Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dr. Sanjay Gupta Breaks Down The Bipartisan Health Care Summit

Update: Hey guys. I'm taking a bit of a blogging break and will most likely return on Tuesday or Wednesday. In the meantime, you can check out my new Chile Twitter list for on-the-ground updates on that situation. What a world we live in, huh?

Hi everyone. Keeping with our revolving roster of CNN talent, tonight Sanjay Gupta finds himself in Anderson Cooper's anchor chair. The walking toothpaste commercial has subbing duties? Oh yes. I suppose it makes sense, given that those two letters behind his name do tend to denote some skills regarding health care. And that is what we find ourselves talking about tonight. Well, health care reform, anyway. Well, health care insurance reform. Well,...yeah.

Today our prez and congress peeps from both sides of the political aisle locked themselves in a room for a gazillion hours to talk argue posture about that whole health care bill thing. At least, that's what the Internets told me was the impression you got from the news people on the TeeVee. I wasn't able to watch the summit (job thing kept me busy-gotta keep that insurance!), but apparently cable coverage was sucko all around.

Now, for the aftermath. We begin with an Ed Henry piece that meticulously analyzes statements made by the participants and fact checks them against verifiable data. I kid! That would be way too helpful! No, this is all about who got in the best zingers and pushed their talking points. Speaking of which, did you see Obama telling McCain "the election's over"? (I know you did, since every media outlet has played it a zillion times.) All together now: oh snap! Thanks media! (To be fair, there was a fact-check in this piece regarding CBO numbers.)

Next up, discussion with David Gergen, Dr. Bernadine Healy of U.S. News & World Report, and cardiologist Dr. Sandeep Jauhar. I'm not really sure what to do with this. Dr. Healy accused Obama of having a rigid "one-size-fits-all" policy for every American and I would have liked to hear more about that complaint--specifically whether or not it has any merit. But this is cable news, so...yeah. These panels can be rather worthless.

On to Jessica Yellin at the Magic Wall to explain reconciliation. You know all that stuff you learned in your high school government class? Forget all that. See, we live in bizarro world where 41 votes can actually quash the majority. Operating in a sane system, a simple majority of 51 votes would be able to pass health care reform. Well, that sane system exists and it is called reconciliation.

Thing is, it's usually only used for important stuff like budgets, and hey, it's not like health care reform is crucial or anything. I'm sure those millions without insurance can wait. So anyway, the threat of this maneuver has predictably sparked outrage (OUTRAGE!) in Republicans, but Democrats need to man up and tell them to suck it. Also? Stop jerking us around on the public option. This was an informative little segment. Good job.

Back to the panel now. Not a lot to note here, though the Gerg does do some eye roll-worthy hand-wringing over passing the bill along party lines. Newsflash to the Gerg: the Republicans are never going to vote for this. Ever. The actual legislation doesn't even matter. They will not vote for it. The Village needs to get over themselves and realize that bipartisanship is not the end all and be all. As for public polling? Americans want reform, they just don't know if they want what's being proposed. Gee, I wonder why.

Hey, you know how I said the summit was a gazillion hours long? Well, this necessitated a need to break for lunch. And CNN thinks it would be helpful if we took a look at the menu. Obama had the chicken, you know, in case you were wondering. Thanks media!

Moving on to a Tom Foreman piece on the day's showmanship, because I guess we haven't covered that enough yet. He brings us the health care reform summit in four acts. Act one, bitching over speaking time. Act two, Obama called everyone by their first name, while they were forced to call him Mr. President (suckers!). Act three, props. Gotta tout that massive bill. And act four, monologuing. Remember, the thing went on for hours. Tom does not mention if this play was a comedy or tragedy.

Next up, Sanjay lays some facts on us regarding tort reform. About a million people claim injury due to malpractice every year, with about 85,000 of them filing suit. Only a fraction see any money, though there are always the rare cases that see a lot of money, thus causing people to get up in arms. Sanjay tells us that according to the CBO, malpractice payouts only amount to two percent of health care costs.

But! Defensive medicine costs us about $850 billion a year, and some malpractice insurance is so high in some places that doctors can't even keep practicing. This segues us into discussion with Anthony Tarricone, president of the American Association of Justice, and Dr. Albert Strunk, vice president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology. They duke it out on tort reform, but meh. I'd rather just hear Sanjay give us more facts on the matter. I've learned nothing here because I can't trust these people and no one is holding them accountable.

After that segment, we get Sanjay's piece from yesterday on hospital costs, which you might recall I praised. The country would be in so much better shape on the overall issue of health care reform if the majority of coverage focused on fact-based reporting. For the love of God, stop with the horse race focus. This is life and death here. Anyway, since our CNN friends didn't do it, check out to find out the summit's untruths.

Transitioning now to discussion with Dan Buettner, author of "The Blue Zones." I guess it's that time again. It seems like every year or so Dan shows up on 360 to say the exact same things about living longer. But I'm not really complaining. Who doesn't want tips for living longer? So, according to Dan, first thing you need to do is make sure to eat a big breakfast. Ruh roh. Great, first one and already I'm going to die young.

Then there's the suggestion to eat less meat and more vegetables, which sounds reasonable. And finally, have lots of sex! Oh my. Okay, the actual word Dan used was "regular" and he clarifies that he doesn't know if sex made the group he's referring to live longer or if they lived longer to have sex. Hm. The world may never know.

For the "shot" tonight...happy birthday Jessica Yellin! She had the headlines for us and now she is being presented with a carrot cake, with candles and everything. Jessica is way more excited about this than the Silver Fox ever is for his surprises. She blows out her candles and wants to slice that sucker right there. But the hilarious (and some might say cruel) part is when the cake's calorie and fat content pop up on the massive wall behind her. You know, we'd probably be a much fitter country if every American had their own Magic Wall that did that.

The show was okay. I vaguely recall Sanjay anchoring the broadcast once a couple years ago and not having the best time of it. Maybe I'm misremembering. In any regards, he did a very smooth job tonight. But I have to say, I'm a little disappointed because his medical expertise was underused. We actually had ourselves a doctor and he barely challenged anybody on anything. I think we get more from him as a panelist. The factual reporting was all good (though way too brief). I think I made clear how I feel about the horse race reporting. That'll do it.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Killer Whale Attack, Medical Costs, Red Tape In Haiti, Toyota Coverage Continued, And More Broken Government

Hi everyone. Jessica Yellin continues to hold down the fort for the MIA Anderson Cooper. We're kicking things off tonight with a killer whale attack at SeaWorld that resulted in a fatality. Details are still a bit fuzzy. Depending on who you talk to, the female trainer either fell into the tank or she was actually grabbed by the mammal itself. It's a horrible story and a story worth reporting to be sure, but top story?

Out of everything that occurred in the world today, this is what 360 has determined most important? Given their recent stellar reporting on Haiti, this pathetically blatant ratings grab is rather depressing. The killer whale coverage goes on for almost a third of the show, including a Randi Kaye piece, statements of a witness, a phoner with someone tangentially connected to the story, and a bizarrely defensive interview with Jack Hanna. All topped off with rather ghoulish B-roll of the trainer playing with the whale in happier times. Yeah...

Brianna Keilar has the "360 bulletin" and we learn that Lieutenant Michael Lohman pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the case of the police officers who shot two unarmed men during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I totally missed this. Good on them for following up.

Moving on to Sanjay Gupta live and then a subsequent piece that is all about those dreaded hospital bills. He tells us that something as simple as an IV bag can put you back $280. Why does everything cost so much? Well, hospitals buy the equipment at cost from manufacturers and then mark it up to include administrative costs and other factors like the uninsured. Interestingly, many hospitals operate in the red, while supply companies are mostly doing okay. They should delve into this further.

Sanjay also gives us an update on Kimberly, who you might remember as the girl with a brain injury that he operated on in Haiti. An organization called Can-Do saw his reporting and has brought supplies to Kimberly's family. She has also been able to secure a home, so that's great news. If only every Haitian child had exposure on a major news network.

Continuing with Haiti coverage, we're joined by Soledad O'Brien who tells us of a new aid road-block: taxes. Previously, relief supplies weren't taxed and everything just kinda freely flowed into the country. But now the government is holding things up at customs until they can determined that what's coming in really deserves to be tax free. The only way around the wait is to pay customs taxes and a lot of organizations simply don't have the money. And it should go without saying that time is of the essence.

Worse still, the government basically wants people to just give them their supplies for confirmation and then they'll give them back...whenever, I guess. Seeing as how trustworthy the Haitian government can be, organizations aren't too keen on this idea. How frustrating. Good reporting.

Transitioning now to a clip of Akio Toyoda (Toyota CEO) testifying before Congress. This segues us into a piece from Ted Rowlands, which investigates Exponent, the company that compiled the initial report that basically let Toyota off the hook for all their vehicle problems. Exponent was hired by, surprise, surprise,...Toyota. Funny how that happens. Known as the "masters of disaster," they're the ones who get called when a big corporation gets into hot water. Exxon Valdez oil spill? Yep, Exponent was on the case. You get the picture.

Now charges of junk science are being thrown around, which Exponent vehemently disputes. This kind of things seems to happen all too frequently and I'm glad it's finally under the microscope--at least in this case. Way too many cozy relationships.

Speaking of that, we next have a piece from Joe Johns that looks at whether the National Highway Traffic Safely Administration (NHTSA) was out to lunch when they should have been catching this Toyota scandal. Joe tells us that since 2000 they have received 2,600 complaints about sudden acceleration in Toyota cars, and State Farm alerted them to the problem in 2004. At that time, a preliminary evaluation of the vehicles was conducted, but then shut down after they failed to find defect trends.

