Thursday, July 29, 2010

More Immigration Coverage, Charlie Rangel's Bad Day, Sherrod Smearing Continues, Anderson Cooper Makes A Laughable Statement, & Snooki

Hi everyone. I have no videos for you tonight. Sorry. But you still have the bullet points. And while some may be more indepth than others, they all contain awesomeness. Let's do this thang:
  • We begin with an absence of the sense-assaulting "breaking news" graphic/sound effect. Sweet.
  • Anderson Cooper's opening commentary focused on Washington's chronic failure to address the overall issue of immigration, and incorporated clips going back to Reagan. The 360 kids have been going Daily Show-style on us pretty often lately. I fully encouraged this!
  • Gary Tuchman joined us live to talk about the protests occurring in Arizona, aimed at both the new law and Joe Arpaio. Today the sheriff had his deputies do a crime sweep, and some of the individuals arrested were asked if they were illegal immigrants. Gary tells us that despite that provision in the law being struck down, this is legal because Arpaio is from a county with a federal-county relationship and this apparently makes him king. Okay, I believe the word our correspondent used was "deputized," but you get the picture. Team Gary actually went out on the sweep and talked to a guy who was arrested, but it's noted he was not asked about his legal status. Gary talked to Arpaio as well. I'm thinking you guys are pretty versed in his views.
  • Our intrepid correspondent tried to tell us more, but it was not to be. Hey Gary, would you like a loud horn to go with your live shot? Enjoy! I admit, as soon as I heard that I burst out laughing because I knew that somewhere close, Gary's producer's head had just exploded. Poor Ish Estrada cannot seem to shake the live shot ruining sound effects, no matter where in the country he happens to be. He battled a bell in the Gulf for weeks, escaped to Arizona, and then there's a horn. What are the odds? Well, I was amused anyway. I also liked how Anderson was all, yeah, we can't hear you, so never mind.
  • Al Sharpton and Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce debated the Arizona law...and I tuned out. Look, I'm not a lawyer. I don't know these issues very well, so a debate between two sides is pointless to me unless someone's going to at least attempt to hold the sides accountable. Anderson was there in the beginning and then...not so much. How am I supposed to know what information they said was actually true? (This bullet point will become ironic once you read further down.)
  • Though most Mexican-Americans are against Arizona's law, you can always find a few people going against the grain on any subject. Meet Jesse Hernandez, a contrarian found by Dan Simon. I can sympathize with his economic concerns, but the crime stuff just seems like fear-mongering. While illegal immigration is up, crime is down.
  • It's Thursday! Sorry Charlie Rangel, it looks like it's not going to be a good one for you after all. He's been charged with 13 counts of ethics violations. Whoa, that's not only corrupt, but also numerically unlucky. We live in the land of innocent until proven guilty, but yeah, you're not going to find me defending him.
  • For no other real reason than hilarity, I give you the infamous photo of Charlie Rangel sleeping on the beach (Brigitte Stelzer/Splash News):

  • Jeffrey Toobin and Gloria Borger discussed the topic. Anderson: "Gloria, I mean, if this had been a Republican, Democrats would be, you know, going ballistic." And later: "It is a double standard, though. I mean, again, if this is a Republican, Nancy Pelosi would not say let the chips fall where they may." Um...duh? Breaking news: politicians are hypocrites. (You all thought I was going to bitch about fake balance there, didn't you?)
  • Gloria: "...the irony here is, Anderson, that [Democrats] have done a lot of stuff on banning gifts and trying to get rid of the so-called Congressional earmarks and trying to get rid of Congressional junkets, but [Rangel] is now the poster child for this next election for the Republicans." This is what sucks. The Democrats have actually tried to keep their word and clean up Congress, but that context doesn't fit into a nice news soundbyte. Props to Gloria for at least giving it a mention.
  • Gloria on Rangel: "The higher they are, the more entitled they get." Pretty much.
  • Shirley Sherrod is suing Andrew Breitbart. Can I get a woo hoo?
  • Tonight Anderson Cooper did something, well, weird: he apologized for letting something slip by in an interview. I'm just going to block quote the whole thing out below and discuss it from there (emphasis mine):
I interviewed Shirley Sherrod last Thursday. And in the course of that interview, I failed to do something that I should have. I believe in admitting my mistakes. I looked at the interview again today, and Ms. Sherrod said during that interview that she thought Mr. Breitbart was a racist. She said, quote, "I think he would like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery." She went on to say she believed his opposition to President Obama was based on racism. Now, (INAUDIBLE) free to believe whatever she wants, but I didn't challenge her that night and I should have.

