Monday, October 25, 2010

Christine O'Donnell Plays Victim Card, More Dirty Politics, & Interview With Sean Penn Regarding A Cholera Outbreak In Haiti

Hello readers! It seems I am just full of blog fail. Sorry people. Distractions have abounded. I'm going to be honest upfront and say that this may very well be the only full post this week. There's some extra work I need to do and then...World Series! I'll try to make the bullet points extra awesome for you to savor. Away we go:
  • Poor Christine O'Donnell. Damn the media and their tendency to do things like ask questions and comment on past statements. Sexist! I can barely play my tiny violin through my tears, y'all. I mean, it's so hard to be a white Christian woman these days. Am I right?
  • Ok, so yeah, we've heard this song and dance before. In fact, I think Sarah Palin made this role a sensation. She actually had a teeny part of a leg to stand on. O'Donnell? Not so much.
  • The 360 kids did a very nice job at showing that it was actually Republicans who started all the criticism. Plus, um, Christine O'Donnell has said a lot of stupid shit. Well done.
  • As I said last week on Twitter, I am loving 360's use of montages (tonight's showed O'Donnell's hypocrisy on constitutional knowledge). They've used them on occasion throughout the years, and pretty much every single time I've given out cookies, noted the similarity to the Daily Show, and encouraged them to keep it up. Now suddenly they're doing them every night, so...yay!
  • Anderson Cooper: "So, there's no doubt that liberal media outlets had a field day with Christine O'Donnell's past controversial comments about everything from evolution to witchcraft." Probably being biased here, but the phrase "liberal media outlets" sets my teeth on edge. Though perhaps not true, it feels like he doesn't speak this way when the situation is reversed. Anybody? Also, one wonders if he would characterize Fox News as a conservative media outlet.
  • Our anchor: "Now, if you look up the definition of sexism in Merriam-Webster's dictionary, there's actually a couple of them." It seems 360's love affair with is officially over. Yeah, that was neither here nor there, but it's the little things that amuse.
  • The 'Keeping Them Honest' segment can be watched below. They did an excellent job holding a candidate accountable...who probably has no chance of winning. Le sigh. Kinda wish the energy would be spent on closer races.

  • For discussion, we were joined by Paul Begala and Dana Loesch. Oh, yay. Blah, blah, blah. *stabs self in eye*
  • Also, Frank Caprio, the Democratic nominee for governor in Rhode Island, does not take kindly to be snubbed by the president. Back in 2008, Lincoln Chafee (a former Republican) endorsed Obama. Chafee is running against Caprio as an Independent, so POTUS has decided not to endorse anyone. Now the Democratic nominee wants Obama to take the endorsement and shove it. Oh my. Personally, I'm torn. Politically probably stupid, but perhaps it shows integrity? Though not my first pick, it's not like Chafee is teh evil or anything. Anyhoo, you know what this apparently needs? More pontificating! Oy.
  • Dana on the Paul/Conway debate (context not needed for my point): "And I thought it was weird, the way that it was allowed to go on in this debate, which I also found at the same time, but then I kept waiting for them to get amped up and reach behind their chairs and grab pillows and start girl-fighting because it was just getting right to that line. It was so close." Irony alert! What have we been talking about for a good portion of this show? Help me out here, Paul: "That's sexist, Dana." Ha!
  • Oh my God, they're still pushing Parker Spitzer. No, not even Nate Silver can save this show.
  • Tom Foreman's segment seemed kinda weak. WTF was with all the suspicion about AFSCME? ZOMG, so many letters! Sure, maybe everyone doesn't know the acronym, but it's not like voters can't Google. It pops right up and is very clearly a union. Such mystery! Anyway, that just makes me ponder if they were being balance-y and I subsequently doubt the whole segment when it's very possible I shouldn't. Oh wells. Segment below.

  • The tornado segment with the Eric Meyers phoner seemed weirdly out of place to me. Cool video though. At least he had a reason for being out in the elements. I'm tired of dumb asses getting on the teevee after doing completely dangerous/idiotic things. But that wasn't the case here.
  • Now on to the terrible news that there's been a cholera outbreak in Haiti. Not good. Not good at all. Anderson talked with Sean Penn about the current situation and the status of pledged aid.

  • Finally tonight, a bit of cable news catnip: hiccup girl arrested for murder! Dun dun dun! Obviously it's horrible that a man lost his life, but I can't help rolling my eyes at the ridiculousness of this Randi Kaye package. "Before a doctor helped to cure her hiccups with acupuncture Jennifer Mee had tried all kinds of remedies. Sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, pickle juice, even breathing in a bag. But it seems the only remedy she needs today is a good, strong defense." Yes, I'm cringing.

  • That'll do it, people. The show was okay. They've really been owning their "Keeping Them Honest" brand lately. Also, glad we heard from Sean Penn. I will perhaps be back for a brief post or two before next week, but no promises. As always, catch me on the Twitter.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Kentucky's Turn To Bring The Crazy, Sharron Angle Sees Asians, And More On Eddie Bernice Johnson

