Saturday, July 30, 2011

Brian Williams Promotes McDonald's And Bayer

Yet again, Brian Williams has assumed the role of corporate spokesman for McDonald's. On Tuesday, he took thirty seconds to eagerly bring us this piece of breaking news: "McDonald's said today that it's taking steps to make Happy Meals healthier. The company is cutting the size of the french fry portion in half for starters and adding apple slices to every meal. The new meals will have about 20% fewer calories--coming in at under 600 calories total. First Lady Michelle Obama, who campaigns, of course, for better nutrition, put out a statement today calling this a good step." As Brian read this, the McDonald's logo was onscreen for the entire thirty seconds, along with the words "Healthy Choices" and a picture of a Happy Meal. This isn't a news story--it's a thirty second commercial for McDonald's. It's shameful that Brian will read any press release--seemingly verbatim--that is handed to him by the weasels at McDonald's. Of course, my favorite part was when Brian made a point of mentioning Michelle Obama. Clearly, Brian understood that her imprimatur would help legitimize the story. I also love how he claims that Happy Meals will become "healthier" instead of less unhealthy. More weasel-speak. But why would Brian read this press release from McDonald's? The answer is obvious. With the recent acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast, the new Comcast/NBC Universal mega-conglomerate controls at least twenty national (or regional) networks and cable channels. In addition to NBC, MSNBC and CNBC, they own Bravo, Chiller, Oxygen, Sleuth, Syfy, Telemundo, Mun2, The Weather Channel, USA, E!, SportsNet New York, Exercise TV, G4, The Golf Channel, PBS Kids Sprout, The Style Network, Versus and New England Cable News. And those are only the ones I know about. I can only imagine how much money McDonald's spends each year advertising on all these Comcast/NBC stations. Is it $50 million? $60 million? $75 million? Who knows. Let's just say it's a lot. So with McDonald's spending all this money with Comcast/NBC, it makes perfect sense that Brian Williams would act as a shill for McDonald's. But of course, this isn't the first time that Brian and his Nightly News cohorts have acted as McDonald's PR spokespersons. Here are some of the other commercials-as-news that Brian has read for McDonald's:

5/18/11--Brian personally defended McDonald's against criticism from parenting organizations and nutritional advocacy groups that accused McDonald's of unfairly using Ronald McDonald to attract children to their high sodium, high cholesterol, high fat food. In the story, Brian said that this criticism "seems a little harsh". So much for anchor neutrality.
5/9/11--Brian took thirty seconds to tell us that McDonald's is spending more than $1 billion to upgrade their restaurants. "Look for wooden tables, muted colors and faux leather seats coming soon to a Mac's near you. And you can get fries with that." Is it just me, or is that a commercial?
3/8/11--During a story promoting Subway Sandwich Shops (you didn't think McDonald's was the only fast food restaurant Brian promoted, did you?) as now having more U.S. outlets than McDonald's, Brian was quick to tell us that McDonald's still makes more money annually--$24 billion to $15 billion.
12/7/10--A story about how San Francisco is banning toys that come with children's fast food meals began with a cute segment about a woman who collects Happy Meal toys. The rest of this 2:30 "news story" (which was really just a commercial for McDonald's) contained clips of actual McDonald's commercials and non-stop footage of the McDonald's logo, restaurants and food.
11/8/10--The lead story on the CBS Evening News was a study released by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity detailing the inappropriate ways that fast food chains market their unhealthy food to children. Nightly News did not report this story as a courtesy to their pals at McDonald's.
9/3/10--CBS Evening News reported that Consumer Reports rated 53 different fast food and chain restaurant hamburgers on taste and attractiveness, and McDonald's came in dead last. Needless to say, Nightly News did not report this story, either.
7/2/10--A Nightly News profile of LeBron James included clips from his McDonald's commercials.
6/14/10--Lester Holt gave us the important news that McDonald's will now be offering free Wi-Fi at their restaurants.
2/4/10--While reading a 25 second promotional piece about Heinz Ketchup's exciting new packaging, Brian also threw in a gratuitous plug for McDonald's.
10/22/09--During a piece about women in the workplace, Nightly News spent 75 seconds profiling Jan Fields, the Chief Operating Officer of McDonald's USA. The story gave her ample time to talk about things like McDonald's "world famous fries". Ms. Fields is now the president of McDonald's USA--no doubt thanks in part to her ability to cajole NBC into allowing her to plug her fries.
5/5/09--In what may be the most shameless and blatant plug ever, Nightly News did a two-minute story whose sole purpose was to announce the launch of McDonald's new gourmet coffees to compete with Starbucks. Ann Curry called McDonald's coffee a "delicious brew".

