Saturday, January 15, 2011

NBC Nightly News Show Notes--Jan. 11-14

Can someone at Nightly News ask Mike Taibbi to pay closer attention to what he's saying? On Thursday's story about Jared Loughner, Taibbi read some quotes that Loughner had posted on YouTube. Taibbi quoted Loughner as saying, "I'm going homeless because of this school," and, "I haven't forgotten the teacher who gave me a B." But the accompanying Nightly News on-screen transcripts have Loughner saying, "I'm going to be homeless because of this school," and, "I haven't forgotten the teacher that gave me a B." (Italics added by the Nightly Daily.) Someone needs to tell Taibbi that a quote must be read exactly as it was spoken or written, with no changes allowed whatsoever. Unfortunately, Taibbi isn't the only one at Nightly News who plays fast and loose with quotes. On Friday, during Kristen Welker's story, we heard an audio clip of someone from the Pima County Sheriff's Dept. calling in the initial description of the Tucson shooting: "We have a caller who believes that Gabrielle Giffords was shot...." But the on-screen transcript reads, "We have a caller who believed Gabrielle Giffords was shot...." Not the same.

And on Friday's broadcast, while narrating Loughner's timeline for the day of the shooting, Taibbi told us that, "At 7:04 the next morning...he goes to one Walgreens--tries unsuccessfully to buy the ammunition he wants--then at 7:27 he goes to a second Walgreens--gets his ammo...." Actually, Loughner went to two Walmarts, not Walgreens. The photos accompanying Taibbi's narration clearly show this. But there may be an ulterior motive for Taibbi's "mistake". Walmart is a huge advertiser on NBC Universal stations. So maybe Taibbi intentionally mixed up Walmart and Walgreens to protect a regular NBC sponsor.

Anne Thompson's obvious bias should disqualify her from reporting on any matters related to the Pope or the Catholic Church. She does not report these stories in an objective manner, nor does she bother to question statements made by Church officials. Thompson's Friday story about the beatification of Pope John Paul II sounded like a propaganda piece for the Church. For one thing, she simply accepted the ridiculous claim that a French nun was cured of her Parkinson's disease after praying to Pope John Paul II. Why didn't Thompson take issue with this preposterous story? Why didn't she ask doctors about the veracity of the nun's claim or seek medical proof? This is supposed to be NBC News, not The Christian Broadcasting Network. Thompson should be exposing hoaxes, not perpetuating them. In fact, Thompson should have taken a broader view and discussed the hoax perpetrated by Mary (mother of Jesus) 2,010 years ago. Isn't that what a reporter should be doing instead of marvelling at the awesome power of the Catholic Church? Of course, that will never happen. With 75% of Americans identified as Christian (and a third of those Catholic), Nightly News would never risk offending such a large group. Even if it involved telling the truth.

It's hard to imagine a bigger waste of time than Friday's nearly-three-minute "Making A Difference" story about a Tucson woman who hangs wind chimes around the city to remind people to be kind (should they rewind?). Nightly News still hasn't said a word about the disputed election (and the related violence) in Ivory Coast or the floods in Sri Lanka. But we know all about the woman who hangs wind chimes. Great work, Nightly News producers.

If anyone needs further evidence that Brian Williams tries to turn every news story into a story about himself, here's what he said at the end of his Thursday report about the new zodiac sign (and the reshuffling of the other astrological signs): "And this would mean a big change for yours truly from Taurus to Aries and who's prepared for that, really?" I guess Brian is the only one affected by the change in zodiac signs.

How absurd was it for Brian Williams to spend three days in Tucson? Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer each returned to New York after one broadcast because they understood that there was absolutely no reason to stay there any longer. But as usual, Brian had to milk the story. And as usual, he made sure to report the Tucson story from a highly emotional perspective, rather than a factual or informative one. It's the old Barbara Walters formula. What is Walters's goal during her celebrity interviews? To make the celebrity cry. That's the money shot. A crying celebrity equals big ratings. And that's the formula Brian follows. Report stories emotionally, rather than factually. Get the viewers to form an emotional attachment to Nightly News so they tune in again and again. He did this with Katrina, the Haiti earthquake (until he dropped that story for the Vancouver Olympics), the BP Gulf oil spill, and many others. It's like being shown a soap opera when we should be watching a documentary. Never mind that a newscast is supposed to present facts, not stir emotions. Since emotions equal ratings, that's where Brian goes.

No comments:

Post a Comment