Saturday, August 21, 2010

Brian Williams Admits Theft

From Brian Williams's Aug. 19 Daily Nightly blog: "A number of you wrote us to thank us for last night's story about the die-hard Yankees fan. Even some of my hardened, world-weary media buddies said it made them cry. A tip of the hat is in order: to Bruce Beck of WNBC-TV, Channel 4 here in New York -- who aired it at 11 the night before -- and, because I watch everything, I saw it and commissioned it for us the next day."

I am totally astonished. Nightly News steals stories from other sources all the time, but this is the first time I have ever heard Brian Williams offer any credit to the source. Of course, he was not so generous in offering credit to WNBC at the time he broadcast the story. I guess it's one thing to admit who you're stealing from in a blog post that's read by a few hundred people, but mentioning it to the 7 million or so Nightly News viewers is a horse of a different color. By the way, as long as Brian is in a charitable mood, he should also thank The New York Times for the dozens of stories they provide Nightly News with every month. Here's the morning routine for most Nightly News producers: Enter office. Make coffee. Scan New York Times (and Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, L.A. Times, etc.) for good stories. Select several stories for that night's broadcast. Assign an NBC News crew to cover the stories first reported in the Times. Air stories on that night's Nightly News. Take credit for stories. That's the simple formula that has kept Nightly News #1 in the ratings.

By the way, here's a question for Brian: If he "watch(es) everything" (as he boasted in his blog), why didn't he get the idea for this story from watching Tuesday's Yankee game, instead of stealing the story from WNBC? During Tuesday's game, the Yankee broadcasters did their own in-depth story about how some of the Yankees surprised long-time fan Jane Lang. So if Brian was truly "watch(ing) everything", he could have stolen the story from its primary source--the Yankees' YES Network--instead of stealing it from WNBC. I guess he doesn't really "watch everything".

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