Monday, March 29, 2010

Christian Militia Group Plot, The RNC's Bondage Club Bill (Oh My!), And Investigating Scientology Abuse Allegations

Hi everyone. Happy New Week! As for my absence half of last week, well, everything was going fine. Then on Thursday I got a call that led to me spending six hours in the emergency room with my sister. We're still not really sure what's wrong, but thankfully the really scary things were ruled out. So! By the time Friday rolled around I was pretty much in a "screw it" state of mind when it comes to blogging...and here we are.

The hour kicks off with a big-ass preview of the Scientology report that will be airing later in the broadcast. I'm not really sure why we needed that long of clip, but whatev. I gotta admit, when I first heard they were doing this series, my reaction was a big resounding meh. The 360 kids have actually covered Scientology quite a bit over the years, and I wasn't sure why they were diving back in yet again.

But then the Internets starting a-buzzing and Anderson Cooper himself even blogged about the controversy surrounding the report--all before it even aired. It turns out this isn't a fly-by-night sort of package. They've been working on this for quite a while...and clearing pissing people off. Though I don't particularly care about the subject matter all that much, I'm a big sucker for journalism that makes the powerful uncomfortable.

Plus when the Silver Fox's own Alma mater is putting up amusingly ominously titled posts like this one, it does tend to pique one's interest. (By the way, I watched our anchor dodge rockets for a month in 2006 during the Hezbollah/Israel war. The Scientologists may be brutal, but I think the dude's going to be okay.)

Anyway! The real top story of our broadcast is that authorities have arrested members of a Michigan-based militia group for conspiring to kill police officers. The group is called Hutaree and they're Christian end timers. Apparently they've been training to wage war. Awesome. Anderson is at the Magic Wall and he's showing us all sorts of frickin' stuff. Technology overload! The best part is that he's narrating what he's doing the whole time, which might be more for his benefit than ours.

But the important part here, as Anderson reminds us, the Department of Homeland Security foresaw this rise in extremist activity we've been having lately. They even put out a report about it last year...and were promptly met with shrieks from the right wing. As an example, we're shown a quote from blogger Michelle Malkin. I wouldn't have expected them to call her out, so good for that. Such a pretty person on the outside, but so so ugly on the inside.

Eventually, all the pressure caused Secretary Janet Napolitano to back off and the report was pulled. Well, 360 frames it as a question, as is their wont. It doesn't take a genius to know that's what happened. Pretty frustrating. I remember the report clearly, as well as the backlash. My blog readers know I've been especially interested in this subject. None of this is shocking to me.

Next up, Drew Griffin has the requisite go-talk-to-the-neighbors piece because, well, what else is there to do. Surprisingly, the neighbors did not notice the major training for Armageddon that was going on down the street. The cynical part of me wants to make a comment about how they would have noticed if they all had beards, but I shall refrain from that rather harsh accusation.

For discussion of all this, we're joined by Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center and John Avlon. The gist is that the DHS report was spot on and Napolitano was a coward for backing off. Also? Avlon uses the phrase "hatriot movement" again. Doesn't this guy have friends to tell him to stop? All three men end by lamenting the partisanship of discourse now. Now? Are they new here?

Transitioning now to your regular dose of weird Republican scandal. RNC head Michael Steele is in trouble with a capital "T" and that rhymes with "B"...for bondage-themed nightclub. Oh yes. Tom Foreman tells us that the RNC payed a whole mess of cash for donor Erik Brown to, among other things, visit a sex club. Now they're saying they shouldn't have paid and blah blah blah. It's sad how underwhelmed I am by all this. I mean, a sex club? That's all you got? I miss the days of bathroom stall toe-tapping and possible naked hiking. They just don't do scandals like they used to.

Now onto the big Scientology investigation--at least part one. It's good to see Anderson doing reporting for CNN without having to leave the country. His piece isn't about the religion itself (yes, I debated on using quotes around that word), but rather the accusations that the church's current leader, David Miscavige, has engaged in physical abuse against members. Marty Rathbun is the highest ranking member of Scientology to speak out against Miscavige. He tells Anderson of witnessing the abuse, particularly that of Mike Rinder, former chief spokesman for the church.

Rinder would not go on camera (he has since left the church), but he did confirm Rathbun's story. Current chief spokesman, Tommy Davis, calls it all lies. One wonders if Tommy is getting the crap beat out of him too. The Scientologists have provided CNN with a bunch of documentation that defends Miscavige and smears Rathbun. Church members say Rathbun was actually the violent one and for his part, he does not deny occasionally becoming abusive--though claims he was pressured. Miscavige will not speak for himself.

It's also noted that it wasn't until now that the Scientologists would sit down with CNN without pre-conditions. Good for CNN for telling us that and for holding out in the first place. After Anderson's piece, we get a long preview of the next report in which one of the member's wives accuses our anchor of being rude. Did the Silver Fox respond with an outraged "oh no you din't!" complete with finger snap? Tune it tomorrow to find out!

The "shot" tonight is a loris being tickled. Anderson is very excited about this, deeming it "possibly the cutest video ever." He does voices too. Yeah, if we didn't already love him it would be kinda weird. Our anchor is so adorkable. But! The cutest video ever? I don't know, Silver Fox. This kitten gives that loris a run for its money.

So, I thought tonight was a pretty solid show. Bravo. Everybody gets a cookie. Well, except for the Scientologists--they apparently first need to learn that hitting is wrong. My only real quibble is that I don't understand why they have to spend so much of the hour previewing. I get that they're trying to entice people to watch, but long clips at both the top and bottom of the show? Sean Penn was supposed to be on to talk about Haiti and he got bumped. Could they have fit him without the previews? By the way, I actually tweeted his appearance. You made me lie to my tweeps, 360. That'll teach me to retweet. Anyhoo, I hope the ratings fairy is kind. That'll do it.

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Anonymous PRESLEY said...

The $cientology freaks are DANGEROUS. People that try and speak out against them disappear, have "accidents" and "mysterious suicides". Once you're in, it is more than difficult, emphasis on CULT in the word difficult, to leave.
And OHMAHGAH! CUTE KITTEH VIDEO! I still love that kitteh clip....

7:56 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

I definitely do not understand Scientology. Everything I hear about it is creepy.

Cutest. Kitty. Evah.

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