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?