Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fawning Pandering Brian Williams

What a great week of news it was on Nightly News. On Monday, Brian Williams told us that McDonald's will be spending over $1 billion to refurbish their restaurants (I wonder how much Brian was paid for this promo). We learned that Pres. Reagan kept a hand-written file of jokes to use for all occasions. And we learned that Ann Curry will be the new co-host of "Today". On Tuesday, we learned that Arnold and Maria have separated. We learned that former NBC producer Jeff Gralnick (who no viewers had ever heard of) had died. And we learned that a group of people in Detroit are helping that city's stray dogs. On Wednesday, we learned that Princess Beatrice's hat from the Royal Wedding is now an internet sensation. We learned that a group of people called the Story Pirates go to elementary schools and act out plays written by students. On Friday, we learned that a Connecticut high school student was banned from his prom because he asked a girl to be his date by hanging giant letters on the side of his school. What a great week of news. Of course, we didn't see any stories about the riots in Greece (Nightly News doesn't have enough Greek-American viewers to justify reporting this story). We didn't see the newly-released footage of the Navy SEAL who went berserk in Las Vegas last year and attacked 15 people including a 67-year-old woman (Brian would never report a negative story about a Navy SEAL). We didn't see a story about the dangers of hip replacements (Smith & Nephew joint replacements is a Nightly News sponsor). And we didn't see the story about the FCC commissioner who announced she would leave the FCC in June so she can work for Comcast as a lobbyist just four months after voting to approve Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal (I think it's obvious why this story was not reported on Nightly News). Oh well, I guess there isn't enough time to report all the news. But at least we know all about Princess Beatrice's hat and Ann Curry's new job.

Over the years, we've seen plenty of gratuitous product placements on Nightly News. But Friday's plug may be the best one ever. During Mark Potter's story about the methamphetamine epidemic in Tennessee, the camera zoomed in on a flattened box of Aleve-D Sinus and Cold medication at the scene of a meth lab (it contains pseudoephedrine, an ingredient needed for making meth). Aleve is one of Nightly News's most frequent sponsors so this was quite the innovative product placement. Bravo, Nightly News producers.

On Friday's broadcast, Brian set a new record for pandering. He announced no fewer than four times how generous and wonderful his viewers were for donating money to the Detroit Dog Rescue after Nightly News aired a story about that group on Tuesday. This was really sickening. Tuesday's original story didn't belong on a news broadcast since it did not contain a shred of actual news. But Friday's follow-up story set a new low for irrelevance. It was a story about how Nightly News reported a story. Is there anything more ridiculous than that? And I'm surprised that Brian didn't dislocate his shoulder from patting himself on the back so often. This was a perfect illustration of his desperate need for self-promotion and self-congratulation. He couldn't be more pleased with himself for putting these stories on the air. And he couldn't be more fawning and pandering to the viewers. This is the best way Brian can come up with to achieve ratings? Pandering to the viewers? If Brian wants to promote his favorite charities, he should take a job with a non-profit group. If he likes pandering so much, he should work at Access Hollywood so he can tell celebrities how great they look. But if he wants to anchor a news broadcast, he should report news, not garbage.

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