A technical test was conducted in 2007 that determined floor mats to be the culprit, but a FOIA request on the test resulted in few details. So what's up with the NHTSA? A lot of "under" charges going around: Understaffed. Underfunded. Under-qualified. But there's the whole industry incest thing too. Some Toyota employees used to work for the NHTSA. So there's that. Tell me again why regulation kills freedom?

It's broken government time. Jessica sits down with John Avlon and Peter Beinart, and oooh, they brought listicles. A smorgasbord of people who are keeping our government all non worky, if you will. How cute. We'll start with John. His top picks include Nancy Pelosi (because she's polarizing and partisan and we can't have that), Dick Armey (because he's astroturfing the tea parties--a fact that would have been excellent for 360 to mention in any of their coverage on that subject), and Rush Limbaugh (because...seriously, do we need a because here?).

Peter's highlighting Frank Luntz, Mitch McConnell and Olympia Snowe for putting shrewd politics over good governing. We're all familiar with the Party of No. These people only care about their own power, screw the average American. Anyway, I'm on the fence about whether or not I liked this segment. I guess it's good to call these people out.

Congrats to Jessica for winning a Gracie award.

The show was...weird. The top story choice and the fact that it went on so long was so below them. Yet the rest of the broadcast was actually pretty good. Lots of solid reporting. I guess that'll do it.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Toyota Lobbyists, Central Falls Teachers Fired, Pushing Through Health Care Reform, And A Good News Story Out Of Haiti

Hi everyone. No Anderson Cooper tonight. In CNN's apparent continuing quest to confuse me, we've got Jessica Yellin pulling anchor duties. Well this is new. I'm not sure I've seen her host 360 before. Admittedly, most of my confusion up top here is due to the fact that, well, I just woke up.

Yes, your blogger was napping. Sue me. I pretty much spent the first five minutes or so of the broadcast just wrapping my head around Jessica being there, so yeah, my indepth-ness is going to be of the not variety.

We begin with the subject of Toyota, and how they kinda seem to be trying to kill us. This is all very important of course, but again, I was all discombobulated. So, from some clippage of congressional testimony, we go into a Drew Griffin piece that explores just what the heck is wrong with the cars. The company has previously blamed things such as stuck pedals, but evidence seems to be pointing more and more to electronic issues.

On now to a Joe Johns piece about all those lovely lobbyists Toyota has hired. Ugh. I think we all know that seedy deal by now (though it should absolutely be reported). We also learn that Representative Jane Harman has recused herself from the congressional investigation due to her husband's business dealings with the company and stock holdings. Good for her. Others like Senator Jay Rockefeller aren't stepping aside.

Particularly of note, is the notion that this mess might not be so much that lobbyist money convinced regulators to look the other way, but that the regulators just didn't have the resources to deal. As Joe points out, it's not that far-fetched given how much the Bush administration loved them the regulation. Thanks conservatives!

Transitioning now to the story of Central Falls High School in Rhode Island, which was covered on the program last night. In a Randi Kaye piece we learn that, it's official, the teachers are getting fired. To recap: the district is very poor with horrible statistics when it comes to student performance. But the teachers make between $72,000 and $78,000 per year.

In an effort to shape things up, the superintendent put forth a plan that mandated more time with students. The union for the teachers claims that scores have actually improved as of late and they just wanted to work out details of a plan moving forward. The district says the teachers actually refused the new schedule. I guess the truth is in there somewhere.

In a taped interview, Jessica talks with superintendent Fran Gallo. She assures us the teachers will finish out the school year, but she seems pretty set in this decision to terminate. Some of the teachers may be hired back if they reapply. I guess that's something, though probably rather humiliating. Dr. Gallo also notes that the teachers have complicated things by bringing the students into the issue. I'd be interested to hear more about that angle.

Now for the other side, we're joined by fired teacher George McLaughlin. He seems to think this was all avoidable. First of all, he doesn't accept the district's performance statistics because they have a transient student population. He also kinda disses on the superintendent and how little he believes she knows about the community. Finally, he resolutely states this was not about money. In fact, he seems pretty open to working out details.

I think this was a better format to explore the story that what we had last night, though I still don't feel like I have all the facts. George appeared to think there's some sort of agenda going on, and admittedly the superintendent came off pretty unwavering. I guess the big question is whether the teachers are looking out for the students or just themselves. I don't know the answer to that.

Next up, Dana Bash joins us live to report that reconciliation in health care reform is on the table. Woo hoo! Once upon a time, I had a notion that someday we'd really live up to this whole democracy thing. The system would work and everyone would have their say. But you know what? Screw it. Ram that sucker through!

We spent years watching the Bush administration and Republicans jam legislation down our throats with nothing we could do to stop them. I didn't really want the Democrats to be like that. And they haven't been as of yet. They've bent over backwards so many times for Republicans that they're all going to need chiropractors, with nothing to show for their efforts. Well, enough! It's time for my side to be the jerks. At least in this case we get health care reform.

Of course, it's not without risk. Obviously that whole planned summit thing is going to be painted (accurately) as a farce. Not to mention the overall politically controversialness of the move. But doing nothing might be worse politically (and it will certainly be worse on the nation's health). Plus the base is pissed. No more kowtowing to the stupid centrists who quit when things get hard. I'm through with getting my hopes up on this, but it wasn't a bad day.

From here we have a "broken government" segment with Ali Velshi and Peter Beinart. An okay discussion. I'm taking a pass.

Moving on to Gary Tuchman live with actual good news out of Haiti. The six orphans he reported on last night are going home. Woo! As I'm sure most of us suspected, the previous problems were all just a miscommunication and they really did have the prime minister's signature to take the children. So yay. The aftermath of this mess was also not without difficulty. Gary tells us that when the women went to get the kids at the orphanage...they were gone. Turns out they had been moved to yet another orphanage without telling them. What a day.

All this info sets the very adorable (taped) scene of Gary interviewing the three women while they're all holding kids. And when I say all, that includes Gary. He's got Malichi (ph) who is a little chatterbox and quite enamored by Gary's comically ginormous microphone. At one point he tries to eat it, which hey, it happens. The whole time Gary's doing that thing where you're trying to hold the kid in a way that he can't reach anything. Heh.

Also? The women didn't have a ride, so CNN was kind enough to load them and the six kids into their van. During the interview those boys seemed to be hitting the kinda wound-up crabby stage that kids get in. That might have been a long ride. In any regard, once again, yay. Happy ending! We all know that's not the case overall. Anderson Cooper was on Charlie Rose the other day discussing Haiti and you can see the show here. I thought it was a very good indepth conversation, and I especially found Robert Maguire very informative.

The "shot" tonight was billed as a countdown of Olympic mishaps, which I was going to say was in poor taste given what happened to the luger. But it turned out to be something completely different. Instead, it was a salute to CNN's own "Olympic-ish athletes." Okay, yes, they are totally stretching the Olympic relatedness, though who am I to reject trainwreck-y video?

First up, we get a picture of Tom Foreman receiving first aid treatment after attempting (and apparently failing) a jump onto a desk. Now, why this was attempted, I can't tell you, but I do know at some point he landed that jump. Then there's David Mattingly getting hit by a carp, which let's just face it, who doesn't want to watch that over and over. Anderson sure does.

Finally, perhaps the greatest piece of video CNN has ever broadcast: Rick Sanchez getting tasered. It hurts! I cannot tell you how much I have watched that video over the years. And I laugh every damn time.

The show seemed pretty good. But don't forget the wars, guys. The Iraq election is just around the corner. I know it's the new forgotten war and everything, but the troops who are there now and the troops who paid for that country's future with their lives deserve better, as do the Iraqis.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Cheney Hospitalized, CPAC Talk, The Silsby Effect Reverberates For Haiti's Orphans, Firing Teachers In Failing Schools, & Our Broken Government

Hi everyone. We're kicking things off with the news that Dick Cheney has been hospitalized for chest pain. Again. I am trying so hard right now not to say something snarky. As your momma says, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. So...yeah. I was really shocked to find out that he's only 69. I thought for sure he was at least, I dunno, what's the average age of evil these days? Okay, okay, that's one. I'm allowed one, right? I'm only human...unlike Cheney. Yeah, that's two. I better stop.

Anyhoo! Apparently, we need the cavalry for this thing. We've got Sanjay Gupta giving us the former veep's heart history, Candy Crowley on the phone talking politics, and Gloria Borger...doing something. I don't know, I pretty much tuned out for this whole segment. Cheney's up walking around. He's probably going home tomorrow. That's that. I'm sure we'll do this again someday.

Keeping on the Cheney wagon, you know how he's quite fond of telling us Obama will eat your babies has made us less safe? Well, Colin Powell ain't having that. We get a clip of him on Face the Nation, explaining that Cheney's talking crazy. Except, he says it all professional like. Then there was Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on This Week, agreeing with the notion that the Republicans are the Party of No. From there we get a clip of Glenn Beck at CPAC ranting at the Republicans. Dudes, there's a reason I don't watch Fox News.

All this clippage moves us into Bill Bennett taking on what Beck just said. Somebody shoot me now. The topic is thrown to James Carville as well. Because that's so much better. We also get more clips of Beck. It's like they just discovered the guy is connected to stories they cover. Interestingly, there are no clips of Ann Coulter's rousing speech. I can't imagine why. She's always so classy.

One of the main topics of discussion during this segment is the differences between Republicans and Democrats among our elected officials. Let me break it down for you through my eyes: Republicans? Crazy evil. Democrats? Ineffective whiny losers. Questions? Also, from Bill: "There was some speaker, apparently, who made some anti-gay remarks, and was booed off the stage, which is fine. I think that's perfectly appropriate for those young people to do." How nice that he thinks it's "fine" and "perfectly appropriate." Don't praise their actions too much there, Bill. You might strain something.

