Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wednesday-PiP Photo Vote


Ah, day 3 of the Andervaction, but we do have more pictures to vote on! You can continue to vote on all days until Sunday.

Here they are...




I know it isn't Anderson, it's Charlie Moore, but the picture is cute anyway!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday's AC 360 and We've Got Answers

The beautiful Soledad O'Brien sat in the anchor chair on Tuesday night. Soledad did a full two hour show, covering everything from the debates on MSNBC to an small earthquake in CA, a Keeping Them Honest segment and more. I was a bad fan and really just watched the first hour. It was a rare opportunity for me to see Dancing With The Stars and Boston Legal in real time. Every week the suspense of the results show is ruined for me by someone emailing me the results or I overhear someone talking about who went home. Last night I grabbed the chance to watch it live (well as live as it gets on the West Coast). I knew the highlight of my post was going to be Mike Watkiss' wonderful answers to our questions so I didn't feel to guilty for skipping out on Soledad. Here's a brief recap of the program and then on to our q & a. First up was Peter Bergen giving us the 411 on Afghanistan. Things are deteriorating quickly with a blizzard of Taliban attacks in Afghanistan and on the Pakistan border.
Soledad quickly moved on to a discussion with Michael Ware in studio and Nic Robertson live from Iraq. Basic consensus was that the lowered violence in Iraq is due to the prevalence of segregation. Seems if we haven't already created civil war in Iraq it's only a matter of time.

Now on to what I'm most excited about tonight.

If you remember we asked for questions for Mike Watkiss, a few weeks ago.
If you're not familiar with Mike, he's a local reporter in the Phoenix market and the proud recipient of two Edward R. Murrow Awards. Recently, he has been a frequent contributor to AC360 and guest on Larry King Live, sharing his knowledge of Warren Jeffs and the FDLS Church.
Mike began his career as a radio reporter and talk show host in his hometown of Salt Lake City. He also served as the news director of a country and western radio station in Boise, Idaho. His first television job was with the ABC affiliate in Salt Lake City, where he worked his way from general assignment reporter to the head of the station's investigative/consumer protection unit.
Watkiss came to Phoenix in August 1996 as a general assignment reporter. Prior to that, he worked as a freelance producer for two Paramount syndicated shows, "Hard Copy" and "Real TV." For nearly eight years, Watkiss also worked on the syndicated news magazine "A Current Affair," first as a general assignment reporter based in New York, and later as the Los Angeles bureau chief and West Coast correspondent.
Mike has an undergraduate degree in anthropology from Stanford University and he earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York.

As always ATA's readers came through with some wonderful questions for Mike. And Mike obliged with some very interesting answers. Enjoy!

From Book Asylum:
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I'm looking forward to reading your book. When can we expect to see it in bookstores?
What attracted you to pursuing a career in journalism?
Can we look forward to seeing more reports from you on CNN?

Dear "Book Asylum":
At this point my book is actually more threat than reality. In many ways I feel completely inadequate to the task and intimidated by the mere thought of sitting down and writing “a book.”
Several years ago I locked myself up in a t.v. edit bay for nearly a year—writing and producing a documentary about polygamy called “Colorado City and the Underground Railroad”. It was a fascinating and rewarding exercise. But for a hyper-active, crazed lunatic like me it was also a near-death experience--frightening, excruciating and claustrophobic at the same time.

So for this “book” writing project I have decided to start out with more modest goals. I am slowly rolling out some of the topics and some of the incidents from my career in a blog called “Confessions of an Ambulance Chaser.”
As long as people continue to read and respond to the blog--and as long as the demons in my soul and in my head continue to howl—I’ll continue to write.
As far as writing a “book”—I guess we’ll see what happens.

What attracted me to journalism? It probably started with my father. He was young soldier in WWII fighting Adolph Hitler’s forces on the snowy battlefields and in the frozen trenches of Europe. (At one point he was hospitalized with frostbite and almost had his feet amputated.)
When he came back to his home in Salt Lake City following the war, he used the GI Bill to go to law school and become a lawyer. Throughout his life, however, he frequently spoke with great admiration and a certain sense of longing about the work of journalist Edward R. Murrow.
During much of the war Murrow, of course, was in Europe telling the stories that my dad was living and my father obviously had a great respect for Murrow and what he did. Later in his life my father would often tell me and my two older brothers that if he “could do it all over again” he would be a “trench coat wearing foreign correspondent” reporting from exotic and far-off places around the world.
Now I’m not saying that I’m living out my dad’s dream--but those stories probably played a role in my career decision.

Will you see more of my work on CNN?--Who knows. That’s really a question better addressed to CNN. I produce stories everyday and if other people are interested in running them I’m always open to the request.