So it should come as no surprise that Brian Williams spent thirty seconds on Tuesday promoting McDonald's Happy Meals. After all, that's what he gets paid for. But McDonald's isn't the only company he shills for. During Thursday's story about how Johnson & Johnson is reducing their recommended dosage for Tylenol, Brian made sure to tell us that, "There's a big change coming to Tylenol. As you may know too much of it can damage the liver and it's often easy to get too much of it...." Now, why would Brian need to tell us that Tylenol can cause liver disease? Because Tylenol is a competitor of Bayer products, and Bayer is one of Nightly News's biggest advertisers. In the twelve minutes following the Tylenol story, Nightly News aired commercials for four different Bayer products (One A Day vitamins, Aleve, Phillips Caplets and Citracal.) Products like Bayer Aspirin and Aleve (naproxen) are direct competitors of Tylenol, so by telling us how harmful Tylenol can be, Brian was doing a favor for his friends at Bayer. And this isn't the first time Brian and his producers have helped out Bayer.

12/20/10--Robert Bazell (who promotes NBC sponsors as enthusiastically as Brian) did a 2:15 "news story" debunking the herbal supplement Echinacea as a cure for the common cold. Six minutes after that story, we saw a commercial for Alka-Seltzer Plus cold medicine--manufactured by Bayer. Clearly, the point of Bazell's story was to discourage people from using Echinacea so they would buy Alka-Seltzer Plus.
12/6/10--Bazell did a story purportedly about the benefits of aspirin, but it was really little more than a 2:15 commercial for Bayer. The "news report" began with a five second clip from a Bayer commercial. Then there were three close-ups of Bayer aspirin: A box on a shelf in a Walgreens, a pill in someone's palm and a bottle of Bayer. No other name brand was shown in the story. Even an animated graphic of a bottle simply labeled "aspirin" was brown and yellow--easily recognizable as Bayer's traditional colors on their aspirin bottles (and the main colors on their website). This is beyond blatant. This is brazen, appalling and deceitful. Bazell is supposed to be reporting on matters of health and science, not endorsing a particular product. Believe it or not, some people actually rely on the evening news for information about health matters. But on Nightly News they don't get unbiased information, they get contrived "news reports" specifically designed to promote NBC's best advertisers.
6/8/10--Bazell reported a story about an obscure Danish medical study that concluded that naproxen (sold as Aleve) may reduce the risk of heart attacks among its users. The study also showed that ibuprofen and Celebrex increased the risk of heart attacks. This was just a 2:30 commercial for Aleve. It's obvious that Bazell and his producers chose to air this story as a favor to their pals at Bayer. I can guarantee that this story would never have run if it contained any negative information about Aleve.

Of course, it's not just McDonald's and Bayer. Brian and his producers will use Nightly News to promote virtually any of their regular sponsors. Other past examples have included Chevy, Chrysler, Cheerios, Walmart, Kraft, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Frito-Lay, Microsoft, Boniva, United Airlines, Pringles, Starbucks and Smith & Nephew joint replacements. Using a news broadcast to promote advertisers (and also protect them from negative publicity) is shameful and unethical. But obviously, Brian doesn't care.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NBC Nightly News Show Notes--July 16-July 25

If you haven't had a chance to watch NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams lately, here's some of what you missed:

