Wednesday, January 26, 2011

9-11 Coin Scam, Bible Park Controversy, Dr. Phil Weighs In On Bullying And Homophobia (For Some Reason), And Kucinich Does Himself No Favors

Hi all. I'm just going to blast through most of this, and then give you some more general criticism to chew on at the end. The bullet points await!:
  • The 360 kids began with some honesty-keeping regarding commemorative 9-11 coins. We're coming up on the 10 year anniversary, and though it's only still January, it's never too soon for exploitation!

  • Then it was on to the controversy over the building of a biblical theme park in Kentucky. The sticking point is the tax incentives the park's backers will be receiving. Separation of Church and State, yo! Reverend Barry Lynn, the founder of Americans United For Separation of Church and State, joined us to argue that very point. Jeff Toobin brought the legal lowdown, and Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis USA and the Creation Museum, well,...I think you know where he stands.
  • I'm weirdly not overly bothered by this. Of course, the irony hasn't escaped me that the same type of people behind this project are usually the ones who emphasize private charity over government assistance. Looks like they want their government help now!

  • Isha Sesay told us about a new study that found men don't retain as much information from the news when the anchor is a sexy female. That a fact! I would have never guessed. Anderson Cooper takes the opportunity to pretend like he didn't hear what Isha was saying. Oh, I see what you did there, Silver Fox.
  • As for the lady news consumers? They actually didn't test us. But I maintain that I take in everything our anchor says. Oh, sure, I may on occasion mute the repeat and have myself a little stare, but are we not human?!
  • Moving on to a story about a teacher who acted quickly to deal with a bully...and was subsequently reprimanded by the school. I had read about this situation and was glad to see 360 giving it coverage, but, as all too frequently, they ruined it by having Dr. Phil weigh in. Ugh. He went on to say absolutely nothing enlightening. Seriously, are there not actual experts on this subject?

  • If that wasn't bad enough, Anderson also had Dr. Phil comment on Harps grocery store placing a 'family shield' over a magazine featuring a picture of Elton John's family. After an outcry over the homophobia, the store took the shield down.
  • Dr. Phil called the situation "absolutely, unequivocally absurd," so phew, I can now rest easy that my intolerance of hate has been validated. WTF, 360?
  • Dennis Kucinich got the RidicuList treatment because he's suing the congressional cafeteria for $150,000 due to a surprise olive pit. Seriously. Oh, Dennis Kucinich. I mostly like your politics, but sometimes you start talking about aliens or do something like this and I just wanna be like, duuuude!
  • I'd like to think all those stuttery screw-ups by our anchor (which I normally find endearing) were a punishment from the News Gods for having on Dr. Phil. Oh, also? Why the D.C. hate? You're gonna get emails!

  • The show was just meh. I'm not going to say that the stories were unimportant, but um, hard news? None of the stuff tonight felt like top story material--or even really first half hour material. There are big things going on in the world today, and 360 seems to be taking a pass. I've previously noted that the news magazine format appears to work better for them (and especially Anderson), but c'mon, I shouldn't have to get the majority of my Egypt news from Rick Sanchez's twitter account (check out this amazing report from a Guardian correspondent). That's sort of embarrassing, don't you think? Here's hoping for more (some?) hard news in the future.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Michele Bachmann Still Merely Truthy, Andrew Shirvell Even Worse Than We Thought, Keith Olbermann Talk, And Anderson Is Not Happy With AMC

Hello party people! Another week is upon us. I actually don't have much to say about the broadcast, want some bullet points? Of course you do!
  • The 360 kids kicked things off with keeping Michele Bachmann honest regarding some statements she made about the history of these here United States. You might find this hard to believe, but it turns out some of the stuff she said wasn't true. I know, right? So unlike her!
  • Bachmann is going to give the "Tea Party response" to Tuesday's State of the Union Address (no, I don't think anyone asked her), and I have to admit, I'm a little excited. I didn't think anything would top Kenneth the Page's performance in the category of unintentional hilarity, but we just might have a contender!
  • There was discussion with former Republican Congresswoman Susan Molinari, Paul Begala, and historian Professor Eddie Glaude Jr., which was totally not worth watching. But! Was anyone else amused at Molinari's passive aggressiveness when Anderson Cooper dared (DARED!) to ask her about something other than the exact topic she was told they'd be discussing?

  • You know that creeper guy, Andrew Shirvell? Turns out he's a creepier creeper than anyone knew. Seriously dude, get some therapy (and maybe some medication).

