Monday, July 26, 2010

Tony Hayward Gets His Life Back (And Lots Of Money), A Pointless Debate On Race, And Interview With Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange

Hi everyone. What is this place?! Is this one of those "studio" things I have heard so much about? Yes, after spending pretty much forever out in the field, Anderson Cooper has decided to come indoors. It's not his studio, but it is a studio nonetheless (perhaps his staff can use bread crumbs or something to lead him back to the right one). This means a suit and tie. Oh, I miss the tight black t-shirt already. Anyway! I think I'm just going to barrel through this thing, only pointing out the noteworthy. Ready? Your Monday bullet points await!
  • Buh-bye, Tony Hayward. Yep, the BP CEO is stepping down, to the tune of $18 million. Must be nice! I hope he enjoys his life he's getting back after destroying so many others. That sentiment, by the way, is basically our anchor's opening commentary--douche bag walks away with millions, while the little guy still hasn't gotten what they're owed. Our anchor forgoes the term "douche bag" though. Pity!
  • For discussion, we're joined by Billy Nungesser, Ed Markey, and Douglas Brinkley. Of note is the very end of the segment, when Nungesser says the Coast Guard is helping BP sneak equipment out of his parish. He lobs this pretty big accusation, which for all I know has no evidence to back it up, and what is literally the next thing Anderson says? "We're going to have to leave it there." What?! Okay, you guys have time constraints, I get that. But dudes, I think this needs a follow up. (Video below.)

  • Drew Griffin had a piece on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which you can watch below.
  • After the piece, there's discussion with Drew and Douglas, the latter of who call BP chronic liars. Says Anderson regarding BP in Alaska: "But, Doug, I mean, just to play devil's advocate, there haven't been any major accidents there. There have been little spills and little accidents there." As I'm about to yell "WTF?" at my screen, Douglas gets an incredulous look on his face, and informs Anderson that, um, there was kinda a huge spill in 2006. It was pretty big news, Anderson. If a news junkie can remember it off the top of her head, I'm wondering what the hell just happened here. Preparation fail.

  • Now we come to the dreaded segment of the night. I already knew an appearance with Erick Erickson was approaching because he tweeted it beforehand. It's one of those scenarios where you're like, "oh, really? Excuse me while I go jab something sharp in my eye." But anyway, let's back up a second. It never fails in politics. One side will have the facts pretty much on their side on an issue, but then someone connected to the party will say something just a tad hyperbolic, allowing the opposition to pounce. Then suddenly the news cycle is not about the original issue, but about "oh my God, can you believe what he/she said?" And the next thing you know, we have one of those lovely one side against the other "balanced" debates like the one that's about to take place (and that the media love so much). To be fair, mention of Howard Dean goes out the window fast, but so does coherency. The background here is that Dean went on Fox News to talk about Shirley Sherrod and ended up calling Fox News racist. Oh boy. This will end well.
  • For the record, I'm not sure I would say Fox News is racist. However, I do think they pretty clearly engage in race-baiting, which the New York Times wrote about today. The network is about ideology and that ideology happens to be against President Obama. Some of their viewers are already wary of a black president--Fox News takes it to the next level, showing them they have something to fear. It's an extremely cynical game that they and the Republicans are playing. And now Howard Dean has very gracelessly stepped all up in it.
  • Back to the debate, as I said, we have Erickson, and he's up against Michael Eric Dyson, who says Fox News has racist elements. Erickson is incredulous at the accusation: "Really?" Funny, that's my exact reaction to the idea that you could ever be invited on broadcast television. So there's that.
  • What follows is a disaster. Dyson just goes off. I don't even have the lung capacity for how much he's saying and how fast it's being said. It all sounds very impressive, but he's all over the frickin' place, as is Erickson. In fact, I'm not entirely sure they were both even participating in the same debate. Neither one of them are talking all that much about Fox News. We did, however, take a nice detour where we learned Erickson's family is from Sweden and that...somehow means something. I don't know, people. For his part, our anchor apparently decided this was a good time to take a nap, because instead of moderating, he basically disappears off the face of the earth. It's actually Erickson that brings our anchor back into the conversation, and then there's this awkward pause before Anderson even says anything. Seriously, was he sleeping?
  • But jumping back into the debate, I have a bone to pick with our anchor's non moderating because there was a moment when he absolutely should have spoken up. Dyson correctly notes that reported the Sherrod story before she resigned. Erickson's response: "If you're going to quote from Media Matters, then we can't have this conversation, because Media Matters is nothing but a left-wing hit job." This is absolute bullshit. So that's where we are now? We just dismiss anything that comes from a partisan site? Yes, they have a bias, but they also meticulously research and back up all of their assertions, often doing a better job than the traditional media. Yes, Dyson is right--a fact, which can be verified by viewing the article screen shot in Media Matter's time line of the Sherrod incident. They had to use a screen shot because the article was taken down. However, the follow up article is still online, which references the original post. People are entitled to their own opinions; they are NOT entitled to their own facts.
  • As I said, I pointed out that part in the debate, not just to slam Erickson, but to also give a severe demerit to Anderson. What Dyson brought up was a very basic part of the Sherrod timeline that every journalist covering the story should know off the top of their head. Our anchor claims to be about truth and facts, yet when Erickson uses partisanship to dismiss a fact away, Anderson let him. Now viewers at home are forced to view the incident as a he said/he said, when there really is a right answer. Was Anderson not the moderator? This is not how one practices objective journalism. I hope this was simply a bad day. They happen. No one's perfect. But after the atrociousness of his performance last week, I can't say I completely believe that. (Debate below.)

  • There was also a segment on the big Wikileaks document drop. It wasn't bad. I really don't have much to add, other than that Anderson kept pronouncing it weird. Interview with Julian Assange is below:

  • The show was okay. As you can probably tell, I'm still pretty pissed at Anderson (though I don't think I've been unfair). Maybe he's just having an off night due to illness or something. Though I think it was just the lighting, he didn't look all that great. A friend's theory? He has falsebalanceitis. I've heard that can get pretty nasty, so I hope he gets it taken care of soon.
  • This bullet point contains a video (well, below) from the LA Press Club Awards Gala, where Anderson received an award for his work in Haiti. I love that even The Terminator is talking about the Silver Fox's tight t-shirts. And though I'm still mad at our anchor, that was an admittedly very impressive video put together by CNN of Anderson's career. Is it sad that I can identify the majority of those clips? Also, Charlie Moore in a towel! Okay, okay, I have cruelly lied. The video only contains the mention of Charlie Moore in a towel. We take what we can get, people.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sean Penn and Anderson Cooper at LA Press Club Awards Gala from Diana Ljungaeus on Vimeo.

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