Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Brian Williams and the Nightly News producers must have been faced with quite a dilemma on Saturday when the Senate released a report stating that Avandia, a diabetes drug manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, has been linked to heart attacks and heart disease. Furthermore, according to the report, Glaxo failed to warn patients about the dangers of Avandia and attempted to cover up the link between Avandia and heart disease. The story was too big to ignore, but Brian and his producers certainly wanted to protect Glaxo, a major Nightly News and NBC sponsor. So Brian did not introduce the Avandia story until after three-and-a-half minutes of Olympics coverage. And when he finally got around to the story, it was clearly underreported. The Nightly News Avandia story clocked in at under two minutes, much less time than the other networks devoted to it. During her report, Nancy Snyderman, NBC's chief medical editor, only mentioned GlaxoSmithKline twice, and the second time it was by the initials "GSK". The Glaxo logo never once appeared on screen. There is no doubt that Brian and his producers went out of their way to report the Avandia story in a manner that was minimally harmful to GlaxoSmithKline. Once more, Nightly News allowed their economic interests to affect their news coverage. But then again, what are friends for?

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