Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Extra Days For Everyone!

The Nightly News producers still don't get it. On Sept. 15, a story about the H1N1 vaccine showed a September calendar page that contained 31 days. And last Sunday (Sept. 27), a story about airfares showed a November calendar page with 31 days. Once again: "Thirty days has September, April, June and November...." I wonder if Nightly News employees are getting paid for those two extra days.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

How About "Qam"?

On Friday's Nightly News, a story about Iran's nuclear program featured a map that identified the city of "Qom". Moments later, another map spelled the city as "Qum". How about picking a spelling and sticking with it?

And during Friday's obituary for Timothy J. Russert, Sr. (father of the late Meet The Press moderator), Ann Curry informed us that Russert was 85 at the time of his death. But the caption below Russert's on-screen photo read "1920-2009", which would have made him several years older. So which is correct? This error is especially egregious considering that NBC just won an editing Emmy for Dateline's obituary of Tim Russert, Jr. Out of respect for the Russert family, couldn't Nightly News get the facts straight?

Brian Williams Loves Your City!

From Brian Williams's Sept. 24 Daily Nightly blog: "I can't help but feel sad here in Pittsburgh, mostly because I love Pittsburgh. This is such a vibrant, proud, compact, loyal, strong and beautiful modern city...."

What a joke. Brian would offer these same generic words of praise for any city from which he happened to be anchoring. Brian's job is to pander to as wide an audience as possible in order to attract as many viewers as possible. Here are a few other recent examples of Brian's pandering:

> "And good evening from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of the great American cities...." (9/24 Nightly News)
> "One of the most startlingly beautiful cities in the world...." (Speaking about Sydney, 9/23 Nightly News)
> "The city of Chicago has never looked better. Day or night it is simply breathtaking." (From Brian's 9/21 blog)
> "Tom Brokaw on Highway 50. His next stop by the way is the great American town of Emporia, Kansas." (9/9 Nightly News)
> "There's a great place to be--The scene tonight on the Navy Pier in Chicago--70 degrees going down to 55 tonight, 77 tomorrow afternoon." (9/4 Nightly News. This was a complete non sequitur--there was no actual story about the Navy Pier, just another excuse to pander.)
> "We thought it might also be because it looks like one of those beautiful Rhode Island beaches on the real Block Island." (8/4 Nightly News, after reporting that a rock on Mars was named "Block Island" by NASA)
> "The Great Lakes are spectacular." (7/17 Nightly News)
> "If your summer plans include the great city of Chicago...." followed by, "Luckily, Chicago is also beautiful when viewed from the sidewalk." (7/1 Nightly News, before and after a story about a glass-bottomed viewing area in the then-Sears Tower)

Chicago seems to be a particular beneficiary of Brian's fawning praise. I assume that the NBC News research department has informed Brian and his producers that viewership in the Chicago area has fallen off and thus is in need of some extra special pandering.

Also from Brian's Sept. 24 Daily Nightly blog: "I noticed the young woman in the TSA line in front of me. She was wearing flip-flops but had a pair of combat boots in her carry-on tote bag. As she placed her laptop in the plastic bin, I noticed the bumper sticker she had affixed to the lid. It read, 'ANARCHY.' And I thought: How brilliant...she's a protest commuter! She's able, conceivably, to wake up in New York, fly to Pittsburgh, protest against the G-20, and be home in time for Leno! It’s almost the same thing I'm doing -- except for the protest part -- and it struck me that we're both flying to Pittsburgh to utilize the First Amendment. What a country."

Here's another joke: Brian going on and on about the First Amendment. We all know that dissent and alternate points of view are not tolerated on Brian's broadcast. Nightly News only airs stories that support their specific point of view, which can best be described as flag-waving eagle-soaring jingoistic rah-rah pseudo-patriotism. Any newscast that uses phrases like "wounded warriors" and "fallen heroes" cannot be taken seriously as a reliable source of news. And by the way, if Brian believes so strongly in freedom of speech, why do his editors refuse to print so many comments submitted to his blog? I would estimate that 30% of the comments I submit to his blog are not printed. Brian is a hypocrite. But at least he managed to get in yet another plug for Leno. And that's what really matters. Well done, Brian.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mirror, Mirror On The Stand, Who's The Pettiest in All The Land? NBC!