Saturday 7/16: The lead story is the hot weather. In the southern United States. In July. That's some breaking news, all right.
Monday 7/18: In a story about the British tabloid hacking scandal, Ed Miliband was identified in a Nightly News graphic as the "Labor Party Leader". On Sunday's broadcast, a Nightly News graphic identified Miliband as the "Labour Party Leader". So which is it--Labour or Labor?
**In a story about Gen. David Petraeus's last day in Afghanistan, Brian called Petraeus "America's best-known general". If that's the case, why did Brian misspell Petraeus's name (as "Patreus") in his 10/30/09 Daily Nightly blog? In another story about Nelson Mandela's 93rd birthday, Brian called Mandela, "One of the towering world figures of the last 100 years..." No one can argue with that. So why did Brian misspell Mandela's name (as "Mandella") in his 7/12/10 Daily Nightly blog? (It has since been corrected.)
**Brian continues to pander to any- and everybody by calling Chicago "one of the great places on earth even when it's this hot." Meanwhile, millions of kids around the country are asking, "Mommy, does Brian Williams hate our city because it's not Chicago?"
**For the fourth time in eleven days, Nightly News did a "news story" on the new Harry Potter movie. Obviously, the five-and-a-half minutes that Nightly News has devoted to Harry Potter is for the sole purpose of promoting NBC Universal's "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" theme park in Orlando.
Tuesday 7/19: In a report about Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch testifying before a British Parliament committee, a Nightly News graphic identified James Murdoch as Rupert Murdoch.
**Here's how Brian introduced the "Making A Difference" story about a man who purchases headstones for deceased Negro League baseball players: "A story we've been trying to bring you for a while now during a very busy news season." I literally burst out laughing when I heard this. Is he kidding us? A very busy news season? Here's some of the important "news" that Brian Williams has been covering in the month of July: Will & Kate in Canada and California (24+ minutes); Carmageddon (12+ minutes); Harry Potter (5+ minutes) and the hot weather in July (33+ minutes). So I guess Brian had to delay the Negro League story for several weeks so he could bring us the other important news. Like Will & Kate getting stuck in Carmageddon traffic on their way to see the Harry Potter movie so they could cool off in the theater air conditioning.
Wednesday 7/20: We got to see a two-and-a-half minute "Making A Difference" story about people who rescue horses abused by drug smugglers. Like every other MAD story that has ever aired on Nightly News, this story did not contain a shred of news and did not belong on a network newscast. But on July 23, NBC was kicking off their "Summer at Saratoga" horse racing series, which includes seven straight weekends of horse racing. So naturally, Nightly News aired a story about horses to promote NBC's horse racing series. Meanwhile, I don't see anyone at Nightly News refusing advertising dollars from Pfizer or GlaxoSmithKline even though those companies test their products on animals. That's right folks, NBC is really opposed to torturing animals. Except when they can make money from it.
Thursday 7/21: After months of ignoring the famine and drought in the Horn of Africa, Nightly News FINALLY acknowledged this horrible tragedy. Brian introduced the story by saying, "Tonight we're going to tell you about the next global crisis you will be hearing about." After the story, he said, "What's sadly common about this is it's been going on for some time but the world is just taking note and before long there will be camera crews and journalists there--we'll continue to cover this story in the coming days." The world is just taking note? No, Nightly News is just taking note. Anyone who's been watching news on CBS, ABC, BBC, PBS, Deutsche Welle or any of the dozens of other news networks has been aware of this story for months. Those networks' camera crews are already there. It's shameful that Brian has ignored this story for so long and then has the nerve to congratulate himself for finally deigning to cover it. I guess he needed something to fill the time after Will & Kate went back home and Carmageddon fizzled out.
Friday 7/22: Did I say that Will & Kate had gone back home? No problem. Nightly News still found time to do a story on Kate's wedding dress. We were also treated to another pointless "Making A Difference" story about a man who cleans up rivers. Thanks, Nightly News producers.
Saturday 7/23: Nightly News aired a 2:15 story about the drought in Texas, but not a word about the drought in Africa. It's hard to feel sorry for farmers in Texas who are losing their crops when people in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are losing their lives.
**Before the first commercial break, Lester Holt promoted an upcoming story with this teaser: "How the palace is cashing in on Princess Kate." During the story (yet another story about Kate's wedding dress), correspondent Tazeen Ahmad said, "The Royal Family have been quick to capitalize on Kate's appeal." Are Lester and Tazeen kidding us? No one has capitalized on Will & Kate as much as Nightly News. For Christ's sake, Nightly News even developed an iPad app for the Royal Wedding in a desperate attempt to increase their viewing audience! And they have the nerve to accuse the Royal Family of cashing in on Kate? That's what I call cojones.
**What was the deal with that hideous two-minute commercial for the cheesy, fake-gold buffalo coin that ran on Saturday's Nightly News? Has NBC sunk so low that they need to accept advertising for this awful-looking piece of garbage? Does anyone think this coin is worth ten cents? It contains 14 milligrams of gold. Do you know how much gold that is? It's 45/100,000 of an ounce of gold! Virtually nothing! It's just sad that NBC would run this commercial. It belongs on some high-number basic cable channel late at night.
