I laughed so hard that I almost fell off my couch Friday when I heard Brian Williams talking derisively about Mitt Romney's new look of "studied casualness". Brian accused Romney of buying "new jeans and a fleet of I'm-just-a-regular-guy shirts...," as part of a new and intentional image makeover. OMG! Has Brian ever seen his own broadcasts? Every time he's on location--whether it's in Cairo, Egypt or Cairo, Illinois--HE wears the exact same type of I'm-just-a-regular-guy shirt that he criticized Romney for wearing! (Brian is partial to blue and beige.) Talk about "studied casualness"! Where does Brian get the nerve to criticize Romney for image management? There is no one on the planet whose image is more studied, managed, controlled and manipulated than Brian Williams. Every aspect of his on-air persona is carefully honed and crafted to bring us the character of "Brian Williams" that we are familiar with. Brian has ten image managers for every one Romney has. Hair stylists. Makeup artists. Wardrobe consultants. Personal assistants. I'll bet Brian employs a full-time person just to act as his tie wrangler. And then there are the behavioral consultants and analysts. They pore over every second of every Nightly News broadcast. What if Brian sat three inches to the right? What if he moved his left arm up a bit? What if he lifted his head up higher? They search for any tiny change that can even minutely improve Brian's ratings. They conduct continuous focus groups to find out what viewers think of every aspect of Brian and his broadcast. Do you like his hair? Do you like his tie? Do you like his shirt? Brian doesn't dare wear a stitch of clothing on the air unless it has first been approved by a focus group. If a focus group indicated that they didn't like one of his ties, it would be taken out back and burned post haste. But the analysis doesn't stop there. There's also micro-analysis. Focus group participants are hooked up to medical monitors while watching Nightly News. Their heart rate is monitored. Their breathing is monitored. Their pupil dilation is monitored. Their eye movement is monitored. All on a second-by-second basis. If people look away from Brian at a certain point, the analysts need to find out why. Was it his tone of voice? The particular news story he was reading? The camera angle? The people in the newsroom behind him? And with all this going on, Brian has the nerve to criticize Mitt Romney for buying a few new shirts. Politics is largely about image. News broadcasting is ALL about image. Brian has taken one of his own most disingenuous traits and used it to mock Romney. That is hilarious! It would be like Donald Trump making fun of someone else's hair.
The Romney piece was part of a larger Nightly News segment whose purported purpose was to more closely examine some of the week's news stories. But the actual purpose, as it also was last Friday, is to shamelessly promote the new Nightly News iPad app. Brian even began the segment by saying, "A few days back when we launched our new iPad app...." And half the stories in this segment were presented as if they were streaming on an iPad. This is beyond shameless. Instead of reporting actual news, Brian wasted nearly four minutes of the viewers' time with this iPad promo that contained previously-aired or irrelevant stories. Here are some of the items that were included in this piece: More footage of the oh-so-important Palin-Trump pizza summit; people struggling to open plastic packaging; a clip of the new Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman singing Sinatra and some YouTube video of Bunk the dog playing with balloons on his birthday. This is what passes for news on Nightly News. But of course, it was all just a way to promote the iPad app. Great job, guys.
By the way, before the Nightly News producers began promoting the iPad app, maybe they should have first learned how to use a simple dictionary. During Friday's story about the economy, a Nightly News caption informed us that Pres. Obama was in "Toldeo" Ohio. Toldeo? Is that anywhere near Toledo? It's laughable that the producers can operate an iPad but they can't figure out how to look up a word in their Funk & Wagnalls. On Wednesday's broadcast, an on-screen graphic identified Alameda (California) Fire Chief Michael D'Orazi as "Michal". This happens over and over on Nightly News. Because the producers just don't care. Except about promoting their iPad app. That, they care about.
On Friday, CBS News offered their version of the college commencement recap story. Some of the speakers they showed were the same as on Tuesday's Nightly News commencement story--Pres. Obama, Tom Hanks, John Boehner. But CBS outclassed NBC by also including excerpts from Bill Clinton, Chesley Sullenberger and Sonia Sotomayor. And CBS did not abase themselves by using this story to shamelessly promote any of their entertainment shows (as Nightly News did by including a speech from the esteemed and distinguished Amy Poehler). But most importantly, the CBS story clocked in at a compact 2:35, more than two minutes shorter then Nightly News's overlong monstrosity. Well done, CBS.