I don't want anyone on my show to get away with saying things which cannot be supported by facts. I should have challenged her on what facts she believes supports that accusation. That's my job, and I didn't do it very well in that interview, and I'm sorry about it. If I get a chance to talk to her again, I will.
  • Where to begin? Yes, Anderson is right. He should have challenged her that night. Though I did not specifically identify it as a lapse on his part on this blog, I did note that I cringed when Sherrod called Breitbart a racist, mostly because I knew we would end up exactly where we are now.
  • All that being said, WTF? This show ran the edited Sherrod clip last Monday night, which in my opinion is a far greater lapse in journalism than simply failing to follow up during an interview, and yet to my knowledge Anderson has not only not apologized for it, he's never even acknowledged it occurred. To be fair, what he apologized for tonight was solely his fault and he might not have even been involved in running that clip, but it happened during his show--a show that contains his name.
  • Perhaps an even greater WTF goes to that sentence I emphasized. I'm sorry, but this is simply a laughable statement. Anderson continuously lets people get away with things that cannot be supported by facts, or at least deserve a good challenge (as in this case). I mean, documenting these things is kinda part of what I do here. It happens all the time. Just this past Monday, Anderson failed to challenge Erick Erickson when he called Media Matters "nothing but a left-wing hit job." How is that okay to let go, but what Sherrod said is not?
  • I've been watching Anderson for about five years and cannot recall any other time where he has apologized after-the-fact for not challenging a guest. Look, he's human. I realize he's not always going to be on his A-game and stuff is going to get by. It's unfair to expect him to be perfect. But while I do generally think media apologies such as this one should be encouraged and applauded, I can't help be concerned about why this is coming about now, with this story. Though Mark Halparin is probably one of the last people I would normally be endorsing, in this recent piece he seems to have stumbled into a big bucket of truth. Nailed it:
The Sherrod story is a reminder — much like the 2004 assault on John Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — that the old media are often swayed by controversies pushed by the conservative new media. In many quarters of the old media, there is concern about not appearing liberally biased, so stories emanating from the right are given more weight and less scrutiny. Additionally, the conservative new media, particularly Fox News Channel and talk radio, are commercially successful, so the implicit logic followed by old-media decisionmakers is that if something is gaining currency in those precincts, it is a phenomenon that must be given attention. Most dangerously, conservative new media will often produce content that is so provocative and incendiary that the old media find it irresistible.
  • This isn't brain surgery. Conservatives all over the interwebs have been talking about what Sherrod said during that interview about Breitbart. Not only that, all of the Sherrod-related issues that are further covered in this segment are stories being pushed by the right. Anderson even admits this, noting the issues are bubbling up on conservative blogs. I'm not saying I'm against fact-checking or debunking (I love those things!), but by asking "how high?" every time the right says jump, 360 is actively enabling people who only wish to smear and take down their opponents. They are allowing themselves to be pawns in a dirty political game. They're supposed to be better than that.
  • Would they have really determined the Black Panthers story to be worthy of coverage if it wasn't a hot topic in conservative media? I'm not saying liberals never push stories for their own agendas, but this is getting ridiculous and hurting their credibility. I suspect that whether consciously or unconsciously, 360 has fallen in that trap of overcompensating out of fear of appearing liberally biased. As I asked before, why, out of dozens and dozens (perhaps hundreds) of statements gone by, did Anderson think this was the one that required an apology? It is becoming increasingly hard to view their political coverage as credible, and I'm someone who never thought they had a partisan bias.
  • Also, when Anderson says he doesn't want anyone on his show to get away with saying things that cannot be supported by facts, does that include himself? Because last week, as I noted extensively, he continuously stated that the left has engaged in the same type of behavior as Breitbart, but did not support those statements with a single fact. The irony is astounding.
  • There was also a segment with Ed Overton regarding the new building meme that we all overreacted to the BP oil spill. Time jumped on the bandwagon today, wondering if Rush Limbaugh might be right. I thought Mother Jones handled it pretty well.
  • Unless you live in a cave, you probably heard that Obama was on The View today. You also probably heard that he was asked about Snooki. Yes, her. There she is again. I cannot avoid this person! Anyway. Obama claimed he didn't know who she was, but oh, scandal! He actually made a joke about her at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Oh my God, flip flopper! Has Michele Bachmann called for impeachment over this yet? To make it worse, Anderson decides to give us some Snooki facts because...I don't know, perhaps he knows I've been hard on him and he wants to make me cry. Tom Foreman claims to be Snooki ignorant and I believe him. I love you, Tom.
  • Most of the show was okay. I think I've pretty much said my piece regarding the apology. That'll do it.
  • This bullet point contains the Season 5 trailer to Dexter. Now that is what I call must see TV (warning: spoilery).

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I asked before, why, out of dozens and dozens (perhaps hundreds) of statements gone by, did Anderson think this was the one that required an apology? It is becoming increasingly hard to view their political coverage as credible, and I'm someone who never thought they had a partisan bias.Also, when Anderson says he doesn't want anyone on his show to get away with saying things that cannot be supported by facts, does that include himself? Because last week, as I noted extensively, he continuously stated that the left has engaged in the same type of behavior as Breitbart, but did not support those statements with a single fact.

Enjoyed the post.

Your statement above is a prime example of the problems I've had with Anderson and 360 for months now. There have been too many incidents that have caused me to question what exactly their angle is on a particular story and Anderson's integrity as a reporter. The entire Sherrod situation really brought a lot of these issues to the forefront. Anderson is sometimes SELECTIVE about the facts he checks and the guests he challenges and unfortunately, he will challenge and call out the left more readily than he does with those on the right. He generally allows conservatives to ramble on without thorough follow-up questions when they make claims that are suspect. To be fair, he did give some birthers a very hard time on the show a few months ago and has been effective against the former Tea Party faction leader, Mark Williams, but he has this tendency to hold back on conservatives and go for the throats of liberals. I think part of it is a CNN directive and the other issue you mentioned about the fear of being seen as too liberal. Either way, it's infuriating, unfair and incredibly frustrating to watch. I want facts and truth from Anderson and I'm beginning to not trust his political reporting. The Most Trusted Name In News? Really? It's time to start proving it.

3:46 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

Great comment. As I noted, he's human and won't be able to challenge everything, but it seems like he hardly tries anymore.

You're right, his birther coverage was very good. I think he got it in his head that that issue was black and white enough fact-wise to go full out. Most stories won't be, but he CAN add context that points to a truth.

He's confused balance with objectivity and they're not the same thing. Anderson is trying so hard to not appear biased, it's resulting in actual biased coverage in the process.

6:22 AM  

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