Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Brian Vs. Katie Part II

Last Sept. 21, Brian Williams, a supposedly professional anchor, took almost a minute out of his Nightly News broadcast for the sole purpose of bragging that NBC had won the previous night's ratings race with 21.7 million viewers for the Cowboys-Giants football game. Meanwhile, on Monday's CBS Evening News, Katie Couric took less than ten seconds to casually mention that Sunday's Super Bowl had attracted over 106 million viewers--the largest American audience ever for a TV show. I can only imagine what kind of display Brian would put on if NBC ever carried a Super Bowl that drew that many viewers. If Brian takes 50 seconds to brag about 21.7 million viewers, then by extrapolation we can assume that he would take more than four minutes to brag about 106.5 million viewers. Good thing the game was on CBS.

But although there was no Super Bowl for Brian to brag about, he still managed to do his share of chest-thumping and back-patting. Over the course of Monday's broadcast, Brian told us four times that the doctor being profiled on that night's "Making A Difference" segment had decided to go to Haiti because of reports he had seen on previous Nightly News broadcasts. And Ann Curry mentioned it yet again when she began her story. That's five times we were told that a doctor had been inspired by Nightly News. I think two or three times would have been sufficient. Brian constantly panders to his viewers by telling us how smart we are, but the way he often talks to us clearly indicates that he believes otherwise.

Brian likes to complain on his blog that he doesn't have enough time each day to cover all the news he'd like to cover. For example, on Monday's broadcast, he didn't have time to mention that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered Iran's Atomic Energy Organization to begin the process of producing higher-enriched uranium, which could bring Iran closer to the production of a nuclear weapon. But Brian did have time for a 1:25 story about the charges against Michael Jackson's doctor, a 2:15 story about Sarah Palin (that was essentially the same story Nightly News had reported on Sunday) and a 2:20 story about Super Bowl ads. And since Friday, Nightly News has devoted more than 17 minutes to the snowstorm that hit Washington D.C. and the Middle Atlantic states. It's just too bad that Brian didn't have enough time to cover that Iran nuclear story. Perhaps if Ahmadinejad had announced his nuclear program in a snow drift, at a Tea Party convention or in a Super Bowl ad (maybe sitting on a couch with Dave, Jay and Oprah), then Brian would have reported it.

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