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.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like Anderson might actually be returning to NY after tonight's show, for real.

1:26 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

Yeah, Soledad tweeted that she's filling in, so he might be on his way (or already there) right now. I hope the whole team is taking a break.

7:50 PM  

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