Hello people. Here we are in a new week, once again knee deep in the crazy. The truly sad part? It will never end. Yes, the 2010 election will actually occur. But the very next morning? Commence the 2012 campaigning! Le sigh. To the bullet points!
  • We're kicking things off with the Kentucky senate race, which just got a wee bit snippy. You see, Democrat Jack Conway has put out an ad against Rand Paul that accuses the republican of being, well, kinda freaky. Many of you are probably well aware of the accusation that while in college, Paul kidnapped a fellow female student, forced her to do bong hits and then bow down to Aqua Buddha. That's right, Aqua Buddha. If next week's news contains the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I think we should all be unsurprised.
  • Anyway! That weird tidbit came out back in August, but now the ad has placed it front and center, especially since Paul's boxers are in a total twist over the matter. Plus the candidates just had a debate where Conway would not let Aqua Buddha go, leading Paul to demand he "be a man." The whole thing ended with hands unshook. Oh no they din't.
  • The 360 kids are on the Aqua Buddha case for us. The verdict? Probably not as sinister as Conway would like everyone to believe. It seems the alleged kidnappee later claimed no one forced her to smoke pot and it all felt akin to being hazed. But it's also important to point out that she was disturbed enough by the incident that she broke off her friendship with Paul. While I don't support Conway on this, I'm still a bit uncomfortable with the total dismissiveness regarding the woman being taken.
  • Also, argh, Conway WTF?! I'm not even in politics and I know that these kind of attacks always backfire. If there was a video of Paul praying to Aqua Buddha, yeah, then you could just sit back, shut up, and let the young him hang the current candidate. Even with video you have to be careful (yeah, I'm looking at you Alan Grayson). But the thing that's really killing me here is that Paul's policies are completely ridiculous. You already had a goldmine to exploit and you throw it away for Aqua Buddha?! Argh.
  • For discussion, we had Paul Begala and Alex Castellanos. Paul defends, Alex dismisses. We are all very shocked by this. Anderson Cooper also falls in the dismissive camp. You know what I love? When we were talking about Chris Coons' college paper the republicans were very concerned. Now? Aw, those wacky college kids! Reverse it and you have the democrats. Pretty much the only consistent non-hypocrite here is our anchor. Gotta love the Silver Fox.

  • Moving on to the treasure trove of crazy that is Sharron Angle. Remember when she ran that ad with fake scary illegal immigrants? Well, now there's a video of her talking to Hispanic students in which she says the following: "And, you know, I don't know that all of you are Latino. Some of you look a little more Asian to me." Wait, it gets better: "I have been called the first Asian legislator in our Nevada State Assembly." Bwah! I can't even. At this point she should just pull a Colbert and claim she doesn't see color.
  • Anderson: "But it's interesting in this race. I mean, maybe it's just like a liberal media outside of the state which is focusing on a lot of her statements that she's made, because it doesn't seem to have any impact certainly within the state." Huh? Perhaps I'm reading this wrong, but focusing on a candidate's statements makes the media liberal? No wonder conservatives think everyone is so biased.

  • Things just keep getting worse for Eddie Bernice Johnson. Now we learn that she gave a scholarship to a student named Danielle O'Bannon, whose father oversees minority contracting at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Guess who owns a stake in some airport newsstands? Ruh-roh.
  • We're joined by corruption slayer Melanie Sloan, and Todd Gillman of "The Dallas Morning News." Though it looks pretty bad, Todd says they haven't been able to establish a quid pro quo. Melanie tells us that Danielle's mother claims her daughter got the scholarship because she knows Charlie Rangel's wife. Because that's much better! Oy.

  • More on the Tiffany Hartley case:

  • That's going to do it for me. The show wasn't bad, but I wasn't hugely interested most of the hour.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

David Doss Out As AC360 Senior Executive Producer, Also Anderson Cooper Dons Bunny Suit At Request Of Apes

Hello readers! An odds and ends post for you! Given all the breaking news of the Chilean miners the last week, I really haven't had much to say. It was great to finally have a story to celebrate. Special shout out to Gary Tuchman and his producer Ismael Estrada for all their hard work. Check out Ismael's 'producer's notebook' here.

Last week also brought us some meta news in the land of 360: Senior Executive Producer David Doss is moving elsewhere at the network. He's been with the show since I started watching regularly, so this is no small tidbit. What it means exactly is anybody's guess, but I hope it results in a better quality newscast.

I know many regular viewers are pretty excited about this announcement. Personally, I always put more of the blame for the show's problems on Klein than I did Doss, but hey, what do I know? I just think some of those viewers might be longing for the so-called "Red 360," which I suspect was never as good as they remember it being. In any regard, that show is long dead.

Doss suddenly being out definitely makes one wonder about those rumors that he and Anderson Cooper were butting heads. Honestly, I can't imagine Anderson butting heads with anyone, but again, hey, what do I know? It just seems weird that it took five years for it to happen.

Anyway. The best part out of all of this? Charlie Moore is taking over! Will we soon be seeing more of AC360's Waldo? One can only hope! What? No specific reason! It can't always be about the Silver Fox, people. Ahem.

In seriousness, he seems to get along well with Anderson, which I would assume means they have the same sort of vision, which I hope means good things for we the viewers. See Mr. Moore, we're not scary, really! We just want quality news. You will get on Twitter now, yes?

Okay, people. Something else happened last week, and it was, shall we say, strange. The normally Twitter-averse Silver Fox shot out the following tweet:
From ac: in IA for story on ape communication. The apes asked me to dress as a rabbit. Weird, huh?
And that twitpic was the following, so yes, weird!

Honest to God, my first thought was photoshop. Because seriously, the man who refuses to merely dance in front of cameras is going to put on a bunny suit and then send the picture to hundreds of thousands of people? Anderson Cooper, I do not understand you!

Where to even begin? What does one mock first? Perhaps the casual vagueness of the initial tweet. He's just there chilling in a bunny suit because apes told him, y'all! You know, just like every Wednesday! Did the Silver Fox really think he was going to send that picture out into the world with less than 140 characters of explanation and the Internets were not going to have a collective WTF seizure? Needless to say, the next day our anchor decided to give us a little more info:
From ac: lots of questions re yesterdays bunny costume. Doing story on bonobo chimps. the researchers sometimes dress up as a rabbit....
...when chimp indicates that is what he wants on a complex lexigram chart. I thought it was a joke, but the chimp wasn't laughing
Oh, he was laughing. On the inside, Anderson. On the inside.

But I think my absolutely favorite part of all of this was his last tweet:
From ac: who knew bunny suits had so many fans online? Going to post more pics. Find out whats up with the bunny tonite on 360
Up until this point, I had been trying very hard not to think about that dark corner of the interwebs that surely became quite excited by this whole situation. "Who knew bunny suits had so many fans online?" Bwah! That is either some mad subtle snark or one of the most naive things he's ever written. But I'm going to go with snark. I have my reasons.

So! That should be an interesting piece. Below is Thursday's "shot," which contains more explanation and more pictures of hilarity.

To put the 'end' on this post of odds and ends, finally, I give you this little morsel that I happened to come upon a week or so ago. Apparently, our friends at AC360 enjoy doing the news and science experiments! You see, if what I've linked to can be believed, there has been a piece of chocolate crumb cake sitting just outside our anchor's office since 2003. And it has disturbingly not changed in all these many years!

