Friday, September 16, 2011

Congratulations Diane Sawyer!

Congratulations to Diane Sawyer. ABC announced this week that in November, Sawyer will be conducting the first sit-down interview with Congresswoman Gabby Giffords since the Tucson shooting last January. I only wish that I could have been a fly on the wall at 30 Rock when Brian Williams learned that Sawyer beat him to the Giffords interview. I'm pretty sure that Brian's head spun around, his eyes popped out of his head and smoke came out of his ears. It must have looked like a scene out of "Beetlejuice". Brian spent a significant amount of time schmoozing Giffords' family, friends and staff in order to try to get this interview. Brian spent so much time with Giffords' Chief of Staff, Pia Carusone, viewers might think he really cared about her. Of course he didn't. He was only putting in time with Carusone in order to pave the way for a future interview with the Congresswoman. And now Giffords went and promised the interview to Sawyer. I guess Giffords wanted to appear on a professional news broadcast like ABC World News, not an amateur broadcast like Nightly News where her interview might be sandwiched between a story about a singing New York City construction worker and a story about the propriety of wearing flip-flops to work. Wow, Brian must be fuming. But these exclusive A-list interviews tend to balance out over time among the big networks. ABC may have gotten the Giffords interview, but on Sept. 6, Nightly News scored a major coup by snagging the first network interview with Mishka the talking dog. And as far as Brian is concerned, that's far more important than Gabby Giffords.

Of course, the $64 question is whether Brian will even acknowledge Sawyer's interview with Giffords after it airs on ABC. Like a petulant child, Brian tends to ignore major news stories when they air exclusively on another network. In July, Dominique Strauss-Kahn's accuser broke her silence and told her story exclusively to ABC's Robin Roberts. Although Nightly News spent a significant amount of time reporting on the DSK story over a period of several months (on July 1, they devoted more than a third of the broadcast to DSK) Brian never once mentioned the fact that his accuser had finally told her story. Even when the charges against DSK were dropped, Brian still didn't report on anything his accuser had said to Roberts. So although Nightly News has reported the Gabby Giffords story extensively, it's entirely possible that Brian will ignore Giffords' interview with Sawyer because A) He's really mad that he didn't get the interview and B) He doesn't want to promote the interview on ABC World News (and the inevitable hour-long specials that ABC will create to extend the life of the interview).

But perhaps Brian and his producers can come up with some aggressive counter-programming. On the night that ABC airs Sawyer's interview with Giffords, look for Brian to conduct an exclusive Nightly News interview with Plishka the talking cat.

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