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.

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Blogger Anne said...

Hi Eliza,

You are right, CNN is doing amazing coverage on Haiti. I hope the boy AC helped received the medical treatment he needed. I agree, how could one stage that horrific scene? I can't understand either why medical treatment is not getting to those in dire need. Like the health worker said, they survived the quake, only to die slowly from from their wounds. It's one heartbreaking story after another, Katie Couric's video was powerful emotionally. I know anyone working there, will never ever get the sorrow they are witnessing out of their hearts. Anderson's rant needs to be heard and responded to. I think it's tremendous that he is keeping the focus on this. There are towns destroyed where only news crews have been, no help yet. Retired Gen. Honore needs to be sent there to dismantle the roadblocks that are preventing medical personnel from doing what they came for. Sanjay Gupta, Anderson, all of the CNN reporters are doing an outstanding job of bringing this story to the world. When I watch the coverage from Haiti, I don't have patience for the nonsense from the politicians and cynical pundits. I don't care about the Leno/Conan/NBC drama. The money to be paid for Conan to go away, could build so many homes by Habitat for Humanity. Anne D.

5:38 AM  

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