NBC News is without a doubt the most absurdly petty news organization on the planet. On last Friday's Nightly News, Brian Williams described President Obama's upcoming weekend media blitz by telling us that the President would be appearing on, "Five Sunday morning political shows and entertainment--the Late Show on Monday night." But Brian refused to even mention David Letterman--the host of the Late Show. On Sunday's broadcast, Mike Viqueira took this absurdity one step further, saying only that the President would be appearing Monday on "late night television". This is insane. Perhaps the NBC executives have a bitter grudge against Letterman for leaving their network. But it's more likely that they are desperately trying to protect Conan O'Brien. Letterman's show is regularly beating the Tonight Show in the ratings, and so the executives decided that ignoring Letterman will help Conan. They have forbidden Brian and the Nightly News correspondents from ever saying "Letterman" on the air unless it is absolutely necessary. It wasn't until Monday that Brian finally relented and mentioned Letterman by name. But before showing a clip of Letterman's interview with the President, Brian said, "The President was asked about former President Jimmy Carter's comments TO US last week that racism is behind a lot of the vitriol we've been seeing at town hall meetings and protests across the country of late." Incredible. Brian actually tried to twist things around to make the President's appearance on Letterman seem as if it was all about Nightly News! But this fear of Letterman is nothing new. Last Nov. 12, Nightly News aired a story about John McCain shortly after he lost the presidential election. Kelly O'Donnell told us us that McCain's campaign had "kicked off on late-night television"--again refusing to mention Letterman or his show. (McCain had announced his candidacy on Letterman's show back in Feb., 2007.) Not only did O'Donnell refuse to mention Letterman's name, but during an excerpt from this show, only McCain could be seen. The Nightly News producers would not even show Letterman's face in an excerpt from his own program! And the on-screen credit read only "Worldwide Pants" (Letterman's production company). They wouldn't even display his name (or the name of his show) on the screen. This pettiness is beyond absurd.

While Nightly News strenuously avoids mentioning NBC's rivals, they are more than happy to air story after story promoting their own properties. On Sunday's Nightly News--the same broadcast in which Viqueira refused to mention Letterman or his show--viewers were treated to a two-minute-and-forty-second "news story" about the Dallas Cowboys' new $1.1 billion football stadium. Not coincidentally, this story ran just minutes before NBC aired a Sunday night football game between the Giants and--you guessed it--the Cowboys. In this segment, Matt Lauer strolled around the new stadium with former Cowboy Emmitt Smith. There's Lauer in the stands. There's Lauer opening the roof. There's Lauer showing off the luxury boxes. There's Lauer talking about the enormous new 2300 inch hi-def scoreboard. Of course, Lauer never mentioned the most-discussed fact about the new stadium: the scoreboard is low enough to be hit by a punt. I imagine the Cowboys' executives who granted access to Lauer made it clear they didn't want that mentioned. Lauer also didn't mention that some fans are required to shell out $150,000 for seat licenses in addition to the cost of their season tickets. It is truly disgusting that the Nightly News producers would use their broadcast to promote NBC's Sunday Night Football. And as if that wasn't bad enough, poor Lester Holt was forced to read football promos before and after Lauer's infomercial. Nightly News is allowing the way in which they report stories to be influenced by who they want to plug or by who they want to ignore. Clearly, this is unethical. This is a professional news organization?

But wait--there's more. On Monday's broadcast, Brian used 50 seconds of valuable news time for the sole purpose of boasting and crowing that the Cowboys-Giants game won Sunday night's ratings race with 21.7 million viewers. I hope he didn't hurt his shoulder from all that back-patting. That is one of the most undignified and unprofessional displays ever seen on a network newscast. Has Brian no shame?

Re: Re-election

Brian Williams should get his facts straight. On Monday's Nightly News story about the tension between President Obama and New York Governor David Paterson, Brian said, "Reports have it the President doesn't want the Governor to run for re-election and has said so because he doesn't like his chances." On Sunday's Nightly News, Chuck Todd also spoke of Paterson's bid for "re-election". Wrong. Paterson, who was the Lieutenant Governor when Eliot Spitzer resigned eighteen months ago, became Governor without ever having been elected to that office. In order to be re-elected, one must first be elected. Paterson was not. The managing editor and political director of Nightly News should know better.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Which States Does Nightly News Hate?

During Friday's Nightly News story about the H1N1 virus (which they are still referring to as Swine Flu), Robert Bazell informed us that the virus was present in all 50 states. But the accompanying map listed only 48 states by name, omitting New Mexico and Rhode Island. What does Nightly News have against those two states? This is very suspicious.

