Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Underpants Bomber Indicted, Investigating The TSA, C-SPAN Broken Promise, Yemen 101, Whale Wars, and Isaac Mizrahi

Hi everyone. We're still on the terrorism beat. The Underpants Bomber has been indicted and this, apparently, is an excellent opportunity to head to the Magic Wall. Anderson Cooper breaks down the charges. Then it's on to discussion with Jeffrey Toobin, David Gergen, and Fran Townsend. Not much to write home about here.

Of note, is the Gerg seeming to equate Nidal Hasan and Underpants guy. Maybe I missed it, but I wasn't aware they ever found a firm connection between Hasan and a terrorist organization. Anyway, we also got this surprising info from Toobin: "There hasn't been a successful military tribunal for terrorism since World War II." Hear that, conservatives? Finally, it's the general consensus that no one in the Obama Administration is getting fired over the debacle. Oh, Anderson will not be pleased.

On now to a Randi Kaye piece that tries to determine at just what level of incompetence the TSA is currently operating. Forgive me for slightly mixing my government bureaucracies, but we're at Code Orange here, people. All that money. All that training. What do we have? A system that routinely notifies airport police of illegal activity way after-the-fact and cameras that don't tape. Those puffer machines? Don't work. Pat downs? Nope. Bomb sniffing dogs? No so much--at least not all the time.

Perhaps if they actually had a TSA head, they could get a handle on this stuff. But the Party of No, otherwise known as Republicans, are blocking the current nominee. Eh, well, it's just a national security position. What could go wrong? After Randi's piece, she and Anderson are sure to reiterate that not all TSA people are bad. Yeah, some of their closest friends are TSA people! Kidding aside, yes, there's no reason to go all uber-reactionary on the TSA. Keep 'em honest for sure--they clearly need it, but everyone should remember their job is hella hard. They have to be successful all the time; the people they're trying to stop only have to be successful once.

Next up, a broken promise on health care transparency. Recently, the good geeks over at C-SPAN requested access to the inner workings of the health care reform reconciliation process. They want to show us the sausage being made, people. The White House response? Erm, they'll get back to us. Thing is though, deliberations on C-SPAN was a specific campaign promise made by Obama. The 360 kids give us a little reminder of this Daily Show-style, with a series of clips of the then-candidate basically saying, "We'll do it live! (On C-SPAN.)"

Joe Johns then joins us with more. Perhaps my partisanship is showing, but this whole thing irks me. Don't get me wrong, this is clearly a campaign promise (at this point) broken, and 360 is absolutely in the right to call a spade a spade. In fact, I think the White House is wrong here. Yet, this is such a small issue, and when I think of all the huge issues the media snoozed through during the last administration, well, my head explodes. But until they build time machines, eh, what are you gonna do? I do, however, wish some context was added by pointing out that though this promise was broken, the Obama administration is still leaps and bounds ahead of the last guys when it comes to transparency.

The Gerg then pops back in to in so many words tell us, "yeah, the public doesn't care about C-SPAN." (But I do!) He then goes back to his recently-set default of concern trolling. Topic? Health care reform polls, and how they're not so hot for the Obama camp. Asks our anchor, "What did they do wrong?" Oh, Anderson. Sure, they did lots of things wrong, but what I think people are forgetting--what I myself keep forgetting--is that no matter what, this was going to be UNBELIEVABLY hard. Yeah, we've all been through the ringer. A lot of people are now ticked for a myriad of reasons. It's not surprising, actually. Hell, even I flirted with the "kill the bill" side. That they've gotten this far at all is amazing.

Hey, remember when a week or so ago I said that Yemen was going to be the new "it" country? Well, buckle up for Yemen Terror 101. Your instructor is Anderson Cooper (oooh!) and your blackboard is the Magic Wall. The Bin Laden family's home town. The USS Cole. You get the drift.

From there we go to a piece from Paula Newton, actually set in Yemen. It's good to see 360 using these pieces. CNN has phenomenal international resources, yet the domestic channel seems to rarely use them except during breaking news. In her piece, Paula travels to an institute that Underpants Bomber guy attended and talks with the director. She also talks with an American studying in the country who says she could get explosives no problem. Oh, yay. Makes you feel all warm inside. But for some funny, Paula notes that prior to all this, when you mentioned Yemen to Americans, they'd think of this episode of "Friends." It's true! Yemen used to be the place you escaped to in order to hide from your girlfriend with the unbelievably annoying voice! Byyyyyy Yemen!

Next up, Anderson talks with Captain Paul Watson by phone about an incident that occurred in the Arctic Ocean between his boat and a Japanese whaling ship. Basically, the whaling ship rammed Captain Watson's boat (full of anti-whaling activists), cutting it in half and causing it to sink. One person was injured. The Japanese say unavoidable accident; the activists say deliberate attack. All this is documented by that show "Whale Wars" on Animal Planet. According to Watson, they're just trying to stop illegal whaling in an established sanctuary. The video is pretty crazy. I watched that show once. It was an episode where a whale was brutally killed, and they couldn't stop it, and a lot of them were just crying watching and, yeah, I haven't watched since. Important work though.

Moving on to the next segment of the "What's Next" series. Tonight's interview: Isaac Mizrahi. Yep, fashion. It was a fun little interview, but it didn't leave me with anything particularly insightful to say. I like how Anderson's mind is so blown over the concept that clothes look stupid to us with the passage of time. It's true though. Somewhere there exists a picture of a tweenage me in neon spandex shorts. Yes, I know. Also? Anderson is still "obsessed" with the Olsen twins? C'mon now.

In the "360 Bulletin" we got a clip of Richard Heene on Larry King Live. As much as I loath any mention of the Balloon Boy story, I have to admit, I cracked up over his overly dramatic crocodile tears. "Come on. What?" says our anchor. Exactly. We then get a little "Who the hell is Wolf?" because at this point, it's mandatory.

The "shot" tonight is kinda horrible video of a girl doing a back flip into a TV. That sooo could have easily ended in a serious injury or even death. Anderson, who claims this is the first time he is seeing the video, is horrified. Horrified! But then wants to see it again. Did I mention he's laughing? Our anchor is a terrible person. Good thing he's so hot. (Kidding, people. Kidding!)

The show was pretty good. Some reporting, honesty-keeping, and outside-the-box programming. Bravo. That'll do it.

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