Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cajun Brian Williams

There wasn't much that was newsworthy in Brian Williams's stale, rehashed stories about last year's BP Gulf oil spill. Devoting half the Nightly News broadcast to year-old news isn't exactly engrossing. But there were some pretty funny moments:

* For the broadcast's second segment, Brian looked absolutely ridiculous standing on the bow of a boat. I'm surprised he wasn't wearing a double-breasted navy blue blazer with shoulder brushes, gold braid trim and little anchors on the lapels (get it--anchors for the anchor), along with a hat that read, "Cap'n Brian". Actually, I think that was Brian's personal yacht. I could tell from all the champagne bottles and caviar tins littering the deck.

* Did anyone notice that during his tedious, overlong interview with Dean Blanchard, Brian hilariously adopted a Cajun accent? He pronounced "hundred" as "hunnard" and "Grand Isle" as "Grand Ahle". I'm surprised he didn't end the story by saying, "We be raght back wit a lagniappe story aftah dis here coe-mmercial. Does you want some beignets and Po' Boys, chere?"

* At the end of the broadcast, Brian described Anne Thompson as "...one of the heroes of our coverage of this spill this past year." When I heard that, I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my Barcalounger. Thompson got paid a six-figure salary and was put up in a nice Gulf hotel for three months last year. And because the hotels were so empty, she probably got upgraded to the Presidential Suite. That's not exactly hazardous duty. Brian should look up the word "hero" in the dictionary. I'm pretty sure Thompson's paid vacation in the Gulf doesn't qualify as "heroic".

By the way, if anyone thinks that Brian's sappy, over-the-top coverage of the first anniversary of the Gulf oil spill was shameless and exploitative, all I can say is: You ain't seen nothin' yet. Just wait until later this year when you see his coverage of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. I hear it's going to feature soaring eagles, giant dancing Uncle Sams, huge waving flags, marching military bands and Sarah Palin singing "God Bless America". And that's just for the Nightly News intro. Brian is already taking lessons to learn how to cry on camera. And I can't wait to see the Nightly News iPad app for their 9/11 coverage.

While we're on the subject of shameless, Saturday's broadcast featured another Springsteen-related story. What a surprise--NOT! It had no news value, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that the story featured Springsteen. It's appalling how the producers will air any story that has even the most peripheral connection to Springsteen. Obviously, they're operating under direct orders from Brian. Forget about actual news. If you can work Springsteen into a story, that takes precedence. He gets more air time on Nightly News than anyone except Pres. Obama, Sarah Palin, Will & Kate and Donald Trump. It's like the producers stay up late at night trying to figure out ways to work Springsteen into fake news stories. It's shameful that Brian airs stories based not on their news value, but on stuff he likes. If you took away all the stories about Springsteen, Bono, Bon Jovi, dogs, "30 Rock", "Mad Men", SNL, firefighters, NASCAR, Medal of Honor winners, people who are "Making A Difference", GE scanners, and sponsors' products (like Bayer, McDonald's, Pringles and Cheerios), then Nightly News would be a five-minute broadcast each night.

And speaking of Donald Trump, are we supposed to believe it was just a coincidence that Saturday's story about the 2012 Republican candidates (which featured heavy doses of Trump) aired one day before "Celebrity Apprentice"? Obviously, it was intended as nothing more than a shameless promotion for that show. It's no different than all those football-related stories that Nightly News aired on Sunday nights right before NBC's Sunday Night Football. Or those "news stories" about Jackie Evancho that Nightly News aired last August when she was a contestant on "America's Got Talent". One of the main functions of Nightly News is to promote other NBC Universal shows. And lately, Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" is the beneficiary of the Nightly News producers' promotional efforts. I hope Bruce Springsteen never becomes a contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice". Because if he did, Nightly News would be showing 20 minutes a night of Springsteen-and-Trump-related "news stories". I guess when you combine Springsteen and Trump, the theme song is "Born To Run Off At The Mouth".

Post Script: Here's an idea. What if the IRS ordered GE to pay several billion dollars to Gulf residents as a penalty for the zero income tax they paid on their $14 billion profit from 2010? Of course, if that ever actually happened, it would present quite a dilemma for Brian. He'd want to report the story because it's Gulf-related, but he'd want to cover up the story because it involves the GE tax evasion scandal. What's an anchor to do?

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