Brian Williams and Lester Holt, I beg you--please, please, please tell me: Did Mary Thornberry make it safely out of Sendai after the tsunami? Did she take her rolling pin with her? Don't keep me in suspense. I have to know.
For those who may not remember: Last month, Nightly News spent an astonishing total of 14 minutes reporting on Mary Thornberry, an American who was living in Cairo during the recent protests and regime change. They updated us almost nightly on Mary's status instead of spending that time reporting on the more far-reaching and important events unfolding in Cairo and throughout Egypt. And once Mary got back to the U.S., Brian spent an additional three-and-a-half excruciating minutes interviewing her, as if her story had some relevance for anyone outside her circle of family and friends. Well, now they're at it again. On Monday's broadcast, Ann Curry spent four minutes looking for the next Mary Thornberry. She introduced us to some Japanese people searching for family members and then focused on a California woman who was unable to locate her sister near the quake site. And can you believe it--Curry found the missing sister! Hallelujah! It's only too bad that Curry found her so quickly. Otherwise, they could have dragged it out for days or weeks and devoted 10, 20 or 30 minutes of valuable news time to finding one person. Curry's story was even a bigger waste of time when you consider that Nightly News didn't even air on Sunday (because golf was more important), so they had two days worth of news they should have been reporting instead of chasing down one missing person. Call me strange, but when I tune into the news, I expect to see news. If I want to see stories about people searching for missing relatives, I'll watch reruns of "Without A Trace". But I'm sure the Nightly News producers don't care. Undoubtedly, they're already hot on the trail of their next Mary Thornberry. Because if there's one thing Brian and his producers understand, it's that stories with a strong emotional component earn higher ratings than boring old straight news stories. It's a certainty that over the next few days and weeks, Nightly News viewers will be seeing a lot of tearful reunions. I can already hear Peaches & Herb singing the soundtrack to these stories: "Reunited, and it feels so good...."