Let me make sure I understand this. On Wednesday's Nightly News, Brian Williams chose to show 60 seconds of Donald Trump's upcoming "Today Show" interview (followed by a full-screen promo still) at minute 9 of the broadcast--BEFORE stories about Libya and Japan. On Thursday, Lisa Myers spent an additional 2:35 reporting on Trump. These "news stories" were purportedly about Trump's presidential run, but of course they were only included on Nightly News in order to promote "Today" and "Celebrity Apprentice" (which airs on NBC). There is not a snowball's chance in hell that these stories would have run on Nightly News if "Celebrity Apprentice" was on another network or if Trump had appeared on "Good Morning America" instead of "Today". Trump has zero credibility. He's a media whore like Paris Hilton, Piers Morgan, Al Sharpton or any of the Kardashians. And Nightly News is willing to act as his pimp in order to promote their shows. How can Brian look at himself in the mirror without feeling a deep sense of shame over the way he manipulates his broadcast to promote NBC shows at the expense of actual news?
And how do the Nightly News producers justify Tuesday's story about the Vermont Country Store? The story did not have a shred of news value, and was nothing more than a two-and-a-half minute commercial for this $100 million-a-year business. Anne Thompson and her producers should be ashamed of themselves for wasting our time when there is real news happening all over the world. I would like one of the Nightly News producers to explain how they had the nerve to show this ridiculous story on a news broadcast.
Of course, the Vermont Country Store story pales in comparison to Wednesday's story about Pringles. This may be the most shameless thing Nightly News has ever done--and that's saying a lot. The story began with Brian Williams plugging some of Procter & Gamble's brands--Tide, Crest and Pampers. We were then shown clips from Pringles commercials--including one that featured Brad Pitt. (We were also shown--inexplicably--a clip from an old Edsel commercial.) We got to see a Pringles-related clip from "Ally McBeal". But mostly, we got to see Tibbles having a great time with Pringles. Just like Brad Pitt! There's Tibbles sitting with two cans of Pringles. There's Tibbles with a math professor who explains that the exact shape of the chip is a hyperbolic paraboloid. There's Tibbles holding a Pringles chip up to the camera. Then we saw some clips of P & G products--Tide, Gillette, Oral B and Wella--followed by clips of some Diamond Food products. The story ended with 15 seconds of various closeup shots of Pringles. Are they fucking kidding me? This was a two-minute commercial for Pringles! And for P & G products (P & G is selling Pringles to Diamond Foods). Ogilvy & Mather couldn't have come up with a better commercial. It's obvious what's going on here. P & G and Diamond got together and paid NBC to run this two-minute infomercial for Pringles. There is no other explanation for this. And the very next night, a Pringles commercial aired during Nightly News! It must have been part of a package deal where P & G and Diamond paid for a commercial and a news story on Nightly News. This happens all the time on Nightly News--they show "news stories" that are really just commercials for their sponsors' products--United Airlines, McDonald's, Heinz, Kraft, Walmart, Requip, Lifewater, Cheerios, Boniva, Aleve, Bayer, Chrysler, Chevy, Microsoft Bing--the list goes on.
And here's the most incredibly ironic part of the whole Pringles story. Eight days earlier (March 29), Nightly News aired a story about how certain food dyes may cause hyperactivity in children. The story featured dozens of food products (including chips), but not a single brand name product was shown! Only packages without labels or products out of their packages were used for this piece. So when the story is negative, the Nightly News producers won't dare show their sponsors' products, but when story is positive (or when the sponsors are willing to pay NBC for an infomercial), the producers show the products over and over and over. Unbelievable. I hope Tibbles doesn't become hyperactive from the food dye in all the Pringles he ate.
Postscript: At least the Nightly News producers learned one lesson. On 5/6/10, during the broadcast's lead story about the stock market, a Nightly News graphic misspelled "Procter & Gamble" as "Proctor & Gamble". Fortunately, in the Pringles story, they made no attempt to spell the company's name. Smart.