Saturday, May 7, 2011

Nightly News Show Notes--Week Of 5/2/11

During one of Tuesday's stories about the death of Osama bin Laden, a Nightly News map identified the city he was hiding in as "Abbottabad". And a graphic that accompanied correspondent Tazeen Ahmad spelled the city's name the same way. But thirty seconds later, Nightly News subtitles superimposed on the screen (to clarify a Pakistani man's audio) spelled the city's name as "Abbotabad". Ironically, at the exact same time the misspelled name appears on the screen, we can clearly see a sign with "Abbottabad" spelled correctly. It would be nice if the Nightly News producers paid attention to their own video. It would be nice if the Nightly News producers paid attention to anything.

There were few things more disturbing than Brian Williams's fawning and obsequious "interview" with retired Navy Seal Lt. Cmdr. Eric Greitens, which took place in the second half hour of Tuesday's extended broadcast. This wasn't really an interview. It was just an opportunity for Brian to show off how obsessed he is with the Navy Seals ("I've watched and read so much about Seal training...", "I happened to have the great honor of flying into Baghdad with them at the start of the war..."). This was just another one of Brian's propaganda pieces for the U.S. Military. It was similar to his 11/13/07 "interview" with Chrysler exec Jim Press, where he allowed Press to go on and on about how great Chrysler cars and trucks were (with Brian agreeing wholeheartedly). Brian's interviews are not designed to provide information. They are designed to show off his knowledge and promote things he likes. I thought Anne Thompson's recent reports about the beatification of Pope John Paul II were fawning and obsequious, but Brian takes it to a whole new level with his pandering homages to the military. When is someone going to tell Brian that a news broadcast is supposed to inform the viewers, not promote the anchor's obsession with the armed forces.

This theme continued on Wednesday (as it does almost every night) with another installment of the pointless "Close To Home" series--this time about an army captain serving in Kandahar. Great. Again, these pieces do not provide any news, they are just propaganda for the U.S. Military. After the story, Brian said, "Please keep all of them in your thoughts today and always". I wasn't aware that it was Brian's job to tell us what to think. Obviously I was wrong.

Also on Wednesday, Chuck Todd referenced Pres. Obama's upcoming interview on CBS, but Todd refused to say that the interview will air on "60 Minutes". This was not an accident or an omission. Nightly News correspondents and anchors routinely refuse to mention television shows on other networks because they're scared that that could negatively impact the ratings of NBC shows. "60 Minutes" airs at the same time as "Dateline", so clearly that's why Todd wouldn't mention the competing show by name. How incredibly petty.

During Ann Curry's story from Abbottabad on Thursday, a Nightly News graphic identified a Pakistani man as Daniel Markey, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. That wasn't Markey. Markey had appeared a minute earlier but was not identified at the time.

Also on Thursday, a graphic at the beginning of Ron Mott's story about the planned flooding in Tennessee told us that Mott was in Memphis. At the end of his story, although he was standing in exactly the same place, the graphic told us he was in Dyersburg. That's a neat trick--being in two places at the same time.

Not surprisingly, Brian ended Friday's broadcast with a plug for NBC's coverage of Saturday's Kentucky Derby. He didn't tell us, however, why NBC needs three hours to broadcast a two-minute race. If they used the same amount of proportional time to broadcast the Super Bowl, it would be a 360-hour broadcast. Maybe I shouldn't mention that--I wouldn't want to give the NBC execs any ideas.

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