Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The Zelig Of Newscasting
As an anchor, Walter Cronkite was genuine. People who knew him say that he was the same man on camera as he was off camera. He did not need to put on a persona. He was as we saw him. On the other hand, Brian Williams is constantly striving to appear not as he is, but as he desperately wants to be seen. Brian Williams is the Zelig of newscasting. He strives to be as much like he imagines the viewers want him to be as often as he possibly can. He is always using pandering phrases such as "For those of us who love American cars" or "For those of us who love dogs" or "For those of us who love aviation". Please love me, Mr. & Mrs. Viewer! I'll try to be whatever you want me to be. Have you ever noticed how often Brian uses the word "folks" instead of "people"? "The good folks from Milwaukee" or "The brave folks who fight fires" or "All the folks on the West Coast". Obviously, the people in the NBC Research Department informed Brian that "folks" tests higher with focus groups and makes him seem less elitist. Sometimes, Brian just blatantly panders to viewers: "The Great Lakes are spectacular" (July 17). "If your summer plans include the great city of Chicago..." "Luckily, Chicago is also beautiful when viewed from the sidewalk." (Those last two are from the July 1 broadcast.) I guess Brian's producers must have told him that there was a ratings decline in the Chicago area.