Racial Insensitivity At Nightly News

During Tuesday's Nightly News story about race in politics, Rep. Steny Hoyer was identified by an on-screen caption as "(D) House Majority Leader". Moments later, Rep. James Clyburn was identified only as "(D) South Carolina" despite the fact that Rep. Clyburn is the House Majority Whip, the third most powerful position in the House. Why was Hoyer, a white congressman, identified by his prestigious House leadership position, while Clyburn, an African-American congressman, was not? This would be a disrespectful omission under any circumstances, but to have it occur during a story about race in politics is truly appalling. I believe that Rep. Clyburn deserves an apology from Brian Williams, Kelly O'Donnell (who reported the story) and the producer who was in charge of the segment.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Country Or College?

Sometimes art imitates life imitating art. Or something like that. On Thursday, NBC unveiled a new comedy called "Community" (at least they claim it's a comedy). The main character in the show has to go back to college because his state bar suspended his law license when they found out that his undergrad degree came from Colombia (the country) and not Columbia (the Ivy League University). Flash back to last November 9. During a Nightly News story about how statins could reduce the risk of heart attacks, we were shown a list of all the countries where the medical trials were taking place. And one of the countries they listed was "Columbia". Really. I mean it. You can't make this stuff up.

Cult Member Brian

From Brian Williams's Sept. 17 Daily Nightly blog: "If you watch any NBC programming, you've seen them: The public service announcements on smoking prevention, good health, manners, child-raising and generally good things. They are hosted by recognizable faces from the NBC television family, and they are called 'The More You Know' (accompanied by a short jingle). They are among the best things our company does, they are well-produced and perform a true public service. I look forward to doing them every year, and I've just returned from this year's production shoot, where my place in the batting order was after Jimmy Fallon and before Dr. Nancy Snyderman. It is always a true pleasure being asked to be involved in such a worthy campaign, and I want to publicly thank Susan Haspel, who runs the operation, for treating me so well year after year."

Is he kidding us? What a load of crap. Among the best things NBC does? What good things does NBC do? It earns billions of dollars from stupid comedies, mindless reality shows, inane dramas and infomercials. NBC also airs news shows whose main goal is to earn money by pandering for high ratings. If Brian really thinks that NBC is doing good things, he's been drinking the Kool-Aid for way too long. Actually, Brian does sound a lot like a cult member. "The NBC television family...They perform a true public service...I look forward to doing them every year...It is always a true pleasure...such a worthy campaign." Wow. Brian needs some serious anti-cult therapy. He should visit the NBC Vice-President For De-Programming.

Foul Stench

It was disgusting that Nightly News devoted two minutes and fifteen seconds of Wednesday's broadcast to the story of a three-year-old girl who threw back a foul ball at a Phillies game. In what alternate universe does this qualify as news? Obviously, the Nightly News producers do not understand their responsibility to the viewers. Meanwhile, that night's broadcast did not contain a single story from anywhere outside the U.S. But at least we know all about the little girl who threw back a foul ball. Great job, guys. Keep up the good work.


During Tuesday's Nightly News story about the H1N1 virus, the producers displayed several calendar pages on screen to illustrate when the flu vaccine might be ready. Unfortunately, their September calendar page had 31 days. I guess no one at Nightly News has ever heard, "Thirty days has September, April, June and November...." I'm hoping that Brian Williams will explain this gaffe on his September 31 Daily Nightly blog entry.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Foot Fault Against Nightly News

On Sunday, Nightly News aired a story about Serena Williams's meltdown during her U.S. Open semi-final match with Kim Clijsters. Lee Cowan told us that Williams was called for a foot fault at match point. Wrong. When she was called for the foot fault, Williams was down 15-30 and trailing 6-5 in games. The foot fault brought the game to match point and then a code violation (resulting in the loss of a point) was assessed against Williams, costing her the match. What is truly incredible is that as Cowan was giving us the incorrect information, the correct information was right there for all to see. The video of the foot fault call shown by NBC clearly displayed the 15-30 score in the lower left corner of the screen. But Cowan still couldn't get it right. And how many Nightly News producers, editors and other personnel viewed this story before it aired without noticing the mistake? Almost every night, Nightly News makes some sort of error--grammar, spelling, mathematical, factual, etc. Sadly, it's as if no one at NBC News cares about what they put on the air. At the very least, a network news organization should be concerned with getting the facts straight. Although I noticed that Natalie Morales had all the facts straight on Sunday when she read a promo for Maria Bartiromo's CNBC special "1 Year Later: Reflections From The Street" (airing later that night) and when she signed off with a promo for NBC's Sunday Night Football. I guess we know where NBC's priorities are.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Across The Blogiverse

