Wednesday, December 13, 2006

When We Lost The CNN Signal


Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Entrprise

Watson Franks' television went blank during the Vidor segment of CNN's Paula Zahn Now special on racism at his home in Vidor Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006. Homes in Beaumont and Vidor, Texas were unable to get the CNN channel while the Vidor segment was aired. Immediately after the segment, the show resumed.

Yesterday, I arrived home in time for the BBC news on Channel 8 (The Houston PBS Channel). The signal was very poor. Still, I continued to watch it to keep up with my daily rituals.

Mark called me earlier to tell me that he would be in Vidor to cover the reaction to Paula Zhan's segment on the history of racism in Vidor. I thought that was interesting. I don't watch Paula's show, so I decided to watch Jim Carey's movie, "The Grinch." While watching the movie, Mark called to check if we were receiving CNN feed on Time Warner cable. The signal went off in Vidor. I checked our TV and, sure enough, there was a blue screen instead of CNN. The signal went off during the Vidor segment. Being a "I don't care person" lately, I continued watching the movie.

Time Warner cable, which is ironically owned by the same company as CNN, blamed it on a techincal glitch while trying to fix the poor signal of Channels 8 and 22. I wish I could believe it. I doubt many in Southeast Texas believe this excuse.

Whatever or whoever caused this "techincal glitch" didn't stop us from seeing the segment. Between The Beaumont Entrprise and the CNN, the segment was online by the time I went to sleep. It was aired again on Paula Zhan's program tonight. According the Mayor of Vidor, Paula Zhan is planning a townhall meeting in Vidor next week. That should be really interesting!!!

My workmate lives in Vidor. She's the sweetest person you can meet, and she's definitely NOT a racist. I've never been to Vidor. So, I can't tell you how truthful the segment was to the reality in this small town. Either way, this could be the best thing that ever happened to the town. It could signal the start of good things. Let's hope for the best.

UPDATE Dec. 17, 2006
Yesterday morning, the Mayor of Vidor announced his city has cancelled the planned townhall meeting with CNN. He claimed the city can't handle the security of National figures Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who planned to attend the event. My reaction was, "HAH!!! Why???"

Yesterday afternoon, the Mayor of Beaumont announced City of Beaumont will host the event. The Beaumont Enterprise reports:

A discussion on racism that looked like it might not happen in Southeast Texas is scheduled to take place in Beaumont at the Jefferson Theater this week, Beaumont Mayor Guy Goodson said Saturday.

CNN spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg confirmed on Saturday that show producers were still moving forward with their plans for the invitation-only town hall meeting originally scheduled in Vidor and that details are still being planned.
Beaumont Police Chief Frank Coffin said security would not be a concern.

Jackson has made numerous trips to Southeast Texas, including during his presidential campaign in 1988 when he spoke at Fair Park Coliseum and to 1,000 people about improving the Texas oil industry. He led a vigil in Jasper after the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr, according to Enterprise archives.


Thank you Mayor Goodson for taking the lead.

UPDATE Dec. 20, 2006
Read my take on the CNN special here.

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