I hope Charlie Moore's new duties don't force him to give up the very important task of cake-keeper. That would be tragic. Specifically amusing to me, with any other show I'd be WTFing all over this post. But as I read, my initial reaction was, "yeah, that pretty much sounds exactly like something the 360 kids would do." Yes people, our news-givers are kinda weirdos...and it's part of why I love them. Suddenly the bunny suit doesn't seem that out of the ordinary, huh?

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010


War, corruption, bigotry, natural disasters...but every once in a while...a happy ending.

Photo: Mariana Bazo Reuters, The Gazette

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Some Good News For Once?

We witnessed amazing television tonight. The good folks at CNN did a nice job, specifically Anderson Cooper, Gary Tuchman, and Karl Penhaul. At this time, four of the Chilean miners have been rescued. Prayers that the others soon join them without incident.

Video of the rescue capsule reaching the miners for the first time:

Florencio √Āvalos reaches the surface:

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Rich Iott Does Himself No Favors, Sharron Angle Still Nutty, Update From Chile, And Allegations Against Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Hi everybody. A new week is upon us! Do you have election fever yet? Yeah, me neither. I must have fallen in the enthusiasm gap. But some of the candidates keep doing/saying completely ridiculous things, so there's that! God bless America. All aboard the Crazy Train:
  • So! There is this Tea Partier, Rich Iott, who is the Republican candidate for Ohio's 9th Congressional District and it seems he has a hobby. See, he's one of those war re-enactors. You know, the guys who live out their boyhood fantasies all under the guise of being history buffs? That alone, not something to get all that judge-y about. But Iott here decided to expand beyond the norm and joined himself a group that involved donning an S.S. uniform. Yes, this was an idea he had! there's a picture on the interwebs of him dressed up like a Nazi. Score.
  • Anderson Cooper, who has been carving himself a niche lately as a combater of Crazy (and we love him for it!), tells us all about the recruitment video of Iott's group. Hey guess what it doesn't mention? That whole Holocaust thing! A minor oversight.
  • Iott apparently thinks he can defend this because he has decided to go toe-to-toe with our anchor. Live. The interview begins with a whole lot of spinning. The candidate tries to claim that re-enactments are about education AND that it's perfectly okay that the website doesn't have the whole story because that's about recruitment. Does not compute. I guess people need to be sucked in with sanitized information before they can really get the full impact of the education.
  • Our anchor then tries to get Iott to characterize the men he played as Nazi collaborators, and he hedges: "I don't know if you would call them collaborators. They were volunteers." This leads Anderson to note that, um, these guys left their own countries to join up with the Nazis, so...
  • Anderson goes on to note atrocities committed by the very unit that Iott portrayed. Says the candidate: "This particular unit was one that was never charged with war crimes." Well! I guess it's all okay then. Oh. My. God. My favorite part? Our anchor's sleeves may be opinionless, but sometimes his face totally says, "Oh, WTF?"
  • Anderson then asks if they were valiant men. Iott: "I think that they thought they were fighting for their homeland." Our anchor: "Well, I'm sure Nazis in the concentration camps thought they were doing a good thing, too. But that doesn't make it so. Do you think these were valiant men?" Oh, snap. Just a reminder, this man is running for Congress. I bet he is very glad he did this interview. Some of it can viewed below, though not, unfortunately the best parts. You're killing me, CNN.

  • Anderson: "You know, I say it a lot on this program, but it bears repeating. Who you vote for is between you, your conscience, and the voting machine. We don't take political sides on 360. We really try not to. We don't want to be a liberal newscast or conservative newscast. We just want facts." Actually, I don't think it bears repeating. I think it makes you sound really defensive. But hey, knock yourself out.
  • Iott has apparently handed the nuttiness baton to Sharron Angle, who has a warning for these here United States: beware Sharia law. ZOMG y'all, they got Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas!
  • Dearborn's mayor, John O'Reilly, is none too pleased with this accusation and he joins us for some smacking down. He points out that not only does the U.S. not have any Sharia law, there's not even much in the Middle East, which really emphasizes the utter ridiculousness of the situation.
  • Anderson then shows us a video that is allegedly of four Christian missionaries getting arrested while trying to share their faith. This is supposedly evidence of the scary Sharia law takeover. O'Reilly notes that it wasn't a city-sponsored event and Christians were welcome. I would like to point out that if you switched the Christians with a group of protesters for any progressive cause, I have seen this video about 500 times. Two wrongs don't make a right, obviously (if there's even a wrong here), but c'mon. Welcome to the world of being treated like crap by those in authority! You don't need Sharia law for that.
  • The Crazy just keeps coming tonight. Let's see, we haven't covered homophobia yet. Carl Paladino, can you help us out with that? His recent quote below:
Young children should not be exposed to [homosexuality] at a young age. They don't understand this. And it's a very difficult thing. And exposing them to homosexuality, especially at a gay pride parade -- and I don't know if you have ever been to one, but they wear these little Speedos and they grind against each other. And it's just a terrible thing.
  • So yeah...that was fun. And before he said that he read comments someone else wrote for him (weird) that said he didn't want kids "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option." Awesome.
  • But what would Parker and Spitzer think about this? Yes, it's about that time again. This is when CNN basically says, "hello AC360 viewer. We're very happy you're watching this show. But we would also be happy if you watched our new show. Because, see, we kinda banked much of our primetime ratings on this, and, well, so far it's not going that great. Some of us are getting scared and stressed out. We're not saying we're going to cry if we get one more bad review, but you know. We're really not begging or anything. Hey, remember when we fired Rick Sanchez? You liked that, right? So yeah, um, anyway, if you could just please, please watch. Like seriously, we still have therapy bills from when Lou Dobbs worked here." It's all about reading between the lines, people.
  • Anyhoo, for those keeping score at home, the Republican pool for the 2010 election now contains a witchcraft-dabbler, Nazi uniform-wearer, Sharia law-accuser, and, well, a stone-cold homophobe. And people say the GOP doesn't have a big tent...
  • On now to Gary Tuchman live from Chile to report on the trapped miners. Hopefully their long (68 days!) and horrible ordeal is just about over. The rescues are scheduled to begin in 24 hours. And you know what that means. The media, oh they have come! In a piece, our correspondent shows us around what is basically a tent city. Prior to the incident, the mine was pretty much it for the area, so people have been making do. They even constructed a little schoolhouse for the children of the miners. Plus? There are clowns. Because you gotta have clowns. It sounds like everyone is pretty excited. C'mon universe, let's have a happy ending.