From irrelevant absurdity we next transition to Haiti, where things are all too real and everything is important. In a Gary Tuchman piece, we learn that the actions of those American missionaries continue to have consequences far and wide. Case in point, Sarah Thacker, a woman who was all set to take her adopted son Reese (along with two other women and five other little boys) to the states, when they were suddenly detained by Haitian police. Actually, when they showed up with the boys at the Port-au-Prince airport they were surrounded by Haitians who started screaming at them about taking their children. No doubt terrifying.

Thing is, their situation seems pretty copasetic. But the Haitian police do not believe it was really the prime minister that signed their paperwork allowing the children to leave. Now the children have been taken to a new orphanage. What a mess. Gary tries calling the prime minister, but is only able to leave a voice mail. No one has heard from him as of yet. C'mon man. Check your messages. Turn on the TeeVee if you can. Sigh. Poor kids. Constantly uprooted these days.

In other Haiti news, once again there were large aftershocks tonight (after the broadcast). So horrible. The people just keep getting traumatized over and over again. For those trying to keep up with the news, I just updated my Haiti Twitter list. Except for a few exceptions, it only consists of people who are actually on the ground in the country. It was pretty depressing how many journalists I recently had to remove. Also, check this out from Soledad O'Brien.

Following Gary's piece, we're joined by Dr. Jane Aronson. The glasses are growing on me. She and Anderson Cooper talk about international adoption and how the process in Haiti needs to be normalized, which will benefit everyone.

Moving on to the news that the superintendent of Central Falls High School in Rhode Island has doled out termination recommendations to the school's 74 full time teachers due to poor student performance. Yikes. The teachers currently make at least $72,000 a year and this decision came after the teachers' union failed to accept a deal that would have involved spending more time with students. Hm. That actually sounds like a pretty good salary for a teacher. I guess that can be taken in more than one way.

For discussion, we're joined by CNN Education Contributor Dr. Steve Perry and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. Steve explains that the teachers can't be compensated for their extra time because the district simply doesn't have the money and the teachers are under-performing anyway. Randi says the situation is different than just simply staying late, and then starts going on about mediation that really makes no sense. "What does that mean?" asks Anderson. Thank you! I hate when people say things that only sound good.

Randi then actually does try to explain, but our anchor cuts her off and throws to Steve. Oh, uncool Cooper. The rest of the conversation is okay. I got the distinct impression that we weren't getting the full story from either side, which makes it hard for me to opine. From my vantage point--much like a political debate--both panelists seemed to go in with their talking points all lined up and ingrained world view. I'm guessing the solution isn't as easy as either thinks, and probably can be found somewhere in between their two styles. These kind of debates are way too surface-y. Was any progress made? Doubtful.

In other news, the White House has finally put out their own health care plan. It's not horrible, but no, sadly no public option. This segues us into CNN's new series on broken government, and we go to Ali Velshi at the Earmark Desk. Whoa, wait! What have you done with the Stimulus Desk?! Is it just me, or do you get the impression that CNN has a whole warehouse out back full of desks just waiting to be named?

Ali introduces us to four congresscritters (Bill Shuster, Dennis Kucinich, Chris Lee, and Harry Teague) who voted against the health care bill, but took money for the health care of their constituents. Hypocrisy! Or is it? Two of the representatives are Republicans and two are Democrats (gotta have that CNN balance!). I don't know Teague's deal, but Kucinich surely voted against the bill because he felt it didn't go far enough (not even a public option). I mean, he's definitely not a compromiser (CNN has him there), but is his stance hypocritical? I dunno. But it's poor form of Ali to not even mention that there's two ways opposition can go.

Next up, we're joined by Time's Joe Klein for more broken government talk. Kudos to him for noting the Republican's unwillingness to negotiate and the apathetic citizenship of the country. Also, I liked this: "Democrats have a big problem when they come into office. They actually believe in government." Yeah, stupid Democrats! Stop trying to "govern" and "fix problems." Meanwhile, Republicans want to be in charge of government so they can destroy it. And half of the country still doesn't seem to get this. Sometimes I wonder how we've gotten this far.

Brianna Keilar has the "360 Bulletin" tonight and we learn that the Vatican's official newspaper has put out its list of best rock albums of all time. There is so much hilarity in that sentence I don't even know where to begin. Yes, that Vatican. But rock is devil's music! Anyway, if you're wondering, you can go here to find out what the Pope and his posse are jamming to after mass.

In that blog posting, we were asked to guess Anderson's favorite rock album. Drum roll, please...Elvis Costello, "Armed Forces." Okay, not bad, I guess. "Some of the people on the blog thought that maybe you were a Motley Crue fan. Or an Abba man," says Brianna. Really? Yeah, because when I think Anderson Cooper, I think Motley Crue. As for Brianna? "I like Smashing Pumpkins." Excellent choice.

Of course, this is all generational. I'm guessing that like me, Brianna rocked out her teen years in the 90's. I couldn't even begin to pick one album. Music--predominantly rock--was always very big in my house growing up. I love all different eras. As an alterna-kid, Nirvana is a good choice, but there are so many others. Sigh. Oh well, whatever, nevermind.

The show was okay. Gary rocks it as always. The education segment was definitely worthy to explore, I'm just not sure the debate set up really works to further any kind of conversation. The other stuff felt kind of rushed. The conservative coverage I hate because, well, I'm biased and that's going to happen. But it wasn't like it was a hack job or anything. I thought they were going to cover that story about the school spying on the student via a webcam. Maybe I hallucinated.

Anyway, hey, if we're going to have Cheney coverage, could we maybe get a mention of how the former veep is on record confessing to a war crime? Kinda seems like an important story, no? Does anyone in this country still care about the rule of law?

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Interview With Missionary Jim Allen, Tiger Woods Crap, Update On The BRESMA Orphans, and CPAC Coverage

Hi everyone. Sorry about the absence of Thursday's review. I was mad at Anderson Cooper for ditching out on us the night before, so I ditched out on him. Kidding. Naw, I was just being a slacker. And apparently I picked the wrong day. Because Thursday night? Pretty good show. Tonight? least we got some great reportage from the always awesome Gary Tuchman, so I guess there's that. Anyhoo, the Silver Fox has gone missing again and this time we have John King manning the anchor desk.

After some intro stuff to let us know that yes, they will be talking about Tiger, we move into a Joe Johns piece for a recap of the American missionary story they've been following, complete with timeline. As I'm sure most of you know by now, eight of the ten detained individuals have been released and are now back in the states. You know what this means, right? Let the interviews begin!

While Anderson isn't gracing us with his presence live and in person tonight, he is doing us the honor of some taped face time. Next, we're played an interview that he conducted earlier with freed missionary Jim Allen. There's two other people sitting with him as well (presumably his wife and lawyer), but they never speak. That's not weird at all. I'm guessing this has been edited down. From Jim, we learn that he only knew two other people in the group and did not know Laura Silsby at all.

Though he did see papers being filled out and signed as the children boarded the bus, he never saw any documents from officials. He indicates he was operating under the belief that they had everything they needed except some papers on the Haiti side, which they planned to acquire. No, he didn't know the children had parents. Jim tells us he's not mad at the Haitian government and holds no grudges. And that was pretty much that. WTF?

I'm a bit stunned at how little Anderson questioned him about Silsby. I know the men and women were eventually separated, but they were all detained together for a while. Were they able to talk? Does he have any thoughts on her and why she's still in Haiti? He says he holds no grudges, so does that mean he thinks this is all just a big misunderstanding? I'm flummoxed. Like I said, this is taped. Whether this is a case of incomplete questioning or poor editing I suppose remains to be seen.

So hey, I'm not sure you heard this, but it turns out that Tiger Woods gave a press conference today. I know! Predictably, our media had themselves one big newsgasm. Everybody wanted a piece of the spectacle. Everyone, except golf writers that is, who as it turns out, may just be the most principled journalists in the country. Go them! So, did I tune in? Um, that would be a hell to the no.

What we have next is a whole hot mess of Tiger Woods coverage...and I could not run over to MSNBC fast enough. Sorry CNN. Michael Jackson. Anna Nicole Smith. O.J. Part Two. I'm not doing this crap anymore. I did, however, flip back just long enough to find Tom Foreman at the Magic Wall, analyzing the golfer's appearance, including the "dark circles under his eyes." Oh dear lord. Please tell me they didn't have on a body language expert.

Transitioning to something that people should actually care about: Haiti. Just like Anderson and Sanjay Gupta before him, the intrepid Gary Tuchman has recently returned to the country. In his report tonight, he follows up with some of the remaining BRESMA orphans. Those of you who follow my tweets know that Jamie and Ali McMutrie have returned to Haiti (read the latest Facebook note from their sister-in-law here) in order to try to bring more of the children to the states. They've been asking for help in cutting through the red tape.

Gary speaks with Margarette Saint Fleur, owner of BRESMA orphanage where 36 orphans remain, only six of which have permission to leave. Some of the children are becoming ill (see photos at link) and one has even been hospitalized for pneumonia. But Gary reports that most appear healthy. Jamie and Ali are currently working to bring 12 of the children to the U.S., while the rest will probably be placed in French homes. Following his piece, Gary tells us the missionary mess has really slowed down the adoption process. Actions always have consequences.

The taped version of Anderson is back now for discussion about the CPAC conference with Bill Bennett and Erick Erickson. Oh boy! To be fair, Erick makes a distinction between conservatives and republicans, which I think is important. Other than that though, there's nothing to write home about here. I found it amusing when Bill was passionately defending Washington. Because from my end? That seems to be the place where good ideas go to die.

As for CPAC, this afternoon I found myself all discombobulated when I heard that a homophobic speaker was booed off the stage. ZOMG, is this progress? Perhaps so. But hold off on getting your conservative love on just yet. While they did in fact do the totally cool aforementioned booing, they also booed...wait for it...wait for it...the notion that waterboarding is torture. Now there's the conservatives I know and don't love! Le sigh. Well, one out of two ain't bad?