**During the story on Amy Winehouse's death, Peter Alexander showed us a clip of Winehouse "Making her American TV debut on 'Late Night With David Letterman'." Actually, it's called "Late SHOW With David Letterman" (on CBS). "Late Night" is Jimmy Fallon's show on NBC. Letterman last hosted "Late Night" (on NBC) on June 25, 1993, when Winehouse was nine years old. Now, I understand that the Nightly News producers, correspondents and anchors make careless mistakes like this all the time. Constantly. But I suspect there's something else going on here. I think that Peter Alexander conspired with his producers to intentionally misstate the name of Letterman's show. It's well known that one of Brian Williams's main goals is to use his broadcast as a vehicle to promote other NBC shows. And this seems most true for NBC's late night programming. Over the years, Brian has relentlessly promoted Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon (and Conan O'Brien when he was at NBC). In the months leading up to the June, 2009 Tonight Show changeover from Jay to Conan, Brian was practically a one-man promotional force. Jay and Conan were featured constantly in Nightly News stories--even in stories that had absolutely nothing to do with late night TV. Similarly, Brian made a point of virtually ignoring Letterman, since he is the main competition for the Tonight Show. Even when proper news ethics would have mandated that Letterman be mentioned in a news story, Brian continued to pretend he didn't exist. Here's a typical example: On the 11/12/08 Nightly News, Kelly O'Donnell did a post-election story about John McCain. During the story, O'Donnell told us that McCain's presidential campaign had "kicked off on late night TV". True--McCain had announced his candidacy on Letterman's 2/28/07 show. But when O'Donnell and her producers showed clips from that show, they did not show a single clip of Letterman--although it was his show. O'Donnell did not once mention Letterman's name. Even the on-screen credit did not mention Letterman--it only mentioned World Wide Pants, Letterman's production company. Are we supposed to believe this was a coincidence? There was obviously a conspiracy among Brian, his producers and correspondents to never, ever mention Letterman on Nightly News for fear that it would hurt Leno's or Conan's ratings (O'Donnell's report aired just seven months before Conan was set to take over for Jay). So fast forward to this week when Peter Alexander "mistakenly" refers to Letterman's show as "Late Night" instead of "Late Show". I don't believe for a second that this was a mistake. I believe that Alexander intentionally misstated the name of Letterman's show so that people googling "Late Night" would be directed to NBC's "Late Night" instead of CBS's "Late Show". If it sounds petty, that's because it is. No one is pettier than Brian and his producers when it comes to promoting NBC's late night shows and treating Letterman as a non-entity. Of course, when it comes time for Brian to promote himself on Letterman's show every few months (as he did most recently tonight), he strolls right onto Letterman's set as if the two of them are best of friends. And all the while, Brian is conducting his stealth campaign to keep people from watching Letterman's show. Talk about stabbing someone in the back. That's the definition of hypocrisy.
Sunday 7/24: On Saturday's Nightly News, a promo for Sunday's "Meet the Press" boasted that White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley's MTP appearance would be an "exclusive". Actually, no. Daley also appeared Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation". Do the Nightly News producers understand what "exclusive" means? Or are they just willing to lie about MTP guests' appearances in the hope of attracting a larger audience? I would guess the latter.
**During yet another story about the hot Weather in July, Lester Holt referred to the Weather Channel's Samantha Mohr as "Stephanie"--twice. Last Oct. 8, Brian called Savannah Guthrie "Samantha". What's the deal with Nightly News anchors and the name "Samantha"? Is it a secret code for something we're not supposed to know about?
Monday 7/25: In Michael Isikoff's story about how the terrorist attacks in Norway may have been provoked by American hate writing, we were shown a U.S. map featuring the states where anti-Muslim attacks have occurred. One of those states (highlighted in yellow) was Michigan. One problem--the Upper Peninsula (which is part of Michigan) was not highlighted. Maybe the Nightly News producers don't think that the UP is part of Michigan. Maybe they think it's part of Wisconsin. Or Canada.
**In his introduction to yet another story on Amy Winehouse, Brian told us that "she changed the music business". Really? How? He didn't bother to explain that ridiculous statement.
**Monday's 30-second obituary for Gen. John Shalikashvili was identical to Sunday's obituary. Did we really need to see two obits for Gen. Shalikashvili? I mean, he's not exactly Amy Winehouse.
**The final story of the night was an in-depth piece on the appropriateness of wearing flip-flops to work. Really. I mean it. This was an actual news story on NBC Nightly News. Of course, this was the best footwear story Nightly News has done since Stephanie Gosk's famous 6/24/09 three-minute masterpiece about the difficulties of going clubbing while wearing high-heels. Bravo, Nightly News producers. I only hope that the Peabody Awards Evaluation Committee was watching. Nightly News's devotion to serious reporting about footwear is truly commendable.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

