Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Tonightly News Show

Brian Williams has no shame. His main goal appears to be finding ways to insert gratuitous plugs for other NBC properties into the Nightly News broadcast. On Monday, there was a two-and-a-half-minute "news story" about The Weather Channel's tornado chasers. Apparently, Brian "neglected" to mention that The Weather Channel is owned by NBC/Universal, and that this story was just a plug for one of NBC's sister networks. I guess full and honest disclosure was never Brian's strong suit. And on Tuesday, Brian introduced a story about sleep deprivation among teenagers by saying, "For millions of us of a certain generation, it was all about staying up late for Carson. Of course, times have changed and Carson is now Conan, but staying up late has always been a big deal to kids...." Huh? How on earth does Conan fit into that equation? It is shameful how desperately far Brian will reach to make a gratuitous plug. Meanwhile, here's a news flash: Conan will never be Carson. And Brian Williams will never be Tom Brokaw. Conan O'Brien and Brian Williams are not endowed with a fraction of the talent or charisma possessed by their predecessors. As Nightly News anchor, Tom Brokaw was first and foremost a journalist. Brian Williams is a talking head, a cuddly studio cat. Tom Brokaw was primarily concerned with informing us about what was happening across the country and around the world. Brian Williams is primarily concerned with promoting other NBC properties, pandering to the viewers and attracting lucrative sponsorship deals for Nightly News. Tom Brokaw was deeply concerned with the makeup of his broadcast. Brian Williams is deeply concerned that his makeup, hair and tie look good for his broadcast.

In 100 years, Tom Brokaw will be remembered as one of the last of a breed of hardy journalist-anchors. Johnny Carson will be remembered as perhaps the greatest late-night talk show host ever. Brian Williams and Conan O'Brien will be remembered primarily as the men who presided over the decline, and eventual dissolution, of Nightly News and The Tonight Show.

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