Anyway! I've been digging on Rachel Maddow's CPAC coverage. Actually, I've been digging on Rachel Maddow period. Have you seen her on Meet the Press? Girl's got skills. Plus, she talks to people she disagrees with (unlike someone who airs before her and shall remain nameless), and while she always aggressively holds feet to the fire, she's never not polite. This is no pundit to be dismissed. Check out the video below of her CPAC visit:

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I think that'll do it for me. As I said up top, not the best show, Gary's report obviously being the exception. I think he's going to be in Haiti all next week, so I look forward to his reporting. Is this the end of the Tiger coverage? One can only hope.

Update: I came across this video and thought you regulars would be interested. Aw, Anderson getting some well-deserved love and appreciation.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Missionaries Released, Charlie Crist Labeled A RINO, Taliban Talk, Jean-Bertrand Aristide Profile, And Troll Foot

Hi everyone. Tonight we have Wolf Blitzer holding down the fort for Anderson Cooper. The Silver Fox should know he is not allowed to suddenly be gone in the middle of the week. It's too confusing. Now I'm going to keep thinking it's Friday, and it is sadly not Friday. Anyway, BREAKING NEWS!!! Oh yeah, we got the big graphic and sound effect and everything.

So what's the what? Eight of those ten American missionaries are being released from Haiti. Okay, once again, that is not breaking news. Yes, it's news, but we learned about it hours ago. It's not breaking anymore, it's broken. Why does CNN insist on making that graphic irrelevant? But back to that news, we've got David McKenzie at the Port-au-Prince airport where the Americans were just flown out by the military.

Then we go to John Vause for more details, and he basically recaps everything we already know. Plus, we learn that while eight of the missionaries were allowed to leave after promising they'd return if asked, Laura Silsby and Charisa Coulter are still in custody because the judge is trying to determine if there was criminal intent. I'm glad the eight got to leave. I hope the other two are held accountable if they were in fact up to something shady, which it kinda sounds like they were.

Transitioning now to a Randi Kaye piece on Charlie Crist and how he's just been slapped with the dreaded RINO label (republican in name only). Long story short? Once again, someone from the Far Right (in this case, Marco Rubio) has come out of nowhere to leave a moderate Republican shaking in their boots. Both men are battling it out for Florida's senate seat.

Rubio is dazzling the tea party set with his Real American upbringing and his ability to speak in slogans. But don't be fooled. While I'm sure he's hoping to paint himself as a young-in coming to shakeup the system, in reality he's grabbing points by bashing the stimulus, all the while admitting he would have taken the money as well. Ah, hypocrisy. Yep, he's a Republican.

Now, to make your eyes bleed, we have the Wolfbot discussing this stuff with John Avlon. Ugh. At some point the election is going to heat up enough that I'll be forced to pay attention to segments like this one so I can counteract all the BS, but thank God that day is not today. I actually flipped over to MSNBC to see what Keith had going on. Gearing up for a special comment. How original. Le sigh.

On now to David Gergen giving us some of his insider-y insiderness related to what's going on with the fight against the Taliban. Turns out? The administration is rather optimistic. Okay, I don't want to dismiss the Gerg's perspective, but how do we know he's not being manipulated to tell us what the administration wants us to hear? Doesn't CNN have boots on the ground in the region to give us more of an independent perspective? At least to accompany what the Gerg is saying? Can we get a little Michael Ware up in here, yo?

Next up, we have a Randi Kaye piece that explores Jean-Bertrand Aristide's role in turning Haiti into what it is today. He was the first democratically-elected president and had a lot of nice dreams for the country, but critics say he stole money and armed street thugs to battle political opponents. Aristide's lawyer claims the charges are all just a disinformation campaign.

Due to epic laziness tonight, that's as in-depth as I'm going with this piece. It was pretty thorough, though I would quibble that there should have been more elaboration regarding the 2004 coup. This is what Randi's voice over says: "President George W. Bush's administration supplied the plane to hustle Aristide out of his country in the middle of the night. He's been living in exile and teaching in South Africa ever since." Aristide actually accused the U.S. of being behind his ousting, a charge the U.S. denied.

Tom Foreman has a piece on Amy Bishop, but I never really followed this story closely in the first place, so pass.

Then we're on to John Zarrella staking out the Miami airport, waiting for the missionaries. Duude. I guess this is going to be, like, a thing now. I should have realized this before. I mean, is there anyone out there who really needs to see or hear from these people as soon as they step off the plane? I'm sure we can all wait for the big Larry King interview (oh, you know it's coming!). But this is the cable news game...and why so many people hate it.

The "shot" tonight is troll foot! This probably requires a little bit of explanation, huh? Apparently, Danny DeVito has been taking pictures of his bare foot all over the place, like it's a friggin' traveling gnome. Remember how I said Blitzer was holding down the fort for our anchor? Well, epic fail! Yes, that would be the Silver Fox's office, obviously unguarded by the Wolfbot.

"This is the kind of thing that goes on when you're away," says our guest anchor to the absent Anderson, who is no doubt currently grimacing in horror at the toes perilously close to his keyboard. Or not. Didn't they do a report years back where they found out that Anderson's office was crazy disgusting when it comes to germs? Oh, also? DeVito did his anchor desk too. Strangely enough, all this just makes me want to watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

You've might have already guessed, but I found the show tonight to be just meh. I'll admit, I was fairly bored. Maybe it was partly me. I really hope they're not going to go crazy with this missionary thing now, especially when it seems to be in place of other Haiti news. Isn't that exactly what Anderson spoke out against? Obviously we all want the facts reported, but no more staking out airports, mmkay? That'll do it.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Everybody Hates Congress, Interview With Ron & Rand Paul, Bill Maher Riffs, Hamas Leader Slaying, And A Visit To The Ranch For Kids

Hi everyone. We begin tonight with the news that Congress is a sad, sad little body of government. Why? Because its members are leaving. Aw, cheer up Congress. You're good enough, you're smart enough, and gosh darn it...actually, strike that, everyone hates you. Yes, dear readers, it is about that time again for a rallying cry of "throw the bums out!" Interestingly, this seems to occur...oh, about every two years. Who would've thunk it?

We're then segued into a Tom Foreman piece that is all about that icky partisanship plaguing the beltway. Hm, can you tell the 2010 election season is now full steam ahead? Tom tells us both parties claim to want cooperation, yet neither seems to be delivering. Props to him for noting that Republicans have hit crazy epic levels of filibustering, but a major demerit for painting both parties with the same balanced brush.

Take health care reform for example. You want compromise? The White House did it right off the bat by not even attempting to put single payer on the table. Democrats then added amendment after amendment in an attempt to appease the obstructionists across the aisle. After all that compromising, what was the Republican response? Nooo! Not a one of them would vote for the bills put forth. For the love of God, please stop with the fake balance. Seriously, this is why people hate CNN.

Moving on now to an interview with Congressman Ron Paul and his son Rand Paul, who I was unaware existed. Anderson Cooper brings up the partisanship thing, but Ron actually thinks the problem is people compromise too much, thus throwing away their principles. Right on! Of course, Ron is arguing this from the opposite side I am, so there's that. Rand shares a similar sentiment. I think the problem here is that no one has defined compromise. From my vantage point throughout recent history, Democrats seem to think it means roll over completely, and Republicans think it means they should get everything they want.

It's about this time that I start wondering why this father son duo is getting this unopposed publicity, which is followed by the announcement that Sarah Palin has endorsed Rand for senate in Kentucky. Oh. That would be why. Oh media, you're so predictable. Anderson asks Rand if she would be a good president, and the candidate amusingly bobs and weaves. Our anchor ain't having that: "The question, though, is, do you think she would make a good president?" Good job there. Rand admits he thinks she would. Oookay, well, have fun with that Kentucky.

On now to some talk with Bill Maher. He was on Larry King Live too, so I guess, I dunno, they're getting their mileage out of him. No complaints here. I'm a pretty big Maher fan, though I'll concede he can be a bit of a dick sometimes. Speaking of that, I really wish this segment was live because Maher said some things to Larry about Haiti coverage (it's too much, it's disaster porn at this point) that I think Anderson would have liked to address. Anyway!

The Maher segment was actually fairly cathartic for me since it was like he was reading my mind. He starts off by trashing the beltway notion that people like Evan Bayh are who Washington needs right now, noting he's nothing more than a corporatist. Then there's ragging on Obama, including his compromises to nowhere, and the Democrats are rightfully trashed for being sad little cowards who couldn't even sell legislation that would give everyone a free pony. Plus? Tea party mocking. Yes, this was quite enjoyable. (Update: video!)

Transitioning now to a Paula Hancock piece about a hit that occurred in Dubai on a top Hamas official. There is an arrest warrant for 11 suspects, all of whom were caught on tape--some in disguises. Intrigue! This is pretty much a visual piece, so there's not much more for me to say. You can watch it here. Afterward, Anderson talks with former CIA officer Gary Berntsen and they speculate who conducted the slaying. My guess? Mossad.

Next up, we have a piece from Gary Tuchman on a ranch in Montana that takes adopted kids who have become too violent to live with their parents. Some of you might remember this piece was set to run the day of the Haiti quake. I guess we've come full circle now. But anyway, Gary sits down with 11-year-old Alec, who was adopted as a toddler and freely admits he threatened to kill his adoptive parents. We see video of him completely out of control, but sitting with Gary he seems very calm and even sweet. In fact, when questioned about how his actions make him feel, he starts to cry. So sad. Also? Gary's pretty amazing with him. I can't imagine anyone doing better.

