Here's what's been happening this week on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams:
Sunday 9/4--In a story about the oil boom town of Williston, ND, CNBC's Brian Shactman told us that, "Walmart sells out of items every day--the Williston McDonald's--one of the country's busiest--paying $15 an hour to attract workers." Obviously, the Nightly News producers insist that their correspondents make a point of plugging regular NBC sponsors (such as Walmart and McDonald's) frequently during news stories. That's known as product placement. I wonder how much the sponsors pay NBC for these placements. Also on Sunday, we saw a 2:05 story about an injured penguin that convalesced in New Zealand before being returned to the Antarctic. During the broadcast, the producers aired three promos for this story because clearly it was a very important news story.
Monday 9/5--I have nothing bad to say about this broadcast. That's because there was no broadcast. Golf ran late in the New York market, so Nightly News did not air. This is the second time in 48 hours that Nightly News was pre-empted by sports. On Saturday, there was no Nightly News because of Notre Dame football. Clearly, golf and football are more important (translation: more profitable) than news to the NBC weasels who are huddled together in their underground holes deep below 30 Rock.
Tuesday 9/6--A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll informed us that Michele "Bachman" is polling at around 8%. This is the third time in three months that Nightly News has misspelled Michele Bachmann's name. On the June 26 broadcast, her last name was also spelled as "Bachman", and on Aug. 10, a "Meet the Press" promo spelled her first name as "Michelle". It is beyond comprehension that a network news organization cannot correctly spell the name of a major presidential candidate. Does anyone at Nightly News even care? Also on this broadcast, we were treated to an exclusive 2:30 "interview" (Brian's word) with Mishka the talking dog. This was the second Nightly News story on Mishka in less than a month. That's more stories than Nightly News reported in the past five years about the Sri Lankan civil war (which ended in 2009 and claimed more than 50,000 lives). But obviously Brian and his producers believe that Mishka is much more important than 50,000 Sri Lankans. Is there anyone out there who doesn't think that Nightly News is a joke?
Wednesday 9/7--Brian anchored the first part of the broadcast from the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA, in advance of the Republican candidates' debate, which he was co-moderating. I'm surprised Brian didn't allow Mishka to ask questions of the candidates. Later in the broadcast, Jim Miklaszewski did a 2:30 profile on soon-to-be Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer. Obviously, this story was done at Brian's insistence in order to promote the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, on whose board Brian sits. Once again, Brian is using his broadcast to promote one of his personal pet projects. We were also treated to a 1:40 story on the upcoming auction of Liz Taylor's jewelry because Nightly News is all about reporting hard news.
Thursday 9/8--At the end of Anne Thompson's report about flooding in Pennsylvania, a caption informed us that Thompson was in Forty Fort, PA. Seconds later, another caption informed us that she was in Wilkes-Barre, PA, which is several miles away. Wow, that Anne Thompson moves fast. Later in the broadcast, we heard some tapes of air traffic controllers and pilots from 9/11/01, accompanied by Nightly News's on-screen transcripts. One transcript read, "It looks like that aircraft crashed into the Penatagon [sic], sir." The "Penatagon"? What's a "Penatagon"? How many sides does a "Penatagon" have? Is Jim Miklaszewski now the NBC News "Penatagon" correspondent?
Friday 9/9--Pete Williams is my hero. No matter how many times Brian segues to him with a treacly "Pete, good evening" introduction, Pete never takes the bait. He simply launches into his report without offering the seemingly obligatory "Good evening, Brian" reply. That's because Pete Williams is a serious journalist, not a television personality. Bravo, Pete Williams. This broadcast also showed us once again that the Nightly News producers desperately need to read the book "Transcriptions for Dummies". In the on-screen transcripts of Jackie Kennedy's 1964 taped remarks, the producers use double quotation marks (") for a quote within a quote. Someone needs to tell the producers than a quote within a quote is set off with a single quotation mark ('), not a double quotation mark ("). Sadly, there are a lot of things that the Nightly News producers need to be told. Finally, it was appalling to see Brian use the somber 9/11 anniversary as a way to plug upcoming NBC shows. He shamelessly offered promos for three different specials--Tom Brokaw's Friday Dateline, Brian's "exclusive" interview with President Obama (scheduled to air on Nightly News Sunday and Monday), and Brian's three-hour 9/11 special airing Sunday morning. To Brian, the 9/11 anniversary is just another event to be milked for ratings, like football or the Olympics. How disrespectful.