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.

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