We meet Alec's parents as well, who clearly love their son very much, but could no longer have him in the house, especially since they have another child. Children at the Ranch for Kids receive education and therapy, with the goal of reuniting them with their parents. Due to their adoptions, the children often have attachment issues to work through, as well as might suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Unfortunately, not all of the children improve, and even sadder, sometimes parents don't want them back.

One wonders what happens if they don't reach Alec and children like him soon. Right now he is an 11-year-old child, but in a few years he'll be a much harder to control teenager, and then...a legal adult. Will Alec be in prison before he reaches the age of 20? It's a scary thought. For more, you can read Gary's blog of the story and there is video at the link.

Following Gary's piece, we're joined by Dr. Jane Aronson for discussion. Okay, yes, this is admittedly shallow, but I cannot get past her blue glasses. I don't remember her having those the last time. As if the cable news screen isn't distracting enough. Anyway! She talks about the organic and physical damage that can occur to a child's brain during infancy due to a myriad of factors, such as exposure to alcohol, malnourishment, smoking, drugs, environmental toxins and infections. This can lead to reactive attachment disorder, which as we witnessed with Alec, can have devastating effects on a family. Very sad.

The "shot" tonight is AC360's Best in Show. Okay, see, it's Westminster Dog Show time, but the 360 kids can't actually show us any of that because they'd prefer not to get sued (Anderson's had enough of that lately). So! They put their own pooches on the interwebs and had we the viewers vote. Behold the cuteness! And the winners are...(drum roll please): Second runner up goes to Buddy, who is owned by associate producer Devna. First runner up honor is held by Sugar, pooch of executive administrative assistant Joey. And finally, the prize goes to Tom Foreman's dog Nola. Congrats to all!

The show was pretty good, with Paula and Gary's pieces standing out. It'd be nice if the media could take Maher's views on corporatists to heart, but I won't hold my breath. I can feel the dreaded campaign coverage beginning to creep in. Do. Not. Want. You think it'd be too much to ask that the media focus on facts and policy this time and not the horse race? Yeah, that's what I thought. That'll do it.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Alabama Shooting, Taliban Commander Captured, McCain Getting Primaried, Missionary Update, & Silent Bob Speaks Out Against Southwest Airlines

Hi everyone. Happy New Week! Anderson Cooper has returned to his anchor chair, and we begin with a shooting that left three people dead at the University of Alabama. The tragedy actually happened on Friday, and our anchor says he has "new details" on the shooter, Amy Bishop Anderson.

I haven't been following this at all, so it's coming out of no where for me. In a Joe Johns piece, we learn that Bishop Anderson actually shot her brother when she was younger. Lisa Bloom then joins us in studio to talk about this. Horrible story and all, but really all I needed was a headline. Anderson doesn't seem that engaged with it either. Moving on.

A little bit of BREAKING NEWS now. The Taliban's number two guy, Mullah Baradar, was captured alive in Karachi. Man, we so kick ass when it comes to number two terrorist guys. Top guy? Not so much. But we will always get his second-in-command...however many of those there might be.

Did you catch a little hint of sarcasm there? Let's just say I don't have the greatest confidence in these kinds of reports. I've seen this play before. First, there will be much crowing about a kill or capture. Then, a week or so later, an official will be quoted in the foreign press, saying they don't know what the Americans are talking about. Finally, long after the initial "go us!" celebration has ended, it will quietly be revealed that the big scary terrorist actually wasn't as big and scary as initially thought.

While I realize there are very different circumstances at play here, you have to admit that based on history, my skepticism is pretty warranted. I've seen a lot of allegedly important terrorists come and go without much result. Hell, we've even killed some of those mofos twice! So you can see why my initial visceral reaction to this latest announcement can be summed up as: ORLY?

Moving on to Tom Foreman employing the Magic Map to discuss the latest offensive against the Taliban in the city of Marjah. Then we're on to discussion with Peter Bergen and Robin Wright of the US Institute of Peace. Peter thinks the capture is a big deal. I guess we'll see. Robin talks about the new strategy in Afghanistan. Of note is mention of the new rules of engagement, which are meant to limit civilian casualties. Yes, that would be good.

Transitioning now to the news that Senator Evan Bayh will not seek re-election. The graphic says "Bye-Bye Bayh." Oh those 360 kids are so clever. But no Backstreet Boys reference? Where is your balance, CNN?!

We're not really going to talk about Bayh though. Randi Kaye has a piece all about how John McCain is getting primaried because he's not Republican enough. Oh, snap. That's gotta sting. He's being challenged by J.D. Hayworth, who Randi interviews. There is word association. Seriously. Previously I joked that these people are nothing but slogans. I guess this is the next logical step.

Hayworth campaigned for McCain in 2000, but says the McCain of 2010 is very different. See, the first sign there's a problem is when there is more then one of you. The McCain of 2000? Pretty rational. I'd maybe even vote for him. The McCain of 2008? Scary boatload of crazy. 2010? I don't even know anymore.

Also? Randi tells us that: "Tea Partiers want smaller government, lower taxes, and more freedom. J.D. Hayworth says he can deliver that and much more." Really? Will he bring everyone a magical pony as well? I'm so sick of this. Newsflash to my fellow Americans: our country is currently in a pickle that's been a long time coming. As we fix it, part of your life is going to suck. This is what we call reality. Stop acting like children.

Moving on to discussion with David Gergen. The phrase "Bayh-Partisanship" is on the chyron. Oh, they're just full of them tonight, aren't they? Anyhoo, I actually missed this convo, but let me go out on a limb and see if I can't take a guess at what our Gerg said. Hm, was there perhaps some hand-wringing over political discourse? Some sadness over the loss of a moderate? It's a bad day for the Village.

Time now for our update on the American missionaries. So that lawyer guy, Jorge Puello? Yeah, not so much a lawyer. Instead, he's accused of running an international sex-trafficking ring, which I'm guessing was not on his fake business cards. But really, the focus of this segment is an interview with Lisa Allen, the wife of one of the detained men. She hired her own attorney and not Puello. Smart. Here's a somewhat related piece I think is worth reading.

Okay, most of my regular readers know I'm a fan of the Twitter. Well, over the weekend I was very amused to witness Director Kevin Smith (@thatkevinsmith) pretty brutally take on Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) over an instance of being kicked off a flight for allegedly being too fat. Smith maintains that his weight was used as an excuse by the airline after he was erroneously ousted.

You know what's coming next, don't you? We're gonna debate this, yo! In this corner, we have Peggy Howell of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. Her opponent? Meme Roth, president of National Action Against Obesity. What follows is pretty much as train-wrecky as you might imagine. While I'm having trouble accepting Peggy's organization without irony, Meme is just, well, mean.

She chides overweight people for not eating properly, putting the blame of an often nuanced situation squarely on their shoulders. Yeah man, they're just lazy slobs! As someone at the opposite end of this particular problem (been trying to gain my whole life), Meme more than rubbed me the wrong way. In any regards, I think the real story here was the intersection of PR and social networking...and the subsequent mess for Southwest Air.

I'm going to wrap it up here because I'm tired. The show was alright. Our anchor was pretty low energy, but I can't really blame the guy for that right now. That'll do it.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

New Trouble For The American Missionaries, Afghanistan Offensive, Updating Previous Live Haiti Coverage, And Michelle Bennett's Haiti Robbery

Hi everyone. The broadcast continues to come at us live from Haiti, and we're beginning with the ever-increasing drama involving those American missionaries arrested for child kidnapping.

Karl Penhaul tells us that Salvadoran police believe that Jorge Puello, legal adviser for the American's, might actually be Jorge Torres Orellana, a man wanted in El Salvador for child trafficking. Holy Shocking Twist, Batman! So...yeah, that's bad. But it's important to point out that it has not yet been proven (fingerprints needed) that it's the same man.

We then go to Dan Simon for the response from the American's church. They're skeptical and seem to support Puello. Apparently, the guy cold called the church offering his services, and was then put in contact with Sean Lankford whose wife and daughter are in Haiti. And that's pretty much how the hiring took place.

For his part, Puello denies ever even being in El Salvador or even having a passport. But as Karl points out, one wonders how he got into Haiti (he's from the Dominican Republic) without a passport. Hm.

BREAKING NEWS! The real kind, I think. There's a new NATO offensive happening in Afghanistan against the Taliban stronghold in the city of Marjah. Atia Abawi joins us by phone and we learn this is the largest NATO operation since the war began in 2001. Sounds like it's going to be a pretty intense battle. Thoughts and prayers for our troops.

This news is a weird coincidence, in that just today I was thinking of how Afghanistan has once again become the forgotten war (don't even get me started on Iraq). I had even planned to mention it in this post. The other day I discovered that CNN has a blog dedicated to the country. It's definitely worth your time.

On now to an Anderson Cooper piece that takes us to the national day of mourning prayer service. It has been one month since the quake devastated Haiti. Today, a huge crowd assembled to remember, to pray, and to celebrate life. For us watching at home, the month has been like any other. For Haitians, their suffering has spanned greater than any increment of time, their recovery measured only in inches.

Our anchor takes the next piece as well, this one updating us on the situation at General Hospital. There is improvement, yes. But the tears of the workers show that things aren't close to being acceptable. We listen to a nurse practitioner cry as she tells us there is nothing she can do for a rape victim. The resources just don't exist.

There still aren't enough supplies. There still isn't enough help. The workers are frustrated and heartbroken. They deliver babies and are then forced to send the mother out onto the streets a few hours later. What will become of these people? For additional related reading, give this New York Times piece a click.

Moving on to a Sanjay Gupta piece that updates us on Kimberly, the 12-year-old girl who had cement in her brain. Sanjay operated on her on the USNS Comfort and she looks to be doing well. Both he and her rescuer reunited with her and brought her to her father. Sadly, her mother and sister are dead, her home destroyed. The report is below:

After Sanjay's piece, he talks with Anderson about how difficult things are for these children and how upended their lives are now. "I don't know how the story ends. I want to come back," says Sanjay. Hopefully he'll get the chance to report that ending.

