On Sunday, The CBS Evening News spent 30 seconds reporting the death of Clarence Clemons. That seems about right. I would estimate that Clemons' cultural impact was equivalent to that of Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins or former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald (although each of those three are, unlike Clemons, accomplished songwriters). But on Monday's Nightly News, Brian Williams spent an astounding three-and-a-half minutes eulogizing Clemons. It is appalling (not to mention unprofessional) that the Nightly News producers allow story lengths to be assigned based not on a subject's actual importance, but rather based on the subject's importance to Brian Williams. Nightly News viewers are well aware that Brian has still not outgrown his childish obsession with all things Springsteen. Brian frequently shoehorns Springsteen into news stories. No matter how slim (or non-existent) the connection, he uses any excuse to put Springsteen on his broadcast (he once forced 30 seconds of non sequitur Springsteen footage into a story about John Lennon). Monday's overlong Clemons obituary was, of course, just another opportunity for Brian to pack his broadcast with Springsteen songs and images. And (once again) to turn a news story into a story about himself. "Yesterday I found myself with a lot of other people from the Jersey Shore--we were drawn to the Stone Pony in Asbury Park...like everybody else there, I took pictures...." As usual, it's all about Brian, all the time. If Brian wants to do a three-and-a-half minute obit for Clemons, no problem--whatever Brian wants. If Brian wants to spend five-and-a-half minutes promoting the Spider-Man musical for his pals Bono and the Edge, no problem--whatever Brian wants. If Brian wants to devote nine ridiculously long minutes to following Jack Jacobs while he schleps around Vietnam, no problem. Brian gets to do whatever he wants, every night. (Back on 12/25/08, Brian spent four minutes plugging Jacobs' latest book.) So I'm wondering--how much time will Brian devote to obituaries for Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins or Michael McDonald?
Once again, there was no Nightly News on Saturday or Sunday because obviously, golf was far more important (translation: more profitable) to the geniuses at NBC. Their commitment to news is so tenuous, I wonder why they bother to air Nightly News at all. It seems like only a matter of time before they scrap their news broadcast entirely in favor of something more profitable. Like an extra half-hour of Access Hollywood or an evening version of "The Today Show". Oh that's right--they already have an evening version of "The Today Show". It's called Nightly News.