From Leigh:
Mike, I live in Phoenix, and watch you on Channel 3 so I followed the Polygamy Diaries. Now I wonder since Warren Jeffs has been tried and convicted, will you pursue another big story for Arizona... perhaps the border problems? Thank you for all of your hard work!
- Leigh :-)

Dear Leigh--
I’m always looking for the next big story! And it’s interesting you should mention the “border”--I recently got back from Mexico. Despite all its many problems I love the area around the border. I love the people. I love the feel.
I have spent well over a decade of my life covering what in essence has been a great human drama and social revolution on Arizona’s northern border (i.e. the polygamists of Colorado City). And now the time seems right for me to start looking south for some new stories and some new challenges. (p.s. thanks for the words of encouragement).
From Phebe:
I’d be interested in hearing how the process of reporting for Larry King Live and AC360 works. Do you have much notice or is it a last minute thing? Do you have to obtain permission from Belo or is it done on your own time? Do you receive assignment requests from CNN or do they tap into the reports that you are already doing for KTVK?

Recently you lost 4 colleagues in the terrible crash of two news helicopters in Phoenix. I watched your channel for hours that day and was amazed at the composure you and the other on air talent managed to show during the live shots from the crash scene. Can you talk a little about how that event has affected you as a reporter and a person?

My dear friend Phebe--
First of all I would like to thank you for all of your support and encouragement over the years. You have always been very kind and gracious and for that I am very grateful.
As far as doing stories or making guest appearances on CNN or one of the other networks--for me it’s usually a last minute sort of thing.
By that I mean I usually get a phone call about midday from some young producer asking me if I can appear on such and such a show to talk about whatever the topic might be that particular night. As I know you are probably aware--the topic I am asked to address is usually polygamy--but in the past I have also appeared to talk about wild fires, gas shortages and immigration.
The day-of-air invitation to appear is usually about as much advance warning as I ever get. Like most good news shows AC360 and Larry King Live are often scrambling right up until the last minute--rearranging--improving--re-editing--rethinking--redoing their show to make it the best it can be. Often times they are changing topics and guests up until the last minute. It’s usually a very fluid process so you sort of learn to roll with it.
And I’ve got to confess it is that wild, spontaneous, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mayhem that is the part of the media business I still like the best.

As far as getting my company’s approval for such extracurricular activities--the truth is Belo has always been wonderfully supportive of my quixotic crusades. They basically leave me alone to do my thing. And for an eccentric old reporter like me that’s just the way I like it.

Phebe--that day the two news helicopters went down here in Phoenix was the worst day of my career.
I can honestly tell you there has not been a day since that I haven’t thought about my good pals Scott Bowerbank and Jim Cox. Jimmy was one of my very dearest and closest friends. He was a brilliant shooter and a stand-up guy. I miss him terribly. We traveled the world and had some wild adventures together. We also produced some damn fine journalism. We often fought like hot-blooded brothers and we cried in each others arms at places like New York’s Ground Zero.
I honestly can’t remember what the hell I said on television that long and surreal day as I attempted to cover the chopper crash and the deaths of my friends and at this point I really have no desire to go back and look.
What impact has it had on me? I don’t know. The truth is I’m still trying to sort all that out. But one thing I do know it has turned me into a sloppy, weepy, and emotional old man who suddenly finds himself tearing up at the oddest things--like sound of wind in the trees or the sight of children playing in a park.
It’s also left me wishing that I had told Jimmy in so many words just how much I loved him.
From Purple Tie:
Would you like to someday work for CNN or another major network? If so, what type of correspondent would you like to be... one over a certain area or topic?

Do you think the FLDS are still building up fortifications up on their Texas Property? If so, do you worry there could be another Waco?

Dear “Purple Tie”--
I am flattered that you would even entertain the thought that I could work for CNN. The truth is television is a business of youth and I’m probably a little long-in-the-tooth at this point in my career to be generating much interest at the network level.
But to paraphrase my old buddy O.J. “if I did”--I would probably want to hit the road and cover stories like Darfur--the Mexican border--and the exploitation of women and children wherever it may occur around the globe.

Yeah--the FLDS compound continues to grow in Texas. Yet as I have stated many times during my public discussions of the FLDS people--they do not have a history of violence toward the outside world. I would argue that their violence is focused internally on their own women and children.
With that said, however, I do think it would be wise for authorities to keep a very watchful eye on Eldorado and that Texas Temple. In many ways we have sort of entered uncharted waters with all this compound building and with Mr. Jeffs’ criminal conviction.

From Quitty:
What story have you covered or interview you've done that you are the most proud of?
Do you think real change will come from jailing Warren Jeffs?