  • Isha Sesay is back! I shall resume my girl crush. One of the headlines she reads involves someone throwing a book at Obama...because he wanted him to read it. Ha! Not quite the same as the whole Bush shoe incident, huh? Ah, memories. Says Isha: "Now, I'm no expert in these matters, although you're not going to hear me say that too often, but you got to be a couple sandwiches short of a picnic to throw a book at the president." Indeed.
  • Drew Griffin had an investigative piece on Sheriff Joe Arpaio, which you can watch below. Also, check out producer Ismael Estrada's blog post.

  • Finally, Anderson again talked with Tiffany Hartley.

  • I'm going to skip the "shot" since it's a picture, but let's do another headline with Isha, shall we? Apparently Snooki (yes, the one and only!) was arrested for drunkenness (no!) and was ordered to do community service. And what community service will she be doing? Signing autographs. Oh, WTF? I can't even. Isha asks Anderson if he knows what GTL stands for. I know! Gym, tan, laundry. Yes, the fact that I know that makes me want to cry sad tears. This is not my fault, people. Our anchor: "GTL, is that something to do with grenades?" And then, "Well, grenades is their term for -- I wouldn't go into it." Having no idea what the the Silver Fox was talking about, I took to the Google (yeah, I'm shame-faced). So now I know. I gotta say, this show just keeps sounding classier and classier.
  • The broadcast was good. Lots of variety. Even a variety of craziness. That'll do it.

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Actors in Campaign Ads, Gulf Coast Update, More On Bullying, And Interview With Tiffany Hartley

Hi everyone. I'm kinda bummed because I was going to bang out a good post for you last night, but when I sat down to do it...suddenly...sickness. I think I caught the Ebola! Or maybe not. Anyhoo, I'm all better now and am here to bring you what might be less than awesome bullet points. That's the way the blog bounces.
  • Love that they continue to keep 'em honest. They might actually be doing better this campaign season than they did in 2008. I dunno. I'll have to think about that.
  • Actors in campaign ads?! Say it ain't so! Oh Damian Muziani...
  • ZOMG scary illegal immigrants...that are actually stock characters. C'mon guys. So generic. Put some imagination into your fear-mongering!
  • Anderson Cooper: "Now, before you get too outraged at Republicans for pulling stunts like this, you should know that Democrats do it, too, using bogus real people, casting ads like Sunday matinees, all the same kind of trickery." Jebus, Mary, and Joseph. How many times? How many times, people?! *deep breath* Once again Silver Fox, I actually believe you on this...but you can't just say balance-y crap without backing it up. Great examples for the Republicans. Can we please have one--just one--for the Democrats?
  • Our anchor later in discussion with Ed Rollins and Anita Dunn: "We should point out, I mean, Republicans do it, Democrats do it, that no one has a lock on this sort of thing. Special interest groups do it." The story is election 2010. You should be focused on the present when it comes to the ads. Otherwise, that means no party ever gets to improve.

  • We were then joined by Billy Nungesser to talk about the new report that doesn't cast the Obama administration in the best light when it comes to the oil spill. I'm happy for the update, but not sure how I feel about the guest. The 360 kids have allowed Nungesser to become this trusted source--friend of the show type person. Now there's a report out that in part criticizes him, and he's allowed to bash the feds, all the while dismissing what it says about the locals. This is one of those circumstances where I don't feel like I'm getting all of my 360 degrees.
  • From there we segue into a completely unrelated segment from CNN's new train wreck, Parker Spitzer. Oh, the desperation is palpable, people. Apparently they've resorted to making other shows pimp this hot mess out. Given that it literally caused me to switch channels, great programming decision!
  • During my time over at MSNBC, I sadly missed all of the bullying coverage regarding Phoebe Prince. Below is the discussion with Rachel Simmons, Larry Hackett, and Sunny Hostin.

  • I missed a lot of the Tiffany Hartley coverage as well (and don't see the video online yet). We had a Gary Tuchman piece (Gary on a boat!), and then Anderson had an interview with Hartley herself. I've been somewhat purposefully avoiding this story because I don't want to make any sort of judgment until more is known. If I start doubting Hartley, I'm going to feel pretty terrible if Mexican pirates really did kill her husband.
  • For the "shot" tonight, Bristol Palin has a music video! Well, now my life is complete. Our anchor: "She wasn't the first in the party. We should point out a few days ago, we showed you this R&B music video co-starring her baby's daddy, Levi Johnston, canoodling with singer Brittany Senser." As my brain is having a seizure from the wrongness of what just came out of his mouth, he follows up with: "I'm using one of those Maury Povich terms, baby's daddy." Anderson Cooper, I am saddened/amused you know these references.
  • That'll do it for me. The show was okay, though as noted, I missed some stuff. I guess Anderson is just destined to drive me crazy re equivalencies. Good thing he's so cute such a good reporter.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Dear Alan Grayson, You're Not Helping

