It's official. Brian Williams has no shame. On Monday, he read a 30-second commercial for McDonald's that he tried to pass off as a news story. Here's what he told us: "Mickey D's is spending over $1 billion to make their restaurants more chill, more comfortable, more laid back, more Starbucks than Mayor McCheese. Look for wooden tables, muted colors and faux leather seats coming soon to a Mac's near you. And you can get fries with that." That's not a news story. That's a commercial. And it's shameless. Of course, this is nothing new. It's business as usual for Brian "Your Product Here" Williams. He and his producers have recently done fake "news story" plugs for Pringles, Subway, Chrysler, Walmart, Starbucks, Frito-Lay, Bayer, Cheerios, Smith & Nephew Knee Replacements, Microsoft Bing, Chevy, Aleve, Boniva, Kraft, Heinz, McDonald's (again), United Airlines, Chrysler and many other of their sponsors' products. These plugs and product placements are not random or haphazard. They're planned. They're arranged between the sponsors and the senior NBC executives and news producers--perhaps even Brian himself. They are part of advertising campaigns. McDonald's probably arranged a large-scale advertising campaign with NBC that includes standard commercials, product placements on NBC entertainment shows and one or more 30-second "news story" plugs on Nightly News. It's all paid for. Are we really supposed to believe that as Brian was searching for the day's most important news stories, he froze when he came upon the McDonald's story and said to himself, "I absolutely MUST inform my viewers about this important story!"? Thirty seconds is a lot of time on Nightly News. He could have told us about events in Africa, Europe, Asia or anyplace else. But he chose to tell us about McDonald's new remodeling program. Because McDonald's paid NBC to have him tell us about it.
Let me make sure I understand this. On Saturday, while CBS, ABC, CNN and every other news organization was broadcasting the astounding video of Osama bin Laden sitting on his floor wrapped in a blanket watching himself on TV, NBC was devoting three hours of coverage to a two-minute horse race. That's great. Obviously, NBC believes that the Kentucky Derby is much more important than news to their east coast viewers. I guess that if bin Laden had been killed last Saturday afternoon, NBC would have announced it only after the Derby was over. They wouldn't want to lose all that great advertising money. But here's what's truly astounding: On Sunday, during Nightly News's first broadcast in two days, they decided to waste our time with a ridiculous story about two brothers who never knew each other but accidentally met in Hawaii. That's news? The Nightly News producers had 48 hours of news to catch us up on, but this is what they devoted 2:15 to. Wow. It boggles my mind.
And speaking of Sunday's broadcast: Was it really necessary to show back and side views of a naked six-year-old girl during the story about peanut allergies? That was inappropriate and just really creepy. I guess the Nightly News producers are trying to attract that all-important demographic of pedophile viewers.
Finally, I would like to thank Brian and his producers for Monday's 2:20 story about Pres. Reagan's joke file. Well, I guess it's easier than reporting real news. Since Brian likes doing comedy so much, maybe he should have read a few of Reagan's jokes.