NBC Nightly News Show Notes--July 4-July 15

From June 30 through July 10, Nightly News ran nine "news stories" (totalling more than 21 minutes--the equivalent of an entire broadcast) about Will & Kate's trip through Canada and California. What a great allocation of news resources. Here are some other things you may have missed if you haven't been watching Nightly News lately:

Monday 7/4--Kate Snow (filling in for Brian Williams) spends all of 27 seconds reading a story about how the smoking cessation drug Chantix may increase the risk of heart attacks among its users. There was no accompanying video and Snow mentioned Pfizer (Chantix's manufacturer) only once. By comparison, on that night's CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley spent more than two minutes on the Chantix story, including a question-and-answer session between Pelley and medical correspondent Jon LaPook. Obviously, the Nightly News producers made the Chantix story as short as possible (and ran it on a holiday when fewer people are watching) as a favor to their pals at Pfizer. Limiting the negative publicity from this story is the least NBC can do for one of their biggest advertisers.
Tuesday 7/5--Brian narrated a 43-second story about Indonesian Macaque monkeys using a photographer's camera to take self-portraits. I only hope the Peabody Awards Evaluation Committee was watching this broadcast.
Wednesday 7/6--Brian narrated a 42-second story about a blind guitarist who was invited on stage to play with U2. It must be great to have your own news show so you can report every minuscule detail about your favorite bands.
Thursday 7/7--In his obituary for baseball manager Dick Williams, Brian informed us that Dick Williams, "...was the only manager in major league history to win pennants with three different teams." Wrong. Bill McKechnie first accomplished that feat with the 1925 Pirates, the 1928 Cardinals and the 1939-40 Reds. But why should Brian let the facts get in the way of a good sound bite? Also on this day, Nightly News did a 2:15 story about the new Harry Potter movie. They should have attached a "breaking news" banner to this one. Obviously, the only reason Nightly News ran this story was so they could promote the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" attraction at the Universal Orlando theme park. (NBC is part of Universal.)
Friday 7/8--Nightly News spent a total of 7:40 on the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis. In what alternate universe does this story deserve one-third of the entire broadcast?
Sunday 7/10--Kate Snow breathlessly informed us that Kate Middleton was "...wearing earrings on loan from the Queen and a belted lilac Alexander McQueen gown, the same design house that made her wedding dress." Is this NBC or the Style Network? I guess it doesn't much matter, since both are owned by Universal. More cross-promotion. Snow also told us that, "Prince William serves as president of the British Academy for Film and Television Arts..." Maybe if Snow was paying attention, she would have realized that it's actually the British Academy OF Film and Television Arts. I guess she was too busy obsessing over Kate's outfits. Also on this broadcast, we were treated to a pointless story about back-to-school shopping. Clearly, the only reason the producers aired this story was as a 1:35 promotional piece for regular NBC sponsors Staples, Toys "R" Us, Walmart and Office Depot.
Tuesday 7/12--The first 3:40 of this broadcast was devoted to reporting on the hot weather in the southern U.S. Really? Hot weather in July in the southern U.S.? That must be some kind of scoop for Nightly News. Maybe in January, they'll report a breaking news story about the cold weather in the northern U.S. (actually, they probably will). Also on this broadcast, Brian aired his interminable four-and-a-half-minute interview with new Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry. By comparison, on the CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley devoted thirty seconds to this story, because that's the amount of time it actually deserved. But because Brian serves on the board of directors for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, he uses his position as Nightly News anchor to constantly promote his pet project. Every time a MOH recipient sneezes, Brian reports it as news. This is an incredible conflict of interest--it would be no different than if Brian served on the McDonald's board and used his broadcast to constantly promote Big Macs and Quarter Pounders (which he already does, anyway).
