderson over this...I don't know...hates freedom or something. Because I mean, really? The guy deserves a medal. They all do.

Keeping on our frustration theme, the interview with Dr. Irwin Redlener definitely had me asking "WTF?" Pediatric experts are WAITING to get into Haiti? What the hell is the hold up? Sanjay cannot save the entire country by himself (I know there are other MDs there now, but you know).

Aside from the confusion, Chris Lawrence's report was pretty cool. It's amazing that people are still being pulled out of the rubble alive. Again, CNN lends a hand, or in this case, a flatbed truck.

Anderson's (most excellent) rant about the Haitian government and his outrage over people dying needlessly due to aid bureaucracies are sure to get some media traction on Tuesday. It's a tough situation. On one hand you wonder, "My God, why can't people stop planning and just do it?!" The thing is though, every situation in Haiti seems so dire right now that without a coordinated effort, the most at risk might not be treated first. Someone on the ground sees orphans living outside with little food and thinks to themselves that they're seeing the worst. But maybe they're not.

I think our anchor was arguing both sides of this point: there needs to be a coordinated effort to prioritize AND people need to just start taking initiative (like the PA governor). But he's in hell right now, so that's understandable. The timeliness of the response is definitely bordering on ridiculous, and I hope CNN does look into the reason why. People are dying. As for Anderson, his outrage is genuine and righteous and will surely light a fire under some people, but it also must be exhausting and he's still going to be there at least through Friday. I hope he doesn't hit his breaking point before then.

Below is some more video you should see. Warning: disturbing and graphic:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

That last one was taken by a local on the day after the earthquake. As previously noted, I've been doing a lot of Haiti-related tweeting, so give me a follow if you're not already (@newsjunkie365). I've also set up a special Twitter List of journalists and a few others on-the-ground in Haiti. And as always, check out CNN Impact to learn how to help.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from