  • Discussion with Jeff Toobin and Chris Armstrong's attorney, Deborah Gordon:

  • Today Jared Lee Loughner pled not guilty to three counts of attempted murder. Ted Rowlands reported, Sunnie Hostin discussed:

  • The Keith Olbermann speculation is still going strong. Well, on CNN anyway. I have to roll my eyes at the hypocrisy when it comes to these media stories. They were all over the Jon Klein and Rick Sanchez firings, weren't they? Oh, wait...
  • Colby Hall and Bill Carter discussed:

  • Tonight's RidicuList dealt with the AMC show Mad Men, which Isha Sesay tells us she has never seen. Anderson notes that he should have asked her that question before she got the job because it might have been a deal breaker. I've actually never seen Mad Men either, Anderson. Am I not worthy of watching your show now? You and your impossibly high standards!
  • Okay, so, our anchor is really not thrilled that the companies behind the show are squabbling and now he may have to wait to get his Mad Men fix. Why are you depriving the Silver Fox, AMC? I love that Anderson has basically finagled this segment into being a block of airtime specifically designated for ranting about what ticks him off. He's now Andy Rooney...with snark!
  • Props for the SNL reference. I believe I've used the same on this here blog. Anyway, Anderson? It's going to be okay...even without Mad Men. (But anyone ever messes with Dexter, there will be blood on more than just the show.)

  • The show wasn't bad. Not spectacular, but no real complaints.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Keith Olbermann Out At MSNBC

Hi everyone. Wow. Another one bites the dust. After spending the day working and running errands in this brutal weather, I decided to take a nice evening nap. I got up just in time to watch George Clooney on Piers Morgan, logged onto the Twitter, and discovered that the media world had turned upside down. Not quite what I was expecting.

The details of Olbermann's firing (escape?) are still murky, but it's no secret to anyone who pays attention to this sort of thing that he has quite the reputation in the industry. Even among certain liberals, the sometimes joke has been, "sure he's an asshole, but he's our asshole." Right now the conventional wisdom seems to be that the Comcast merger and loss of Jeff Zucker finally forced the pink slip, though NBC denies. The Wrap has a completely different take, reporting that Olbermann left on his own with dreams of creating a media empire.

Though I stopped watching Countdown in recent years, I'm still a little sad to see Olbermann go, especially if it wasn't on his terms. He was an anchor monster, yes, but his heart seemed to be in the right place. Before Anderson Cooper was really even on my radar, Countdown was the cable news show I watched every night. Following the election of 2004, because Kerry had conceded, no television anchor would significantly touch the story of election irregularities in Ohio. No television anchor except Keith.

I know some of you are now picturing him bombastically ranting about stolen votes, but it wasn't like that--he mostly just reported the facts. Olbermann was different in those days. Though it wasn't hard to peg him as a liberal, he did a lot more reporting than he did commentating. What attracted me to the show was that he gave light to stories that others didn't seem to have the courage to report.

It was a different time then. There was still significant support for Bush, there was still significant support for the war. It was a very, very hard time to be a liberal. This was compounded by the fact that while conservatives had a strong voice on the airwaves, liberals had none. Then there was Keith. He took a chance and spoke out against what was happening in the country, and it laid the foundation for what MSNBC primetime is today.

I'll always be grateful to him for having the courage to say something when others didn't. He made me feel a little less alone. I just wish he didn't let it overtake him. Eventually Keith became a little too similar to that which he mocked. My readers know I hate false equivalency. I am not saying he became the exact opposite of those who inhabit primetime at Fox News, but the constant childish voices and harping on the Right was something I couldn't handle anymore. I wanted a news anchor, not a performer.

Worse still, at some point I felt like I could no longer trust him. Segments from the show, coupled with comments he made online, left me feeling uneasy. I wasn't sure that he wouldn't stretch accuracy to make a political point. Sure, he's never simply made things up like the other side does, but I have higher standards than that. As a result, and with sadness, I slowly began to stop watching. I couldn't tell you the last time I saw an entire Countdown broadcast.

That's the short story of Keith Olbermann's tenure at MSNBC--through my eyes anyway. I wish him well, and hope he lands somewhere else soon. I also hope the network does their best to place all of his staff. TV news is one crazy industry, huh?

As for the 360 kids, they were all over this story. It was manna for a news junkie, but sometimes I wonder exactly what viewers they're targeting. Because the majority of the country? They don't care about this story--in fact, many have probably never heard of Olbermann. This sort of gets at the heart of CNN's problem: they have no identity, and their audience is subsequently all over the place. I won't be surprised if they pull a really good demo tonight, but nor will I be surprised if they get completely demolished. It's because I don't know who's watching, and many times I get the impression they don't either.

To end these musings with some fun, below are the two RidicuLists from this week concerning Fountain Lady. Hilarious stuff. They appear to be taking a lot greater care to write the segments in Anderson's voice, which is really helping his now almost pitch perfect delivery. I'd previously noted that sometimes the segment seemed to be nothing more than a hot mess of random references, clearly not written by Anderson, as evidenced by his awkward delivery. But this week has been really good. Enjoy:

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Anderson Cooper Rightly Calls Out Rep. Steve Cohen On His Hypocrisy Regarding Inflamed Rhetoric, Fails To Touch The Facts Of The Actual Issue

Hello readers! It seems Anderson Cooper and the 360 kids are intent on driving me insane. But let's step back a bit first. See, this random Congress dude, Steve Cohen, is none too happy about the House Republicans' little health care reform repeal stunt vote. Everything's good so far, right? Well, he goes on the House floor and gets his vent on about the GOPers: "They say it's a government takeover of health care, a big lie..." Dude is speaking truth to power, woo! Go him! "...just like Goebbels." Wait, what? Ohhh noeees.