Wednesday 7/13--In the lead story about airport security and the TSA, the Israeli security expert Rafi Ron was identified by a Nightly News graphic as an "Airport Security Cunsultant". A minute later, a story about hidden charges in phone bills was given the on-screen title "Dailing [sic] For Dollars". Cunsultant? Dailing? Is anyone at Nightly News paying attention to what goes up on the screen during their stories? Obviously not. Also on this broadcast, during a story about the U.S. Women's Soccer Team, a Nightly News graphic identified Abby Wambach is the "U.S. Women's Soccer Team Captain". No she isn't. Christie Rampone is the team captain. It would have taken any Nightly News producer about 10 seconds to find this out through Google. If any of them actually cared, that is. Obviously, they don't. But at least the producers managed to insert 15 seconds of a Nike ad into this story. Nothing says "thank you" to a regular sponsor like some free advertising. And on this broadcast, we were treated to another 1:50 of Brian's overlong interview with Leroy Petry. That brings the total Petry interview to almost six-and-a-half minutes over two days. Will it ever end? It must be great to have your own news broadcast so you can show anything you want for as long as you want.
Thursday 7/14--During his introduction to a story about drought conditions in the U.S., Brian told us that the drought, " covers just about the entire lower third of this country." Moments later, correspondent Thanh Truong informed us that it was actually covering only 12% of the country. Oh well--a third, 12%, whatever. Of course, Nightly News has yet to mention the current drought in the Horn of Africa (which is being called the worst in 60 years), which is far more severe than the one in the U.S. But we all know that Brian never pays attention to Sub-Saharan Africa unless George Clooney goes there. Later, Brian spent 40 seconds talking about the Emmy nominations so he could plug NBC stars like Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig and the "amazing" Connie Britton (who?). It must be great to have your own TV show so you can plug all of your network's other TV shows.
Friday 7/15--Nightly News aired a 1:48 story about baboons. They aired this story because...well, I'm still trying to figure it out. But I'm sure Brian had a really good reason. Brian also reported that Netflix will be raising their prices. Obviously, he reported this specifically in order to benefit Hulu (which is one-third owned by NBC Universal). We were then treated to the fifth story (in six nights) about Carmageddon. Is there any conceivable reason why viewers need to see nearly nine minutes (with more obviously to come) about this non-story that affects one specific region of the country? Answer: No. But at least we got to see 20 seconds of Leno clips. And I particularly liked the way that Brian contrived an obituary for the lead singer of the Grass Roots just so he could tell us that a former member of that band is now appearing on "The Office" (there was a clip, of course). But I think my favorite moment of the night was when Brian showed a picture of Donald Rumsfeld being frisked at an airport. Brian described it as a "Full Monty pants unbuckled you-better-at-least-offer-to-buy-me-dinner TSA search." Wow. There's a little something for all the kiddies watching. Thanks, Uncle Brian.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nightly News Wastes Our Time. Again.