Hi everyone. The bullet points are tired tonight! So, no time to waste. Away we go:
  • We're kicking things off with some honesty-keeping of Alan Grayson, the current occupant of position number uno on my list of progressives who frustrate me. He's in a race for a Florida U.S. House seat against Daniel Webster, a man with some pretty radical views, or at least affiliations. In other words, Grayson could have easily took the high road and let his opponent hang himself. But no, instead he decided to make the same idiotic mistake of so many before him. Rather than running on his progressive values, he went screeching in the other direction, putting out an ad called "Taliban Dan" that takes Webster widely out of context. Now, predictably, it is Grayson who finds himself on the defense, while Webster gets to play victim, and no one focuses on the actual issues at hand (which were demonstrably in Grayson's favor). Bravo Alan! Thanks for reminding me that Democrats still have the ability to screw up literally anything!
  • The Congressman actually joined us tonight, and oh, our Anderson Cooper was ready, y'all! But first, he apparently needed to make me sigh: "We should take a moment to say that it's not our job to stick up for everyone who happens to get hammered by a tough campaign ad or get caught up in which side's point of view is good or bad for the country. That's why we have elections. That's up to you to decide. But because elections live or die on voters having accurate information, we think our job is to call people out, no matter where they are on the political spectrum, liberal, conservative, for polluting the waters of public knowledge, in other words, 'Keeping Them Honest.'" Yes, exactly. We know. It's kinda implied in that whole journalism thing.
  • For much of the interview, our anchor focused on the "Taliban" aspect, which personally didn't bug me near as much as the out-of-context clip. Yes, the former is beyond the pale, but it's also subjective. The edited quote is completely black and white. It is out-of-context. Period. For the record, when called out on this, Grayson says he doesn't agree. Actually, he dodges just about everything Anderson throws at him, and is a bit of a dick to our anchor to boot. Awesome.
  • Grayson: "But what is the first thing that a career politician says when he's called to answer for his own words? These were his words, not mine. The first thing a career politician like Daniel Webster says is, I was quoted out of context." Dude, he was! You did. And the messed up part is that he has said a bunch of disturbing stuff, but you changed the narrative.
  • All this talk about an edited interview. Amusingly ironic. Not hypocritical--there's no wrongness here, but there's a "heh" factor.
  • Grayson: "Anderson, it's a little disingenuous for you to say that I have avoided answering questions about this ad. You are not the only show on TV." Oh, snap. I actually don't know who's right here. Grayson was on MSNBC recently. Other than that, haven't been watching.
  • Our anchor did a pretty good job. He's turning into a bit of a little pit bull. But the cute kind that you're comfortable allowing your children to play around. First block below:

  • The next segment picked up from last night, focusing on the subject of bullying, specifically anti-gay groups' efforts to stop certain prevention/awareness programs. Justin Aaberg, a Minnesota 15-year-old, recently took his own life and now his mother is fighting to bring awareness to his school district, which currently does not allow teaching about sexual orientation.
  • We're joined by Minnesota Family Council president Tom Prichard and Rosalind Wiseman from last night. Given the name of his organization, can you guess what Prichard believes? If you pegged him as one of those "gay agenda" fools, you win the prize. Teh gays are coming for your childrens! ZOMG...oh noes! Meh. Can these people hurry up and stop existing? Because they're really starting to piss me off.

  • If you really need more of a reason of why the Prichards of the world are just flat out wrong, watch the next segment in which Anderson talks with bullied teens. Heartbreaking.

  • Anderson also spoke with Ellen DeGeneres about her own experiences and why she identifies with these kids. This is one celeb interview I can get behind. First of all, who doesn't love Ellen? But more importantly, it's totally relevant (unlike the head-scratcher that was Trace Adkins). The "that's so gay" issue from last night is brought up again, which I feel very strongly about. I'm a get-to-the-root-of-the-problem kinda gal. I'm not one for this put-a-bandage-on-it crap. All these haters in the media, and the churches, and the Congress (and those who stand by and say nothing)--this isn't happening in a vacuum. This shit is connected. Sarah Silverman gets it.
  • Since I'm already meandering off topic, hey, you think "that's so gay" is bad? Allow me to introduce you to "no homo." Thanks hip hop! (Ellen below.)

  • Okay people, there was more show, but I'm spent. I gave you the best parts anyway. If I may though: Dear Anderson, can you see? Because sometimes it seems like maybe you can't all that well. You have glasses for a reason, my friend. We won't laugh...much. XOXO
  • The show was pretty good. I kinda wish they'd do some punching upwards though. I'm not sure how gay kids aren't supposed to feel crappy when a U.S. senator thinks openly gay people shouldn't be teaching in schools.

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Monday, October 04, 2010

Following Campaign Cash And Bullying Prevention Awareness

Hello everyone. If you missed it, be sure to check out my latest newsy musings post. Anderson Cooper, Jon Klein, and Rick Sanchez--oh my! Tonight the bullet points are back, though they will admittedly be leaning heavy on the video. Let's get this party started! Or, you know, keep people honest. Whatev!
  • The 360 kids kick us off with the question of just where (where!) all this cash is coming from to pay for these shiny campaign ads we all know and love. Issues of transparency and factiness? Be still my news-loving heart!
  • Okay, they didn't actually get to the bottom of anything, but points for effort! In seriousness, the fact that they couldn't get anywhere is the story. And a very important one at that.
  • But to prove the point that they really did try to find out, we're shown clips of staffers actually making calls. Because that's necessary. Look, the 360 kids know how to use phones! Sorry guys. I don't mean to rain on your five seconds of fame, but it had to be said.
  • We then had discussion with Jeff Toobin and Bill Allison, editorial director of the Sunlight Foundation. I love that foundation! The talk mostly revolved around the Supreme Court decision that basically said corporations are like people and have the right to screw us over by buying elections. Or something like that! Very good segment.
  • Next we had Tom Foreman tackling the ads in the narrowing Connecticut senate race between State Attorney General Dick Blumenthal and former WWE CEO Linda McMahon. Yes, the WWE stands for what you think it stands for. We're told that it's just come out that WWE teamed up with "Girls Gone Wild" several years ago for a pay-per-view event of scandalousness. As we're told this information by Anderson Cooper, we're played a racy clip of scantily clad women. There is licking involved. C'mon 360. I commented to a friend that it was a very Fox-like move to pull, and she reminded me that no, no, Fox would have played the clip and then had those ladies on for an interview afterward. Touche. Score one for CNN...I guess.
  • We're played an attack ad against McMahon, which is followed up with this from Anderson to Tom: "A lot of body-slams there. So, what's true here?" Ha. Ha. Ha. I see what you did there. Yeah...don't do it again. Heh.
  • As for the actual fact-checking, not bad. Yay for context! Video below:

