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, "...now 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.