Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nightly News Exploits The Royals

This past week, Nightly News devoted a staggering 21:25 to stories about the British Royal Family (12:10 to William and Kate, 9:15 to Prince Charles). That's the equivalent of an entire Nightly News broadcast. And that's even more coverage than the royals got this week on BBC World News America--a British-sponsored hour-long newscast. So why did Nightly News spend so much time on the British Royal Family? Because of their pathetic devotion to pop culture and self-promotion at the expense of actual news. More than any other evening newscast, NBC exploited William and Kate's wedding announcement in the hope of generating ratings. And Brian Williams continued to relentlessly and shamelessly plug his Friday Dateline special on Prince Charles, also for ratings. Friday's Nightly News even included a fawningly self-referential report by Jim Maceda about Brian's interview with Prince Charles. Once again, Nightly News reports on its favorite subject--itself. What's next? Stephanie Gosk's story about Jim Maceda's report about Brian William's interview with Prince Charles?

On Monday and Tuesday, Brian did two separate stories (totalling 5:40) on Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Sal Giunta. By contrast, at CBS, Katie Couric aired a single one-minute story on Sgt. Giunta on Tuesday. What accounts for such a difference in coverage? Simple. Brian serves on the board of directors of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation; Katie does not. Brian has a vested personal interest in promoting the MOH Foundation; Katie does not. Brian obsequiously treats MOH winners as personal heroes and gods; Katie treats them as news stories. Brian is desperate to convince the world that he is a hyper-patriotic supporter of the U.S. military; Katie doesn't feel the need to convince her audience of any such thing.

Can someone please buy Brian an atlas? On Tuesday, he introduced a story on Haiti by saying, "Overseas this evening...." While there is certainly water between Haiti and the U.S. coast, it can hardly be considered overseas. Still, this is better than the July 16 broadcast, when Brian described Mexico as overseas.

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