Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Brian Williams--The Most Biased Anchor Ever

Brian Williams just can't help himself. It seems that every time he goes on a talk show, he has to make some sort of reference to genitalia. A year ago (2/5/10) he told Jimmy Fallon that the luge uniform is "the most package-enhancing outfit". Last Jan. 3, on David Letterman's show, he made repeated references to his "shmegegge" and "Dave and the twins". And now he's at it again. On Letterman's show Monday night, Brian had this to say about his hybrid car: "...when it's not running it's fairly neutering 'cause it just turns off..." Again a genital reference. Howard Stern doesn't make as many genital references as Brian does. What's up with that? Is there something Brian wants to tell us? Actually, I'm not sure I even want to know.

But I have to give Brian some credit for honesty. After Brian evaded some of Letterman's questions (claiming neutrality for the sake of journalistic integrity--a joke for anyone who is familiar with Brian), Letterman said he was going to continue to ask questions in the hope that he still might learn something. Brian responded, "I doubt it very highly--I'm just not terribly smart." Finally--the truth comes out. Kudos to Brian for admitting it.

Actually, Brian's appearance on Letterman's show seemed to be a promotional appearance on behalf of Chevy. He mentioned Chevy by name twice (including the Chevy Tahoe). He also said, "It reminds you why Detroit is great and why we drive American cars." Minutes earlier, Brian wouldn't answer Letterman's question about the importance of labor unions in Wisconsin, but now Brian is running off at the mouth about Chevy and the superiority of American cars. Excuse me, but Brian covers the auto industry on Nightly News. He reported frequently on the accusations of sudden acceleration in Toyotas. Are we supposed to believe that someone who is so partisan towards American cars would report this story neutrally? It seems obvious in retrospect that Brian and his producers intentionally made Toyotas appear dangerous in order to boost sales of American cars. He won't comment on labor unions, but it's okay to promote American cars over foreign cars? This is unbelievable bias. During the worst part of the economic crisis a few years ago, Brian often went out of his way to talk about what a great value American cars were. Nightly News was like an adjunct dealership for Ford, GM and Chrysler. Brian said everything except, "What do I have to do to put you in this car today?" And he has the nerve to go on Letterman's show and claim that he's neutral on important issues? That's a joke.

And Brian certainly isn't neutral when it comes to promoting his favorite films. This season, of course, it's "The King's Speech". Brian seems to have a personal stake in making sure that movie sells tickets. Nightly News has done four "news stories" on "The King's Speech" in the past three months. That's called promotion. On Monday's story about the Oscars, Lee Cowan did not even mention the name of a single movie other than "The King's Speech". The only movie clips that were shown were from--you guessed it--"The King's Speech". We saw a clip from Melissa Leo's R-rated acceptance speech, but Cowan didn't even tell us which film she won the Oscar for. We saw Charles Ferguson (winner of the Best Documentary Oscar for "Inside Job") note that despite the economic meltdown, not one financial executive has gone to jail. But Cowan never mentioned Ferguson by name and didn't even tell us the name of his Oscar-winning film. More than half of Monday's Oscar story was devoted to just one film--"The King's Speech". And most of that was about the screenwriter, David Seidler. A day earlier, Nightly News had done a two-and-a-half minute story on Seidler. Monday's story was just a rehashing of what we had already seen on Sunday night. So instead of mentioning any of the other winning films, Cowan and his producers chose to rerun parts of Sunday's story on Seidler. It's obvious that Brian Williams's fingerprints were all over this story. Can you imagine any other network news broadcast doing a post-Oscar story and only mentioning ONE FILM by name? They didn't even show Natalie Portman! That story was a joke. But by far my favorite part of the story was Brian's introduction. The very first thing he said was that the Oscar ratings on ABC were down 9% from last year. I can guarantee you that if the Oscars had been on NBC, Brian never would have talked about the ratings decline. He only talks about a ratings decline when it happens to other networks. (But if an NBC show has a ratings increase, he can't stop talking about that.) The Grammy Awards on Feb. 13 had their best ratings in a decade, but of course Brian never mentioned that because the show aired on CBS. Again, if the Grammys had aired on NBC, Brian would not have shut up about the great ratings. Of the three network news anchors, Brian Williams is by far the most biased. He may be the most biased network news anchor ever. He relentlessly promotes the things he likes, and trashes (or remains silent about) things he doesn't like. But he has the nerve to tell David Letterman that he can't talk about certain topics because he has to maintain his neutrality ("I can't give opinions," he said). Does anyone else find this incredulous?

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