On Wednesday, Nightly News unveiled a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. At one point during this story, an on-screen graphic informed us that 51% of Americans "Dissaprove" of the job that Pres. Obama is doing. "Dissaprove"? Is that anything like "Disapprove"? I think that 100% of Americans "Dissaprove" of the Nightly News producers' appallingly sloppy spelling. Three minutes later, a story about Herman Cain displayed an on-screen transcript of some comments Cain made on his radio show last year. The producers attributed the comments to "Hermain" Cain. Who's "Hermain" Cain? Is he Herman Cain's evil twin. Or perhaps he's Cain's evil Twain. Later in the broadcast, during a story about domestic violence laws in Topeka, Kansas, a graphic identified a domestic violence victim named Claudine Dumbrowski as "Rita Smith" from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Victim, advocate...whatever. In Thursday's story about the "Occupy Wall Street" protests, Rep. John Larson of Connecticut was identified in a graphic as "Jon Larson". No one cares at Nightly News.
In the past few weeks, Brian Williams has reported several times on the recent decision by Netflix to separate their video-on-demand service from their mail-order business, and to raise the price on the combination of both services. Brian derisively told us about the decision, he told us about the backlash and he told us about the Netflix CEO's decision to reverse the original decision. But here's a story Brian didn't report: This week, Universal Studios (sister company of NBC) discarded a plan to release movies on-demand only three weeks after their release in theaters (the current delay from theaters to video and on-demand is four months). Apparently, Universal reversed their decision under severe pressure from theater owners. So when Netflix caves in to pressure and reverses a decision, Brian reports it, but when Universal caves in to pressure and reverses a decision, Brian ignores it. That makes sense. Netflix is a competitor of Comcast and NBC Universal. Brian is always happy to report stories that portray a competitor in a bad light. But he won't report negative stories about anyone in the Comcast/NBC U family. Because that's just the kind of guy he is.
Also this week, the New York Times reported that the publisher of the European edition of the Wall Street Journal (a paper owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation) has resigned after suspicious practices were uncovered between the Journal and a Dutch company. According to the Times, "Under the deal, the Journal used a third party to channel money to a Dutch consulting firm, which bought thousands of copies of the Journal each day for as little as one euro cent (1.37 American cents). The practice helped bolster the Journal's subscription rate in Europe." the Times also reported that, "...the circulation deal also led to an agreement that provided the Dutch company, Executive Learning Partnership, with two positive articles in exchange for its financial support." So the Journal paid cash and provided positive news coverage in exchange for a circulation increase. That seems pretty shady. Especially in light of the recent Murdoch/News of the World hacking scandal. This past summer, Brian reported frequently about the News Corporation's hacking scandal. For a while, it seemed that Rupert Murdoch was getting more air time on Nightly News than Pres. Obama. So you would think that Brian would be all over this story. But actually he's ignoring it. The reason is obvious. Nightly News is partnered with the Wall Street Journal. They just released a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. If Brian reported on the Wall Street Journal Europe's circulation scandal, he would risk damaging his own credibility. It's self-interest--nothing more.
On Friday, ABC's Nightline aired a story about the possible side effects associated with the birth control/premenstrual dysphoric disorder pill called Yaz. One woman in the story claimed that taking the medication put her in a coma and caused her to go blind. According to the NJ.com website, an 18-year-old girl from New Jersey died from blood clots allegedly as a result of taking Yaz. There are currently thousands of lawsuits claiming that the pill's manufacturer did not provide an adequate warning label and that the pill caused injury or death. So when will Brian Williams report this story? He won't. Yaz is manufactured by Bayer, one of Nightly News's most frequent advertisers and sponsors. Brian does not report negative stories about his regular sponsors. It's one of his Ten Commandments--Thou Shalt Not Report Negative Stories About Sponsors. (Another of his commandments: Thou Shalt Constantly Promote NBC Sports and Entertainment Shows On Nightly News.) You will never, never, ever see this story on Nightly News. Brian will make sure of that.
Here are some of the other great things that happened on Nightly News this week:
Saturday Oct. 8--Nightly News did not air because obviously college football was more important (more profitable) to the NBC weasels.
Sunday Oct. 9--Nightly News aired a 25-second story on Paul McCartney's wedding and a 2:20 story on the Michael Jackson tribute concert because viewers like entertainment stories and they help the ratings. As usual, the final story of the night was a football story (about NFL refs) because Nightly News cares more about promoting their Sunday Night Football (which follows the broadcast) than about actual news. It's hard to imagine how anyone at Nightly News can look at themselves in a mirror without feeling a deep sense of shame over their relentless and shameless promotion of football at the expense of real news.