Dear Quitty--
I’m definitely proud of the work we have done on polygamy. I’m also proud of the work we did on the streets of New York following 911--and in Biloxi, Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
I have been very lucky in my career. I have had the opportunity to be, quite literally, ringside for history. I was on the streets of L.A. during the Rodney King Riots. I was with one of the first t.v. crews to arrive at the crime scene the morning the bodies of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson were discovered. I then went on to cover O.J.’s murder prosecution--the so-called “Trial of the Century.” I was dispatched to London when Princess Diana was killed and then spent an extraordinary couple of weeks in Great Britain covering the aftermath and the Princess’ unforgettable funeral.
I reported from Cape Cod during the desperate search for J.F.K. Jr.’s missing aircraft. I was with my good friend cameraman Jim Cox in Simi Valley as tens of thousands of mourners made an amazing pilgrimage to pay their respects to Ronald Reagan following his death. And Jimmy and I were in Palm Beach Florida as the disputed 2000 presidential election damn near unraveled the country.
I am definitely proud of the work we did during all of these “big” stories. (I say “we” because much of the credit goes to some of the wonderful photographers and editors I have been privileged to work with during my career). I am also very proud of the work we just did on the San Diego fires.
But honestly the stories that have given me the most satisfaction and have had the greatest impact on me are stories that have not grabbed national headlines. The story of a Phoenix mom named Christy Parker comes immediately to mind. One terrible night Christy discovered that her live-in boy friend had been molesting her young daughter. Christy confronted the no-good bastard--his response: he shot Christy’s daughter in the head and shot Christy in the throat. The daughter--a beautiful little 14-year-old girl named Cassy--died instantly. Christy survived and I first met her a couple of days later when I interviewed her as she lay badly wounded in a hospital bed. With a bullet wound to her throat, Christy could not talk of course so she wrote out her answers to my questions on a piece of paper with the help of her 8-year-old son. Christy and I went on to become very good friends. I covered the trial of the ex-boyfriend as the S.O.B. was sent to prison. Christy then went on to help open a domestic violence shelter that is named after her daughter.
It’s stories like that, I will never forget.

From Lisa:
Have you had the chance to interview or speak with Warren Jeffs? What were your thoughts on him in person? If not, what would you like to ask him?

Dear Lisa--
No I have never had the opportunity to interview Warren Jeffs and to my knowledge no other reporter has either. I don’t believe Mr. Jeffs has ever granted an interview and I doubt he ever will.
But let me assure you it is not for lack of trying. Long before all the walls and barricades started going up in Colorado City and Hildale, I interviewed most of the community’s major leaders.
I have also tried on several occasions to interview Warren and his now deceased father Rulon. But always I was turned away at the family’s front door and a police officer was always summoned to escort me and my cameraman off the prophet’s property.

The bottom line: throughout its history the practice of polygamy has never held up well to the light of day. To sustain the practice on a community level--such as in FLDS culture--there is by necessity a chronic and systemic predation on young girls. To make it work--that’s always been the ugly truth!
The last thing a guy like Warren Jeffs wants to do is sit down with a wise-guy reporter like me and answer hardball questions about the practice.
Several years ago when I was aggressively pursuing a story about a missing young girl in Colorado City I confronted the long time mayor Dan Barlow and some of the town’s polygamous cops to ask them why they weren’t doing anything to find the child.
As the exchange in the town’s offices between me and the mayor became more heated I said to the mayor “you guys are accountable to somebody!” And without missing a beat the old polygamist mayor hissed back at me “....but we are not accountable to YOU!”
At this point there are a lot of reporters who want to claim credit for having pushed this story to where it is today--but the truth is I’ve been the media “Public-Enemy Number One” up there for a very long time. Don’t get me wrong I’m proud of that--I’ve worked hard for that ranking. But I don’t think it puts me in very good standing to interview Warren Jeffs.
If I did get a chance, however, the question I’d like him to answer is this: If the
practice of polygamy is so wonderful, so sacred and so holy why is it that the men like him have to deprive the women and the girls of any meaningful education or opportunity to make it work?
From Sheryn Royce,
Hi Mike! First, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. In reading your bio I've found that you've covered most of the major stories of our time. Is there one international story that you would like to cover, ie Darfur or the uprising in Burma? Also, who would you consider your mentor or inspiration?

Dear Sheryn Royce--
The older I get the more determined I am to avoid superficial and stupid stories. I’m not a bit interested in celebrities or sports stars. I got a gut-full of that sort of crap during my years at the tabloid t.v. show “A Current Affair.” Yeah--I’d probably go to Darfur or Burma if iI got the opportunity. Who knows someday I might.

The most powerful role models in my life have been my mom and dad and my two big brothers--my wife is my muse--and my heroes are the handful of brave women who started what is really nothing short of the human rights revolution in Colorado City: Flora Jessop, Pennie Petersen, Ruth Stubbs, Lenore Holm, Cheri Beth Taylor, the two young Fawns--Fawn Broadbent and Fawn Holm and of course now we can add the name of the very courageous Elissa Wall to that list.
They are people of enormous fortitude and I feel very fortunate to have known them and to have covered their stories.

From Maya Elena,
I've got a couple fun questions for you!
1. What's on your iPod?
2. What's your favorite movie?
3. What is your favorite author?
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! Congratulations on a well-deserved Edward R. Murrow Award!

Dear Maya Elena--
Favorite music: Neil Young, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana and Darl Chryst. (p.s. I don’t own an iPod--I think its a generational thing)

Favorite movies: My Life As a Dog, Apocylpse Now, Unforgiven, Dumb and Dumber. (The last flick included on the list because I’m in it and I’m still getting residual checks)
Best movie seen this year: Away From Her (with Julie Christie)

Favorite Authors: Charles Dickens, John Cheever, Truman Capote, E.L Doctorow, Jerzy Kosinski , and Tony Hillerman
(p.s. Maya Elena--thanks for the fun questions)
From Rainbow:
What local story in Phoenix do you think deserves more national attention?

Dear Rainbow--

What Phoenix story do I think deserves more attention? The fact that we are rapidly running out of water and nobody seems to give a damn!
From Em:
What compelled you to begin investigating and reporting on the situations in Hilldale and Colorado City?
I know you were born and raised in Utah and assume you still have family living here, what have been their reactions to your reports on polygamy?

