Here are some of the Nightly News "highlights" from the second half of 2009:
>July 17--In a story about on-line universities, Tom Costello makes prominent mention of the University of Phoenix (as their logo is displayed on-screen). Four days earlier, the University of Phoenix was the sole sponsor of Nightly News. That's called quid pro quo.
>July 23--At the insistence of Brian Williams, Nightly News profiles the "Horizons" charity because "it's a favorite cause in our household."
>July 25--Nightly News devotes two-and-a-half minutes to the YouTube dancing wedding video.
>July 30--Brian reports a story about a seven-year-old boy who took the family car for a drive before informing us that the family will be on the following day's Today show. The same broadcast includes a story about a mother and son who are rescued by two off-duty firemen. After the story, Brian informs us that this family will also be appearing on the Today show.
>Aug. 4--Nightly News presents a story about people who donate kidneys to strangers. Afterward, Brian informs us that one such donor and recipient will be appearing on the next day's Today show.
>Aug. 16--Nightly News presents a story about llamas being used as golf caddies.
>Aug. 17--Ann Curry introduces a story about Sasha and Malia Obama's totally excellent summer vacation. In January, Brian Williams had pledged not to do any stories on Sasha and Malia unless "there is a compelling reason to do so." Also on this broadcast, we saw a three-and-a-half minute story about a Serbian girl who met the members of U2. The meeting was arranged by NBC correspondent Martin Fletcher.
>Aug. 24--In a Nightly News story about CIA torture, the word "humiliation" is spelled as "humilation". That same night, Nightly News starts a special series about education.
>Sept. 6--A story purportedly about internet search engines quickly becomes a story about the advantages of Bing. Bing is made by Microsoft--NBC's partner in MSNBC.
>Sept. 11--A story about the H1N1 virus (which Nightly News is still calling Swine Flu) manages to misspell both names of Anne Schuchat, the Director of the CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (her name was spelled on-screen as "Ann Schuchet" despite the fact that she was wearing a visible name tag).
>Sept. 13--In a story about Serena Williams's U.S. Open meltdown, Lee Cowan tells us she foot faulted on match point to lose the match. She actually foot faulted at 15-30 and was then assessed a penalty point that cost her the match.
>Sept. 15--In a Nightly News story about race in politics, Rep. Steny Hoyer, who is white, is identified as the House Majority Leader. Moments later, Rep. James Clyburn, who is African American, is not identified as House Majority Whip (the third most powerful post in the House) but only as a Democrat from South Carolina.
>Sept. 16--Nightly News does a story about a three-year-old girl that throws back a foul ball at a Phillies game.
>Sept. 17--Brian Williams spends 55 seconds talking about the fact that Nightly News White House Correspondent Chuck Todd sneezed while interviewing President Obama.
>Sept. 20--Correspondent Mike Viqueira tells us that the President will be appearing on "late night television" but refuses to mention David Letterman's name because he doesn't want to hurt Conan's ratings. Also on this broadcast, Matt Lauer spends 2:42 on a story about the new Dallas football stadium. The story airs just before NBC's Sunday Night Football.
>Sept. 21--Brian Williams brags about the high rating for NBC's Sunday night football game.
>Sept. 23--Brian Williams, a supposedly professional news anchor, spends 45 seconds delivering a fawning 60th birthday message to Bruce Springsteen. The message concludes with, "Let's also not forget he's the head of a huge organization--what he calls the heart-stopping pants-dropping house-rocking earth-shaking booty-quaking Viagra-taking love-making E Street Band."
>Sept. 25--In a story about Iran's nuclear production, an Iranian city is spelled variously as both "Qom" and "Qum".
>Sept. 27--A story about airline surcharges shows a Nov. calendar page with 31 days.
>Oct. 2--Nightly News devotes an entire story to profiling a woman who works the overnight shift as a cook at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
>Oct. 7--Helen Keller's name is spelled as "Hellen".
>Oct. 9--In a story about the H1N1 virus, a Sept. calendar page is shown as having 31 days. In a story about the rocket fired into the moon in search of water, a NASA employee is identified as a "principle investigator" instead of a "principal investigator".
>Oct. 23--Brian tells us that, "...an important election is coming up this coming Tuesday..." Actually, the election is the following Tuesday.
>Oct. 27--Brian begins reporting from Afghanistan--just in time for sweeps month. He always appears on-screen in his little helmet and flak jacket ensemble.
>Oct. 30--Brian reports from an Afghan orphanage and then shamelessly begs viewers to donate money. On his Daily Nightly blog, military buff Brian misspells the names of Gen. David Petraeus (as "Patreus") and Gen. Stanley McChrystal (as "McCrystal").
>Nov. 2--Brian informs us that Shakespeare has "been gone for over 400 years" when in fact the Bard has only been gone for 393 years.
>Nov. 3--During a story about high BPA levels in bottles and cans, Nightly News does not identify any specific brands in order to protect their sponsors. Brian does another story about the Afghan orphanage.
>Nov. 5--In a story about the health care bill, a Nightly News graphic tells us that the bill would contain a "public opinion" (it should have read "public option").
>Nov. 9--Nightly News does a week of celebrity stories about Jon Bon Jovi, Alicia Keys, Glenn Close, Halle Berry and Tim Mcgraw & Faith Hill.
>Nov. 15--Lester Holt finds it necessary to inform viewers that at a concert, Bruce Springsteen confused Ohio and Michigan.
>Nov. 16--Brian does a third story about the Afghan orphanage.
>Nov. 20--A story about hospitalized kids who watch a zoo on closed circuit TV is sponsored by the animal torturers at GSK.
>Nov. 21--Nightly News is pre-empted by football.
>Nov. 23--A story about a crib recall shows prominent logos of Target, Wal-Mart, Sears and Kmart.
>Nov. 27--Katie Couric (talking about the White House party crashers) says that the White House security had been lax. The previous night, Brian said the security "couldn't have been tighter".
>Dec. 3--Under the premise of reporting on the potential takeover of NBC by Comcast, David Faber does a three-minute story about how great NBC is.
>Dec. 6--Nightly News reports about an orangutan in an Austrian zoo that takes photos.
>Dec. 7--Brian reports for the second straight night that Bruce Springsteen was honored at the Kennedy Center.
>Dec. 10--A story about Christmas songs spends one third of its time on Barry Manilow--the same night he will appear on The Jay Leno Show.
>Dec. 11--Nightly News does a story about the Robin Hood charity because Brian is on their board.
>Dec. 15--A story about defective window shades includes prominent logo placement for Wal-Mart, JC Penney, Pottery Barn, Ikea and Target. Brian spends 30 seconds talking about the Golden Globe nominations before announcing that they will air live on NBC.
>Dec. 16--Nightly News airs a story about a blind and deaf dachshund.
>Dec. 19--In two separate Nightly News promos for Meet The Press, David Axelrod is identified first as a presidential "adviser" and then as a presidential "advisor".
>Dec. 24--NBC News charters a jet to fly David Goldman and his son Sean home from Brazil. This will bring strong criticism from the Society of Professional Journalists.
>Dec. 26--A story about post-Christmas shopping tells viewers about great deals at Wal-Mart, Kmart and Kohl's.
>Dec. 28--Brian Williams does a 3:45 story about the 50th anniversary of the Second City comedy troupe. Most of the story focuses on Tina Fey and 30 Rock.
>Dec. 31--Brian Williams does a 3:35 story about a 15 year-old jazz singer.