Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nightly News Exclusive: Taliban Downsizing!

On Thursday's Nightly News, Brian Williams devoted twelve seconds to a story about the Taliban-sponsored car bombing of a police station in Karachi that killed 18 people and injured more than 100. That same night, Brian spent a minute and a half reading viewer comments about this week's "Back to Basics" series (which was about people who are downsizing parts of their lives). Is anything wrong with this picture? I wonder: If the Taliban were paring down their operations and getting "Back to Basics" (i.e. less powerful explosives, smaller caliber weapons, shorter hostage videos, lower ransom demands, across-the-board 10% staff reductions for all terrorists) would Brian Williams have spent more time reporting the car bombing story? Meanwhile, here are a few of the stories that Brian felt deserved more air time this week than the Taliban terrorist attack:

*General Motors is retiring their iconic Mr. Goodwrench program (35 seconds)
*Planters is starting a new ad campaign for Mr. Peanut featuring Robert Downey, Jr. (30 seconds)
*Betty White realized her lifelong dream by being named an honorary forest ranger (25 seconds)
*General Electric (NBC's parent company) plans to buy 25,000 electric cars over the next four years (35 seconds)
*A new video reveals the amazing secret of how cats drink (35 seconds)
*A fifteen-story hotel in China is built in six days (30 seconds)
*The U.S. Post Office is considering selling postage-paid holiday cards (25 seconds)
*Newsweek magazine is merging with The Daily Beast website (25 seconds)
*The name "World Wide Web" celebrated its 20th anniversary (30 seconds)
*This year's Christmas tree was delivered to Rockefeller Center (18 seconds)
*Finally, Brian spent 13 seconds promoting his upcoming interview with Prince Charles. I can certainly understand why these stories were given more air time than a Taliban car bombing that killed 18 people. Mr. Peanut and Mr. Goodwrench--now that's important news. At least Brian has his priorities in order.

Speaking of the "Back to Basics" series--even by Nightly News's appallingly low standards, this has to be one of the biggest wastes of network news time in recent memory. Altogether, the series' four segments took up almost ten minutes of valuable news time. Just think--if Nightly News hadn't reported the "Back to Basics" series, they would have had more time to report real news. Like how cats drink or the arrival of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. (Update: Nightly News did a fifth "Back to Basics" segment on Saturday [11/13], bringing the total time to 11:45.)

Honorary Mention: On Wednesday's broadcast, just minutes after a story about the deficiencies of the American educational system, a Nightly News graphic identified Margaret Hamburg as the "FDA Comissioner" (the correct spelling is "commissioner"). Does anyone else see the irony in this?

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