Dear Em--The fact that I grew up in Salt Lake City and have polygamist ancestors certainly served as the starting points for my journey. But, while I have known polygamists and polygamous families throughout my life, it is not like I had any particular interest in the subject before I became a reporter.
But as fate would have it--many of the stories I covered early in my career just seemed to have some link to polygamy. You may have read Jon Krakauer’s best selling book ”Under the Banner of Heaven.”

It is interesting because many of the stories that Krakauer writes about in his book from a historical perspective--I covered when the blood was still fresh and the crime tape was still up: the murderous Lafferty boys--the bloody Singer-Swapp saga--the twisted tale of Mormon bomber Mark Hofmann--and of course Warren Jeffs and the FLDS Church. I’ve been covering this story long enough to see my “breaking news” stories become the stuff of historic tomes. (I’ve got to confess it makes me feel old!)
Looking back now I see that all of those stories sort of pushed me in this direction.
And one footnote to all this: one of my dearest friends in life was a famous polygamist named Alex Joseph. (If I ever write a book there will certainly be a chapter about Alex). He was a fascinating, charming and wonderful man who over the course of his colorful life had many wives--most of whom, at least as far as I know, were smart and well-educated women. I was close to Alex when he was the mayor of a tiny Utah town called “Big Water.”
I was a frequent visitor to his home and while Alex died several years ago I still occasionally communicate with a couple of his wives and still consider them my friends.
And, believe it or not, it was actually Alex who really got me interested in focusing on what Warren Jeffs and his dad Rulon were doing. Alex frequently use to tell me that what was going on in Colorado City was “wrong” and was going to create trouble for all polygamists. I figured if Alex was saying that there must be something to the story.

And as far as my family is concerned--they have always been very supportive of me and my work.

From Mary:
Although polygamy is illegal, it has been practiced openly in Utah for as long as I can remember and accusations of forced marriages, incest, and abuse are nothing new. I have my theories, but I am wondering why you think officials in Utah and Arizona turned a blind-eye to these practices for so long?

Do you think Warren Jeff's recent conviction will change questionable practices in the FLDS community or do you think someone else will just take over where he left off?

Dear Mary--
Polygamy is illegal in both Utah and Arizona and we could discuss for hours why officials have done nothing about it--the disasterous ’53 raid--the misguided assertions of religious freedom--etc. etc. The bottom line: until being pushed by a handful of brave activists and a couple of determined reporters, officials in both states didn’t have the guts to do a damn thing.
Credit does need to be given to the two young prosecutors--Matt Smith in Mohave County Arizona and Brock Belnap in Washington County, Utah--they represent a new generation. They came into office after the public had been exposed to story after story of abuse and they, to their credit, had the guts to do something about it. But it has been a frustratingly long haul to get to this point.
Hopefully Warren Jeffs’ conviction will send a powerful message to polygamous men to lay off the young girls.
But I’ve got to confess after all these years, I’m kind of a cynic. I fear that all it will really do is just make these jerks even more covert and secretive.

From a fan in Utah:
You have covered stories all over the world, which story impacted you the most? Is there any story or interview you wish you could do over?

Dear Utah Friend--
What story impacted me the most?--I was a young reporter working for the ABC affiliate in Salt Lake City. I was fresh out of journalism school and green as lettuce leaf.
It was a freezing winter night and we were called out to an apartment fire near Liberty Park. To make a long story short--there was a Vietnamese family living in the apartment with a lot of children. They had been robbed several times so they had nailed their back door shut. When the fire broke out none of them could escape.
As I stood there after several hours on that dark, cold, snowy night--I watched as fire fighters began bringing out the tiny bodies of several children in bags no bigger than pillow cases.
It’s an image that is burned into my soul and I think about it every time I have to do a story in which a child is the victim.
From ACAnderFan:
Mike what is it about the FLDS that drew you to it and made you want to cover it so extensively???

Dear ACAnder Fan--
I don’t want to be too long winded or repetitive in my responses. From some of the previous questions you’ve probably gotten a pretty good idea how I started my journey into the polygamous underworld--growing up in Utah with a Mormon background and then just stumbling into one polygamy story after another as a young reporter. That’s pretty much the bottom line.
From Sapphire:
If you could clear up one misconception about the entire Warren Jeffs story, what would it be? As a reporter, if you could cover any one story in history what would it be and why?

Dear Sapphire--What misconceptions would I like to clear up about Warren Jeffs? It’s not so much a factual error but instead what I personally believe to be an error in theology. It is my personal belief that any theology that places women in a position lesser than men is not ordained of God. It is instead made-up by men--to service men.

What story in history would I most like to cover? I would have loved to have been in the American South during the Civil Rights Movement--in South Africa as apartheid crumbled--and I will always be grateful that I was ringside as some very courageous women helped bring down a tyrant in Colorado City.
Why? I love it when the underdog stands up to power and abuse and wins!

From Granny:
I thought that polygamy in itself was against the law so I guess my question is why are these people above the law?

Dear Granny--
They have indeed been above the law for a long time. But, hopefully, the conviction of Warren Jeffs means all that is beginning to change.


