Here's what's been happening on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams this week:
Sat. Aug. 27--Brian personally anchored Saturday's Nightly News. Obviously, he didn't feel that Lester Holt could do an adequate job of reading the hurricane news off the teleprompter. Viewers were treated to a 2:50 report on how Hurricane Irene is affecting the Jersey Shore. Because honestly--is there a more important place in the country than the Jersey Shore?
Sun. Aug. 28--Brian anchored again because he thinks that Lester is incompetent. The lead story was how Hurricane Irene affected--you guessed it--the all-important Jersey Shore. Finally, eight minutes into the broadcast, we saw a report about how Irene affected a small town near the Jersey Shore called New York City. And why was Anne Thompson wearing a huge beaming smile while reporting on the hurricane? Was there something funny that we should know about? Also, Brian referred to the Weather Channel's Jim Cantore and WNBC meteorologist Janice Huff as "two of the very best in the weather business." He said this twice. I remember back in the 70's when WNBC meteorologist Frank Field was sometimes accompanied on-air by Winston the Weather Dog. No doubt Brian would describe Winston as "one of the very best in the weather business" because he worked for an NBC affiliate. I guess all of the meteorologists who work for other networks are strictly second-rate. Sam Champion? More like Sam Chump-ion.
Mon. Aug. 29--An excerpt from an interview with Dick Cheney was just a shameless promo for Cheney's upcoming appearances on "Dateline" and "Today". Brian then took a minute-and-a-half to report the "big news" (his words) that Beyonce is pregnant. Really. I mean it. This was an actual news story on a network newscast the day after a hurricane hit the east coast. I'm not kidding. The story also included lots of footage from MTV's Video Music Awards--including Lady Gaga dressed as a man. Brian's comment: "Lady Gaga as a guy--in fact a guy who for a time couldn't stop talking." Wait a second--there's someone else I'm thinking of on TV who can't stop talking. But I can't quite remember his name. I'll let you know if it comes back to me. For at least the second time in two weeks, Brian name-dropped Jay-Z and Kanye West. Is there anyone he won't pander to? The managing editor of thegrio.com (in yet another plug for a Comcast/NBC property) said that Beyonce's pregnancy is, "...like the Royal Wedding--something exciting that people can vicariously be excited about..." So I guess Nightly News will be bringing us three or four minutes a night about Beyonce, just like they did with Will & Kate. Has Nightly News secured the rights to be in the delivery room when the baby is born? I can imagine a day six or seven months in the future when Brian will begin the broadcast by saying, "Khaddafy is finally caught, but first our lead story--it's a girl for Beyonce and Jay-Z! And Kanye was there, too!"
Tues. Aug 30--For the third time in five days, the lead Nightly News story is how Hurricane Irene affected (all together now) the Jersey Shore. It must be great to have your own newscast so you can report on your home state as often as you like. Also, Brian referred to Vermont as a "great state". Is there a single state that Brian hasn't called "great"? If every state in the U.S. is great, then that completely defeats the purpose of the description. I mean, if every human had super powers, they wouldn't really be super because everyone had them, right? A story on a new lung cancer drug turned out to be a two-minute plug for Pfizer. That's hardly surprising. Once again, Robert Bazell used his position as NBC News Chief Science Correspondent to shill for one of NBC's biggest sponsors. Brian also reported that Michael Vick signed a new six-year $100-million contract with the Eagles. Actually, that's only slightly more than Brian himself will earn over the next six years. But don't tell anyone. Brian wants his viewers to think of him as a good ol' regular blue-collar working class guy. You know--like a character in a Springsteen song. The final story was a two-and-a-half minute piece about the health benefits of chocolate. There were no fewer than eight clear shots of Hershey products (and several of M & M products). That's known in the business as "product placement". Usually, the advertiser pays to have their product featured in a movie, TV show or news report. If no one from NBC denies this was a paid product placement, we should just assume that it was. And again I ask: Has Lee Cowan ever once reported on a story that has even the tiniest shred of news value? I don't think so. But at least we got to see some neat clips from "E.T." and "Forrest Gump". Because Brian and his producers can't go more than a few days without including a movie or TV clip (or clips) in a Nightly News story. It's just their way of making Nightly News more and more indistinguishable from the shows that follow it--"Access Hollywood" and "Extra". And now that I think about it, Lee Cowan really does remind me of Forrest Gump.