Really? REALLY, Steve Cohen? You pull this crap right after everyone's calling for a new civility? Apparently, the Congressman is not familiar with Godwin's law. Anyway, this always happens. At this point, I could write the script in my sleep. A Democrat has the facts completely on their side, they inexplicably say something extreme, the GOP freaks out (ZOMG, he's calling us Nazis!), and the media latches onto the controversy, completely brushing by the substance of the argument (welcome to your first segment on AC360).

Honestly, after watching the interview twice, Cohen doesn't come off all that badly. The show was right to call him out on his hypocrisy, and I agree with the notion that bringing up anything related to Nazi Germany is never helpful (and offensive to many), but he made a very clear distinction that his comment was about tactics, and there's some validity there. I wish he would have found another way to make his point.

But what really makes this a big fail on the 360 kids' part is that we had an entire discussion that was essentially about GOP lies regarding health care reform, and not once did Anderson, you know, talk about those lies. Can a viewer get a little fact-checking up in this segment that is supposing to 'keep 'em honest'? What lies? Doesn't that sound like a question our anchor maybe should have asked? Then he could have checked to see if they are actually lies.

Maybe Cohen is accusing them of lying about some things that are actually true. Wouldn't that be an interesting thing to find out? And if Cohen is right about the lying, that means the Republican's reasoning for trying to repeal landmark legislation is one big snow job. Maybe it's just me, but that seems like a rather big news story, no? Not for this news show, apparently! The irony? If Cohen had made his argument with more civility, you think he would have been invited on 360 to discuss? Yeah, that's what I thought. Lies can be just as poisonous as any inflamed rhetoric--maybe even more so.

After the interview with the Congressman, there was discussion with Dana Bash and Cornell Belcher. Anderson did his whole false equivalency thing, which, yeah, annoying. I'm not sure if he does it because he thinks it's a good way to position himself as neutral, or if he really is just naive. But anyway, how much are we loving Cornell these days? He's like the new Gerg, all calm and rational. I want to clone him and spread him all over cable news.

By the way, for a lesson in how it's done, I think Representative Cohen needs a pointer or two from the awesomeness that is Anthony Weiner.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Anderson Cooper Totally Pwns Dr. Laura

Hey kids! I'm tired and was going to just skip the blog post tonight, but I couldn't pass up sharing the RidicuList due to awesomeness. Anderson Cooper sees Dr. Laura Schlessinger's bullshit and he will fight it with email records and snark! "Take your own advice and stop whining." Indeed.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

School Board Member Attacks MLK, Sarah Palin Always The Victim, And Baby Doc Returns to Haiti

Hi everyone. I think I'm going to give myself some space to spread out and mostly forgo the bullet points tonight. They will no doubt be back shortly. Raise your hand if you're shocked that the broadcast didn't contain an Oprah/Piers Morgan segment. I know, right? Aw, is Anderson Cooper not an Oprah fanboy anymore? As for how the Piers dude did, I watched, and I will give him a resounding 'meh.' Trust me, this is way better than my reaction to Parker/Spitzer, which was to gawk in horror at my television before turning it off five minutes later, never to watch again.

But this here blog post is about the 360 kids. Tonight, in keeping with the holiday, they kicked us off with some Martin Luther King related news. Colorado school board member Brett Reese has been broadcasting attacks on King (via a small radio station) for the past two weeks. Some of what he says is true, but most? Not so much, and the information in fact comes from a white supremacist's website. Because those guys are always so accurate when it comes to information on African Americans.

After more explanation, Anderson tells us they had booked Reese on the show, but then decided they didn't want to give his nonsense the exposure. I'm torn on this whole segment. It sounds like they saw something controversial, immediately jumped into coverage mode, had second thoughts, and finally just split the difference between being sensational and responsible. So...yay? Good on them for re-evaluating, but should this have been covered at all? They said it was a small radio station and these smears are not new. I don't know. Anyway, below is the segment, which is followed by discussion with Bryan Wright, the principal of the Greeley West High School, and Professor Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of African-American studies at Princeton University.

Anderson also interviewed Stevie Wonder about King:

After six people lost their lives in Arizona, you know who the biggest victim was? Sarah Palin that's who! At least, that's the impression she's been giving lately. Anderson began the segment by reminding us that accusations of blame began to fly as soon as the shooting occurred. He played us examples of those on the left engaging in such behavior, which is a perfectly legitimate thing for him to do (and actually encouraged over vague statements). I would like to point out that according to this, Palin apparently immediately went into defense mode before all the fingers started pointing. Strange that a person would think to do that.

