From Brian Williams's July 26 Daily Nightly blog: "It was a big Sunday night on television. While I'm still sorting out my feelings on 'Mad Men' (and compiling a list of continuity errors), I can sum up my reaction to 'Entourage' in one sentence: Turtle, did you really think you were invited to Mexico for your vast business knowledge, rapier wit, crackling intelligence and skills as a raconteur? And just today, driving to the City from the Jersey Shore, I saw a billboard for the same brand of vodka. It was all a product placement stunt. We were all victims. Same as Turtle."
IS HE FREAKIN' KIDDING US? Is this some sort of sick joke? Brian Williams railing against product placement? Nightly News is one big product placement repository! Virtually every night, Brian (or someone else on Nightly News) goes to great lengths to plug a product that regularly advertises on the broadcast. Three days ago, on this very blog, I pointed out a number of specific times this has happened. Chrysler, Requip, Aleve, Chevy, Lifewater, Smith & Nephew knee replacements, McDonald's, Starbucks, Heinz ketchup, Kraft Foods, the University of Phoenix, United Airlines, Boniva--these are all Nightly News advertisers that someone on the broadcast (usually Brian) has gone out of their way to plug in a "news story". And that list doesn't include all the past and present NBC Universal shows or properties that are regularly plugged. That list includes The Tonight Show, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live, Seinfeld, Law & Order, 30 Rock, The Today Show, Dateline, Chuck, Celebrity Apprentice and The Biggest Loser. Every time a former NBC star dies, Nightly News uses their obituary to promote old NBC shows, whose DVDs are still for sale at the NBC Universal online store. Recent examples include Merlin Olsen (Little House on the Prairie, Father Murphy), Pernell Roberts (Bonanza), Fess Parker (Daniel Boone), Robert Culp (I Spy), Gary Coleman (Diff'rent Strokes) and Rue McClanahan (Golden Girls). Bill Cosby has been gratuitously featured in two recent Nightly News stories (Cosby Show DVDs are, of course, for sale at the NBC Universal store). Recently, Nightly News has done "news stories" about Universal Studios and the 30th anniversary of The Blues Brothers (a Universal property). Because NBC is partnered with Microsoft in MSNBC, Nightly News makes a point of plugging Microsoft products like Bing or Connect (and regularly disparaging Apple products like the iPhone 4). Whenever NBC is planning to air a sporting event, Nightly News does one or more "news stories" about that event (the Super Bowl, Sunday Night Football, golf, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness). Last February, Nightly News turned itself into a promotional arm for NBC's Olympic coverage. Nightly News correspondents are often required to mention one or more sponsors in a story just so that the producers have an excuse to put the sponsors' logos up on the screen (Walmart is a frequent beneficiary of this practice). In the past two years, advertisers' products have sponsored a Nightly News segment (or even the entire broadcast) a whopping 126 times. On the very night Brian wrote his blog complaining about product placement, Nightly News was partly sponsored by Total cereal. A giant Total logo filled our TV screens right before the first commercial break! Brian Williams complaining about product placements would be like Mark McGwire complaining about steroid use in baseball. And by the way, product placements in entertainment shows may be undesirable, but they are not nearly as unethical as product placements in news broadcasts. People don't hold Turtle to any high ethical standards. But news anchors and correspondents are supposed to be conveying information, not peddling wares. It is impossible to trust Brian Williams when we suspect he has ulterior motives for mentioning Boniva or Heinz ketchup.
And what was it that Brian said about finding continuity errors in Mad Men? Here's a suggestion: Brian should spend his time trying to correct all the spelling, grammar, math and factual errors on Nightly News instead of looking for errors in other shows.
Finally, there was this pearl of wisdom from Brian: "I can sum up my reaction to 'Entourage' in one sentence: Turtle, did you really think you were invited to Mexico for your vast business knowledge, rapier wit, crackling intelligence and skills as a raconteur?" Well, I can sum up my reaction to Nightly News in one sentence: Brian, did you really think you were invited to anchor Nightly News for your vast business knowledge, rapier wit, crackling intelligence and skills as a raconteur? Of course not. It was because of your hair.