Here are some of the Nightly News "highlights" from the first half of 2009:
>Jan. 1--Nightly News starts the year off strong by devoting 2:25 to a story about Tyson and Tillman, the skateboarding bulldogs.
>Jan. 2--Nightly News does a story about an organization that saves shelter dogs from being euthanized by flying them to cities where they can be adopted. The story is sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world's largest utilizers of animal testing.
>Jan. 11--In a story about celebrities who were swindled by Bernie Madoff, Nightly News manages to misspell the names of Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg (as "Stephen" and "Jeffry").
>Jan. 14--Brian Williams forces his producers to air a story about Military Challenge Coins, and then ends the broadcast by displaying his personal collection of Challenge Coins.
>Jan. 18--Brian interviews Bono.
>Jan. 23--In a moment worthy of Claude Rains's Capt. Renault from Casablanca ("I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"), Brian reports that Yo Yo Ma's quartet had been "finger-synching" to pre-recorded music at the Presidential Inauguration three days earlier. Meanwhile, that day's New York Times reported that NBC News producers were aware before the inauguration began that Ma's quartet would be "finger-synching". Brian only reported the story after the Times outed Ma and the NBC News producers.
>Jan. 26--Nightly News misspells Arnold Schwarzenegger's name as "Schwarznegger".
>Jan. 26--Brian titles his Daily Nightly blog "Old Man River At Obama's Inauguration" (a reference to Capt. Chesley Sullenberger attending the inauguration). The song "Old Man River" (as originally written by Oscar Hammerstein II for the 1927 musical Showboat) was extremely racist and contained multiple uses of the vile "N" word to describe African-Americans. A very poor choice of a blog title to describe the inauguration of our country's first African-American president.
>Jan. 28--As Brian announces the death of columnist James Brady, the photo behind him shows former Reagan press secretary James Brady--who is still alive.
>Jan. 31--A Nightly News story purportedly about 3-D ad technology shows multiple clips of a commercial for a beverage called Lifewater--which would be advertising on the following day's Super Bowl (to be broadcast on NBC).
>Feb. 6--Nightly News devotes 2:12 to a story about Spam luncheon meat.
>Feb. 9--A Nightly News on-screen graphic misspells hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger's name as "Chelsey". On the same day, Brian misspells Alison Krauss's name (as "Allison Kraus") on his blog.
>Feb. 22--In a story about the Swine Flu vaccine, calendar pages are flipped to show the passage of time. Seven out of the twelve pages have errors (April is shown having 29 days, Sept. is shown having 31 days).
>Feb. 23--Nightly News devotes 2:45 to a story about how thoroughly United Airlines cleans their planes. United is a frequent NBC advertiser.
>March 4--Brian Williams and David Faber spend two minutes desperately trying to prop up NBC parent company General Electric's stock price by talking about what a solid company it is.
>March 17--U.S. Rep Carolyn McCarthy is mis-identified as Carolyn Maloney.
>March 18--U.S. Rep Barney Frank is mis-identified as Paul Kanjorski.
>March 28--During a story about airline bird strikes, Nightly News misspells the word voluntary (as "volunatry") in an on-screen statement from an FAA spokesperson.
>April 4--Nightly News devotes two-and-a-half minutes to a story about pink dolphins.
>April 8--Jay Leno is profiled as part of a "Making A Difference" segment.
>April 14--Nightly News airs its first Susan Boyle story. Over the next six weeks, they would air a total of seven stories on Boyle. By year's end, Nightly News will have devoted almost 17 minutes of air time to Boyle.
>April 22--Hillary Clinton calls Pakistan a "mortal threat" to the security of the world. Brian Williams reports that she said "moral threat".
>April 24--Dawna Friesen spends two-and-a-half minutes reporting on a London movement imploring people to "slow down" and enjoy life.
>April 27--Maria Menounos reports on Deborah Wilson, a woman who rescues and cares for animals that are unwanted, abused or in danger. The story is sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, who test many of their products on animals.
>May 5--Ann Curry introduces a story about the "delicious brew" (her words) sold by McDonald's and Starbucks. The story amounts to a 2:15 commercial for McDonald's and Starbucks coffees.
>May 12--During a story about the veracity of Cheerios' health claims, Robert Bazell spends two minutes offering unqualified praise for Cheerios, a regular Nightly News advertiser.
>May 13--A story about dogs that are trained to assist disabled veterans is sponsored by the animal testers at GlaxoSmithKline.
>May 19--Nightly News devotes 2:45 to a story about Chicago schoolchildren who are learning ballroom dancing.
>May 27--Chris Jansing devotes 2:20 to a report about high school students who like to hug each other.
>June 2--In a story about the auto industry, former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca is identified on screen as "James Bell".
>June 17--During a broadcast that is entirely sponsored by Trilipix (with limited commercial interruptions), Brian Williams says, "That means more time for the news..." He then devotes two and a half minutes to a story about healthy food available at ballparks. Also on this broadcast, Brian introduces Richard Engel as NBC's "Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent" (Andrea Mitchell's job) rather than "Chief Foreign Correspondent" (Engel's actual job).
>June 22--A story about abused dogs who are rescued and taught to surf is sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline.
>June 24--Stephanie Gosk spends three minutes reporting on how painful it is to dance while wearing high heeled shoes.