Honestly, I think there is a lot being missed here by conservatives, the media, and even liberals. Personally I feel there has been way too much focus on that map. If it were just the crosshairs, I would feel sorry for Palin. Even coupled with the tweet, it would be irresponsible, but not worthy of all this blame. Thing is, it's not just the crosshairs and the tweet (those are just symptoms); it's her entire political philosophy. Sarah Palin and her cohorts in the media don't just disagree with this president and this government, they consistently attempt to delegitimize them.

They want to take back America. Talk of tyranny runs rampant, gun culture is practically fetishized. When it comes to policy, there is no rational debate offered. Instead there are death panels, and proclamations of a government takeover. Lurking around every corner is the implication that something sinister is a-foot. Glenn Beck gets out his chalkboard and points the Tea Partiers to the latest conspiracy. He's not directly accusing, mind you, but he's just saying...with a wink and a nod.

Did Sarah Palin's crosshairs cause this shooting? No. There is absolutely no evidence of that. But this shit doesn't happen in a vacuum. She's mainstreamed a culture that breeds anti-government resentment. You don't even need to be a Palin follower or Fox News watcher to be affected by what's happening--we've all become immersed. And not only the stable are listening. Did Loughner get caught up in this monster Palin and her cohorts have brought to the forefront? I don't know. But it's absolutely despicable that she won't even consider changing her rhetoric.

The discussion with Cornell Belcher and Dana Loesch was ridiculous. Mostly they focused on Palin's use of 'blood libel,' which I don't even care that much about. Actually, I think it just shows how unoriginal she is, since it looks like she had to go running to the Wall Street Journal's opinion page to get her response.

Loesch did not disappoint, in that she proved herself a total hypocrite in less than five seconds. Ever since the shooting, she's been mocking the calls for a more toned-down rhetoric, yet the first thing she mentions is a death threat that occurred, according to her, "because of all of the things that are being said about conservatives and being said about Tea Partiers and Sarah Palin." And you know what? She's probably right. Yes, Dana, as some of us have been saying, words matter.

Pretty sad that Cornell had to actually ask Anderson to keep her honest. I guess when it comes to these segments, the rest of us have to do his job for him. At least he noted that Palin never ever backs off. I had to laugh at Dana's claim that upwards of a million private citizens were "absolutely persecuted without any evidence because of this tragedy." Persecuted? Really? And she says it on MLK day no less. Good lord. Oh, and here's that Media Curves study she mentioned. She is, of course, spinning like a top.

Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier returned to Haiti. John Zarrella reports:

Also, I wanted to share this great Haiti piece from 360 kids Vladimir Duthiers and Hannah Yi. They visited a camp for the deaf, reporting on the struggles of people who rarely if ever get coverage. It's a sad, yet fascinating watch.

Isha Sesay is now an official 360 kid! Remember when we had that petition to get her on the show? I'm totally taking partial credit. And that's not deluded thinking at all! No sir. Below is Anderson's SNL digital short cameo, which was tonight's "shot." Oh, that Pee Wee Herman...

Starbucks is on the RidicuList tonight due to the trenta, their new 31 ounce size. That's a lot of caffeine. I actually don't drink coffee, so my main takeaway from this is I really need to see the movie "Role Models," because Paul Rudd is adorable and that scene was hilarious. "Congratulations, you're stupid in three languages." Ha!

That's going to do it for me. The show was okay. They're killing me with these Loesch bookings.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

This Exists: Pee Wee Herman & Andy Samberg Drunkenly Beat The Crap Out Of Anderson Cooper

Because the world can never have too much bizarre hilarity, let's all watch the Silver Fox get his ass handed to him by the dude known for the Tequila Dance:

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Slow Progress In Haiti

Hi all. I've been avoiding blogging due to disgust/sadness/horror over the Arizona shootings and subsequent reaction. Maybe I'll write something about that at some point, but not now. I thought President Obama gave an amazing and much needed speech.

Tonight I just wanted to share Gary Tuchman's piece on Haiti, and all the rubble that remains. Unfortunately the shooting meant that the quake's anniversary passed without near as much coverage as I was hoping to see. So much sadness all around.


Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Best & Worst Of AC360 In 2010

Hello, kids. I was hoping you would get to read this wrap-up when we were actually in 2010, but at least it's still January, right? Anyway, listicle time! After having a ponder about breaking up my little end-of-year review foray into two separate posts, ultimately I decided to let you digest all the bloggy goodness in one big meal. The 360 kids will find that some morsels go down quite smoothly, others are a bit bitter, and still more are a mixture of both.

In your humble blogger's view, save a few hiccups, this was a banner year for our little show. Oh, sure, in terms of ratings, things are still...not good, but quality? Team 360 has been workin' it! Before I get to that, I would be remiss if I didn't note some 2010 personnel changes that likely contributed to tinkering of the broadcast.

