||May 10, 2011
OSAMA BIN LADEN: UNRAVELING ON TV
- Fox News kept insisting - and still does - on singling themselves out by spelling Osama bin Laden on-screen as Usama bin Laden. It's technically correct but most American news agencies spell it with an "O." Even Al Jazeera English uses the "O" spelling. But the Usama spelling has been used, however, by government agencies such as the FBI and the CIA.
- ABC News identified terrorist consultant Richard Clarke as "Dick Clark" on the TV screen that Sunday night when the news broke and I wondered, "What are they talking to the oldest teenager in America for on this story?" It's not New Year's Rockin' Eve time yet, is it?
- By 11:10 p.m.-ish NBC brought in big gun anchorman Brian Wilson … er, Williams, who bigfooted David Gregory in Washington who was previously anchoring who bigfooted Chuck Todd and Mike Vigueira, the first reporters on the story who were two-waying with a New York MSNBC anchor who was reporting that an announcement would be made soon by the president.
- … Over on Fox News Channel, Geraldo Rivera was on the air with his Geraldo At Large show and when he heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed he became excited and high-fived his on-set guest analyst like he just scored a touchdown for the home team.
- …He was ecstatic and said he couldn't believe the biggest story of the century happened on his "anchor" watch. You could almost see the ends of his mustache curl.
- …But soon he was bigfooted by Greta Van Susteren in New York and Bret Baier in Washington. I guess the powers that be thought Mr. Rivera was a little bit out of control.
- Revelers outside the White House held up a sign that said "Ding Dong Bin Laden is Dead."
- … Someone referred to the assembling group outside the White House as a "flash mob," to use the current social media designation for any group that gathers at a specific location. God knows they were texting and e-mailing and IM-ing and g-chatting and Facebooking and tweeting their every move.
- …Later, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was on the air and said he felt a little uncomfortable with the celebrations. Diane Sawyer asked him about retracing his steps at Ground Zero but he said he didn't want to relive the experience. He seemed upset and acted like he didn't want to dredge it all up again.
- RESPECT FOR THE BODY. Al Jazeera Washington bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara was on one of the nets and said the Navy "dumped his body at sea," referring to what happened aboard the USS Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea. Up to that point nobody said that the body was "dumped." Most described it as "eased into the water" or lowered or "buried at sea" or something that sounded less blunt, thereby softening the blow and sounding more respectful and non-inflaming.
- … Should we be respectful to Osama bin Laden? Many say no but others wonder.
- …Jennifer Griffin, Fox Pentagon reporter -- and a good one at that --said that they "tilted the board and the body fell into the sea."
- …"Ask any mermaid you happen to see. What's the best tuna? Chicken of the Sea …"
- … It was reported that his feet were weighted down so he wouldn't float up.
- … Washington Post reporters Craig Whitlock, William Wan and Greg Miller reported it this way: "A senior U.S. defense official said the rites lasted for about 50 minutes (that long? What, d id they read the whole Koran?). Bin Laden's body was washed (what, with a hose on board the ship?), wrapped in a white sheet (swaddling clothes?) and then placed in a weighted bag (cement shoes?). A military officer read ‘religious remarks,' which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker."
- MISTAKEN IDENTITY: I wondered if the female anchor on Fox talking to Oliver North was Megyn Kelly. She looked very much like her and had all of the same trappings, i.e., strikingly bright blonde hair, the plunging V-neck top. But I was wrong. It was another: Martha McCallum, who was co-anchoring with Bill Hemmer.
- … Guest Andrew Card, a former George W. Bush adviser who was talking about bin Laden and the president's handling of it, said, after his long interview segment with McCallum, "Thank you Megyn."
- …See what I'm sayin'?
- …NOTICED. Reporter Jennifer Griffin and Catherine Herridge, another excellent Fox reporter, resemble each other so much that sometimes they look like twins. Both were working the story. Herridge is homeland security correspondent for the network.
- And …SURPRISE. They're not blonds. (Short, dark hair, pixie-cut-ish and not long and flowing). Much more believable.
- Homeland Security advisor John Brennan said that al Qaeda was "old news now" at his White House press conference.
- CNN had Randi Kaye anchoring down at the World Trade Center in New York the next day and it was so loud in the background that you could hardly hear her talk: sledgehammers, jackhammers and other city noises causing a lot of racket.
- According to my count, MSNBC was the first to report that bin Laden had been shot in the left eye.
- ABC must've"burned" in "ABC News Exclusive" on that video which was taken inside the bin Laden house that was obtained from a local over there in Abbottabad. Everyone else who showed it on the air had to show it with ABC's moniker on it.
- … That's the video showing his platform bed and blood on the floor and disarray inside OSB's abode.
- Brian Williams and Diane Sawyer used hand-held mics (microphones) with fuzzy "windscreens" on them at the World Trade Center to anchor their evening news programs on Monday. That was smart. Even though they looked awkward and old-fashioned for the anchors to use, technically they're better for that particular situation because they are considered more "directional" than a lavalier-type microphone (clip-"mike" that is attached to a piece of clothing), which picks up sound from many directions.
