This week, Nightly News devoted 19 minutes of news time to celebrities who are "Making A Difference". That's the equivalent of almost an entire broadcast (Nightly News runs 22 minutes when the commercials are factored out). On Thursday, the geneticist Craig Venter announced that his institute had developed synthetic DNA. Virtually every news outlet carried this story. Some hailed this accomplishment as being on par with splitting the atom or the development of the microchip. But Nightly News didn't even report Venter's discovery. Instead, we were treated to a three-and-a-half minute story on Usher. Nice going, guys. Keep up the great work.
During Monday's profile of Sally Field, Brian Williams talked about her early TV work--"Gidget", "The Flying Nun", "Sybil". But he never once mentioned her current series, "Brothers & Sisters". On Tuesday, Norah O'Donnell spent more than three minutes profiling Eva Longoria Parker without ever mentioning "Desperate Housewives". These are not just omissions--the actresses' TV series were intentionally left out of the stories. Brian and his producers have no problem using Field's and Longoria Parker's star power to boost Nightly News's ratings during a sweeps period, but they refuse to mention either star's current TV series because they both air on ABC. This would be comical if it wasn't so appallingly petty.