Here's what happened on Nightly News this week:
Tuesday--Brian Williams narrated a 25-second obituary for Paul the Octopus, who had correctly predicted the winner of eight World Cup matches earlier this year. On the Aug. 11 broadcast, Ann Curry spent the same amount of time narrating an obituary for former Illinois Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, who was a U.S. Representative for 36 years and had been one of the most powerful members of the U.S. House. Apparently, based on the lengths of their obituaries, Brian and his producers believe that Paul the Octopus and Dan Rostenkowski were of equal importance.
>Brian spent a scant 35 seconds on the $750 million settlement that GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay as a result of knowingly selling contaminated and mislabeled drugs. There was no film on the story, just narration by Brian. Meanwhile, this story was front page news--upper right hand corner, above the fold--in Wednesday's New York Times and other newspapers around the country. Brian and his producers drastically and intentionally underreported this story in order to minimize the damage to Glaxo, a heavy advertiser and frequent in-show sponsor of Nightly News.
>Tuesday's final story was mostly comprised of a rambling, pointless speech by Maria Shriver in which she talks about communicating with her dead mother. Shriver's speech clearly belongs in the Christine O'Donnell/Carl Paladino/Sharron Angle wacky world. But the funniest part of Shriver's speech was when she introspectively ruminated about what she might be doing after her tenure as First Lady of California ends in January. I think that anyone who hasn't been living in a cave knows that Shriver will soon be working for NBC again, either in their news or entertainment division. She may even end up at Nightly News, which would mean that she did, in fact, accept a job in NBC's entertainment division.
>On his Tuesday Daily Nightly blog, Brian misspelled the name of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (he spelled her name as "Ginsberg"). Ironically, on the 2/23/09 Nightly News, Brian reported that Senator Jim Bunning had misspelled Justice Ginsburg's name (also as "Ginsberg"). According to Brian's report that day, "Adding insult to injury, he misspelled her last name not once but twice in today's statement of apology." Say what you want about Brian, but he only misspelled Ginsburg's name once. Meanwhile, Brian is always boasting on the air that he is (among other things) a Supreme Court buff. Misspelling Ginsburg's name doesn't sound very buff-y, does it?
Wednesday--During a story about the Florida Governor's race, an on-screen graphic incorrectly identified candidate Alex Sink as a Republican. She is a Democrat. On the May 18 broadcast, a graphic identified Florida Senator Bill Nelson as a Republican. He is a Democrat. What is it about Nightly News and Florida Democrats?
>The "news story" about tubeless Scott toilet tissue was really just a 40-second commercial for Scott products. It was a way of thanking the company for their advertising.
>Brian reported that, "The actress Mariska Hargitay from 'Law & Order: SVU' was at the White House today to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month along with Dodgers' manager, baseball veteran Joe Torre...." Clearly, this story was contrived just so that Brian could plug NBC's "Law & Order" franchise. By the way, Joe Torre is not the Dodgers' manager. That job belongs to Don Mattingly.
Friday--Once again, Brian identified Richard Engel as NBC's "Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent". He is actually the network's Chief Foreign Correspondent.
And finally, what is the deal with the subliminal George W. Bush ads that Nightly News has been showing for the past week or so? Once a night, after a commercial break ends, but before the broadcast resumes, we briefly (for perhaps two seconds) see a still photo of Bush striding across a lawn, with the NBC News logo in the middle of the photo. Since NBC News doesn't do anything unless there is some self-promotional benefit involved, I'm guessing that this message is a subliminal promo for an interview someone at NBC (probably Matt Lauer) will be conducting with Bush on or about Nov. 9, the release date for his upcoming book.