Monday Oct. 10--Brian began the broadcast with a four-minute story on women and vitamins. Seriously, Brian? You need four minutes to tell this story? Any other news broadcast could have told it in thirty seconds. A story on the "Occupy Wall Street" protests showed a close-up of a little girl picking her nose and eating it (at minute 9). This is what Nightly News shows during dinnertime? Do any of the producers actually bother to watch what they put on the air? We also saw another 25-second story about Paul McCartney's wedding, which was identical to Sunday's story. Did we really need to see this again? Then Brian used the phrase "richly rewarded" twice in 15 seconds--first in a story about the new iPhone 4S and then moments later in a promo for the next story. For someone whose job involves communicating, Brian doesn't seem to have a very broad command of the English language. The final story of the night was a silly piece about a pizza parlor owner who begged his customers to frequent his restaurant so he wouldn't go out of business. There was absolutely no reason for this story to air on a news broadcast. But then again, that's true of most Nightly News stories.
Tuesday Oct. 11--We saw a riveting piece about Michelle Obama joining some kids for jumping jacks on the White House lawn, "led by our friend Al Roker". Wow, that was awesome. Then it was time for Brian to once again pander to the people in Detroit: "We thought this needed to be said--these are good days for our friends in Detroit." He then proceeded to kvell over the recent success of the Lions, Tigers and Red Wings. Brian's rule: When you have nothing important to say, pander. And he used the phrase "our friend(s)" twice in 15 seconds. Next, Brian said that some photos of Martian sand dunes remind him a lot of the Jersey Shore. I guess--if the Jersey Shore is a vast wasteland of nothingness. After that, he showed us a video of a South African antelope knocking a guy off his bicycle. Three times. Because Brian is all about hard news. The final story of the night was a "Making A Difference" piece about "Reach Out and Read", a program that encourages military parents to read to their kids, either in person or on recorded DVDs. Yeah, we know, because Nightly News already did this story about 18 months ago. On the 3/22/10 broadcast, they did a story about "United Through Reading", an organization that produces DVD recordings of deployed military parents reading to their kids. It's bad enough that Nightly News showed this story once. But twice? Neither story had even a scintilla of news value. Here's what Brian said after the story: "As we honor the service of everyone in uniform." It's sad that Brian still doesn't understand the role of a news broadcast. A news broadcast is supposed to report important stories taking place across the country and around the world. It is NOT supposed to "honor" any person or entity. News is supposed to be objective. But Brian doesn't care. He does what he wants. So as a ratings gimmick, he's turned Nightly News into the propaganda arm of the U.S. Military in order to pander to the rah-rah gung-ho ultrapatriotic feelings of viewers. I'm waiting for Brian to start chanting "USA! USA!" Shameful.
Wednesday Oct. 12--While presenting the results of a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, the producers spelled "disapprove" as "dissaprove". A story about Herman Cain identified him in a graphic as "Hermain" Cain. A story about domestic violence in Topeka, Kansas misidentified a victim of domestic abuse. In other words, business as usual for the Nightly News producers. We then got 80 seconds on all the places Michelle Obama sneaks out to shop at (did Brian really pronounce Target as "Tar-JAY"?) and 20 seconds on the new Girl Scout merit badges. Fascinating!
Thursday Oct. 13--In a story about the "Occupy Wall Street" protests, a Nightly News graphic misspelled Rep. John Larson's first name as "Jon". A story about Kodak's struggles to stay relevant included Paul Simon singing "Kodachrome" and a clip from "Mad Men"--for no other reason than because Brian likes Paul Simon and "Mad Men". It must be really great to have your own news broadcast where you can include anything you like in any story. Brian then spent 25 seconds telling us about the upcoming price increase in peanut butter. Any breaking news about jelly? A story about British Prime Minister David Cameron saying that women should be allowed to succeed to the British throne was just an excuse to show some video of Will & Kate's wedding. The final story was about the Royal Wedding in Bhutan because the NBC News research department has informed Brian that any story about any royal event will generate big ratings.
Friday Oct. 14--A story about Pres. Obama and South Korean President Lee touring a GM plant in Michigan showed Mr. Lee wearing a Detroit Tigers cap, obviously as a way to pander to the locals. Wait a second--pandering to people in Detroit is Brian's job! Who does Lee think he is? The nerve of him. Brian then spent 37 seconds telling us the important news that in 1988 George H.W. Bush considered Clint Eastwood as his running mate. Brian could have dug deeper--was Sylvester Stallone ever considered? After that, Brian narrated a 30-second video of a toddler playing with an iPad. Is there any discernible difference between Nightly News and the Animal Planet show "Puppies vs. Babies"? Clearly, no. The final story of the night was about Michelle Obama--"The First Lady of Fashion". Puh-LEEZE. This is ridiculous. But again, since the research department told Brian that she's great for ratings, he puts her on the broadcast as often as possible. She's like American royalty! Do we need any further evidence that Nightly News is a joke?