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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