Thursday, March 04, 2010

You Don't Want To Know What's In Your Food, Leaked RNC Fundraising Memo, Jean Duley Interview, Rogue Waves, And How A Broke Congresscritter Rolls

Hi everyone. We're beginning tonight with a shooting outside the Pentagon. This is undoubtedly horrible and important news, but I was still transitioning from my high of watching The Office (Pam had a girl!) and pretty much missed all this reporting. So on ahead we go!

Before I proceed, however, a disclaimer: if you're planning on eating meat, like, well, might want to skip ahead to the politics portion of our evening. In a Gary Tuchman piece, we learn that Dr. Dean Wyatt of Food Safety Inspection Services testified before Congress today that he witnessed clear violations of food safety regulations and his report fell on deaf ears.

We're shown horrific video of a slaughterhouse in Vermont, which Dr. Wyatt tried to get closed down three times. He indicates that the slaughterhouse owners would often intimidate the supervisors who in turn didn't want to deal with the hassle. Dr. Wyatt was actually told to transfer or lose his job.

Included in the piece is David Kirby, author of "Animal Factory," explaining just how dangerous slaughtering a "downed cow" can be, something Dr. Wyatt saw. Mad cow disease anyone? The Vermont slaughterhouse was closed when that video came out, but you know there are others like that. Disgusting, and actually pretty scary.

From here we go to an interview with filmmaker Robert Kenner of "Food, Inc" fame. Normally I am very pro-being informed, but I'll admit I've been avoiding this film because I don't plan on going vegetarian any time soon. We're show a clip that's about how manure gets into the meat and...gross. Robert tells us that there are fewer inspectors today. He also thinks stronger regulations are needed.

A disturbing little tidbit is that previously the meat in your burger would have come from the same cow. Now there could me as many as 10,000 cows in a single burger, and they could be coming from anywhere. Kinda throws the notion of safety and tracking out the window, huh? Also, only four companies control 80 percent of the beef in this country. Big Beef, apparently.

Robert suggests that consumers buy less processed food and get things locally, but Anderson Cooper points out doing so can be expensive. Unfortunately, Robert skirts this inconvenient truth, and again just emphasizes that people need to be more conscious with their purchasing choices. He makes a good point about the government subsidizing corn and soybeans though.

Continuing with our theme, Anderson goes to Tom Colicchio 's kitchen to talk with the "Top Chef" star. They first touch on E. coli and Tom advises to avoid frozen beef patties. Anderson again hits on how expensive it can be to eat right. I gotta give him props for this because too many times the point goes unmentioned. Tom addresses this more directly than Robert, explaining that you can get protein from legumes, fish, doesn't all have to be about burgers.

From Anderson: "I talked to a chef once who told me that he thought vegetables were sexy." Tom agrees. Then again from the Silver Fox: "What's sexy about vegetables?" Anderson Cooper is confused by your sexy, sexy vegetables, America!

Transitioning now to the news that the folks at Politico (which I hate 85% of the time) have gotten their click-happy little hands on a Republican National Committee fund-raising document. And it is HILarious. The Coop takes his position at the Magic Wall to break it all down. Our GOP friends have characterized the qualities they believe are exhibited in their large and small donors.

Those short on cash? They're driven to give by things like fear and Obama-hate. Think your average obsessive Fox News watcher. But the big spenders? They're too smart for that stuff. These are the social-climbers, the networkers. They want to go to your cool party and write a column for your paper. "Ego-driven" is the term used by the RNC, which might be the first time they've ever been completely accurate.

But wait, there's more! You didn't think they'd put out a document without massive Democratic smearing, did you? Sillies. They've got the whole Obama as socialist Joker thing going on. Then there's Nancy Pelosi as Cruella De Vil. We're shown this split screen, with Anderson helpfully pointing out, "Here's the picture of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she actually is." Because how else would we know?! Also, Harry Reid is apparently Scooby Doo. Ruh roh.

So anyway, we've got Ed Rollins to respond to all this, and he kinda metaphorically trots out with his tail between his legs. Geez Ed, it's no fun if you're going to make me feel bad for you. James Carville is there too (balance, yo!) and he makes the really good point that, um, yeah, this is pretty much Republican Party M.O. these days. We don't need super-seekret documents, they've been doing this crap out in the open.

Finally, I have a bone to pick with Anderson, who both during this segment and during the tease for this segment, implied that Democrats surely had documents of their own just like these. From the tease: "Both parties' fund- raisers have probably done stuff like this in the past, but rarely do we ever get to see it." Stop trying to balance everything! Maybe they did. Maybe they didn't. But unless there's proof, don't make assumptions just because they fall in line with the mission of your news network. Love ya!

Actually, we're not quite done with this segment. It seems Tom Hanks did himself a little James Carville impersonation today on GMA. Not bad. Bill Hader's is better. This leads Ed to say, "Since Dom DeLuise passed away, there's nobody left to play me..." Ha! You know, if they must have a Republican on this show (and I'm guessing they must-heh), I've always kinda liked Ed.

Also? Anderson informs us that some of the younger staff members didn't even know who Dom DeLuise was. Oh boy. Am I that old? Fun fact: Dom's son Peter played officer Doug Penhaul on the 80's show 21 Jumpstreet, which also starred a young Johnny Depp. Officer Hanson could have arrested me anytime he wanted. Ahem.

Moving on...hey, remember that whole anthrax thing that scared the crap out of everyone in 2001 and killed five people? Last week the Justice Department closed the case, blaming microbiologist Dr. Bruce Ivins, who killed himself in 2008. In a subsequent report, Joe Johns talks with Dr. Ivin's addiction counselor, Jean Duley. She paints us a picture of a man suddenly out of control, and a bondage fixation weirdly finds its way into the conversation as well.

This segment made me uncomfortable in that they framed the entire anthrax situation around a woman who doesn't have the most credible history. To be fair, Joe did note that she had an addiction problem herself, but c'mon, there are so many different angles to this story. We only got one of them tonight, and the cynical part of me thinks the only reason the story was even mentioned is simply because they were able to book Duley. For those interested, though it's a bit dated, there's a lot of good information on the anthrax case compiled in this post by Glenn Greenwald.

Next up, we have a Brianna Keilar piece on that cruise ship that was hit by three giant waves Wednesday off the coast of Spain. Two were killed. This report is followed up by discussion about rogue waves with Sebastian Junger, author of "The Perfect Storm." I think I read that book, but I can't remember for sure. It must not have left a big impression on me. Perhaps I was spoiled by the movie. The removal of George Clooney would make anything more boring.

Randi Kaye has the last piece tonight, and in it we meet Jason Chaffetz, Republican Congressman from Utah, and leg-wrestler of Stephen Colbert. Chaffetz gets the honor of being featured in this piece because he sleeps on a cot in his office closet. Because he's a fiscal conservative! Or, actually, because he's broke, yo. Living in D.C. ain't cheap and he has a family back in Utah to support. I'm not exactly shedding any tears for this guy. He made his cot, now he must lie in it. (You see what I did there?!)

In all seriousness, I think it's cool he's being all frugal and everything (perhaps given time he'll become corrupted enough to afford the better things in life). But haven't other Congress peeps done this? So, basically, I'm underwhelmed. Randi should have leg wrestled him.

The show was much better tonight in my opinion. The food stuff, though admittedly disturbingly disgusting, presented important and timely information in an engaging way. So much of what 360 does often feels thrown together at the last minute (which is probably true in a lot of cases). This felt planned. Like they looked up who was scheduled to testify before Congress and then thoroughly built segments around that issue. I wish they would do this more. That'll do it.

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