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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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where can I find the video for the topics mentioned in this post? Thanks

8:33 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

Were you looking for a specific segment? CNN's video can be found here:

However not everything is put on the web and they don't always make it easy to find what you're looking for. The show also has a podcast, though again, it doesn't contain everything:

If what you're looking for is not on the CNN site I might be able to help you find it elsewhere.

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eliza...I was looking for the video that accompanied the stories in the post. However, it is not available on the CNN site. Is there a way to access it/buy it?

12:24 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

No. And CNN does not put whole shows online--only certain packages and discussions. The podcast would be as close as you could get. If you're looking for a specific story or part of the show, well, I can't help you unless you tell me what that is.

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Eliza...specifically I'm looking for the video on toyota recall. The segment starting with this sentence "Transitioning now to a clip of Akio Toyoda (Toyota CEO) testifying before Congress....."

2:24 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

If you're looking for a clip of the Toyota CEO testifying, I imagine you can find that numerous places around the net with a simple Google. But I think you're looking for the subsequent report from Ted Rowlands? CNN did not post the piece about Exponent to their site, but it seems someone on YouTube filmed their TV and uploaded it:

1:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Eliza.

2:39 PM  

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