Last Tuesday, Andy Franklin, the editor of the MSNBC.com Daily Nightly blog, wrote a lengthy piece contradicting Walter Cronkite's recollection that the Beatles had made their American television debut on his CBS Evening News program (and that Ed Sullivan learned of the Beatles from Cronkite's broadcast). I used this opportunity to voice my displeasure with how slow Franklin is to post comments to the Daily Nightly blog. Here is my response to Franklin:

Since you are the editor of the Daily Nightly blog, your comments are, of course, posted immediately. But the rest of us have to wait up to 3 weeks for our comments to be posted (assuming they are posted at all). That seems a bit unfair, doesn't it? Why are you being such a MEAN MR. MUSTARD? I'M DOWN about the HELTER SKELTER way your blog is edited. ISN'T IT A PITY that our posts often get NO REPLY? TELL ME WHY it takes such a LONG, LONG, LONG time. I have never IN MY LIFE had to WAIT so long for my posts to appear. YOU CAN'T DO THAT! I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER than to keep posting. Honestly, Andy, HOW DO YOU SLEEP? WHAT GOES ON with this blog, anyway? Please DON'T LET ME DOWN. I'M SO TIRED of waiting for comments to be posted--HELP us by posting them quickly. Please end the MISERY and MIND GAMES. Whatever the problem is, WE CAN WORK IT OUT. I hope the situation will be GETTING BETTER soon. I'VE GOT A FEELING that IT WON'T BE LONG. At least I IMAGINE so. YESTERDAY is over. And TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS. GOOD NIGHT. THE END.

Not Even Close

During Friday's story about the H1N1 virus (which Brian Williams is still calling Swine Flu), we saw an excerpt of a briefing by Dr. Anne Schuchat, Asst. Surgeon General and Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control. Unfortunately, a Nightly News on-screen ID line spelled her name as "Dr. Ann Schuchet". Incredibly, Nightly News managed to misspell both of her names despite the fact that during the briefing she was wearing a name tag! Well, at least they managed to spell "Dr." correctly. If anyone at Nightly News had bothered to google "Dr. Ann Schuchet", they would have been asked "Did you mean Dr. Anne Schuchat?" Then they would have found 69,500 entries under her correct name--including a transcript of a May 12 CDC Telebriefing on Investigation of Human Cases of H1N1 Flu in which a CDC moderator actually spells out Dr. Schuchat's name for members of the press. Is anyone at Nightly News even trying?

Why Brian Is Presidential

On Sept. 4, Brian Williams reported that the Associated Press printed a photo of an injured marine who later died of his wounds. Brian then earnestly pledged that, "NBC News, by the way, is not airing the image in question." What a joke. Nightly News would show any photo or video if Brian and his producers thought it would result in a ratings bump. If Nightly News isn't showing the picture, it's only because the NBC News research department has already informed Brian and his producers that there would be no perceptible ratings gain as a result of displaying the photo. And by the way--a pledge from Brian isn't worth the audio tape it's recorded on. This past Jan. 5, Brian pledged that Nightly News would not air any stories about Sasha and Malia Obama unless there is a compelling reason to do so. Fast forward to Aug. 17 when Nightly News aired a story on...how Sasha and Malia are enjoying their totally awesome summer vacation. That's a compelling reason to report on Sasha and Malia? I don't think so. I guess Brian and I just disagree on the definition of "compelling".

Meanwhile, Brian fancies himself a scholar of presidential history. So he should be gratified to know that he has so much in common with many of his study subjects. Many presidents also made pledges that weren't true: "I am not a crook."(Nixon) "There is no Soviet domination in Eastern Europe."(Ford) "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."(Clinton) "Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction."(George W. Bush) "Read my lips--no new taxes."(George H.W. Bush) "We did not--repeat, did not--trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we."(Reagan) "I have previously stated and I repeat now that the United States intends no military intervention in Cuba."(Kennedy)

Bravo, Brian. You're in good company.

Supreme Court Buff(oon)

On Wednesday, Nightly News correspondent Pete Williams reported that the Supreme Court convened for an early session this week to hear arguments in a campaign finance case. We heard an audio portion of Justice Scalia's comments in which he said, "I don't know any small business in this country that isn't incorporated." But the printed transcript that Nightly News put up on the screen used the phrase "in the country" instead of "in this country". Apparently, the Nightly News producers think it's perfectly acceptable to change the words of a Supreme Court Justice. They're probably thinking, "It's only one word. No big deal." Well, it's a huge deal. The words of Supreme Court Justices govern the lives of every American. What they say matters. One word can make a big difference. Entire books have been written about the meaning of a single comma in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So I think that properly transcribing the words of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice is pretty important.