  • For those wondering if our anchor still has a cold, I would take that sneeze (which sounded like it went directly into the mic--sneeze attack!) as confirmation. Aw. (This is why I could never be on live television--the possibility of these things is just too nerve-wracking.)
  • We had Gary Tuchman live for some Sharron Angle news. Funny story! See, Angle is running against Harry Reid in Nevada, but Tea Party candidate Scott Ashjian is also running, and apparently Angle is nervous about this third guy stealing some of her mojo. How do we know this? She met with Ashjian in the hopes of getting him to drop out and instead...he recorded the meeting! Oh, lollers. So now, after criticizing Reid for backroom dealing, she's caught on tape trying to make it worth it for Ashjian to step aside. Angle, apparently, forgot that politics is a contact sport and you should always be on guard. Hide your kids, hide your wife, cuz they be recording everybody up in here! (Yes, yes, Ashjian is a douchebag for doing that.)
  • From the crazy politics, we next moved onto sadness. Oh, sadness. Randi Kaye had a piece on the heart-breaking death of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, a teen who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, secretly streamed video of Tyler kissing another man.
  • At the top of the broadcast, Anderson noted that they'd be looking into Tyler's life and the life of his roommate, which totally made me cringe. Given that his death was likely precipitated by a gross invasion of privacy, examining Tyler's life too closely would have been in very poor taste. I was relieved to see that this was not the case. The piece actually spends more time on Ravi. We get the requisite conversation with the neighbor (this is so out of character for him!), and, well,--you know the drill. The piece is below:

  • Randi's piece was followed by a very good conversation with Jeffrey Toobin and Rosalind Wiseman regarding the subject of bullying. Toobin made the great point that everyone needs to be careful about how much we really want to bring law enforcement into the issue. He's right, that could easily turn into a disaster.
  • Anderson brought up the anti-gay groups who are actually fighting against bullying prevention measures and Toobin followed up with the win (emphasis mine): "Let's be clear, too. These groups don't think homosexuality is normal. They think it's wrong. They think it is a menace to society. So they are the ones who are making it harder for kids, who feel isolated enough as it is, to come forward. I mean, this is not some sort of value-neutral approach by these conservative groups. They are trying to make homosexuality an outcast condition, and that's part of the problem." These groups can't be treated as just people with another point of view--kids are dying.
  • Kudos to Anderson for noting the "that's so gay" issue, especially in regards to "The Dilemma" movie trailer (with Vince Vaughn). I didn't remember until the moment our anchor brought it up, but I watched that trailer online a week or so ago (yeah, sometimes I sit around and watch movie trailers. I'm a loser--now you know). Anyway! Yes, I was shocked (and I don't shock easy). WTF?! Seriously, watch it. So unacceptable. Also, I like that Anderson name-checked Queen Latifah. I mean, c'mon.
  • The good news? There's actually a PSA campaign underway to combat this, and I have seen one of their ads on TV. Here's another one. The bad news? Apparently it's needed worse than I thought. No sooner had I tweeted about that trailer, than I found myself in a debate with someone--an educated non-bigoted someone--who thought the movie line wasn't a big deal. So...ugh.
  • Toobin: "We should see which company makes the movie. It may be our own." You all know I hate the celebrity interviews, but having Vaughn or Latifah on to answer for this would be kinda awesome. Yeah...never gonna happen. Segment video below:

  • The segment on the Mexican pirates:

  • The "shot" was Levi Johnson in a music video. Yeah,...I don't think so. But I do now have a suddenly urge to get some Purell, so thanks for that, 360.
  • The show was good! Everybody gets a cookie!

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Anderson Cooper Does Daytime, CNN Gets A New Head, & Rick Sanchez Fired!

Hi everyone. Wowsa! That's right, a simple "wow" will not suffice when it comes to the past week and a half at CNN. Some of you have been asking my thoughts, so as promised, the following are my newsy musings about the whole shebang. This post is no doubt going to be long and meandering. Consider yourself warned and please bear with me. To save time and space, I'm going to assume that everyone reading this knows the basics of everything I'll be discussing. Also, to be clear, I have no special knowledge when it comes to the network decisions that we've recently witnessed. Translation? Get ready for some mad speculation, yo.

I guess the best place to start is this past Friday's firing of Rick Sanchez. If you told me he would one day being going out with a bang, well, I wouldn't have been that shocked. But an anti-Semitic meltdown? Yeah, can't say I saw that one coming. I mean, WTF? There are a lot of unanswered questions here. One has to wonder if there was already a target on his back, and network brass were just waiting for an excuse. They fired him fast.

I can't really get my head around the whole "Jon Stewart is a bigot" thing. I mean, really? You're really going to say that about one of today's most beloved comics? A man whose comedy is predominantly directed at the country's elite in the defense of the working man? Really? Best I can tell, what we have here is a situation where a guy wasn't getting the promotions he thought he deserved, so he projected all his anger onto what he felt was a safer/easier target than his bosses/himself (though he did still mention CNN and I'm sure that hurt him more than anything he said about Stewart).

The remarks about Jews were more than troubling, obviously, but I don't know if Rick Sanchez is actually an anti-Semite. It's probably safe to assume, however, that he is massively arrogant. I'd guess that he wanted primetime, and being passed over (not to mention knowing that Anderson Cooper recently negotiated a really sweet deal), probably didn't sit very well. Instead of looking inward for the reason, he blamed his problems and setbacks on others. I'm sure he has on occasion faced real discrimination, but people don't think he's a joke because he's Cuban.

If Jon Stewart is a bigot, well, I guess so am I. Longtime viewers of AC360 know that Sanchez actually used to be a correspondent for the show. The majority of his reports were, to put it mildly, ridiculous. Yes, those of us who were watching at the time mocked him mercilessly. You might even be able to find some of this in my blog archives. Our theory was that CNN was secretly (or maybe not so secretly) trying to kill him, because they did everything from dropping his ass in the middle of the ocean to leaving him alone in the woods. And every assignment was tackled with the classic Sanchez boorishness.