INTERLUDE: Okay, so this is the part where a blogger's satellite goes out. But! Only CNN. It's like the forces are conspiring against me. So I flipped over to the Olympics, and O Canada, WTF? Television should always contain giant light up bears and a boy band member-looking Tinkerbell-wannabe flying through the air. Just sayin'.

Okay, never fear. I caught the rest during a repeat. Anderson and Sanjay have a lot more updates for us. They tracked down little Monley, who you might remember is staying with an uncle who can't really afford to care for him. There have been some snags regarding the aunt who wanted to take him in. Also, Monley has not been told his parents are dead. So sad.

Then there was 70-year-old Ana Zizi, who was rescued a week after the quake. She was initially taken to a clinic, then the USNS Comfort, and finally ended up in a rehab center in Font Parisienne where she is reportedly doing well.

We also met little Johnny, who had a broken leg. He was airlifted to an orphanage called Danita's Children and is in good condition. Johnny begins school next week. Currently, the orphanage is not processing any adoptions.

Finally, there is the case of the man allegedly pulled from the rubble just recently. Doctors say they believe it, and have been able to determine that he had access to muddy water. Apparently he lost 60 pounds. Wow.

From Anderson: " know, in movies the end of the story is they're pulled out of the rubble, and you know, in the United States they would get a book deal or a movie of the week or something. And here they're just one more person in the crowd." Sanjay then notes that the last man they talked about is now known worldwide, but he has no where to go. Sobering thoughts.

Next up, we have a piece from Abbie Boudreau that continues her investigation of how the Duvalier family robbed millions from Haiti. Previously, she focused on Jean-Claude, AKA Baby Doc. Tonight the spotlight is shown on his wife, Michelle Bennett, the real power behind the duo. Michelle only wanted the best in life, and she went so far as to steal from charities to achieve her goal.

Her wedding cost a record-breaking (seriously, it was in "The Guinness Book of World Records") three million dollars. Even her decorator had access to government accounts. It's estimated that Michelle and her husband stole at least $500 million from the Haitians. They got away with it because they had their own assassin squad who took out political opponents.

Michelle now lives in a Parisian penthouse, while Baby Doc keeps a much lower profile. Fun fact: at the time of their reign, 80 percent of Haitians were without clean drinking water. Investing $30 million probably could have resolved that problem. Again, they stole $500 million for a lavish lifestyle. Horrid, horrid people.

After Abbie's piece, Anderson tells us that he and his team might have actually seen Michelle at the Hotel Montana, but they can't be sure. Weird.

Finally tonight, we have a Reporter's Notebook from Anderson. The words are from his blog post, the photos from Getty Image's Jonathan Torgovnik. You can watch it below:

For some levity, take a look at this pic tweeted by cameraman Neil Hallsworth. It's nice that CNN doesn't discriminate against zombies when hiring their talent. (Aren't you glad we get to see the pretty version?)

The show was very good tonight. I'm assuming they're going home again--at least that's the vibe I got. Of course, it's very possible a final decision hasn't been made yet. After all, no one really said either way. I imagine at this point it might be hard to get the okay for more than one consecutive week, but hey, what do I know? The only thing I'm sure of is that the people we're watching on the ground are very committed to this story. And for that, I am thankful.

I forgot to mention this all week, but remember you can also find me on Twitter, as well as check out my Haiti Twitter list.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bill Clinton Hospitalized, Live Haiti Coverage, And The 31st Anniversary Of The Iranian Revolution

Hi everyone. I'm short on time, so this is going to have to be one of those abbreviated blog posts. We begin with the scary news that Bill Clinton had two stents placed in his coronary artery today after suffering chest discomfort.

From Jessica Yellin we learn that one graft of his previous quadruple bypass surgery was blocked, but the procedure went fine and he will go home tomorrow. She also tells us that Clinton's doctor was very clear that this incident was not related to what some might call his crazy busy workload. So...whew! All is well.

But, well, this is CNN, so we must have ALL the angles and we must beat them to death. First up, the medical angle. How very convenient that Sanjay Gupta has been hanging with us anyway. So okay, obviously if you have a history like Clinton's and you start having chest pressure, you're going to want to get it checked out. Kinda a no brainer.

Remember how Jessica said none of this was due to the former president's workload? Well, next we're also joined by David Gergen, Candy Crowley, and Paul Begala to discuss...Clinton's workload. Right then. David tells us, "Americans know now he has a big, big heart, but just not a very strong heart." ORLY? Thank you, Dr. Gergen. I was not aware you were also a cardiologist.

Sanjay actually previously interviewed Clinton about his quadruple bypass, the vault! Yeah, it's clip time. Anderson Cooper is worried about how this heart stuff can pop up on you so suddenly like this. Nobody tell him about aortic dissections. Seriously, that stuff is scary.

Anyway, then everyone is talking about Clinton again and how much he cares about others' health, and yay for that and everything, but dudes he's not dead. I mean, c'mon. The Gerg tells us..."his passion level is extremely high." Am I just supposed to let that go? I mean, remember who you're talking about. Fine. Fine. I'll be good.

Transitioning to Karl Penhaul live for our nightly update on the arrested American missionaries. Well, it is now Thursday, the day when possible conditional release was expected. But from Karl we learn, sorry missionaries, no bail for you! (Sorry, can't resist a good Soup Nazi reference.) Actually, no real decision has been made. It's just that the judge who was going to rush things, uh, didn't. So now the attorney general has to look at it and then it'll get passed back to the judge and...complicated! Bye Karl, I guess we'll catch you tomorrow.

Up next, we have an Anderson Cooper piece set at Mercy and Sharing Orphanage, and it is filled with adorableness! Our anchor holds a baby and plays with other children. Yes, yes, let the "awwwws!" commence. Cue round two of the Enquirer rumors (kidding).

Anyway! Now that we have that out of our systems, the meat of this story is actually pretty cool. The orphanage has 106 children, 70 percent of which are mentally or physically disabled. Some are even terminally ill. All were abandoned prior to the earthquake.

Raphaelle Chenet, the administrator of the facility, believes in caring for and educating these children in Haiti, so they can grow up in their own country. They will be accepting 100 additional children (victims of the quake) upon government approval. You can learn how to help them at (Update: piece is below. Behold the cuteness.)

Moving back to the live shot, we're given an update on little Kenzie who was treated on the USNS Comfort and recently reunited with his family. We're shown some video, and man, that kid has a great smile. Sanjay tells us Kenzie's been telling people that he's been on TV a lot and people like to take his picture. So cute! Future Superstar!

Transitioning to Ivan Watson in the studio for coverage of the 31st anniversary of the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Big day! Also? Does this mean 360 has heard my request for them to adopt Ivan? Let it be so! As for the news, Ahmadinejad did his speech thing, while the state media played it all out like everything was hunky-dory. Meanwhile, protesters are getting beaten in the streets.

I've really been slacking on the Iran stuff lately. Yes, I am shame-faced. But I've found CNN's Iran Twitter list to be worth a look, and as previously, Andrew Sullivan is all over it when it comes to this subject. Also, it should be noted that Gibbs is calling BS on the Iranian enrichment claims.

Candy Crowley has the "360 Bulletin" again, and unfortunately suffers what appears to be a case of broken prompter. Yikes, it gets painful. Then Anderson weirdly interrupts her in the middle of it to start asking questions, which was either cluelessness on his part or a very sweet act of chivalrous rescuing. I report, you decide.

Back to all the Clinton stuff and Joe Johns gets brought into the game (hey, why not?). Also? Animation! As in, of the heart. Then we have Sanjay and Anderson talking about Clinton's crappy genetics, which leads to them talking about their own crappy genetics. Great, now I'm thinking of my crappy genetics. Raise your hand if your dad died of heart disease. The club of which no one wants to be a member.

On now to a Sanjay piece on the follow up care situation in Haiti. Things are better in that they're now able to give care for ailments other than acute quake related injuries, but the big question is how are these people going to recover. They're living in dirty tent cities and the rainy season promises to bring infectious diseases. Mobile units are working on immunizations, but will it be enough?

Plus, after his piece, Sanjay tells us that hospital discharge instructions are often written in English (brilliant!) and even if the Haitians could read them, there are no pharmacies to get supplies anyway. The doctors are hoping the patients will return for medication, and follow up care can be provided at that time. That's a big bet.

Finally tonight, we have a Randi Kaye piece on the suicide of famous designer Alexander McQueen. I feel like a bit of a fashion failure given that I've never heard of this guy. But I can see his influence on Lady Gaga, so there's that. Give me a break. I'm from the Midwest. And also, I don't care. I mean, I care that he killed himself. That's very sad. He was only 40. It sounds like he might have been distraught over his mother's death, which occurred about a week ago. Again, sad.

The show was okay. I think they went a little heavy with the Clinton stuff, though I'm not denying it was a big story. It was good to see Ivan. More international reporters please. Anyway, that'll do it.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowgasm, Live Reporting From Haiti, And Investigating Dictator Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier

Hi everyone. I'm not sure if you've heard, but it seems part of the country has been experiencing a bit of snow recently. We begin the broadcast with Gary Tuchman coming at us live from New York. See, this is the part where the correspondent is forced out of the nice warm studio and made to stand in the bitter cold in order to demonstrate to we the viewers that, yes, it is snowing. For his part, Gary plays his role well, avoiding all mishaps that are common with these kind of live shots. No YouTubing for this guy!