Thanks for the great questions--Mike Watkiss

And I'll leave you with Halloween greetings from all of us at All Things Anderson.

art courtsey of Lori

Planet in Peril Photo Vote-Tuesday

Day two of our PiP photo vote off is here. If you missed voting yesturday, don't worry. The poll will be open until Sunday morning.

Here are today's pictures....




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Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday mashup

Welcome to your Monday 360! John King will be your guest host this evening, while I (Cyn) will be your guest Monday-night-show blogger. Short on clips and screengrabs due to a technical issue, my apologies in advance...

The show started with Ted Rowlands giving an update on the SoCal fires. Several of them are still burning, although contained, but the news that the Santa Ana winds are expected to resume tomorrow is definitely not good news. Kathleen Koch also did a piece on federal buyouts of homes destroyed by disasters. Not a speck of surprise that such help has been slow-to-nonexistent along the Gulf Coast...

FEMA's fake press conference. It would be funny if it weren't for the fact that this is the agency that we're supposed to count on for help after disasters. They set up a phone line for the real reporters who didn't have enough time to get there (15 minutes in SoCal? You can't get three blocks in 15 minutes under NORMAL conditions!) but it was a listen-only line so the reporters couldn't ask questions, and then they had to have FEMA staffers role-play reporters in order to have someone ask questions. Somewhere, George Orwell is laughing.

The political panel tonight was Amy Holmes, Paul Begala, and Gloria Borger. I thought John had the best idea with the four-day workweek. But then Paul stole the show with his description of how he strategized to make a move on dates. Well, his wife fell for it enjoyed it!

Okay, a commercial break, and I have some questions here. (1) Why are the gas cans pining over the train? The train never needed/wanted them. Shouldn't they just be happy with all those zillions of cars on the freeway? Of course, they are clearly male gas cans, so... (2) The commercial with the new father talking to his older self? Creepy. And the sleep deprivation hasn't even started yet! (3) It's great that the deaf can use alternative methods to communicate, but wouldn't sending text messages be a whole lot easier than the special writing-stylus phone?

Back to the show: John talks to Rick Sanchez about the latter's exclusive interview with just-freed Genarlow Wilson. I like the way CNN lets the exclusive "stay" with the reporter, rather than having John tell the story.

Randi Kaye does a KTH on the Topps hamburger recall story. The recall was delayed for weeks after the initial complaint came in, while further testing was done. This is one of those infuriating stories: can you imagine how many false panics we'd have if every report of a possible contaminant resulted in a recall? On the other hand, if you are one of the people who got sick during that extra time (or worse, the family left behind after someone died) that has just got to be an unbelieveable example of red tape.

John asks us to send in questions for the PiP panel, but no clue as to when that will be rescheduled.

Gary Tuchman does a story on an exhibition of a new version of the controversial "Chocolate Jesus." Did we really need the "second coming" and "resurrection" jokes? Really? I don't have any further comment on the whole thing, since I personally have always found the chocolate crosses sold at Easter time offensive. I mean, you really want to eat (and enjoy) one of the most horrific torture devices ever thought up? Or, for that matter, one of the holiest symbols of your faith? I mean, either way... I'll stick to the rabbits. And hope PETA and the pagans won't mind.

Finally, a few non-show items: Stephen Colbert was officially awarded Favorite Son status in South Carolina, a big boost to his Presidential campaign!

A couple of weeks ago, Anderson spoke with Peter Bergen and also mentioned that they had done a lengthy interview that was going to air later in the week. It kind of got pushed aside, but I hope it will still be shown.

Tomorrow is the Middle East Institute conference in DC, which includes a panel discussion featuring Michael Ware. It doesn't look like C-SPAN is carrying it this year, so if anyone happens to be attending and can provide some insight, please
drop me a line.

(So, um, any chance Michael might get to guest host 360 this week before he returns to Baghdad? Hmmm?)

Planet In Peril Photo Vote (Monday)

Today's the first day of our Planet in Peril Photo vote off!

Here are today's contenders....





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The Environment/The Congo

Anderson was asked a lot last week what one person could do to help the environment. He didn't really have an answer but I believe that each person can play a role in helping. If everyone on this earth made one small change it would make a HUGE difference. But, unfortunately, most people either don't care or don't understand what is really at stake. Most people probably agree that we humans are causing a lot of environmental issues for the planet whether that be global warming, animal endangerment or numerous other issues. Some do not believe there is problem. Whether global warming is due to humans or due to the natural cycles of the earth it's still a problem. And even if everyone of the scientist is wrong then helping to improve our world is still a good thing. Maybe it will be hundreds of years from now but we will run out natural resources and the more we do now to help the longer they will last. Conserving energy and water and recycling can't hurt the environment or make it worse so it seems worth the trouble whether it helps us today or our grandchildren 100 years from now.

With Planet in Peril wrapping up last week I wanted to give a couple of environmental facts for everyone to ponder. And maybe each one of us in a small way can help. A few months ago I switched out all of our light bulbs to the new energy saving ones. These bulbs (I got a 4 pack for $7.99 at Lowes) are supposed to last up to SEVEN years! That's amazing. And to top it off they use only 20% of the energy the old light bulbs used. Imagine the impact if every household in the U.S. changed their bulbs?

