Saturday, December 5, 2009

Brian vs. Katie vs. Frankenstein

Although Brian Williams did not anchor Nightly News on Thanksgiving night, he gave an interview to an NBC producer in which he shared his thoughts about the publicity-desperate Salahis who scammed their way into the White House state dinner (which Brian attended). During his interview Brian said, "As far as I'm concerned, security couldn't have been tighter." But Brian's statement was directly contradicted by Katie Couric on the following night's CBS Evening News. Couric (who also attended the state dinner) said, "Well I was struck because when I go to the White House to do an interview, the security is much more elaborate to get a temporary press pass--and here [at the state dinner] it just seemed much more relaxed." So who should we believe--Brian or Katie? I'll leave it to the viewers to make up their own minds. Although it should be noted that ever since Brian hosted his fawning and obsequious "Inside the Obama White House" special earlier this year, he has been widely regarded as an apologist for the current administration and someone who is simply incapable of criticizing the President or even the White House staff. Furthermore, Brian's gung-ho rah-rah enthusiasm for the Secret Service is well known and thus raises questions about his ability to be objective on the matter. I don't think Brian would admit lax security at the White House even if he was waterboarded by a couple of Secret Service agents.

In his Thanksgiving night interview Brian also said, "If this turns out to be somebody's fifteen minutes--the equivalent of state dinner balloon boy and girl--I think that'll be tragic and almost pathetic...." Is he kidding us? The Salahis aren't getting their fifteen minutes of fame because they crashed the White House dinner. They're getting their fifteen minutes of fame because Brian Williams and his cohorts at MSNBC and the other networks won't stop talking about how the Salahis crashed the White House dinner. Brian Williams complaining about the Salahis' fifteen minutes of fame is like Dr. Frankenstein complaining that the monster he created is running amok and wreaking havoc in the village. In the past week, Nightly News has broadcast a virtual non-stop loop of Salahi videos and photos. The videos have also appeared ad nauseam on every MSNBC talk show. On Tuesday, the Salahis were given a prime spot on The Today Show despite the fact that they had absolutely nothing to say. And Brian Williams has the nerve to complain about them getting their fifteen minutes of fame? That is the height of hypocrisy. Brian Williams is part of the problem, not part of the solution. He gave them their fifteen minutes (and a few extra minutes for good measure). His network and his broadcast (of which he is the managing editor) aggressively promotes and fosters people like the Salahis and the Heenes. And let's not forget that NBC and Bravo (owned by NBC Universal) helped create and nurture the grotesque culture of reality shows that currently pervade American television. If not for the networks that gave rise to the reality show feeding frenzy, people like the Salahis and the Heenes would probably be channeling their energy towards auditioning for community theater or putting on puppet shows for the neighborhood kids. Clearly, NBC has an interest in promoting the Salahis, since they may appear on an NBC Universal show. But even if the Salahis aren't selected for Bravo's "The Real Housewives of D.C.", they've already been given more airtime (or at least more valuable airtime) on NBC than they would have received on Bravo, a third-tier cable channel. And we can, at least in part, thank Brian Williams for that.

Postscript: It seems that Michaele Salahi posed for a picture with every celebrity at the state dinner--except for Brian Williams (Mrs. Salahi's picture with Katie Couric has been widely circulated). So while the Salahis' judgment about how to become famous may be horribly skewed, their judgment about which evening news anchor makes a more valuable photo op appears to be quite sound.

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