Saturday, June 13, 2009

MAD As Hell

I almost choked on my Cap'n Crunch when I heard Brian Williams close Friday's Nightly News by saying, "Our 'Making A Difference' reports have had to give way to a little other news of late but we're surely still in that business...." What exactly is this "other news" that has prevented Brian and the producers from showing MAD segments? Was it the 14 minutes of Susan Boyle stories that Nightly News aired in April and May? Was it Tom Brokaw's seemingly endless saga about the Maryland crab industry that ran on May 27? Was it the May 15 story about Farrah Fawcett's battle with cancer? Was it the May 5 story about McDonald's new gourmet coffees? Was it the many, many minutes of promos that ran in recent weeks for the "Inside The Obama White House" special? What an outrage! On any given broadcast, Nightly News devotes half its airtime to non-news stories and then Brian has the nerve to complain that he doesn't have enough time to air MAD segments--which are themselves non-news stories! Is this some sort of bizarro catch-22? "Because of all the fluff pieces we air, we didn't have enough time to air our other fluff pieces," is what Brian is saying. On Friday's broadcast, viewers were treated to a story about George H. W. Bush's skydiving exploits, a tribute to Tim Russert and an Access Hollywood-type story about the feud between Sarah Palin and David Letterman. This is news? These three stories alone took over seven-and-a-half-minutes--a third of the broadcast! And Brian says that because of all the news stories Nightly News is airing they're too busy to bring us MAD stories. Puh-leeze. If Brian tells another lie, his surgically-reduced nose will begin to grow back to its original size.

And speaking of the Tim Russert piece, here's how Brian closed that story: "That was, of course, a blatant plug for Luke Russert's alma mater Boston College...." So does this mean that going forward Brian and the other Nightly News anchors and reporters will be disclosing their frequent on-air plugs for advertisers' products and NBC/Universal shows? Will Brian now be informing us whenever he inserts a gratuitous plug for Conan or Jay? Will Brian now be telling us that the preceding "news story" was shown as a favor to United Airlines, Nike, McDonald's, Cheerios, Coca-Cola or some other NBC advertiser? Or maybe the producers could just run a blinking "gratuitous plug" graphic at the bottom of the screen whenever Brian is shamelessly promoting an NBC property or advertiser. Then again, that may not be such a good idea. The blinking graphic would be on screen so often that it might cause retinal damage to the viewers.

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