Thursday, April 08, 2010

DA Claims Teaching Sex Ed Could Result In Prison Time, Tea Partiers Form A National Federation, Battling The Rainy Season In Haiti, & Too Big To Fail

Hi everyone. I'm just going to cut right to the chase. Tonight we begin with the news that Scott Southworth, a district attorney in Wisconsin, is warning teachers that they could face prison time if they use a sex ed class that was approved by the state government. A weird bit of trivia that is probably neither here nor there at this point: Scott was a 2007 CNN Hero. So okay then.

Anderson Cooper gives us more details at the Magic Wall, like how the program mandates Orgy Thursdays. I kid! Yeah, this is your standard sex ed class. What's there to say? The DA is Republican, it was passed on a partisan Democratic vote. These stories aren't new. There's always someone out there screeching, "ZOMG, they're teaching our children to have the sex!"

Enter said screecher: we're next joined by Southworth himself. He calls the class "a radical program to sexualize kids." He also says that any sex had by children is illegal because they cannot give consent and teachers could be liable--I guess by encouraging them with their sexy facts. Meh.

Lisa Bloom then joins us to pretty much call BS on all this, and she does it well. She says DA dude has no legal ground to stand on, much less sane ground. Bottom line: no one is saying let's teach kids to have sex, but they do need facts to protect themselves. Then we're shown a teen pregnancy PSA featuring Bristol Palin. I am not kidding.

Moving on now to Tea Party talk (oh how I love the Tea Party talk!) with David Gergen, John Avlon, and Candy Crowley. Before I begin though, remember how I've previously noted that John comes across as a fake person? Well, apparently he's a fake writer too! Okay, okay, that characterization might be a tad unfair of me. Poor attributor would probably be more accurate, assuming the Gawker and Salon accounts are true. What can I say, I'm bemused.

Anyway! It seems that 20 Tea Party groups are banding together and forming themselves a federation. Yay? Truth be told, I think it would be awesome if these people really started their own party. The Republicans would pee themselves. The Democrats would just have to do sit back and watch everyone else implode around them. Of course, they'd probably still find a way to screw that up.

The Gerg brings up some polls that are completely meaningless without context and everyone seems to agree there's a real movement going on here--one that's frustrated with how they've been portrayed in the media. "And fair enough on that, and I include myself on that probably early on," says Anderson. Whoa. That's a significant admission.

We all remember our anchor's (admittedly hilarious) off-handed comment about tea-bagging all those months back. While other anchors devoted whole segments to mocking the term, that was Anderson's one and only mention. Yet for some reason, the Internets made him the poster child for Tea Party dismissiveness. It's not hard to assume what that reason might be, but whatever.

I bring this up, because I've noticed something lately. Suddenly, CNN is all about the Tea Party movement. They've been heavily covering the Tea Party Express national tour, and have been relentlessly promoting this piece from an African American producer, which shows the movement in a mostly positive light.

Personally, I found the piece really annoying, not because of the positiveness, but because it's another example of a member of the media acting like they're not a member of the media. It begins with a summary of what we"often see in the coverage of Tea Party rallies." Well yes, because that's what you people showed us for months and months on end. Hello!

Now I guess CNN is trying to correct what they perceive to be an error. They want to be friends with the Tea Partiers (and they really want their ratings!). They're even reaching out to conservatives to tell them about the awesomeness of their coverage (and how they're pissing off the left in the process).

Perhaps this kind of thing is just business as usual, and perhaps Anderson's comment tonight was just a coincidence. But I have to say, all of it has left a very bad taste in my mouth. Dear CNN, Foxification won't help you, and I really hope you're not stupid enough to think it will.

For the record, as someone who's been watching, I don't disagree with our anchor's comment. Protest movements are generally not given all that much respect by the media. Just ask the anti-war crowd. The Tea Partiers shouldn't feel special. Though I personally find the movement ridiculous (and childish), there's a small part of me that sympathizes with what they're doing (even if I think they're dead wrong).

I remember those days back in 2003 and wonder how different it might have been if the media had listened. Is the Tea Party right about initial dismissiveness from the media? Yep. Do they deserve the amount of coverage they're getting now? Nope. Is the movement all crazy extremists? Nope. Is there an undertone of racism among some members? Yep. Will the media ever report this story with accurate context? To be determined (but probably not).

Transitioning now to a Gary Tuchman piece on the rainy season in Haiti. Well, it's here. And the camp he's reporting from is located on a steep hillside. Not good. The plan is to actually move people out of Port-au-Prince to a safer place they've designated outside the city--a big change for people who've lived there their whole lives. Moving everyone is a huge undertaking. Sunday is the target. Let's hope they succeed.