The man has had his moments. He's done a good interview here and there, and every once in a while covered an important subject that others didn't. But for the most part, he's always been viewed as a semi-joke--someone whose journalism style was pulling the network in the wrong direction. He only has himself to blame for that. I hope he lands on his feet somewhere; there's no need to be overly mean. But I don't cry any tears over this departure. Also? Though I could obviously be totally wrong, I think the identity of the on-air leaker just got clearer.

Transitioning now to the first big shoe that dropped: Jon Klein out! Hallelujah! It's about time. Okay, I should probably note that over the years I basically took everything that ever pissed me off about CNN and stuck it on Klein's head in a big Blame Bucket. It was just easier that way, people! That being said, I know I'm not in any way the only person who thinks this was long overdue. The network that Klein always described in the press sounded pretty good. The network that actually existed? Well, it was quite a different animal. As former CNNer Jamie McIntyre blogged:
The fact is Jon Klein has overseen the slow, and sometimes not-so-subtle tabloidization of CNN, as he has systematically shed programming that aspired to provide context and perspective, in favor of ratings-seeking formulas aimed more at fanning the flames of outrage and emotion.
It's actually a little strange for me to see Klein finally go. I began closely following CNN about the time he took over, so I'm pretty familiar with his entire reign. Prior to that time, I was all about CNN Headline News (Rudi Bakhtiar, I miss you!), which was basically just headlines (duh) and packages aired round-the-clock. But then suddenly there was entertainment crap, and a scary lady named Nancy Grace (and eventually a scary man named Glenn Beck), so I hightailed it away from that network and never looked back.

Klein wasn't all bad. He did get rid of Crossfire and the other political shows. Still. CNN has gone from a network that I used to watch quite often, to one that, except for 360, I all but avoid. I've witnessed terrible decision after terrible decision, which have added up to me being almost completely alienated from their programming. Fire the entire science and technology team? Sure, why not. Wall-to-wall Michael Jackson coverage? Hey, our regular viewers probably don't want real news anyway. Hiring Erick Erickson? Really, who hasn't called a Supreme Court Justice a "goat-f*cking child molester"? And on and on and on.

To recap, I'm a regular viewer they actually had (and a member of that sweet demo, I might add), and CNN has done nothing but push me away. I love the work of Anderson Cooper, Sanjay Gupta, Gary Tuchman, and Fareed Zakaria. Other than that there's not much motivation for me to watch at all. I'm not saying I dislike everyone else, but I don't like them to the point that I want to schedule them into my day. I've tried to watch John King's show on several occasions and every single time I turn it on I'm met with some political panel that makes me want to poke my eyes out. No thanks.

Now there's this new guy Ken Jautz. I am not hopeful, people. First of all, he comes from HLN, which as previously noted, I now hate. Jautz is on record that he won't be blending brands, but he does talk about making CNN primetime "...more compelling and engaging, sometimes more fun..." It's true that primetime does need this. I'm just afraid his way of getting there is going to be much different than anything I would want to watch. The new shows, quite frankly, sound terrible (a disgraced politician? Get him on the air!). Yet apparently they're now top priority at CNN. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe these shows really will entertain and enlighten. Yeah, I'm not holding my breath.

Now, on to the news that our Anderson Cooper is branching out to daytime. Wow. Honestly, when I read the initial report before it was confirmed, I thought it might be a plant. I wasn't sure by who or what the motivation would be, but it just did not seem believable. It's not that I didn't see change coming--it's practically been palpable. There's a reason I did a big post for my four year blog anniversary--I'm not entirely confident there will be a fifth.

We all know the ratings continue to tank, and Anderson's unhappiness has been clearly evident for the good part of a year--probably more. Actually, I didn't know exactly what was wrong with him (felt wrong speculating). I believe I characterized it in the past as him being disengaged with the show. This actually began to improve this year, but I'll get to that later.

I guess I always envisioned Anderson maybe taking over for Regis coupled with a higher profile at 60 Minutes. Hey, maybe he did too. You can't exactly knock people out of their chairs though, and timing is everything. With CNN in a downward spiral, perhaps he felt he couldn't wait. After all, even the Silver Fox isn't immune to "getting shot" like Klein did. The new guy might not even like him. I also thought maybe he'd jump to Oprah's new network. Executive producing and hosting his own daytime talk show while still doing 360? No, that is something I definitely did not consider.

My interpretation of the situation is that Anderson only re-upped with CNN because his deal was sweetened with this new show. Despite having crappy ratings, they're less crappy than most of the rest of CNN. Plus he's one of the main faces of the network and he brings them tons of buzz. Him bolting would be devastating. I imagine he had a lot of leverage come negotiation time and he used it. Smart cookie. What I don't understand is how in the world this is going to work.

Anderson is the disaster guy. He's an adequate enough anchor, but his career has been made through his field reporting. This is a guy who I watched literally leave the anchor desk during a live broadcast in order to catch a flight to Haiti. In 2006 he spent a month covering the Israel/Hezbollah war and I'm not sure he came back to the states at all during that time. How can he do a syndicated show and continue to do long-term field reporting on the spur of the moment? Yes, you can have taped shows in the can, but a month's worth? They'll get stale.

According to the press release, when breaking news happens, he's going to take the audience with him (one presumes not literally). Would a daytime audience really want to watch more than a day or two of consecutive coverage from a devastated region? Plus he's going to executive produce this new show. That's a lot of work. That's more than just showing up. This new show is now his baby and kids need attention.

Supposedly, 360 is going to be given higher priority, and Anderson has stated that he "remain[s] as committed as ever to [his] program on CNN, and will be with CNN for years to come." Frankly, I don't buy this. I don't say this to be mean or make any kind of judgment on Anderson's character, I'm just being practical. First of all, I don't see how the new show isn't going to affect 360. There will probably be lots of decisions that will have to be made to accommodate Anderson's schedule. Also, though it wasn't hugely apparent, I did notice a difference in quality when he was writing his book.

As for being committed to CNN, if he was in fact going to bolt before this new deal, doesn't that kind of make 360 the vegetables you have to eat in order to get dessert? Why would he prioritize a show he almost dumped (and again, this is all just speculation)? I don't know the language of his contract, but if the new show becomes a success, I would not be surprised if he left CNN. And you know, that's all perfectly fine. It's what happens in the business. I just really hope he doesn't have a plan to continue to reiterate his commitment and then one day out of the blue, bam! He's gone. That would not be cool, Silver Fox. You have a staff.