Anyway! Amidst all this, a comically large graphic screeching "Blizzard 2010" goes across the screen. If you manage to survive Snowpocalypse, also beware the human-swallowing graphics. They then employ the use of the Magic Wall (hey, why not?) to give us all the record-breaking details. Basically? There's a lot of snow.

In many places conditions are FUBAR. Don't even ask about the airports, people. As Gary throws it back to Anderson live in Haiti, we witness a pretty bizarre split screen. Bundled-up snowy Gary and t-shirt-ed sweaty Anderson Cooper. This is normally where I would mock the one enjoying the warm temps, but our anchor is in Haiti, so yeah, not so much.

We're then transition to an Anderson piece set in the wreckage of the National Nursing College. The remains of about 100 students are still on site. The security guard of the school, Joseph Charles, now spends his days trying to find those students--or at least what's left--so they can be properly buried. Eric Jones, a volunteer from Washington D.C., has been helping him, though the language barrier makes communication difficult.

The men are working against time, or more literally, a government bulldozer that treats all debris as trash--whether it contains human remains or not. Three days ago they found the bodies of 10 nurses and put them on the side of the road to be collected by the government. But the government never came. Dogs did. Bones were all that was left behind. Awful.

We're next joined live by Karl Penhaul for an update on the American missionaries. There is now an application pending for bail on conditional release. If all goes well for them, they could be free to leave Haiti on Thursday. Then if charges are dropped, I guess that is that. Otherwise, they'll have to return for trial. There are a lot of moving parts here. This case has become bigger than 10 people. I hope justice is truly served.

On now to a Sanjay Gupta piece that further expands on that surprising fact about Medicare we learned last night. We meet Jean Chery, a quake victim who was badly burned when a propane tank exploded. His injuries were severe enough that he needed better care than anyone in Haiti could provide, so he was flown to the United States. Medicare then pays 110 percent for hospitals to treat patients such as Jean, with the money coming from the National Disaster Medical System.

Apparently, the extra 10 percent is supposed to be an incentive so hospitals won't have to worry about extra costs during a disaster. Is that really an issue here? I don't think our hospitals are being flooded with Haitians. Anyway, Sanjay tracked down the man's wife and let him talk to her by phone, so that was nice.

This is the part where your blogger gets a phone call. I missed most of the subsequent Tom Foreman piece in which he skis to work in Washington D.C. But amusement abounds. Now that's dedication. Are you watching this, Jon Klein? Tom tells us it took him three hours to get to his office, which is the same amount of time it took me to drive to my university the year we had a snowstorm during finals. (I was too poor to live near campus.) I love the sound of snow scraping the bottom of my car as I drive. Good times!

Moving on to an Abbie Boudreau piece that investigates just what happened to Haiti's money. Turns out? Dictators happened. Francois 'Papa Doc' Duvalier saw some 60,000 Haitians killed under his reign. Then his son Jean-Claude Duvalier, AKA 'Baby Doc', took over and he and his wife pretty much robbed Haiti for all it was worth. The country became his personal bank account. Cars, jewelry. You name it, he seems to have bought it.

In 1986 he and his wife fled to France and then became entangled in a messy divorce where it appears she came out on top. There's still money in a bank in Geneva, which is the source of much litigation. These people are horrid. After the piece, Anderson reminds us that the U.S. supported the regime for years. This appears to have been a very well done investigation. It's good to see them starting to explore the more complicated angles of the Haiti story. You can find more info on the Duvaliers here.

Anderson then discusses the situation with Dan Erikson, a Caribbean Affairs analyst. Sounds like there are a lot more stories to explore.

Back to Snowmageddon! Not to be satisfied with just having him stand in the white stuff, CNN made Gary travel in it as well. In a piece from him, we learn that D.C. is a ghost town, but New York is a-jumping. Sled time!!! Remember, most New Yorkers don't drive, so they don't know the pure joy that is dealing with a frozen snow-covered car. The wipers that just won't come unstuck. The gracefulness of climbing in the passenger side when the driver's side door is frozen. And that's before you even attempt the commute. I HATE winter.

But our pal Gary skips the car and goes for the bus. He even interviews the driver while she's driving. Gotta give it up to her. Driving in New York scares me. Driving a bus scares me. Driving in snow scares me. Combining all three? Um, no thanks. Gary also talks to some passengers who seem unaffected by the snowgasm in their midst. One passenger is Rebecca Schull, and we are informed she "is an actress who you can see on reruns of the old NBC comedy Wings." How hilariously random. Well, I hope they all got where they were going.

The "shot" tonight is a Randi Kaye piece that goes all meta on our asses regarding Snowpocalypse. She posits that sometime the news peeps hype weather-related events and perhaps engage in some live shot silliness. Really?! I hadn't noticed. Randi goes on to give us what is essentially the snow-related version of this hilarious instructional video on how to report the news. Well played.

I guess that'll do it. The show continues to be good. I hope all my readers are warm. Yell if you need a shovel.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Anderson Cooper 360 Reports Live From Haiti With Coverage Ranging From Orphans To Quarantined Patients (Plus Snowpocalypse!)

Hi everyone. Like last night, we begin this broadcast with Anderson Cooper emphatically trying to portray the importance of the story of Haiti. He concedes it's falling out of the headlines and may seem repetitive, but the story deserves to continue to be told. In essence, he's shaking us all by the shoulders, yelling, "Care, world!"

Our first piece of the night is from our anchor, and it explores the challenge of helping kids who appear to be orphaned. We follow along with workers from Heartland Alliance as they attempt to locate family members of 10-year-old Stephanie Jacques (ph). Unicef does the same for five-year-old Kenzie Charles (ph), currently being treated on the USS Comfort. By a stroke of luck or divine intervention (I'll let you choose), the little boy's parents are located nearby. At least one family is having a good day.

Sanjay Gupta then joins Anderson to talk about the 28-year-old man allegedly pulled from the rubble after a month. He seems to be doing fairly well and is even requesting chocolate. If I hadn't eaten for a month, I think I'd be asking for every food known to man. Of course, he's no doubt not going to be able to eat much for a while.

From Sanjay, we learn that the man actually heard the bulldozers coming and feared he too would be scooped out and tossed in a dump truck like trash. Our doctor also tells us that in terms of emergent cases, things are improving. But the health of Haiti overall is very much up in the air. One wonders what the follow up situation is going to be like--if there is one at all.

Next up, we have a piece from Anderson that gives us a tour of one of the tent cities that have been popping up all over Port-au-Prince, where an estimated 450,000 are now homeless. Anderson explains that initially, people just used sheets to create their living quarters. As time goes on, however, they're beginning to scavenge for materials to make the structures more permanent.

Part of our tour occurs at night, and people are quite pleased to see our anchor, who informs us there might be a bit of drinking going on. Others are cooking and selling food. Team 360 also stumbles upon a very ill woman and subsequently secures her a way to the hospital. Somewhere in another tent city, there is another deathly ill woman with no television crew there to help her. The story of Haiti goes on.

Moving on now to a Karl Penhaul piece for the latest on the saga of the American missionaries. As we learned previously, the group actually tried to take another group of children from a tent city out of Haiti on a bus, and were prevented from doing so by a police officer. Karl finds a woman who says the missionaries offered to take her son and daughter, as her husband had died in the quake and she didn't think she could care for them. Ultimately she did not put her children on the bus.

But Karl also finds a boy who was forced onto the bus by his father. He didn't even know where he was going. An attorney for the group states he was not aware of this attempt to take children. Following Karl's piece, Anderson tells us that the little boy forced on the bus had been given toys by the Americans, but once the scheme failed, they actually asked for the toys back. How very Christian of them.

For a bit of levity, I double-checked this story against the transcript, and it says the missionaries gave the boy "Toyotas." Not quite as impressive as it would have been a few weeks ago.

Transitioning to...Snowpocalypse! SnOMG! And don't forget Snowmageddon. Kinda sad that this latest storm hasn't even happened yet and we've already blown the coolest names. Anyhoo! As you might have heard, there's some snow making it's way to the Big Apple, most of the East Coast, actually.

Chad Myers informs us that some of our CNN friends will be spending the night in a hotel to ensure they're able to deliver their regularly scheduled newsiness. As for my neck of the woods, I woke up, saw snow, heard the schools were closed, and contacted my boss to say I was moving my office day to tomorrow. Then, not three hours later, almost all the snow was gone from the streets. WTF? Snow fail. Was flippin' cold though.

Candy Crowley has the "360 Bulletin" tonight and Anderson makes sure to lavish on the praise regarding her debut broadcast as anchor of State of the Union. Last week she had noted she was a little nauseous about diving in. "No vomiting?" asks Anderson. Thankfully, Candy assures us that she refrained. "I think I might have vomited my debut on 360," says our anchor. TMI, Cooper. TMI.

On now to a Sanjay Gupta piece that takes us inside a tent of patients quarantined for tuberculosis. Yes, he wears a mask. Given how closely the Haitian population is currently living, spreading of TB is a big concern that could potentially have ramifications for us all if it begins to be carried by air travelers out of the country. Scary.

After Sanjay's piece, he discusses the issue with Anderson, who interrupts his own point about sanitation to identify and remove a bug from Sanjay's shirt. Hilariously random. But I'm thankful, since it was, uh, bugging me. Our anchor's about to have PETA on his tail. I mean, if the president couldn't even get away with it...

Next up, Anderson interviews Sean Penn. That's right, I said Sean Penn. Now, normally this is when I would hit DEFCON 5 in terms of needing to snark, but Penn is kinda the real deal and has apparently been working his butt off in Haiti the whole time. He talks about how proud he is of the U.S. military.

Anderson worries about the coming rains and the soon to be nonexistent coverage. He notes the Olympics are airing soon and fears people will get involved with watching that, forgetting about Haiti. I actually didn't think people cared all that much about the Winter Olympics, but was informed by friends that I am mistaken.

