The News Tuesday Night: Monster Wave on the Hungry Side of Town
ABC World News pulled a fast one tonight. Anchor Diane Sawyer introduced the news by teasing upcoming stories on an increase in home sales and prices, the “wild” temperature swing, a follow-up to the movie “The Blind Side (no, really), and the most monster wave ever surfed. Then their news includes a stunningly long report from Cairo on Egypt’s protests. What gives? Why did ABC want to push “The Blind Side” update over their Syria coverage? Wait a second. I am now stopping writing to look up who owns “The Blind Side.” Let’s see if it’s the same company that owns ABC … checking … checking … damn … it’s Warner Brothers, which does NOT own ABC.
I’m telling you, the networks are playing me tonight.
NBC Nightly News leads with reporter Mike Seidel reminding us — in the middle of his report on mad temperature swings and possible severe weather — that the US has gone 220 days without a tornado fatality. I’m waiting for Lenny to fall from the ladder behind him while trying to change the number of days since the last accident at Springfield’s nuclear reactor. I mean, if it’s a jinx to mention a pitcher has a no-hitter going, shouldn’t we ease up on the ‘days since death from natural disaster’ talk?
CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley really sells ‘the most amazing story of the day’ — which is, hands down — the US vet who’s getting the double arm transplant.
All the networks then go to the new Obama immigration policy and plan. But ABC’s Sawyer adds these numbers: 11 million immigrants, 35% have been here for 15 years or more, their median age is 36, and 50% to 75% pay federal, state or local taxes. Look, I’m all for allowing the undocumented to have all the rights any human being has, but what the hell is with that last statistic? Isn’t 50% to 75% kind of a wide range? I mean, what gives?
ABC then goes to reporter Lama Hasan live in Cairo to talk about the protests in Egypt. I can’t believe it. ABC is actually doing an international news story. To be fair, they’ve had more foreign content lately. Maybe a story a night, but hey, it’s a step. Back BSE — ‘Before Sawyer Era’ — prior to the ‘Good Day America’-ization of ABC’s nightly news show, there used to be a lot more overseas content. You used to see regular reports from people like Christiane Amanpour and Martha Raddatz. So I can’t complain, right? Several minutes on what’s taking place during the Egypt protests with a reporter on the ground in Cairo? What could go wrong?
For those of you who follow me on Twitter @thisishellradio, I promised you some”juicy” quotes from Hasan, and you will not be disappointed.
ABC correspondent Lama Hasan tells us the lens through which she’ll be reporting the protests right away. She calls the protests against President Morsi “a troubling turn for Egypt and America.” Well, I’m a bit more concerned for Egyptians in this situation, as they seem to be a lot closer to the action than Americans are. But that’s just me. Correspondent Hasan then goes on to tell us that there’s been violence around a “five-star intercontinental hotel” and that a crowd is still surrounding the building. Did Hasan just give away where she’s staying? Hey, I can be a correspondent because I can look out my window, too! Let’s see, it’s raining … there’s a suspicious dude with a van either moving stuff in or taking stuff outta my neighbor’s place, but this is Chicago so fuck if I’m gonna do anything about it … there’s a fat-ass rat going through the broken window in the basement of the six-flat next door … now, that’s journalism!
But that’s not everything from Hasan. She goes on to tell us that Egypt is “America’s number-one ally,” that Egypt has a “long-standing treaty with Israel and is an ally in the fight against terror,” and is “America’s friends.” Get it? The US is Egypt’s pal. Understand? She also does some man-on-the-street reporting amongst the protesters, who say that “Morsi is acting like a dictator.” She describes the protesters who want to overthrow Morsi as “a coalition of carpenters and schoolteachers” — such a coalition would be deemed socialist by the likes of Fox News Channel in the US — and these protests want the “freedom and democracy that they fought for.” Look, I ain’t no fan of any politician, but shouldn’t reporter Hasan have pointed out that Morsi is the democratically elected leader of Egypt, having won the vote last June? And shouldn’t she have said something about how the Islamists have reportedly stayed off the streets during these protests so the fighting is being done by, well, everybody but the Islamists. Oh, and the police. How can she skip mentioning the police who have a long record of being fucking brutal?
See, they keep duping me. I thought ABC was going to have this amazing report from Cairo, and instead I get this US-centric bullshit that’s celebrating one side in the fight for the New Egypt. And that’s without telling you exactly how many sides there are!