CNN Prez Jon Klein finally bit the big one and found himself no longer employed by the network, while his replacement, Ken Jautz, decided that Senior Executive Producer David Doss would be better used...elsewhere. Fan favorite (I'm just sayin') Charlie Moore took over the role of show head honcho. Also, to be filed under bittersweet sadness, sub-anchor Erica Hill made her exit earlier in the year. Many of us miss her energetic presence, but are thrilled she's experiencing such success.

So there we are! What you will find below is a year of 360 filtered through my critical little blogger brain. There's enthusiastic cookie-giving (with sprinkles!); there's measured criticism; and yeah, there might be an instance (or two) of Keyboard Smash. I tried my best to skim through most of my 2010 archive, but no doubt there was coverage that slipped by. If you think there's something important (good or bad) that I forgot, or you disagree with something I've said, I invite you to make a visit to my very comfy comment section (free drinks!). And with that, we say goodbye to 2010, in no particular order:


This year I sometimes wasn't sure if I was watching CNN or Entertainment Tonight. Faith Hill, Demi Moore, Andre Agassi, Lenny Kravitz...the list went on. It seems like not a week went by that we didn't get an inexplicable celebrity appearance. I'm not a total killjoy when it comes to this issue--even the awesome 60 Minutes profiles entertainers every now and then. But did we really need, say, Jimmy Buffett opining on the oil spill? Sean Penn talking Haiti is legitimate. Trace Adkins pontificating about politics? Not so much. If 360 wants to give us a (rare) fun interview, I can deal with that. Let's just leave the real news talk to the experts, mmkay?


When it came time to succinctly write the mission of this blog (up top, people), there's a possibility I may have been snarking on our 360 friends. Post-Katrina, the show's motto became "Keeping Them Honest." While I cannot deny that honesty-keeping has occurred since that time, for the most it was an exercise in half-assness--usually saying the words more than actually doing the deed. That changed in 2010.

This show is not playing around anymore, yo! The 360 kids will find your untruths and they will hunt you down and smother you with facts! And I could not be more delighted. Do you know how many times I have begged on this blog to get just one friggin' fact-check? Now they are EVERYWHERE. Particularly inducing giddiness are the new rampant Daily Show-style Montages of Accountability. Seriously, dudes, color me impressed with the whole segment.


Though the earthquake was a horrific event, the subsequent reporting brought a passion to the broadcast that frankly I don't think we had seen for quite some time. Team 360 not only gave us excellent coverage initially, they continued to follow up, returning to the country themselves, as well as keeping us up-to-date on developments via Sean Penn. I personally may wish that the story of Haiti occupied more broadcast minutes, but their efforts on this story should be commended. Special kudos to Anderson Cooper, Charlie Moore, Neil Hallsworth, Gary Tuchman, Sanjay Gupta, Danielle Dellorto, Ivan Watson, Karl Penhaul, and Vladimir Duthiers.


This being cable news, I guess ridiculousness is a bit of a given. Let's talk about Tiger Woods! Killer whale! Dating Game Killer! Dun dun dun! Yeah, these kind of stories will be with us forever (annoyingly eating up airtime). But it doesn't mean I can't put them on my listicle!


Hey, you know what would be fun? Let's listen to the arguing of people who make their careers being on the teevee! Wait, did I say fun? What I meant is...that is something I really do not want to see, like, ever. Yet almost every night it seems...there we are. Particularly troubling is the unchecked speculation and flat out wrong information that these panels inject into our discourse, but more on that below. Anderson is fond of saying that no one wants to listen to the opinions of a blow-dried anchor. Guess what! Blow-dried pundit? Same feeling of do not want. Stick to reporting, 360.


With the current ideological positioning of cable news' primetime hours, we hear a lot of talk about partisan anchors. Mentioned less frequently is the very real problem of nonpartisan journalists treating 'balance' and 'objectivity' as one in the same. They are not. A true objective reporter gathers viewpoints from all sides of an issue, and then to the best of their ability, determines what side is most supported by fact. They do not simply present two diametrically opposed perspectives and then "let the viewers decide," as 360 is wont to do. Rarely are all sides equal, and presenting them as so in of itself creates bias, and quite frankly, poor journalism.

To be fair to the 360 kids, they seem to have engaged in false equivalency less often in 2010 (though we did just have a big slip-up involving death panels), instead focusing on more factual reporting (yay!). Even Anderson Cooper--unfortunately a huge perpetrator of the disturbing practice--recently signaled he understands that balancing two unequal sides can have grave ramifications. Here's hoping 2011 brings more context.


To be honest, I never thought all that much of our anchor's interviewing skills (of the accountability variety). Sure, he had wowed me a few times, but I could count those instances on my hands. Worse still, there was a long period in 2008 when he simply wasn't interviewing any news-makers at all. The bookings began to improve in 2009. Then came 2010. Can I just say, holy crap? Because the Silver Fox was on fire! Slaying birthers, helping get bullies fired, calling out congresscritters with questionable ethics.