Sean thinks the games should be politicized in order to put the focus on Haiti. I can't help but think of the Kashmir quake that happened in October 2005. Remember that? Almost 80,000 people died. Sanjay traveled there that December as winter began to take hold. Everyone wondered what would happen to the homeless as it became bitterly cold.

I don't know the answer to that because Sanjay's reports are the last ones I remember. After that, the story of Kashmir just...disappeared. Haiti is probably an easier story to cover in terms of logistics, but I fear that might not be enough.

Part of Anderson's conversation with Sean is below. Because I was sincere with this celebrity segment, I now feel I must mock someone. (It's like an itch I need to scratch, people!) I believe my douchebag of choice is going to be Dr. Phil. After Katrina, like a lot of celebrities, he showed up in New Orleans looking to help. And hey, if he got some publicity for his show, all the better, right?

I remember I was with my brother watching the news when it was announced Dr. Phil was on his way. With completely sincere horror, I exclaimed, "My God, haven't these people been through enough already?!" Normally it's a line I would deliver with ironic intent, but I totally meant it, which drove my brother to practically fall on the floor laughing. Ah, memories. Seriously, what a douchebag.

Anderson and Sanjay then talk about the children being airlifted out of Haiti due to illness. We also learn that Medicare is paying 110 percent to hospitals in the United States to care for Haitian children. Um, what? Ruh Roh. My initial reaction is cue the outrage of people freaking over their tax dollars being used on Haitian kids. I don't know though. This one could go either way. Will it blow up into a big political thing or will it fall off the radar? Only time will tell. Discussion is below:

Moving on to a clip of Michelle Obama discussing childhood obesity on Larry King. A good topic and all, but are we seriously not going to talk about what's going on with Larry's hair?

Candy then returns with some more headlines, which ultimately leads to she and Anderson bitching about airline pillows and blankets. Bah. Quiet you babies. I've never even been offered one. We then move on to the "shot," which is Donna Brazile and Wolf Blitzer dancing. Sorta! Backing it up a bit, Donna got her groove thing on to the joy over the Saints' recent victory. She then asked the Wolfbot to join in, and he did--in his own special way. It kinda looks like this.

Donna then joins us in a little taped interview where she sings the praises of New Orleans' recovery and deems Anderson a "favorite son." Our anchor adds to the love-fest, name dropping some of his favorite restaurants in the area. "Anderson, next time you want some good Creole gumbo, come to Chez Donna, my house, baby," says Donna. Oh my! I do believe she is flirting. You lead the poor anchor along, but won't allow him to become your boo? Oh Donna. Such a tease!

Back with Candy again, she asks Anderson if he would have accepted a request from Donna to dance. Hmm readers, based on the history of forever, what do we think? Slow dance, probably. Anything else? Yeah, not so much. Candy actually seems a bit frightened of the Wolfbot dancing, as she should be.

Anderson reminds us of weird Blitzer facts: "Wolf loves the music, you know. He was in that band when he was a kid. And he claims he was in the original band called The Monkeys. He had a band that he claims predated the actually Monkees. But I'm not sure I believe him." Unlike Micky Dolenz, our anchor is not a believer. Apparently, there is a trace of doubt in his mind. (Monkee puns! Oh, they should pay me extra for this.)

That'll do it. The show was very good tonight. Keep on truckin', 360. We'll be here.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Anderson Cooper 360 Returns To Haiti, Update On The American Missionaries, Sarah Palin Keynotes Tea Party Convention, & Who Dat?!

Hi everyone. Sorry about the lack of Friday review. Sometimes you feel like blogging; other times you feel like vegging. But it's a new week, and we find ourselves back in Haiti. I'm not sure if technically one is allowed to be proud of people they've never met, but if it is, I am totally proud of Team 360 right now. I knew they would return to the country. There was never any doubt in my mind (and it should be noted that CNN as an organization never left). But it's still nice to witness the dedication.

Anderson Cooper begins by addressing the question of why he returned, a question he also explored in a blog post. He explains that the people on the ground aren't asking him why he returned, but rather why he ever left. I'm guessing he probably feels guilty about that. He shouldn't. I don't see any other major anchor in the country. Last week, Brian Williams was on The Daily Show talking about the three days he spent in Haiti. Now, I love me some BriWi, but three days? That's your classic parachute in, do the disaster tour, sayonara.

As for the week break, quite frankly CNN would be stupid to let any of their people stay in those conditions for an extended period of time. They are there to perform a job. Getting worn down to the point that you become an infection magnet isn't exactly helpful. But anyway, the video below is Anderson talking about why he returned and some of things he's seen upon his re-arrival:

There was amazing news today. Maybe. Anderson and Sanjay Gupta talk about a 28-year-old man who was allegedly pulled from the rubble alive nearly a month after the quake. I have to say, I'm pretty skeptical about this one. So much so that I didn't feel comfortable tweeting the news. Obviously, if true, the man must have had access to water. Otherwise there's no way in hell he would have survived and even seems a little fishy. We may never know for sure.

From that potential miracle, we move into an Anderson piece that just kind of summarizes what the situation continues to be like on the ground. People are living in the street. Bodies are still being found, and subsequently buried in old graves (if they're lucky). There's heavy equipment being used to clean up, but destruction remains all around. People find new ways to make money, such as a man they come across selling electricity. All in all, improvement has been made, but Haiti remains plunged in misery.

Karl Penhaul then joins us live to talk about the case of the American missionaries charged with kidnapping. Earlier, Anderson noted how much coverage this controversy has been getting and reiterated there is much more to the story of Haiti. I'm glad he said that. Last week I noticed that their post-quake coverage had suddenly become strangely focused, but I didn't want to complain just yet. That's not to say, of course, that they shouldn't cover the missionaries. Karl tells us that the Laura Silsby-led group actually tried to take a whole other group of children before the current group and were stopped. So, yes, they are in big trouble.

Then we bounce back to Idaho to get the angle that Dan Simon has been covering. We learned the other day that the men and women have been separated. Dan was actually able to sit down with Renee Thompson, wife of Paul Thompson, one of the men arrested. We learn that Thompson received an email from Silsby (who he did not know), basically recruiting him for this trip. He went on to recruit four other men himself. Paul's wife claims he was not in the loop on the details, but rather thought he was going to do good with his handyman skills. This is both sad and totally messed up.

Next, we're joined by Frances Robles of the Miami Herald live on-the-ground with Anderson and Sanjay to talk about the fallout from this missionary mess. Apparently, sick kids are now being denied their promised flights out of the country because pilots are freaking out over all the questions they're being asked. I guess suddenly everyone is extra suspicious of those transporting children and no one wants to be arrested for trying to do a good deed. The result? Sick kids become dead kids. There has to be a better way.

The subject of keeping this story in the news also comes up, an issue I depressingly blogged about over a week ago. It's apparent that Anderson is worried about it, and hey, he's seen it before--there's no reason he shouldn't be worried. Frances, on the other hand, is more worried about the staying power of the aid agencies currently lending a hand in Haiti. I guess that will partly be the media's responsibility as well. If the help leaves and no one reports it, well, I don't even want to think out that.

On a silly note, you know that whole "Text 360" thing that I think is pretty stupid? Well, my feelings haven't changed on that, but tonight my girl Vanessa got her text read. So...shout out! That's pretty much all I have to say on that. Below is video of discussion between Anderson, Frances, and Sanjay:

Transitioning now to politics. Can I get a woo hoo? No? Okay. So, as you might have heard, the big Tea Party Convention has taken the country by storm. By storm, people! All 600 of them. I am completely flummoxed by the media's complete newsgasm over a stupid convention that only drew 600 people. Hell, I went to a media reform convention back in 2005 that had well over a thousand attendees. I'm pretty sure CNN didn't even know it existed, even with the attendance of Bill Moyers, Al Franken, and various members of Congress. My point here is WTF is up with the drooling over this convention?

Oh wait, I know what's up. And her name is Sarah Palin: Media Magnet. Ms. Maverick-y gave the keynote, and while she made sure to rag on Obama's use of the teleprompter, she failed to see the irony in using her hand as a crib sheet to remind herself to "lift American spirits." No, I'm not kidding. I wish I were kidding. So, to recap, the favored leader of the conservative movement likes to use her hand as a cheat sheet for hard words like "tax," and predominantly uses Facebook to communicate. Good lord, they're trying to elect a 14-year-old. It's like America is trapped in a scene from a really warped version of Freaky Friday.

That train wreck all came to us via a Randi Kaye piece, by the way. After covering the convention, I figure she deserves the credit. For discussion, we're next joined by Mary Matalin. Um, yeah, I don't think so. Even Anderson looks downright thrilled to be having this conversation. Yes, yes, I'm sure it'd be the same with a Democrat, but whatev.

Finally tonight,...who dat???!!! Yes, the New Orleans Saints won the Superbowl, which just so happens to have been the most-watched television program evah! In full disclosure, I should note that I neither like nor understand the game of football. But! My heart was totally rooting for New Orleans. I just, you know, didn't actually watch any of it. Hey man, ABC had Modern Family on. Don't judge me. Anyway! James Carville and Mary Matalin then join us to gloat. They're decked out in their Saints gear too. They're being, dare I say, almost enjoyable? Now see, why can't they be like this all the time? I mean, c'mon, is that whole politics thing really that necessary?

The "shot" tonight is a weatherman freaking the eff out over snowmageddon. SnOMG! Good times.

The show was pretty good. Obviously, they just got there and haven't had much time to really zero in on specific stories (besides the missionaries). As Anderson noted earlier, it's going to get harder to keep the reports fresh and find new angles. I tend to hang onto stories forever. (Wanna do a follow up on Katrina? I'll watch.) But most viewers aren't like me. Again, I really admire that Team 360 is back.

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