- … Katie Couric didn't hold up a big ‘un. She seemed to be mic'd with the smaller type and therefore her audio portions were very cluttered with sounds other than her voice.
- …CNN's Anderson Cooper also anchored from Ground Zero and the noise competed against his on-air delivery.
- Fast-rising NBC News star Savannah Guthrie was right there (but of course) with Brian Williams for Nightly News at Ground Zero and presented her reportage on what happened inside the White House as things were unfolding in the bin Laden saga. When done, Brian thanked her for her reporting in his own inimitable way.
- … Miss Guthrie is climbing up the NBC ladder quickly and now has been dubbed to be a new co-anchor of the Today show's 9 a.m. hour.
- MORE THAN "HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT." William Cohen, former secretary of defense under Bill Clinton, said that Osama bin Laden hiding in Pakistan and so close to a military base "could be a case of Eyes Wide Shut," insinuating that maybe Pakistan cast a blind eye to his whereabouts.
- … "Eyes Wide Shut" was the title of that endless, lousy Stanley Kubrick movie with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman I had to sit through back in '99.
- I KEPT THINKING DURING THE COVERAGE: "Too bad [NBC's] Richard Engel's in Benghazi, Libya. I bet he wished he was in Pakistan for the biggest find of the century. It must've killed him.
- … Too bad. You can't be everywhere (but he usually he is).
- ABC's Martha Raddatz was one of the first to report that the Navy SEALs wore helmet-cams and that they "flex-cuffed" the people left in the compound after they killed bin Laden.
- … It seems the police are using flex-cuffs (plastic strips fastened as restraints around a person's wrists or ankles) more now than those metal hand-cuffs. Guess they're cheaper, huh?
- CBS News's up-and-comer Whit Johnson from Washington explained that "Geronimo EKIA," the phrase announced by the Navy SEALs when they announced that the mission was accomplished, means Enemy Killed In Action.
- CNN's Wolf Blitzer referred to FrancesTownsend, former deputy director of Homeland Security under President Bush and currently a CNN analyst, and Peter Bergen, a CNN national security expert, as guys: "Guys, we'll continue the conversation later, thank you," as he was ending a program segment.
- … C'mon Wolf, stop talking like a local anchorman.
- FYI: SEALs stands for SEa, Air, Land.
- CNN's Nic Robertson reported that cabbage, potatoes and marijuana were growing right outside the walls of the OSB compound.
- … Good, did the locals wile away their days making stew and getting high on home-grown weed instead of wondering who lived inside that three-story dwelling behind those high, barbed-wire walls?
- Osama bin Laden was one of 54 kids. Good Allah almighty.
- Elizabeth Palmer of CBS reported that the compound will be bulldozed in order for it not to become a potential shrine-type thing.
- …Better get out the bulletproof vests for that job.
- … And Mark Phillips, in Kabul, Afghanistan for CBS, said that "the head may have been cut off the snake but al Qaeda still exists."
- NBC's Stephanie Gosk pointed out that many of the houses in Abbottabad have walls and that it's not that unusual over there. She seemed to debunk the myth that bin Laden was hiding in plain sight.
- HOME IMPROVEMENT. It looked to me like OSB's house in that compound could use some repair. They kept showing an awning dangling down from a window and made the house look sloppy and unkempt. Guess nobody around the house was handy.
- …One of those couriers should have brought somebody back from Home Depot to do some repair.
- Leon Pancetta, er … Panetta, director of the CIA, spoke too soon about the death pictures of Osama bin Laden. He said he thought they'd be released. He basically stated that "we got him" and that it was necessary to reveal to the rest of the world the proof that "we got him." WRONG. Another case of administration people trying to explain things on the fly, only to later be proved wrong by the higher-ups, i.e., his boss, the president of the United States.
- …Panetta also said that Pakistan was "either involved or incompetent." Again, he should have consulted with his boss before opening up his big mouth and speculating so much. He's supposed to become the next secretary of defense, for crissakes. He can't jump the gun over there at the Pentagon every time something happens.
- WONDERING. If bin Laden used Just for Men (hair coloring product) to make his beard darker. They claim it takes out only the gray and I think that's what he would have liked.
- …TV reporters and anchors speculated that this was a sign of his vanity, wanting to look younger for the camera and his followers.
- …Ask the reporters and anchors about it. I bet you can't find one of them who doesn't dye his or her hair, so there.
- NBC sent Ann Curry to Pakistan. She does good reporting in the field and puts on her serious vibe. She's much better there than she is on the fluffy Today show, even though she has been designated the replacement for the departing Meredith Vieira.
- …ADVICE: Don't waste her with having to do cooking segments. Let Matt stay in the kitchen.
- …UH …Too Many Cooks (Spoil the Soup) - 100 Proof (Aged in Soul) on Hot Wax Records, 1969.
© Rocci Fisch/Random Thoughts
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