Then there's the subject of the new show. It sounds...interesting. I'm probably biased because despite being of the female variety, I am not a fan of daytime TV (though I do enjoy Anderson on Regis and Kelly). I like most of what I view to have a harder edge. That doesn't mean I will shun the new show. I'll definitely give it a chance, though if I may, hidden camera experiments?! Really? Yeah, there's a possibility this may not end well.

It's not that I think Anderson will do poorly. He is extremely charming and usually has crazy good comic timing. I never pictured him going it alone though. The dynamic he has with Kelly Ripa is mostly what makes his appearances on that show so fun to watch. She fawns over him, he gets adorably embarrassed or amusingly snarky, rinse, repeat. When I first started watching, I wasn't a big fan of Kelly (perky people scary me). Over the years I have realized just how hard her job is and just how good she is at it. Anderson can go toe-to-toe with her, but will he be as compelling alone? I watch that show for those two--I find the guest segments boring.

Also, there's the issue of relatability. Being a daytime host is much different than being an objective journalist. The audience needs to have a connection with the person they're letting into their living rooms every day. Anderson is a very private individual. Oprah may not be a total open book, but she's let America into so many aspects of her life--probably most notably her weight struggles. Ellen talks about her wife and has talked about her struggles coming out. Rosie always talked about her kids, as Kelly does now. Donahue was before my time, so maybe he was different, but everyone I can think of consistently gave/gives a piece of themselves to relate to their audience.

Yes, Anderson opened a vein to write about his losses, and everyone can relate to loss. I'm not sure that's the same though. Most of the other stuff we know, well, being a Vanderbilt isn't all that relatable. On some level I think Anderson has always been conscious of this potential problem. He sometimes goes through painstaking efforts to maintain his reputation as an 'everyman.' His life is boring. He doesn't go to dinner parties. He doesn't know what to say to celebrities. He watches cheesy TV. All these things he reiterates. I'm not saying it's a farce. I truly believe he's a down to earth guy. It's just that sometimes he tries really really hard to make sure we know that.

On a similar note, there's the elephant in the room, which yes, I do believe will be an elephant with this new show. I've always respected Anderson enough as a person to only blog what he himself has put into the public sphere regarding his private life. The other stuff is quite frankly nobody else's business and honestly not something I really care about. That being said, if he's going to do shows about gay issues (and I'm assuming he will), I do not see how he remains silent about his own orientation in this new chatty medium.

This goes back to the whole connecting with your audience thing. People don't want detachment in daytime. I can't see how him not acknowledging would be anything but awkward. I always assumed he'd never go public, and to be clear, I am not saying he's under any obligation to do so, but he's been edging out further and further the past couple of years. Maybe there'll be a couple of carefully placed pronouns in the near future. I guess we'll see.

Finally, a few words about where 360 is now. I noted before that Anderson's disengagement with the show had been evident. Last year was very bad for the 360 kids. Very bad. As a regular viewer, it was painful to watch them basically destroy the show. It was like watching a car accident in slow motion, and there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening (though I did try in my own powerless way). How they lost their way so badly, I'll never know, especially since it was something some of us saw coming as far back as the election.

What I do know, is that over half the hardcore regular viewers I have contact with jumped ship and never looked back. Not exactly a good thing given that CNN's loyal base of viewers is much smaller than Fox News or MSNBC. I've always thought that CNN's main goal should be expanding their base; not necessarily going after the viewers of the moment. In other words, wall-to-wall Michael Jackson? Stupid move. Sure, they got the ratings then, but how many regular viewers did they lose forever?

Anyway. I say all this because from my point of view, this year 360 has been improving, particularly the past few months. They've slowly morphed into more of a news magazine again, which I think works better for them, as it allows them to put more of a personal stamp on the show. Do I sometimes rather they tackle things relevant to a wider audience (i.e. unemployment, specific legislation)? Occasionally. But the key here is that most of what they cover now is not unimportant. We're not getting the trials and tribulations of Britney Spears (yes, they did in fact give us that at one time).

Also, for the most part, Anderson has been on fire lately. Last year he barely did any real interviews (astounding to me); this year he's been knocking them out of the park on almost a weekly basis. On top of that, the fact-checking has improved. All these things together are getting the show a lot of positive buzz lately, which can only be a good thing. Because I gotta say, there have been periods in the past where my Google hits to this blog were only related to "the shot". Pretty sad. Now people are searching for specific interviews and reporting. Obviously there's word-of-mouth (word-of-interwebs?) at play.

If they lock in and sharpen up this new format, there's a possibility they could increase their base audience. One of 360's main problems has always been their inconsistency. They keep slightly changing the show, making it almost impossible for new viewers to become attached. Taking on a news show is a pretty big deal and usually a long process for an individual. For me personally, it was the better part of a year before I finally decided that, yes, I liked this Anderson fellow enough to make his show a part of my daily viewing habit. I hope they continue in the direction they've been (mostly) going lately.

To wrap up, I have no idea what's going to happen in the future, but the next year is definitely going to be interesting. Though it's very possible Anderson's new endeavor will be something I won't want to watch, I still wish him all the best and hope he succeeds. It's his life. What I or anyone else may or may not wish for his career is irrelevant. It doesn't change the fact that he seems to be a good guy. So, you get on with your bad self, Silver Fox. I'm rooting for you.

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Friday, October 01, 2010

A Quick Note

Hello readers! Apparently, I have picked the wrong time to go on a spontaneous blogging break. That other part of my life got busy (the part that pays me money), and I was also distracted by baseball, so I figured, eh, time for a hiatus. Little did I know that all hell was going to break loose. Jon Klein fired! Anderson Cooper becomes a daytime talk show host! Dudes, I can't leave you people alone for a second. Anyhoo, I had sorta already planned to do a post this weekend of newsy musings--I suppose I now have quite a lot to ponder. Be sure to check back! As for the show itself, not bad, and some nights even actually quite good. Maybe I should go on break more often.

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