Brian Williams began his July 13 Daily Nightly blog by crowing, "I'm a Supreme Court buff...." If the managing editor of a network newscast is a Supreme Court buff, you'd think that he would be alarmed if his producers improperly transcribe the words of a Justice. Maybe Brian needs to be downgraded from buff to quasi-buff. He just doesn't seem very concerned with this situation. Or the situation. Whatever.

The Paper Of Records

Now that Derek Jeter has passed Lou Gehrig to become the Yankees all-time hits leader, the only question is: How will the New York Times profit from Jeter's feat? Perhaps they will issue a special commemorative reprint of that day's sports section for only $14.95. Or maybe they'll produce a special commemorative Jeter/Gehrig medallion for only $39.95. Of course, they could go all out and sell autographed "Derek Jeter 2722" baseballs for only $995. Or, they could be really ambitious and sell vials of Jeter's sweat or strands of his hair or maybe his toenail clippings (PSA/DNA authenticated, of course) for some astronomical to-be-determined amount. The Times should change their motto from "All the News That's Fit to Print" to "All the News That's Fit to Profit From".

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bing, Bang, Boom

It's despicable, but hardly surprising, that Nightly News offers glowingly positive "news stories" about products that are regularly advertised on NBC. In fact, these great big "thank yous" to advertisers occur fairly frequently. Recently, viewers have seen stories on Chrysler, United Airlines, Cheerios, Starbucks, McDonald's and many other products that regularly advertise on NBC. Other stories praise entire industries (automotive, airline, pharmaceutical) that are heavy advertisers. But last Sunday may have been the most egregious example yet of NBC's ethical shortcomings. That day, we were treated to a "news report" about a product made by one of NBC's partners. At first, the report seemed like an innocuous story about on-line search engines. Correspondent Contessa Brewer told us that there are some niche search engines (like ChaCha) trying to chip away at Google, the industry leader with around $20 billion in annual revenue. But halfway through the story, Brewer announces, "Now bring on Bing!" We then see part of a Bing commercial--full screen--as Brewer tells us that, "Bing has already grabbed 8% of all searches and it's growing." This is followed by an interview with Bing's general manager who enthusiastically says that everyone at Bing is focused on creating a great experience and differentiating themselves from Google. Brewer then tells us exactly why Bing is better than Google. "Side by side there's a marked difference," she says. "Type 'New York to Paris' and Bing morphs into an airline booking website. Lists of prices and flights you can buy with a click. Google just displays a list of websites." Brewer ends her report with, "Will there be a clear winner? Probably not in the foreseeable future. That's a good thing because the epic fight between the giants promises to speed up innovation by the little guys." As she says this, the Bing and Google logos appear on screen, as if Bing is Google's main competition. Wow. Brewer sure seems sold on Bing. I wonder why. Actually, the answer is obvious. In her report, Brewer tells us that Bing is a Microsoft product. And Microsoft is NBC's partner in MSNBC and the MSNBC.com website (and perhaps in other ventures as well). So Brewer is blatantly promoting a product in which NBC has a financial interest. After all, the more profit Microsoft earns from Bing, the more money they can invest in MSNBC. This is not only shameless, it is unethical. And even worse--neither Brewer nor Lester Holt bothered to offer the viewers a disclosure about the relationship between Microsoft and NBC.

This type of self-motivated product promotion occurs frequently on Nightly News, but in truth there is no way for viewers to know just how frequently. It's relatively easy to spot a "news story" promoting a product that is regularly advertised on NBC. But how are viewers supposed to know when Nightly News promotes products that are not readily identifiable as belonging to NBC's advertisers or partners? Robert Bazell often reports on medical innovations, such as new drugs or medical equipment. How are we supposed to know if General Electric (NBC's parent company) has a financial or ownership stake in any of these products? We don't, and Bazell or Brian Williams are certainly not about to inform us. The Nightly News producers and reporters (and especially Brian Williams) are acting unethically. It is their responsibility to avoid fawning reports about the products of NBC's advertisers and partners. But if they do present such a report, they should be required to make a forthright disclosure to the viewers about NBC's relationship to the story's subject. Their failure to do so indicates a clear intent to deceive the Nightly News audience. And for that, they owe us an apology.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Minority Rules

Anne Thompson began Thursday's Nightly News story about women in the workforce by saying that, "Today, women make up just under 50% of the workforce...." She ended the story by saying, "If manufacturing and construction come back, women may not stay in the majority." But she just said they're not in the majority. Under 50% is not a majority. Is Thompson paying any attention to what she's saying?