*Paper products use up at least 35 percent of the world's annual commercial wood harvest.

*Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours.

*The average house uses one acre of trees to build.

*The United States is the number one trash producing company in the world at 1,609 pounds per person, per year.

*If everyone on earth consumed as many resources as Americans do, we would need four planet earths to provide enough resources. In other words, 5% of the world's population (the United States), consumes 25% of the world's resources.

*Paper products make up the largest part of our trash (approx. 40%).

*If all of our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!

*Americans throw away enough aluminum every three months to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet.

*Plastic bags and other plastic thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year.


Here are a couple interesting questions....

Which countries use the most oil and gas?

The top oil user is the USA (17 million barrels per day) and top gas user is the former Soviet Union (23,000 billion cubic feet per year)

How much oil enters the ocean?

The amount of petroleum products ending up in the ocean is estimated at 0.25% of world oil production: about 6 million tons per year.

What are the most polluted ocean areas detected from space?

Widespread man made pollution of the sea that can be detected by current spaceborne systems is concentrated in the Middle East, particularly in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

What cities in the U.S. have the most air pollution (Smog)?

1.Los Angeles
2.Bakersfield, California
3.Visalia-Porterville, California
4.Fresno, California
5.Houston, Tx

**Besides our reviews of the Planet in Peril I was pointed to an article that Annie Kate wrote regarding the documentary. It's a great read. Find it at her blog about the environment. **


We heard from several people that saw Anderson last week at his Q & A appearances that he was headed to the Congo this week to do a story for "60 Minutes". There are a lot of things going on in the Congo, including flooding and fighting that has threatened the Mountain Gorillas. Here's a link to several important stories going on. It'll be interesting to see which story shows up.

-Rebels in DR Congo re-seized the Gorilla Sector Sunday in Virunga National Park after heavy clashes with the army, leaving the Mountain Gorillas totally unprotected

-Congo Rebels Seize Gorillas Habitat

-President Bush Praises, Offers Help to Embattled Congo Leader (President Joseph Kabila visited the White House last Friday)
-Dozens Killed in DR Congo Floods

The Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund has reached out to help the Gorilla's in The Congo and Anderson visited them last year on his trip to the Congo. Go to the Diane Fossey site to see a video of Anderson talking about the Gorilla's. Here's some pictures from last year :)

This week during the afternoons we're going to have a Planet in Peril Photo Vote Off! Each day we'll let you guys vote for the best picture, with each day's winners going up against each other next Sunday night for the final winner!

And I'll leave you tonight with a new picture of Anderson. Photo: courtesy of Justin Larose/CNN Enjoy! Have a great week.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Coop's Rhythm

I was channel surfing Friday night and happened upon VH1's Best Week Ever show. If you've never seen the show it is sort-of a TV version of the gossip blogs with comedians giving commentary. Every week, the show picks someone who is having their "Best Week Ever". At every commercial break they show a couple of pics and say "one of these people is having the best week ever". The person that shows up during every commercial break is who they've picked and sure enough on Friday's show Anderson's pics from PIP kept popping up so I couldn't wait until the end of the show to see why they thought Anderson was having his "Best Week Ever". The clip did not disappoint. Sheryn graciously uploaded it for all to enjoy.

A Rebel with a Cause! His Own Guns! Tight Black T-Shirt! More Delicious than a Pic-i-nic baskets! Not an Inconvenient Truth!...Too funny but my favorite bit has to be when Jessica St. Clair talks about how cool he walks and wonders if his ear piece plays Staying Alive when he walks or maybe he has his own "Coop's Rhythm" internally. Hmm...

Back in March, Charlie Moore blogged about their PIP visit to Brazil and all the ailments the crew picked up including Jeff Hutchens, the Getty Images photographer who ended up with a parasite in his leg. The blog Photo News interviewed Jeff about his year-long adventure with CNN. Below are some highlights and the full interview is HERE. If you click on the polar bear pic next to the full interview you'll see 27 different pictures he took while covering the PIP filming. Jeff also blogged HERE about some of the photographs.

While the same reporters and crew didn’t make it to all 13 countries, Hutchens traveled with the group to all but Greenland and the Carteret Islands.

Living conditions in Brazil were anything but glamorous; luckily Hutchens knew what to expect and had brought a hammock along on the trip. It wasn’t only the living conditions that made things uncomfortable. While in the South American country, Hutchens picked up a parasite that took four doctors and two and a half months to get rid of.

“I just really loved the creative freedom that I was given on this project,” he said. “That’s what really makes a photographer happy, no matter what the conditions are.”

“For a few nights, the places we had to sleep were so foul in some ways that I ended up stringing up a hammock between two land cruisers [in Chad]”.

The crew slept in a variety of environments depending on location. From living in tents in Madagascar to a plush luxury hotel in Bangkok, after long tiring days, Hutchens found a way to sleep just about anywhere.

“I got to hold a baby polar bear which is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “I was holding this 25 pound baby polar bear that basically started snoring in my arms.”

