Saturday, May 28, 2011

Brian Williams Should Win A Clio!

Brian Williams should win a Clio Award for his unintentionally hilarious fifteen-second self-promoting spot that ran during Tuesday's Nightly News. The spot begins with a shot of Brian, who, in his most earnest and anchorly voice, tells us, "We're given a half-hour every night and we're handed the world, we're handed the nation, we're handed everything that went on today. It's a global conversation." As he says this, we see images of the Japanese earthquake, Osama bin Laden, President Obama, Savannah Guthrie, Richard Engel, Lester Holt, Stephanie Gosk, Khaddafy and others. And Brian. Lots of shots of Brian. I'm curious: Why wasn't Jim Miklaszewski, Andrea Mitchell or Mark Potter included in this spot? I guess they just weren't important enough.

A half-hour every night? Does Brian know anything about his broadcast? When the commercials are removed, Nightly News is a 22-minute broadcast. How on earth does Brian come up with "a half-hour every night"? And is he kidding about being "handed the world"? Brian hates reporting foreign news. He rarely covers anything that goes on outside the U.S. The reason for that is obvious: Ratings. As Brian well knows, sappy, tear-jerker domestic stories bring in much higher ratings than foreign stories. For example, Brian knows that his shameless continued exploitation of the tornado in Joplin will give him much higher ratings than reporting about Ratko Mladic. Mladic is one of the worst war criminals in recent history. He killed 10 times as many people as Osama bin Laden. But Brian knows that most Americans aren't interested in hearing about someone whose name they can't pronounce who comes from a region that most Americans can't even find on a map. That's why the Mladic story was buried in the second half of Thursday's broadcast. And that's why Brian did not even bother to mention Mladic on Friday's broadcast. Fortunately, there are responsible news sources like CBS, BBC World News and Deutsche Welle News. All of these networks led with the Mladic story on Thursday and reported it again on Friday. Not Brian. One and done. By the way, Brian really should take a few minutes before the broadcast to familiarize himself with the reports that will be airing that night. In a promo before the Mladic story, Brian told us that "he gave up without a struggle, without even reaching for his weapon." But moments later, Martin Fletcher said, "At dawn, Serb SWAT teams move in on a village house two hours from the capital. Inside, Ratko Mladic with two pistols." Maybe Brian doesn't think that pistols count as weapons. He should check with his pals at the NRA.

Yes, Brian is well aware that reporting about the tornado in Joplin will bring higher ratings than reporting on Mladic. In fact, Brian must have the same marketing and promotional team as Oprah. Oprah's last show was on Wednesday, May 25. That seems like a strange day for a final show. Why not end on a Friday? Or on the last day of the month? There's a very good reason. May 25 was the last day of the May sweeps period, when ratings are measured to use in determining future ad rates charged by networks. Oprah timed her show to end on the last day of the sweeps period in order to maximize her ratings and to maximize the revenue for ABC. Similarly, Brian spent Monday and Tuesday in Joplin. Like Oprah, he did this because it was the end of the sweeps period and he wanted to maximize his ratings and maximize NBC's ad revenue. Brian spent a lot of time this week on stories about Joplin. Telling us how many people died. But he didn't say it that way. He kept referring to them as "lost souls". Because that's more emotional. And Brian knows that emotion earns higher ratings than reporting. And he told us over and over and over that he used to live in Joplin. Again, emotion equals ratings. On Wednesday, he spent four minutes shamelessly and grotesquely exploiting a poor woman whose husband had died in the tornado. All for ratings. Make no mistake--Brian is a master self-promoter, just like Donald Trump and Oprah. Maybe Brian should take a cue from Oprah and start a TV network. But instead of calling it OWN, he could call it EGO.

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