Saturday, September 24, 2011

NBC Nightly News Show Notes--9/17 Through 9/23

It's been an exciting week on Nightly News. Here's what you may have missed if you weren't watching:

Saturday 9/17--No Nightly News. The broadcast didn't air because as far as the NBC corporate weasels are concerned, Notre Dame football is much more important (meaning profitable) than news.
Sunday 9/18--As usual, Brian Williams and his producers use Nightly News to promote NBC's Sunday Night Football. The broadcast's final story is a pointless 2:40 "Making A Difference" piece about a Philadelphia Eagles player who helps underprivileged high school seniors find colleges. The story is immediately followed by a promo for the Eagles-Falcons game coming up next on NBC. It is shameful that Nightly News wastes its viewers' time on self-promoting garbage like this instead of reporting actual news. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the story was reported by Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of the former president. Hager has absolutely no talent or ability as a reporter. Obviously, she was only given a job at NBC because of her famous father. She's like a female Luke Russert.
Monday 9/19--The lead story is about how President Obama is asking "rich folks" (Brian's term) to pay more in taxes. Brian ought to know, since he's one of them. We then saw a Nightly News/WSJ poll saying that most Americans support ending Bush tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 a year. Brian makes 40 times that. This was followed by a discussion between Brian and CNBC's Sue Herera about whether "regular" people actually pay a higher tax rate than the "super-rich". Typical Brian, talking about himself and his super-rich friends again. Later, Brian reported a story about recent public relations blunders by Netflix when they lost over a million customers after raising prices and separating their DVD business from their movie streaming business. Let's see--who else is in the movie streaming business? Oh yeah, that's right--Hulu, which is one-third owned by NBC Universal. So reporting negative news about Netflix clearly benefits Hulu. Once again, Brian is using his broadcast to promote an NBC Universal property.
Tuesday 9/20--Brian spent 30 seconds reporting on the awesome new Heinz ketchup packages (his second "news report" on the Heinz packages). Just his way of saying thank you to a regular NBC advertiser. The final story this night was a "Making A Difference" piece that was a follow-up to a story that had previously aired about the Hidalgo family, who were struggling financially and had two kids who have had to go without Christmas presents. Boo hoo. Apparently, someone who had seen the original report reached out and offered financial help to the Hidalgos, and Nightly News covered this story like a tarp on a rainy baseball field. You see, there's nothing Nightly News loves reporting on more than itself. Neither of these stories had a scintilla of news value, but of course that never matters to Brian and his producers. They know that a tear-jerker feel-good story like this one gets higher ratings than an actual news story. And when Nightly News has an opportunity to report on itself, they shift into high gear. This was an absolutely ridiculous story. Seeing one of John Vann's employees present a check to the Hidalgos was like watching a reality/game show. "Hidalgo family, you've just won thousands of dollars! Now smile and look happy for the cameras!" And if John Vann (the donor) hadn't seen the original Nightly News report, he would have donated his money to some other deserving family instead of the Hidalgos. So the Hidalgos got money that could have gone to another family--maybe a family that needed the money even more than they did. So there's really no net benefit here. But the Nightly News producers don't care about that. All they care about is pandering to the viewers to get high ratings. And by the way, the Hidalgo family weren't the only ones to get paid that day. Their "Making A Difference" segment was sponsored by Alka-Seltzer Plus. So Nightly News earned a pretty penny from this story. How much of that did they give to the Hidalgo family? I'm guessing nothing. This story was just another sad example of how Brian and his producers are turning their news broadcast into a reality show.
Wednesday 9/21--After a story about the release of the two American hikers who had been imprisoned in Iran, Brian told Ann Curry, "Well, after the role you played in this drama what a roller coaster it's been...." The role she played? Is Brian serious? This is hilarious. During a previous interview, Iranian President Ahmadinejad had told Curry that the hikers might be released soon. She had no role in their release. What does Brian think--that Curry cajoled Ahmadinejad into releasing the hikers? Or that he wouldn't have released them if she hadn't asked about them? Ahmadinejad said the same thing to ABC's George Stephanopoulos. No one from ABC News would ever suggest that Stephanopoulos "had a role" in the hikers' release. But then again, ABC News is a professional news organization whose primary obligation is to report news, not to self-promote and pat each other on the back. What a joke. Also on this night, Brian reported the "shocking news" that the group REM is breaking up. Shocking? Of all the important news stories going on, this is what Brian chooses to call "shocking"? He really should take a Xanax.
Thursday 9/22--After telling us that the Dow lost 391 points that day, Brian said, "That wasn't the worst of it," before showing us the losses sustained by the Nasdaq and the S & P 500. Actually, that was the worst of it. Based on the numbers Brian showed us, the Dow lost the most both in actual numbers and as a percentage of its total. Do the calculations yourself: The Dow dropped 391.01 to close at 10,733.83. The Nasdaq dropped 82.52 to close at 2,455.67. And the S & P 500 lost 37.20 to close st 1,129.56. So clearly the Dow incurred the biggest loss. Someone should buy Brian a calculator. Meanwhile, there's some great news--Lake Michigan is now a state. At least according to Nightly News. In a story about the states that have the death penalty, Lake Michigan is colored grayish-brown just like the non-death penalty states. None of the other Great Lakes are colored in, so I guess Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake that has achieved statehood. Congratulations! Also during this story, we got to see (yet again) the clip of Brian asking Rick Perry about the death penalty at the Sept. 7 Republican candidates' debate. This is like the fifth time Nightly News has replayed this clip because there's nothing Brian likes showing more than clips of himself. Later in the broadcast, we saw a story about the changes in Facebook's home page which included interviews with two students from the University of Colorado at Denver. One student was identified as a "University of Colorado Student", while the other was identified as being from the "University of Colorado, Denver". If they both attend the same school, why are they identified differently? Just another example of one Nightly News producer not knowing what another producer was doing. After that, Brian read a story about which people had the longest and shortest commutes. He told us that, "The good people of Maryland have the worst average commute in the country--over a half hour each (way)." That's what I like about Brian--he never misses an opportunity to shamelessly pander to somebody.
Friday 9/23--A story on the previous night's Republican candidates' debate showed the clip of--you guessed it--Brian asking Rick Perry about the death penalty. Gosh, I just can't get enough of that clip. I can watch it over and over and over (actually, I do watch it over and over and over because Brian keeps showing it). Can I get that clip as my screen saver? We also saw a 2:40 story on Cate Edwards. I'm not sure why. What are we supposed to take away from that story? That Ms. Edwards is a nice woman whose head is screwed on straight? How is that news? What a waste of time. Speaking of a waste of time, Brian then wasted 1:46 telling us about the new NASA ringtones, the falling satellite and budget director Jack Lew's messy signature. Maybe he should have attached a "breaking news" banner to that last story. Thanks, Brian. The broadcast's closing story was a very important 2:05 piece about the final episode of "All My Children". Or was that the first story on Extra, the show that follows Nightly News? It's hard to tell, because the two shows are so much alike. Just part of Brian's strategy to make Nightly News indistinguishable from the gossip shows that follow it. And I have to say--he's doing a great job. A story about "All My Children" on Nightly News. What would John Chancellor say? (I'm guessing he'd say that Brian was an asshole.)

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