From Brian Williams' Sept. 4 Daily Nightly blog:

"I just talked to a friend at the Jersey Shore (is it okay to admit I wish I was there, right now?) who asked, 'Is there any news today at all?' I assured him there was--and that we would cover it tonight."

Brian can't be serious. If there was actual news on Friday, why did he waste more than half his broadcast on irrelevant material? Ann Curry's story on childbirth in Pakistan wasn't news. In fact, it seemed more like a "Dateline" story. Oh wait a second--that's exactly what it was. And gee, what a surprise--Curry's piece was immediately followed by a promo for Sunday's "Dateline", where a longer version of her story will air. As usual, Nightly News is promoting other NBC shows instead of reporting the news.

And then there was the "Making A Difference" story about golf tournaments that raise scholarship money for people who lost a family member in the military. This wasn't news. It was just another red-white-and-blue tinged story meant to shamelessly pander to the viewers' sense of patriotism. I'm surprised that Roger O'Neil wasn't waving a flag and singing "God Bless America" during his report (close enough--American flags were shown in eight different shots). Give me a break. A responsible newscast doesn't refer to military casualties as "fallen heroes". But then again, any relationship between Nightly News and a responsible newscast is strictly coincidental.

And of course there was the "news story" about planes that carry advertising banners at the Jersey Shore. This is news? This story was a joke. But at least NBC managed to pay some bills by clearly showing a banner ad for State Farm Insurance. How much did State Farm pay for the exposure?

These three "news stories" took up more than half of Friday's broadcast. Brian and his producers should be ashamed of themselves. There was not a single story from Europe, Africa, South America or Eastern Asia. But at least now I know all about banner ads at the Jersey Shore. Great job, guys. Meanwhile, Brian should be careful. If he told his friend that NBC would be covering news on Friday, his nose might grow like Pinocchio. And then he'd have to get another nose job.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fireman Brian

How ridiculous it was to see Brian Williams anchoring Tuesday's Nightly News from outside Los Angeles. As if there's anything he could tell us from the site that he couldn't tell us from the New York studio. But the reason is obvious. Brian is a firefighter groupie. When it comes to firefighters, Brian's like a 12-year-old girl at a Jonas Brothers concert. If there are lots of firefighters assembled in one place, that's where Brian wants to be. Dressed in his yellow shirt and using nifty firefighter lingo, I expected to see Brian wearing one of those little red firefighter's hats that are sold in toy stores. Maybe next month, Brian will want to be a cowboy or an astronaut.

Brian's Choice

From Brian Williams' Aug. 31 Daily Nightly blog: "In one of those confluences of work and personal life, I am just back from a trip to drop our son off at college, officially making us 'empty nesters' in our house. While I was able to make it to Hyannis Port last Wednesday to cover the death of Senator Kennedy, it meant being away from work Thursday and Friday. I was able to fly to Washington Saturday morning to anchor our coverage of the funeral, before flying back to my son's school to complete the handover and say final goodbyes. My theory is this: I highly doubt that I will have deathbed regrets over not having worked a given Thursday and Friday, a major news story notwithstanding. However, I do think I would regret living with the knowledge that I hadn't been there when we took our youngest off to college...to get the college degree his father never got. This episode, while painful and confusing at times, is also evidence that I work for good people who have families of their own. My bosses understood the tug of circumstances and the demands on my time and attention, and they were beyond great about it.We're in the period now where its back to work, back to school, issues start taking on a new weight and importance -- and so we begin a new week in a new month. We hope you can join us tonight."

My goodness, Brian--"painful and confusing"? A little too much drama here. This isn't exactly "Sophie's Choice". Fine, great--take your kid to college--do what you need to do. But why do you feel like you have to involve us in the minute details of your decision-making process? TMI (Too Much Information). Obviously you are feeling guilty for missing work. It happens to everyone. Deal with it--on your own, please. And here's a news flash: It doesn't matter one bit who is anchoring. If it's not you, it's Lester Holt or David Gregory or Carl Quintanilla or someone else. So if you miss work, there's always a warm body to read the news off the teleprompter. You're not irreplaceable. Get over yourself.