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.

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Blogger Anne said...

Hi Eliza,

Great post, astutely written. When you watch hell on earth in Haiti, it's difficult to sit through the bloviators from TBPTOT. I don't care about a poorly run campaign that Jon Stewart is covering with more honesty than these blowhards. The little boy rescued looked like he was minutes from death. It's hard for me to comprehend that while tons of medical/food stuff sit at the airport, the suffering are running away to try to look for comfort. Gary's story is heartbreaking, I can only hope someone watching is able to come to their aid. The sweet smile of Aniaka should be enough to melt any cynic's heart. Ivan and Karl's stories were hard to watch. I could tell by Dr. Gupta's face, he has truly been in hell. There is no end in sight soon to this. I take it to heart hearing the screams of the injured while all that aid is sitting at the airport. AC and all the staff have done outstanding work in bringing this coverage to the world. Anne D.

4:26 AM  
Anonymous Sammy said...

TBPTOT is a snore fest. I agree with Anne that Jon Stewart gave a more succinct insight about this election in 10 minutes than what Cnn take an hour to cover. I want Anderson to come back to NY (for safety purposes) but if this is what we have to endure in the upcoming months, I don't know if I could continue follow 360.

I'm glad that while other channels and networks have moved on from the Haiti coverage, AC and his team is still persistence on bring these heart breaking stories to us.

I can't wait for your rating report and the collection of media write ups. I have read some of the rating reports, no surprise that Fox is still dominating the prime time news. But I don't think rating measure quality of coverage.

1:13 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

Thanks Anne. I just watched the Stewart segment. So much better than dealing with TBPTOT. I'd like CNN a lot better if they scrapped their pundits and just stuck to reporting.

I'm running out of words to properly describe the situation in Haiti. Just reading my Twitter list is overwhelming.

@Sammy: I don't really fear for any of the reporters' safety, but I am hoping that they rotate Anderson and the other CNN "first responders" out after Friday. They need to take a break for a few days. Then maybe they can go back next week. It's going to be up to the media to keep this story alive. It's an election year and it's going to be very very easy for Haiti to soon slip through the cracks. Our CNN friends have a big burden to bear in the coming weeks and even months.

7:08 PM  

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