CBS is now reporting on BP and how they’ve settled their suit with those harmed by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Wait. What? Didn’t BP want to run ads tonight? And what about that oil spill yesterday on the Mississippi that had an unspecified amount of oil? Back to BP, reporter Mark Strassmann tell us they’ve settled, so there won’t be any criminal charges. Those they settled with were allowed to confront them and yell at them, which is, apparently, all you have to go through in America if you kill people in the name of the bottom line. Strassmann assures us BP won’t get off that easy. For the deaths of 11 people, they’ll have to pay at least $23 billion.
CBS then goes to correspondent Clarissa Ward, who reports on the 65 Syrians found executed today with their hands tied behind their backs. I cannot believe this did NOT make The Nine Circles of Hell! I had it in my in-pile and simply missed it when I moved leads from one folder to the other. This is embarrassing. Maybe I should cut the networks some slack. After all, if this one-man news operation can make a mistake like missing an important news story like this, I’m certain the multi-billion dollar US TV networks can make mistakes, too.
CBS reporter Ward’s humors seem to be in a stir. She interviews US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford who was “at first a supporter of the rebels until his car was attacked.” Yup, that’ll change your opinion of someone alright. I remember how I used to love the Girl Scouts until an incident at the intersection of Western and Fullerton that involved a box of Thin Mints.
Ambassador Ford explains to reporter Ward that the US is doing a lot “through sanctions and humanitarian aid.” Ward fires back, “Humanitarian aid can’t stop bombs. So do we have to wait for another 65,000 to die?” Geesh. Guess who’s trying to get outta this foreign correspondent gig so she can get her own fiery talk show back in the States? We get it. If Amanpour can make that move, why can’t you? Hell, your blonde hair even fits into Fox’s eugenics program! Ford replies to Ward’s attack by saying, “The US can’t fix this. The Syrians have to.” Ford also points out that outside leaders have no credibility with the Syrian rebels fighting on the ground. Sure, that’s important, but who cares? I think Ward’s dollar sign contact lenses just went cha-ching.
At least two of the networks – and maybe NBC did, too — went to the Australia floods. It’s good to see that the US outlets are finally covering a natural disaster in that part of the world. But I can’t help but notice something different between the people who live in the Australian disaster and the people who live in the Philippine, Indonesian and Bangladeshi disasters that weren’t reported. Now, what is it? It’s on the tip of my white tongue, now, what is it?
NBC health reporter Robert Bazell does some story on how if you eat the same number of calories earlier you burn off more. But that doesn’t concern me. What concerns me is Bazell’s voice has that gar-gargling sound that Brokaw’s persistent globus of phlegm nauseated me with on a nightly basis. Please, Robert, have your uvula checked out.
NBC anchor Brian Williams reassures us that Barbara Walters and Burt Reynolds are okay. What a relief. Can Brian please pass along to Burt and Baba that I have a colonoscopy coming up? I’m sure they’re as concerned about my health as I am about theirs.
ABC’s annoying ‘Instant Index’ segment features another highwire walking Wallander. This begs the question, exactly how old are the people who choose the stories at ABC? What’s next? Marathon pole-sitting while wearing your zoot suit? The ‘Index’ then mentions how Johnny Cash is now going to be on a US mail stamp. Anchor Sawyer proudly calls Cash ‘The Man in Black.’
Diane, do you know why Mr. Cash wore black? As he said in ‘The Man in Black,’ one of my all-time favorite Cash songs …
“I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he’s a victim of the times.”
In other words, Johnny wore black for all the people the network news ignores — or hide in segments like your own ‘Hidden America.’
Before NBC gives us their last story, they want us to know that ’30 Rock’ is ending and Ben & Jerry’s is going to release a ’30 Rock’ ice cream. Fuck the Mali war. ’30 Rock’ is ending and there’s a new ’30 Rock’ Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. You know what? If you did know about the Mali war, you’d get so depressed and confused that all you would want to do is watch the last episode of ’30 Rock’ and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. So, thanks to Williams and NBC for cutting out the middleman.
CBS closes with “tales of mystery and intrigue” at the Bolshoi ballet. NBC ends with zoo animals that use tablets (while I can’t afford one). And ABC wraps up with that story on the monster wave.
Again, I feel like the rug’s been pulled out from under me. The chair’s not there and my ass has hit the floor hard. Bone-bruising hard.
The news tonight went from teasing inane stories to covering important ones badly.
It’s like a con within a con.
And we’re the marks.