Anderson Cooper sees your bullshit and he is having none of it! Though our anchor deserves a major pat on the back for sky-rocketing from 'mediocrity' to 'kick-ass' regarding his questioning skills (seriously man, good job), I suspect there have been some rock star staffers behind him providing irreplaceable research. A few of the Silver Fox's interviews have been nothing short of beautiful. Kudos all around.


Though some of 360's reporting on the Sherrod fiasco was quite good, instances of excellence were marred by false equivalency and kowtowing to right-wing extremists. This culminated in our anchor making one of the most eye roll-worthy statements I've ever heard on the teevee that came from someone I respect.

During a bizarre apology for not challenging one of Sherrod's assertions, Anderson said the following: "I don't want anyone on my show to get away with saying things that cannot be supported by facts." Obviously this made my jaw drop because that very infraction occurs almost constantly during those panels of which I previously blogged so lovingly. In fairness, the 360 kids have on rare occasion done a fact-check on one of their pontificators, but for the most part, untruths continually go by without note.


This listicle topic is almost a continuation of where we just left, and it is perhaps the one that has me most flummoxed. After watching this show seriously up their game when it comes to living up to their mission of keeping people honest, it is beyond disappointing to watch them stain that credibility by continually inviting on Andrew Breitbart blogger Dana Loesch. And I love how they neglect to mention his name when introducing her. I suppose that might make Anderson Cooper look like a bit of a hypocrite.

After all, our anchor didn't speak very highly of Breitbart's brand of "journalism" (which is also favored by Loesch) during the Sherrod debacle. Not to mention Loesch's Breitbart-like penchant for attacking people (my recent favorite is probably when she called Eric Boehlert a "Soros buttboy"--classy!), while our anchor makes calls for civility.

I understand why the show invites her on: she's young, conservative, and attractive. But she's also a bully, has a severe aversion to facts, and is not only a supporter and editor for the discredited Andrew Breitbart, she's also a promoter of the work of James O'Keefe, a man who once attempted to sexually humiliate a former CNNer. This is the guest 360 wants to lend their credibility? Surely there are better individuals in the supposedly vast Tea Party that could provide their perspective. If the show is fully informed of everything I have just posted, I can only assume this is just a game to them, and they do not respect their viewers as much as I would have hoped.


Compared to 2008, coverage of the 2010 midterms was a regular fact extravaganza. Much improvement. Unfortunately, the 360 kids became hypnotized by some shininess and spent way too much time covering certain races--races that weren't even close, while not even touching on others. Also, the Sarah Palin obsession remains ridiculous.


There's not much to say here other than to commend 360 for being at the forefront of covering this horrible story.


Though the dedication to this story should be applauded, at some point the 360 kids' coverage fell into a rut. Not only did we seem to hear more from political punditry (hello Ragin' Cajun!) than regular people, the show's reliance on Billy Nungesser ultimately resulted in slanted coverage. This is not to say there was no reporting--the packages were often quite good. It should also be noted that the show tried their darndest to accountability-keep, a surely frustrating endeavor, given how hard it was for them to book related guests. Plus what the heck happened to "Culprits of the Catastrophe"? Perhaps I missed some segments, but it seems like it just petered out pretty quickly. Finally, given how much effort the 360 kids put into the story initially, I would have expected more of a follow up.


I know I already gave these two some love regarding Haiti coverage, but I think their awesomeness requires special kudos. Was there any story this year that Gary Tuchman didn't cover? Haiti, Chile, all over the United States--the man seemed to be everywhere, continually providing us with only the best on-the-ground reporting. Truly the hardest working correspondent around.

As for our Dr. Gupta, I'm beginning to suspect that he may in fact be Superman...or perhaps a robot. He's a journalist! He's a neurosurgeon! He's a triathlete! Seriously! Not only that, he's quickly become my favorite AC360 sub-anchor, as well as a phenomenal field correspondent. Here's hoping we see a lot of Sanjay and Gary in 2011.


Sure, their taste in baseball teams may be questionable, and their obsession with Jersey Shore disturbing, but for the most part, the staffers on the Twitter add informative and interactive fun to the AC360 viewing experience. I considered being service-y and linking them individually for the purposes of this listicle, but then I remembered I'm really lazy. So instead, check out my not-quite-current AC360 Twitter list. Oh, also? Charlie Moore, I'm still waiting for you to join. I mean, what's a girl gotta do?!

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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Haiti One Year Later, Interview With Retracted Autism Study Author Andrew Wakefield, And Anderson Cooper Asks A Question About False Equivalency

Hi everyone. Sorry I've been scarce since my New Year's Eve post. There's just been so much AC360 to digest! Our anchor has been playing the role of place-holder for the apparently DANGEROUS Piers Morgan. Double dose of Anderson Cooper? I'm not complaining. The lighter hour is a nice change of pace, though not exactly something I'd want to view every day.

