Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Obama. Hanks. Morrison. Williams?

On Tuesday, Nightly News spent an unbelievable 4:45 showing this year's installment of college commencement speeches. Nightly News did not do any stories that night about Ratko Mladic or the FIFA scandal--in fact, they did not do a single story from outside the U.S.--but the college grads and commencement speakers got nearly five minutes of network news time. What an incredible waste of time. Of course, that night Brian did manage to squeeze in yet another story on "The Hangover Part II" (the fourth "Hangover" story Nightly News has done in the past two weeks). It's nice to see that Brian has his priorities straight.

Here's a quiz: Which of these people does not belong with the others? Barack Obama. Tom Hanks. Toni Morrison. Kofi Annan. John Boehner. Thomas Friedman. Brian Williams. Hint: One is the President of the United States. One is a two-time Academy Award winner. One is a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. One was the Secretary-General of the United Nations. One is the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. One is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and noted New York Times columnist. One spends less than two hours a week reading the evening news off a teleprompter. If you guessed that Brian Williams doesn't belong in this group, congratulations. You win. (If you watched this five-minute commencement boondoggle, congratulations--you lose.) For the second year in a row, Brian has instructed the producers to include him among the dignitaries whose speeches were excerpted on Nightly News. Can you believe the hubris? The gall? The nerve? Isn't there anyone at Nightly News, NBC or Comcast who is willing to tell Brian that he just doesn't belong in this group? It's so outrageous that it's actually comical. It's like Donald Trump announcing that although he's not running for president, he would certainly win if he did run. And by the way, I love how the Nightly News producers slipped Amy Poehler (from "Parks and Recreation") in there. Last year it was Alec Baldwin (from "30 Rock"). At Nightly News, they never, never, ever miss a chance to shamelessly plug an NBC entertainment show.

So the next time Brian complains that he doesn't have enough time to show all the week's important news stories (as he did on Friday), I hope someone will remind him about this commencement story that was a colossal waste of the viewers' time. Nightly news could have run three real news stories in the time it took to air this endless monstrosity. Oh well. At least we got to see Brian dressed up in his little cap and gown. It was almost as amusing as when he dressed up in his flak-jacket-and-helmet soldier outfit.

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