He said that one woman the group spoke to was a widow whose husband died while living in a “cancer village,” which was polluted by a Chinese mine. “It can be fairly sobering to see those things personalized,” Hutchens said. “Any time that you see any level of human-controlled suffering, it’s always hard and it always hits you in some way.”

“It’s disturbing in general to see global impact on a very practical level and to see very distinctly, areas that are being absolutely affected by it,” He said. “The biggest thing was in central Africa, really looking at the water shortage there in general and how different climactic factors are effecting that. To see how people are trying to cope with that.”

All PIP images © Jeff Hutchens / Getty Images

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Cornucopia of Anderson Cooper

Hello everyone. Hope everyone is doing well. It has been a very busy and hectic week. I wrote earlier in the comments today, we have had an Anderoverdose with Planet in Peril and the breaking news of the California wildfires this week. We are now about to enter an Anderdrought next week. Anderson is heading to the Congo this weekend to begin work on a 60 Minutes piece. We all wish Anderson a safe journey and hope he get much accomplished. Since there is no Anderson or AC 360 tonight I thought I would do a cornucopia of Anderson Cooper and 360 info. Enjoy!!!!

Tonight instead of a 360 with a sub, we got part one of Planet in Peril. Just a reminder you can get Planet in Peril from iTunes, Netflix and

While you are at, I would highly suggest looking up The Mole. I purchased the first season of the Mole. Let me tell you there is nothing better on a rainy day then popping the Mole into the DVD player and watching Anderson travel the world. It is probably the best $17.99 I have spent in a while.


Speaking of Planet in Peril, Ms. Sheryn came across a terrific article in regards to the series. The article compares Anderson and his team's work on PIP to a segment John Stossel did for 20/20. This part of the that caught my eye.

I have to say that I was skeptical when I sat down to watch the first segment of "Planet in Peril" on CNN. The title itself seemed to promise the typical sensationalized fare. But I found it to be remarkably well reported. CNN pulled out all the stops on this one, sending Cooper, Corwin and Gupta around the world to report on biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change. They were even unafraid to include science in their reporting. Imagine that! We've now gone from not having a single full-time environmental reporter or producer in all of broadcast and cable news just a few years ago, to four hours of gorgeous high definition imagery and solid television journalism on the fate of the planet. Unbelievable.
To read the entire article, click here


Also in the Planet in Peril vein, ACAnderfan made a video featuring pictures of Anderson, Jeff and Sanjay. It is terrific and the music is beautifully haunting and fits wonderfully. Thanks ACAnderfan


This week was not only the premier of PIP but also what has been referred to as California in Peril. As the days pass and the residents of California will begin to pick up the pieces of their lives, we continue to send our thoughts and prayers to those effected by the wildfires. Here are some pictures of Anderson in California I found on

Courtesy of Misssewon

Courtesy of alexhempton

Courtesy of alexhempton

Courtesy of Nick C Carlson

Along with Anderson, we have some great pics of other CNN reporters who reported from the front lines of the California Wildfires. All photos are courtesy of Justin Larose/CNN

Kyra Phillips

John Zarrella

Rick Sanchez

Randi Kaye

Reggie Aqui


It has been a while since I share one of Ms. Gloria’s fantastic poems. I chose this poem because it reminded me of nature, and nature makes me think of Planet in Peril.

A field of poppies orange
How they dance to me
All merry and heart true
May green grass around and around that blue
And around that and everywhere….you
© Gloria Vanderbilt – 1955

Thanks to Purple Tie who found this lovely photo of Gloria on her wedding day to her first husband Pasquale DiCicco. Gloria is only 17 years old in this photo. She is a classic beauty.

I thought I would share one of my favourite pictures of Anderson and Gloria. Sorry for the watermarks but Getty Images has the name on everything.

Have a great weekend and I will be back soon!!!

Jeffrey Toobin visits Charlie Rose

Well, it's been quite a week on CNN, with Planet in Peril finally airing and the California fires dominating live news. Both of those have been well-documented here, so I just have a few screengrabs from the fires, and then some Other Stuff to talk about.

You know how sometimes you see a photograph that may not even be directly of an event itself, but it somehow just hits you and somehow becomes an iconic photo? Like the "
Marlboro Marine" photo. Well, this one that was shown last night struck me that way:

There is something about the clear determination in the firefighter's eyes that just is so striking.

I also grabbed this one, just because we so rarely get to see Anderson and John King together. It isn't a war zone this time, but it certainly looks like one:

Jeffrey Toobin was interviewed by Charlie Rose earlier this week. I have crushed on Charlie since his days on CBS Nightwatch. Charlie was a lawyer himself before he went into journalism, so he has a great background and understanding of Jeffrey's work. I clipped a brief segment at the beginning where he asks Jeffrey why he switched from law to television. Unfortunately, Blogger is once again blocking my uploads (I'll deal with THEM on Monday!) and I had to leave for work... uh, five minutes ago!... so I uploaded it to my PhotoBucket account and will hope this works!

Well, I hate to post and run, but you know how bosses are! NO sense of humor!

There's no AC360 tonight, presumably so Anderson can start his trek to the Congo. PiP replays, so if you missed any of it, enjoy the repeat. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ratings, Wildfires, Inspiration and a Baby?

