Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Eric Massa: Tickle-Fighter Extraordinaire, Prius On The Loose, More From Hollenbeck, Dating Game MURDER (!!!), & Controversy Over A Haitian Baby

Hi everyone. We begin tonight with the story of one Mr. Eric Massa, a now former congressman, who despite me not knowing much about him before today, has managed to provide at least a week's worth of giggles. Says our anchor: "First up, think of all the ways that politicians get into trouble. There's taking bribes. There's drunk driving. There's infidelity. You can run the list. Rack your brain. Go ahead. But chances are, you will never, ever come up with tickle fights. That's right, tickle fights." You underestimate me, Anderson Cooper!

In fairness, I think Larry "wide stance" Craig set the bar pretty high for congressional kink. Anyway! This leads us into a Joe Johns piece on why Massa gave his resignation. Turns out, you can take your pick because the former congressman has given us several reasons to choose from. First, there's the classic health issue excuse. Then he admitted to ethics violations, and finally, accused Democrats of pushing him out over health care reform.

There's actually a whole mess of awesomesauce here. Earlier today, I happened to glance at my Twitter feed and saw people were going nuts about something related to this Massa character and Glenn Beck. Apparently, Beck had the former congressman on his show for the hour because he thought he was going to trash the Democrats over health care reform. That is soo not what happened. You all know I don't actually watch that show because to do so would make flowers wilt and puppies cry, but I did read this article; call it cliff notes if you will.

If I may, a dramatic interpretation of the broadcast: Beck is all, "Hey there Eric Massa, thank you for coming on the show. Please kindly spill all of the Democratic health care reform secrets so that I may imply someone is Hitler and then have a good cry." And then Massa was like, "That sounds like fun, but you know what be even more fun? How about I talk to you about how I groped a male staffer this one time and, oh, would you like to see photos of my tickle fights? Because I have some right here."

At this point, Beck realizes he has made a grave miscalculation, and when GLENN BECK is your conductor on the way to Sanity Town, you know the shit is going down. Oh that's right, we've got some rated R-ness going on up in here tonight. I can't help myself due to the extreme stone-cold WTFery. To be clear, the Beck interview was mentioned in the piece, though I've, uh, further explored it here. But what is up with leaving out the naked Rahm Emanuel anecdote? Naked Rahm should never go unmentioned. Also? The look on Anderson's face after this piece made me laugh out loud. He is so loving this story.

For discussion of the crazy, we're joined by David Gergen and Arianna Huffington. The Gerg is totally your dad is this situation. All the kids are tee-heeing over tickle fights, while he's metaphorically rolling his eyes over the ridiculousness of it all and sternly reminding us that the real story is Massa's accusation that the Democrats forced him out of Congress (a charge he later admitted wasn't true). Despite being a buzz kill, The Gerg is right. I mean, hells yeah, I had fun blogging it, but in the grand scheme of things this story really isn't important at all. It's barely even a story, save the titillating details.

Arianna notes that to his credit, Beck apologized to his viewers for wasting their time. And from Anderson: "I think Glenn Beck is an enormous talent in what he does, but he clearly seemed to be kind of clutching at straws at some points today." Just today? Also, pssst, he's not on your network anymore--you don't have to say nice things. Maybe our anchor means Beck is an enormous talent at being a paranoid moron, which in that case, yes, agreed. The segment ends with the panel talking about tickle fights. Yes, this really happened.

Transitioning now to a Ted Rowlands piece on a runaway Toyota Prius. Jim Sikes was driving in San Diego County when suddenly the accelerator of his car took on a life of its own, and in turn took Jim for a terrifying joy ride. He was able to call 911 and we hear the tape played. Pretty scary stuff, though it was quite amusing to me that the interview was done in Jim's car with Ted sitting behind him in the backseat. Oh News, you're so adorably mock-worthy sometimes.

Moving on to Anderson telling us that Letterman blackmailer Robert Joe Halderman pleaded guilty to extortion and was sentenced to six months in jail. Jeffrey Toobin joins us for the legal lowdown, but I'm sorta over this story. However, of note is a nice montage of clips of Halderman's past statements.

Next up, we have a Homicide in Hollenbeck piece from Anderson. Tonight we are updated on the case of two brothers, Ronald and Angel Brock, both victims of gang violence. Ronald wasn't a banger; he was a marine set to deploy when he was killed at his home at only 19-years-old. It's believed that Angel, the actual gang member, was the target. Angel himself was then killed only seven months later. Neither case has been solved. No one is willing to come forward. Right before Ronald died, he learned his girlfriend was pregnant. His daughter is now seven, robbed of the chance to ever know the father who had his sights set on something higher than life in a gang.

Of particular note in this piece was the mention of Bobby Singleton, a homeless man brutally murdered in order to prevent him from testifying in a gang case, and to no doubt send a message to others who might be thinking of doing the same. Didn't just yesterday Anderson report that the police said there were barely any incidents of violence against witnesses? To be fair, he did note the officer had said there was one--maybe this was it. Still feel like I'm getting a mixed message though.

Moving on now to a Tom Foreman piece about a serial killer and the television show The Dating Game. It seems that in between his raping and killing, Rodney Alcala also took a little time off to appear on the 1970's show. Besides the fact that the killer has just been sentenced to death for his crimes, there's really not much here. Not exactly the kind of report I want to see on my news broadcast, but with that creepy TV contestant/serial killer combination, I suppose they couldn't pass it up. The chyron possibilities alone probably got them excited: Dating Game Serial Killer.

But things really go off the wheels after the piece when Anderson actually "digs deeper" with serial killer dude's fellow Dating Game contestant, Jed Mills. It's one of those, "are they kidding?" moments. Was his childhood neighbor not available? No, 360. Just no. There are some bookings that just shouldn't be done. It's still no where near as bad as when they booked a former pimp though. So there's that.

Moving on to an Elizabeth Cohen piece on a Haitian baby girl that was found in the arms of a dead woman post-quake. It was believed she was an orphan and she was near death, so she was stabilized and then transported to the states for care. She had been given the name Patricia by a driver, but a couple back in Haiti came forward to say that the baby was actually their daughter Jenny. Elizabeth tracked the couple down, who remain adamant the girl is their child. Some accuse them of simply looking for a ticket to the United States. A DNA test will be performed, then I guess all anyone can do is wait. Confusing situation.

The "shot" tonight is a thank you to all the men and women aboard the U.S. Navy ship Comfort, which is on its way back to Baltimore after providing endless care to Haitians post quake. Anderson does some recapping of specific cases and I'll let him take it from here: "I didn't get the chance to board the Comfort when I was in Haiti, but if I had, I would had told them what I will tell them tonight as they leave Port-au-Prince. Thank you for representing our country so well. Thank you for saving so many lives. Thank you and Godspeed."

The show was pretty meh. Hilarity doesn't exactly equal quality news. Haiti and Hollenbeck were the strongest segments. For those who care, I weighed in on the comments to my ratings post and left a thesis. Apparently, I have brevity issues. That'll do it.

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