We then go to Sean Penn live and Anderson asks him about the test run they did today, but no straight answer is given. There's a lot of talk of government and aid organization bureaucracies. Sean also notes that hospitals are being closed because they're running out of money while aid organizations are spending their time evaluating how to spend money. Frustrating. Anderson asks Sean what he's learned so far. "I think that in disaster, over-caution kills people is the likely lesson," he replies.

Now some levity: I've discovered that Anderson has "going to the Magic Wall" body language. I can't really explain it. But as they cut back to him at the anchor desk, something seemed off, and then it hit me: "You're about to go to that frickin' wall again, aren't you?" Plus then I noticed it wasn't live, so yeah, kinda a give-away. The topic is Citigroup execs who testified on Capitol Hill today.

This is followed by an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin, the author of "Too Big to Fail." It's a decent segment and I'm glad they're giving this stuff some coverage. But I'm wrapping things up because I'm tired.

The "shot" tonight is this bizarre Family Feud clip about Ellen DeGeneres. Apparently, she doesn't like our country very much, which is just as surprising to her as I'm sure it is to you. Seriously, WTF? And yes, all the people clapping is probably the most disturbing thing about that clip.

The show was okay. Weirdly, I actually found the last half better than the first this time. It seems like they're trying to lead with sensational controversies now (sex ed, Confederate month, doctor who posts sign against Obama). They're legitimate stories I suppose, but it feels like a ratings ploy. I'm glad we got some Haiti coverage. That'll do it.

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Blogger Anne said...

Hi Eliza,

I now have ABC overnight news on for noise background. I can't really bear watching 360 anymore. CNN is ruining themselves and this show. I read your link to the post by Shannon Travis. I am sorry she sounds like one of the pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Here in my part of Florida, I do not see what the pod lady has. I will not watch the tea party coverage, especially with the dreaded panel yak afterwards. "Foxification" is what CNN has come to represent. Count me out. Ever since AC came in from Haiti, his 360 has shown signs of infection from the clueless and desperate attempt to "Foxily" CNN. From the Gerg constantly wringing his hands, the fake Avlon to the hiring of Erick Erickson, I am out of here. However; I enjoy reading your blog and will continue to do so. If the segments sound interesting and appear not to raise my blood pressure, I will catch them on the rebroadcast. Anne D.

5:28 AM  
Anonymous Sammy said...

I feel like hitting my head against the wall watching AC360 last night. OMG, it's so unbearable what CNN had turned itself into. I want to burn that magic wall, and apparently I think our Anchor wants to do the same thing. It's so obligatory for him and it's just stupid. He also seem distracted, tired and uninterested for the first half of the show. With three other pundits spewing their talking points I wouldn't that interested in getting my point across either.
The interview with Sorkin was much better. He did seem to be interested. He did his homework and knew what he was talking about. I hope he carries this characteristic to his live audience tapping show. Since it's really Daily Show-esque, it will be quite successful. If only he could get aggressive like Jon vs. Crammer.

Anderson being the poster child of Tea Bagger jokes. Ellen is accused of hating America. I thin their is a pattern in there that they are not willing to explore. (Admit it, this would be more informative than speculating about Tiger)

9:50 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

@Anne: Personally, I think they're panicking. Throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. Obviously, I could be wrong. This would not be my approach.

I believe Shannon Travis is male. His piece may very well have been sincere; however the promotion of it feels very forced. And as I said before, I'm tired of the media not taking responsibility for their prior actions. So I guess really, Anderson should be commended for his comment, since he did take that responsibility.

The Gerg has been acting like this for over a year. I thought it was my own perception with the change of administration, but a friend familiar with his work over the years says no. So I don't know what's going on with him.

Avlon and Erickson...ugh. About five years ago (probably more) both CNN and MSNBC were desperately trying to Foxify. Obviously it didn't work. I thought CNN had stepped away from that. This is the first time in a long while that I see real signs they're moving back. I don't see viewers suddenly jumping on.

@Sammy: The Magic Wall has become ridiculous. It's not a bad piece of technology, but it's like they've decided they HAVE to use it every night. It's become completely forced and almost comical. And yeah, you can tell it is so not Anderson's thing.

I'm interested to see how these live show things go. It could go either way. Many pitfalls come to mind, but done right, they could have a really good show.

Yep, that would be my guess for why Ellen is an America-hater. Some people, I swear...

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't believe that article on the tea party by Shannon Travis, it was infuriating. As if seeing only a "few" offensive signs at a tea party rally makes the whole thing ok for blacks. I'm really disgusted and fed up with CNN's blatant catering to the right for ratings. AC didn't need to apologize for his Teabagging comment and the article in Mediate about the emails to conservative blogs from CNN doesn't help matters. They seem to have given up on their liberal viewers in order to court teabaggers and Fox lovers and it's becoming really hard to watch them any longer.

10:26 PM  

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