Tonight, for example, could only be classified as a train wreck. Ted Nugent and Roseanne Barr? If someone took a picture of me when I learned that guest list I'm pretty sure it would look like I was sucking a lemon...and that was before they started screaming at each other. Did I mention that the measured, reasonable Cornell Belcher was trapped sitting between them the whole time? I almost organized a rescue mission. I suppose our CNN friends would argue it was good teevee. I'd argue it was a perfect example of what makes cable news so horrible to watch, and it showcased our anchor's weakness when it comes to moderating combative guests. I guess you can't win them all. We did, however, get a good interview with Sean Penn regarding Haiti, which is posted below:

Though Anderson brought us a bit of fail when it came to Nugent vs. Roseanne, he was on his total A game to report on the British Medical Journal's accusation that Andrew Wakefield's 1998 autism study was fraudulent. Wakefield Skyped into the show--apparently from his lair--to defend himself. Anderson: "Sir, I'm not here to let you pitch your book." Oh snap!

You know Sanjay had to get in on the action too. You go, Dr. Gupta:

Afterward, there was discussion with Seth Mnookin, author of "Panic Virus."

Frequenters of this here blog space know that perhaps my biggest pet peeve when it comes to news is the perpetration of false equivalency. Tonight something amazing happened: Anderson Cooper signaled that he understands my pain, well, so to speak. Unfortunately, CNN has a nasty (and puzzling) habit of not posting the entire video of their segments, so the good part got cut out of the discussion above. But we still have the transcript, so I block-quoted that bad boy out:
COOPER: Has the media played a role in perpetuating this? Because you see in a lot of TV shows, you know, on this subject, several sides represented. You have the people who believe the vaccines cause autism and the people who don't. And it seems to give equal credence, you know.

Or you have a famous person, you know, like Jenny McCarthy, and nothing against her personally, but you know, who is going to get a lot of attention. Has that made the problem worse? Has that given the -- this side more credence?

MNOOKIN: I think absolutely. And an example I use is there are people who believe the earth is flat. Most people obviously do not, but if you had one person who believed the earth is flat and one person who said, "No, it's actually round," and they were discussing the issue together, it would seem that the consensus was split 50/50.

So here you have a situation in which you have millions of doctors, public health officials, all coming down on one side, and then Andrew Wakefield and a very small number of people who are associated with him, a miniscule number of people, saying, "No, this is what's actually going on." But because we can't present millions of points of view or millions of people, it ends up sounding -- there's this false equivalency. It ends up sounding on the one hand, on the other hand, when there really is only one hand in this case.

COOPER: Do you agree with that, there is only one hand in this?

GUPTA: Yes, and I mean, the one thing I would say with the earth, flat earth, round thing, is we know the answer to that now.

One of the things that again has made this discussion so difficult is that, at the end of the discussion, no matter how much you disagree with the other person, if they come back to you and say, "So what does cause it?" We still don't have that great answer. It could be some environmental unknown with a genetic predisposition. Who knows? But that, in part, has made this difficult.

Also, you know, just as a parent, I can tell you, it's so deeply personal. And that also, despite what's happened today, I think many parents who are dealing with this right now are still believing this, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Yes, yes, yes! I'm am not ashamed to say I audibly squeed a little when he brought this up, and then remained giddy for a good five minutes afterward. And you're damn right the media played a part in this. One of the reasons I disliked Larry King's show was that he continually gave credence to people like Jenny McCarthy. It's not responsible. So, Anderson Cooper, we now know you're aware of the problem of false equivalency, but do you understand that it can apply to any subject, especially politics? Global warming, death panels...etc. When it comes to factual support, both sides are not always equal; in fact they seldom are. Treating them as such in of itself results in bias. Some day all journalists will understand this...and Jay Rosen and I will smile.

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Monday, January 03, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

Hey kids! Yep, I'm late. But since this has become standard operating procedure for me, really, I'm right on time. It's the rest of you that are annoyingly early. See how that works?! Anyhoo, this is your post o' fun involving CNN's New Year's hijinks. Once again, we watched the ball drop with Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper--torturer and torturee.

Opinions of Kathy can run the gamut from love to downright hostility, but I find myself somewhere in the middle. Sometimes she cracks me up; sometimes she really doesn't. My view is that if you went into the broadcast with the belief that she was going to be annoying, that's probably how things turned out for you. But I went in ready for fun, and fun was had.

Ms. Griffin informed us that due to her past behavior (ahem!), the network had promised to literally yank her off the show if she stepped out of line. Suuure, CNN. Cute. So yeah, obviously that wasn't going to happen, but it allowed for some fun with a "No Swearing" sign. Because if there's anything that makes Kathy mind her P's and Q's, it's signage.