Do you ever wonder how much valuable news time Nightly News wastes each week on pointless, irrelevant stories with no news value--stories that don't belong on a news broadcast? News isn't supposed to make you feel good or inspire you or uplift you. It's supposed to inform you about the important events going on across the country and around the world. It's really a shame that Brian constantly chooses to air stories that will boost his ratings instead of stories with legitimate news value. There's a big difference. Here's the breakdown for how much time Brian and his producers wasted this past week:

Saturday 6/25: We were treated to a 2:15 story about people travelling to Joplin, Missouri to adopt pets left homeless by the recent tornado. How does this qualify as news? It doesn't. Total time wasted: 2:15.
Sunday 6/26: A 2:40 story about the Casey Anthony trial is virtually identical to the story they ran a day earlier. It contained no new footage or information--it was just a way to promote coverage of the trial on The Today Show. Then Lester Holt took 25 seconds to show us footage of a shark jumping over a surfer. And we saw a 2:25 "Making A Difference" story about a California group that helps military veterans deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is not news. Total time wasted: 5:30.
Monday 6/27: We were shown a 2:50 MAD story about a Tennessee woman who helps a Vietnamese orphanage. Zero news value. Total time wasted: 2:50.
Tuesday 6/28: Nightly News wasted 3:40 on a "debate" about whether or not we need such a high level of security at our airports. This "news story" contained no new information. It was just talking heads yapping back and forth. This is not news. We then got a combined 1:40 on the Pope using an iPad to send his first tweet; a Cirque du Soleil performer throwing out the first pitch at a Padres game; and a new baby koala at a Sydney wildlife park. Wow, that's some urgent stuff. Finally, another insipid MAD story--this time it was 2:20 on a Brooklyn group that helps girls acquire self-esteem through running. Newsworthy? Absolutely not. Total time wasted: 7:40.
Wednesday 6/29: Brian and his producers wasted a combined 2:30 on three stories: Turtles on a runway at JFK airport; new old photos of Paul McCartney and The Beatles; and an obituary for the inventor of the Weed Eater. Important news. Then we were treated to yet another pointless MAD story. This one (2:20) was about a group in Massachusetts that creates gardens for cancer patients. In what alternate universe does this belong on a news broadcast? Total time wasted: 4:50.
Thursday 6/30: Yet again, Nightly News aired a report on homeless veterans (2:35). They do the exact same story five or six times a year. This isn't news, it's just another emotional sob story meant to increase the ratings. Then Brian spent a combined 2:30 telling us about the high cost of colleges (there's breaking news for you), a scorpion on a plane, an award won by Richard Engel and the retirement of the NBC News Chief Photographer. Finally, they wasted another 2:20 documenting Will & Kate's trip to Canada. Total time wasted: 7:25.
Friday 7/1: We were forced to watch an appalling 8:55 on Dominique Strauss-Kahn. That's five minutes more than the story deserved. Another thirty-five seconds on Will & Kate in Canada. Then a 2:40 MAD story about a man who helps hearing-impaired kids by building hearing aids for them. Nice thing to do--but it doesn't deserve air time on a network newscast. Total time wasted (including the five unnecessary minutes on DSK): 8:15.

So how much total time did Nightly News waste this week? An astounding 38 minutes and 45 seconds. That is unbelievable. A Nightly News broadcast is only 22 minutes long (when you factor out the commercials). So a week's worth of broadcasts runs 154 minutes. The 38:45 they wasted represents 25% of the entire week's content. A quarter of everything Brian and his producers put on the air this past week had absolutely no news value! Can you imagine how many legitimate news stories they could have covered in 38:45? It boggles the mind. For example, here's a story Brian could have reported: According to Thursday's New York Times, "General Mills is forecasting weaker earnings for the year than Wall Street expected because of higher ingredient and fuel costs." Of course, there's no chance that Brian would air that story. General Mills products account for a big chunk of Nightly News's (and NBC's) advertising dollars. Here are some of General Mills's products and brands: Cheerios, Total, Lucky Charms, Wheaties, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Haagen-Dazs, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Bugles, Hamburger Helper, Progresso and Yoplait. Do you really think that Brian would report bad news about one of his broadcast's BCP (Best Corporate Partners)? Not when there are more important stories to report--like turtles on a runway, scorpions on a plane, a baby koala, the Pope's tweets or Will & Kate.