Before we get to our discussion of Thursday night's AC 360 let's take a look at the overnight Planet in Peril ratings.

DAY 1 (9-11 pm 10/23) DAY 2 (9-11pm, 10/24)

P25-54 P25-54

CNN: 532k CNN: 503k

FNC: 482k FNC: 406k

CNN Planet in Peril Two Day Average

vs. 9-11p Prior 4 Weeks

P 2+

P 18-34

P 18-49

P 25-54














Planet in Peril (Both Days)

09:00P -11:00P







9-11p Prior 4 Weeks

09:00P -11:00P










Even if you discount the CNN spin these are wonderful ratings. Congratulations to the entire Planet in Peril team. Job well done.

The California wildfires have just been horrendous to watch, and as we've all said our hearts go out to the victims. Because of the continuing coverage the PIP Roundtable discussion was not seen on Thursday night. Instead we got 3 hours of AC360. One pre LKL and two post LKL. We were given the big picture and the small, personal stories too. Those are what I really appreciate most. Knowing how people are and will cope. Not the photo ops or the finger pointing. It's a story of people and loss and that's what I'll concentrate on in my post.
We begin with John Zarella interviewing fire victims about their feelings about the arson aspect. I must say it's great to see JZ do some serious reporting for AC360 but that in no way means that I want him to stop covering Sushi on NYE in the Keys.
Then Anderson explored a fire scene with an arson specialist, who gave a fascinating explanation of the signs of a burn. AC walked through the rubble of a burned out home and of course picked up stuff without wearing gloves. I thought when we saw the purple surgical gloves he wore recently that he had finally learned not to touch unprotected. Guess I was wrong.

Ted Rowlands interview a man who stayed behind to fight the fire with a garden hose and buckets of water. He managed to save his home and most of his neighborhood, claiming he and his neighbors had been planning this scenario for two years. Two years of planning and they never realized how incredibly fool hardy it was to stay behind? Amazing.

Are Anderson Cooper fans more night owls than morning people? I can’t speak for all of you, but I am definitely a night owl. Which is why, when John Roberts got the American Morning gig I started to TIVO AM. Some days I never get time to view my recording and some days I do. It’s sort of hit or miss. I’m so grateful that I had time to watch part of my Thursday recording of American Morning. Like all CNN’s reporters and anchors John and Kiran accompanied families back to their homes to see the extent of the fire damage. Kiran followed along with the Scholotte family. The report was heartbreaking, everything was destroyed, ashes and a burnt out shell of what had been their home. Kiran stepped back and let the story tell itself. She knew just when to comment and when to let the pictures tell the story.

John Roberts meet up with Erin Arnold as she stood among the ashes of her totally destroyed home. Erin reminded me so much of Myrtle Kearney from Waveport, Louisiana. Do you remember Myrtle? She was the sweet lady who Anderson interviewed amid the rubble that was her Katrina ravaged home. Myrtle said “I vacuumed my house to the moon before we left to go for the hurricane… And wait, you wanna hear the best? Y’all are gonna die laughing. I collect rocks. I came out, picked out all my rocks and brought ‘em inside and hid ‘em! The rocks are gone. And the carpet’s gone! And it’s gonna be so damned easy to move, you won’t believe it!”
That’s one positive attitude. Here’s another example or a glass half full type of person. Meet Erin Arnold.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned my house caught on fire several years ago.
We were lucky, the firemen arrived before things got out of control and damage was limited to around $25,000. And we were insured. But more than the physical damage was what the fire does to your mind. It’s like what I’ve heard post traumatic stress syndrome described as. I couldn’t sleep for weeks, sure the fire would reignite. For years when I smelled smoke I would panic, running around looking for the source of the smell and feeling the walls to see if they were warm. I would send my DH up to check the attic (where our fire started) regularly, sure that the wiring would again begin to burn.
I tell you this because these poor people that have been victims of these California wildfires are going to go through more hell before it gets better. The children will have nightmares, the adults will have many sleepless nights. As we move on they won’t be able to. My heart goes out to them and may they get the help they need.
Thanks to BA and Annie Kate for the AM clips and caps.

We at ATA would like to offer our best wishes to Kiran Chetry (source:
"CNN's American Morning co-anchor Kiran Chetry and her husband, CW weather forecaster Chris Knowles, are expecting their second child together, they tell PEOPLE exclusively.

"We joke around that it's a miracle that we had time to actually make a baby," says Chetry, 33, who's on air weekday mornings while her husband works weekend nights. "We have almost the exact opposite schedule!"

Lately, Chetry's own schedule has been unpredictable, covering the fires in California for the cable news channel. "My doctor gave me the O.K.," she says of working in the unfavorable air quality, "but obviously didn't want me on the fire lines."

Chetry also joins another expectant mom at CNN – evening anchor Campbell Brown. So, is there something in the water cooler over at CNN? "We were laughing about that," says Chetry. "It's the stroller derby!"

Chetry and Knowles, 41, also have a daughter Maya Rose who is 20 months old."

Even though Anderson won't be around next week we will. We've got some great things planned to help you though your Anderwithdrawl. I can't wait to see who the sub is. Please let it be John King. Or John Roberts. Or Tom Foreman. Or ?