Are you ready for the bullet points?! Though their overuse in 2010 has perhaps worn down the specialness of these posts, I assure you I tried very hard to make them extra shiny and awesome. Time to jump into 2011:
  • What better way to kick things off than with our duo regaling us with their adventures in crashing Carson Daly's live show? Also a great reminder that Daly continues to exist!
  • This is the obligatory bullet point where I state that I could watch Anderson Cooper giggle all day. Extremely dorky, but he works it!
  • Ok, Kathy, I can (shamelessly) get behind the molesting and undressing of the Silver Fox, but the punching needs to go. No bruising of the anchor!
  • In years past, the broadcast featured New Orleans. For 2010, Nashville got the love due to their struggles with flooding. Brooke Baldwin rocking out the cowboy hat was a sight, though not quite the sight as the weird guy behind her. Anderson and Kathy giggling about him like high schoolers was mean yet hilarious: "Don't turn around!"
  • Is anyone else worried that the meshing of New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys will result in some sort of apocalyptic event? ZOMG, is that why all those birds died?!
  • Throughout the night, Kathy asked Anderson Twitter questions (no people, I didn't tweet one). One question was who won the World Cup, which he never answered. This makes one of my friends very sad inside (shout out, bb!).
  • Was really excited to see Sushi back. I thought she was retiring. It's not New Year's unless a drag queen drops in a pump.
  • We also had Gary Tuchman back doing the four mile Fun Run in Central Park with his daughter Samantha. It's impossible to not love Gary. "I'm talking to a banana right now...I've never met this banana before." Bwah! And, "It's a dance party," complete with semi-boogying. Adorable.
  • I think I'm over being horrified about Anderson's glasses. They've grown on me, Silver Fox! Now please wear them.
  • One of the funniest moments to me was Jack Gray's little cameo at the hands of our anchor. Anderson should always just randomly man-handle his staffers into the shot.
  • Kathy: "You know, your staff, they really run rampant." Truth. (And I love it.)
  • Gloria Vanderbilt phone in! I love how it said "Anderson's Mom" on screen.
  • Another tweeter asked what was our anchor's favorite curse word. "I don't tolerate such talk," said the Silver Fox. Oh Anderson, you adorable liar you. Me thinks Mr. WASP has a secret potty mouth.
  • Isha Sesay is a great addition, but is she unaware of our anchor's aesthetic appeal? A crowd-goer excitedly relayed her picture-taking with the Silver Fox, and Isha was all, "ohhkay." Ha!
  • Well! I'd say our Jack Gray has really come out of his shell. It was only about two years ago when a friend and I demanded politely asked him to post a picture of himself on the 360 blog, and now...dude's gone a little slutty! Kidding. But I was definitely a bit shocked by that make out session with Kathy. I literally asked someone, "did that really just happen?" Oh, it did. Plus? This.
  • Not enough camera time on our duo when the ball dropped. What did we miss???
  • Twitter question: What does Anderson smell like? I reject Kathy's long answer. I have it on good authority that the Silver Fox smells like peppermint sticks and truth!
  • I feel out of breath just watching Gary running and talking. I don't know how he does it. Samantha was by his side and as cute as ever. A teenager now! How did that happen? (Gary's probably wondering the same thing-heh.) I feel like I'm watching this child young lady grow up one mile at a time. Also? Her shark hat was awesome.
  • Anderson: "How great is Gary Tuchman?" So great! Even Kathy couldn't bring herself to mock him: "By the way, you know, I can't bring myself to make fun of Gary Tuchman anymore. I used to love to make fun of him, but after I saw him with you in Haiti and the Gulf disaster, he gets a pass this year." And more gratuitous Gary love from Anderson: "Gary Tuchman is the greatest guy on the planet." As I said on Twitter, damn straight!
  • Anyone else get nervous when they drop Sushi? She's a trooper.
  • John Zarrella cracks me up. Every year, just chilling with the drag queens. And I think he loves it. Plus? Cher.
  • Did the Silver Fox dance for a second?!
  • This is what you look like when your famous mother becomes besties with the woman who molests you and you're disturbed by the whole situation:
  • This was about the end of the road for Kathy and Anderson, lest they again get heckled by the few stragglers left in Times Square. While I would have preferred to do my countdown with this duo, at least CNN threw the central time zoners a little love by staying live with Brooke Baldwin through our midnight. My Seacrest reprieve!
  • More Gary and Samantha! Post-race this time. No actual win for them (sad face), but according to Samantha, it was a moral victory. Those are the best kind!
  • All together now: Awww!
  • Gary was also kind enough to give the behind-the sceners a little love. There was Bob the cameraman (congrats on the marriage!), Deb the technician, and one of my favorite 360 kids, Joneil* the producer.

  • Our correspondent explains that, no, the crew did not run with him--instead they had the luxury of sitting on a truck. Now, Gary is too nice to say it, but I think the implication of slackerdom was clearly there. Brooke, by the way, just flat out says they were "cheating."
  • When it comes to the behind-the-sceners it wasn't all just truck-riding and making out with divas--some of the 360 kids brought a little class to the occasion.
  • I think that's about it. Twas fun. Thanks to everyone who participated on the Twitter.
  • Below is gratuitous hilarity. It was that kind of night.

*AC360 Review does not endorse that hat.

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