I regularly submit comments to Brian Williams at his Daily Nightly blog (at MSNBC.com) pointing out factual errors, spelling mistakes and inappropriate behavior by the Nightly News producers, anchors and correspondents. But unfortunately, the moderators of that blog usually refuse to print my comments. Here are some recent comments I have submitted that were not published:
>Earlier this week, I attempted to point out three recent spelling errors on Nightly News broadcasts: On Jan. 11, during a story about Mark McGwire, "steroids" was spelled as "steriods"; On Jan. 10, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough's first name was spelled as "Dennis"; and on Jan. 6, the Yemeni city of Sana'a was spelled as "Saana". It is perfectly legitimate to point out these errors, but the NBC blog moderators seem to disagree.
>On Jan. 8, Brian Williams appeared on The Jay Leno Show. When Jay asked Brian about Nightly News's coverage of the Tiger Woods story, Brian said, "We have done the Tiger Woods story I think twice and the second time was just the business impact...." I wrote to the Daily Nightly blog to say with certainty that Nightly News has done at least five Tiger Woods stories (possibly more) starting with the initial report of his accident on Nov. 27. Brian Williams intentionally understated the number of Tiger Woods stories Nightly News reported in order to make his broadcast (and himself) appear less sensationalistic. Why wasn't I allowed to make this observation?
>On Jan. 4, I attempted to point out that in 2009, NBC did not air a Nightly News broadcast on 18 out of 104 weekend days. My comment was not printed.
>On Dec. 29 (and again on Jan. 8) I commented that Brian's Dec. 28 profile of the Second City comedy troupe amounted to a nearly-four minute promotional piece for NBC's "30 Rock". The moderators refused to print my comment.
>On Dec. 25, I submitted a humorous parody of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" dedicated to Brian. Needless to say, it wasn't published.
>On Dec. 21, I submitted a post explaining that the two "Meet The Press" promos that aired on the Dec. 19 Nightly News alternately described David Axelrod as a presidential "adviser" and then as a presidential "advisor". This comment was not printed.
>On Dec. 18, I attempted to post a comment (for the second time) about a Dec. 3 Nightly News story that was critical of French magazine editors who digitally alter models' photos to make them appear younger and more attractive. I accused the Nightly News producers of hypocrisy because they themselves often alter their own video images to make the subjects appear older. The Daily Nightly moderators refused to print my comment.
>Also on Dec. 18, I tried to post a comment explaining that in a Dec. 16 story about a blind and deaf dachshund, Kevin Tibbles used the word "probiscis" instead of "proboscis". The comment was not printed.
>I attempted several times to comment on a Dec. 10 story about musicians who record Christmas albums. A third of the story was devoted to Barry Manilow, who just happened to be appearing on Jay Leno's show later that night. The story seemed contrived to promote Manilow's Leno appearance. Not surprisingly, the moderators did not print this comment.
>I also tried several times to comment on the Salahis. On Thanksgiving night, Brian said that security for the White House state dinner "couldn't have been tighter". But the following night, Katie Couric said that security had been lax at the state dinner. I believe it was entirely appropriate and relevant to point out this discrepancy, but the Daily Nightly moderators obviously didn't agree.
I absolutely believe that viewers have the right to comment on errors, gaffes, contradictions and inappropriate behavior by Brian, his producers and the Nightly News correspondents. But unfortunately, the Daily Nightly moderators frequently refuse to publish such comments. Perhaps they think they are doing Brian and his producers a favor by protecting them from critical comments. They are not. Their refusal to print critical comments is similar to the faulty argument made by strict protectionists who believe that high tariffs on imported cars is helpful to the American automobile industry. These people argue that high tariffs level the playing field and give U.S. buyers an incentive to buy American cars. In truth, high tariffs on imports hurt the U.S. auto industry by removing incentives for them to build better cars. Why build better cars when high tariffs ensure that people will buy American? But when tariffs are erased from imports, the U.S. auto manufacturers discover that they have to build better cars in order to compete. And the same is true for comments on the Daily Nightly blog. If the Nightly News producers and the Daily Nightly blog moderators want viewers to stop criticizing Nightly News, they should turn out a better broadcast. Stop making spelling errors. Stop making factual errors. Stop using their broadcast to shamelessly promote NBC shows and sponsors. By allowing criticism, the blog moderators would give the Nightly News staff an incentive to produce a better broadcast. Furthermore, the producers should be big enough to take criticism. If a viewer doesn't like Nightly News, the producers shouldn't be scared to hear why. If they make a mistake, they should own up to it and allow the viewers to comment on it. To be blunt, Nightly News makes way more errors than it should. Refusing to allow viewers to comment on these mistakes will not prevent them from happening and it certainly will not help the producers to reduce the frequency with which they occur. Why are the moderators of the Daily Nightly blog so scared of viewer criticism? I think it's time for them to do away with Nightly News tariffs.