Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It's Complicated

On Monday, Nightly News devoted almost five minutes to excerpts from commencement speeches given at various colleges. This was the biggest waste of network news time that I can imagine. How can the producers possibly justify putting this on the air when there was actual news to cover? This broadcast did not contain a single news report from Europe, Africa, South America or Eastern Asia. In fact, it contained only 20 seconds of news from outside the U.S. Yet the producers felt that it was important to devote 4:45 to commencement speeches? Unbelievable. This was just another excuse to pander to the viewers by showing celebrities. Look! It's Bill Cosby! And Alec Baldwin! And Meryl Streep! Cool! Actually, it's not surprising that the producers chose to include Baldwin and Streep. They both starred in the movie "It's Complicated", which was recently released on DVD--by Universal Studios. Universal is owned by the same parent company that owns NBC. So this is just a way of cross-promoting DVD sales. And let's not forget that Alec Baldwin also stars on the NBC show "30 Rock", so including Baldwin in this segment was also a way to promote that show (and its DVD sales) to Nightly News viewers. And it goes without saying that NBC Universal is still making money on "Cosby Show" reruns and DVDs, so that explains why Bill Cosby was included. Great job, Nightly News producers!

And how did the producers come to the conclusion that Brian Williams deserved to be included in this segment? Of the hundreds of hours of speeches they reviewed, was his really among the most inspiring? Maybe Brian instructed the producers to include him. Or perhaps he did some behind-the-scenes maneuvering to get his speech included. I understand--you can't say no to the boss. Especially when he has an ego like Brian's.

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