Here's some of the important stuff you may have missed on Nightly News this past week:
Saturday Oct. 15--Nightly News aired a 2:25 "Making A Difference" story about a woman who makes stained glass angels to give to cancer patients. Seriously? This has to be one of the stupidest and most pointless stories I've ever seen on Nightly News (and that's saying a lot). In what alternate universe does this story belong on a network evening newscast? And do we need any further proof that Anne Thompson is a joke?
Sunday Oct. 16--Anne Thompson was wearing a huge grin on her face while reporting a story about Renee-Nicole Douceur being rescued from the South Pole after possibly suffering stroke. Why? Was there something funny about this story? Maybe Thompson was still thinking about the stained glass angels. Later, Lester Holt took 20 seconds to narrate a story about Bill Clinton's 65th birthday celebration at the Hollywood Bowl. This was just an excuse to show some footage of Bono. Brian has ordered his producers and anchors to show clips of Bono (and Springsteen and Bon Jovi) as frequently as possible because they are all FOBs (Friends of Brian). And of course, at Nightly News, you have to do what Brian wants. The final story of the night was about Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije. Apparently, he mentors grade school kids. But that doesn't matter. The Nightly News producers were really only interested in promoting the Bears-Packers game that was airing on NBC immediately after the broadcast. Virtually every Sunday, the final story of the night is about an NFL player or team that is playing later on NBC. Using news time to promote football is grossly unethical. Brian Williams doesn't care. Lester Holt doesn't care. NBC News president Steve Capus doesn't care. All they care about is promoting football. Great job, guys. You should be real proud of yourselves.
Monday Oct. 17--The lead story of the night was the death of IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon. Brian spent 3:55 on this, including his ridiculously overlong 60-second intro. But we all know how much Brian likes hearing the sound of his own voice. The next story was a 2:35 piece about Pres. Obama out on the road to promote his jobs bill. So I guess the death of Dan Wheldon was much more important than what the President is doing. At least it is to Brian. Then we saw a story about the shortage of cancer drugs which included lots of footage of kids with cancer. Brian and his producers constantly show stories about kids with cancer because the NBC News research geeks have informed them that these stories get very high ratings by pulling at the viewers' heartstrings. Brian then took 50 seconds to recap what happened in the NFL on Sunday because his main job at all times is to promote NBC's Sunday Night Football, the network's top rated show. The final story of the night was about a Boston firefighter who caught a kid who was thrown out of a three-story window. Clearly, this was a local story, not a national story. It had no business being shown on Nightly News. But again, the NBC research geeks have informed Brian that firefighter stories test well with the viewers, so Brian includes them regularly. This was Brian's closing comment after the story: "Modest man thanking his lucky stahs." So now Brian is doing fake Boston accents on the news? I guess that makes sense. Whenever Brian anchors from Louisiana, he always adopts a fake Cajun accent. I hope he does many more accents in the coming weeks. I'd like to hear him do a funny Indian accent, a silly German accent and a wacky Cockney accent.
Tuesday Oct. 18--Brian told us that, "...Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas and held captive for five years was exchanged today for a thousand Palestinian prisoners..." Not exactly. On that day, Shalit was exchanged for 477 Palestinian prisoners. The other 550 prisoners will be released in approximately two months. I thought accuracy was supposed to be important in news reporting. And by the way, the total comes to 1,027 prisoners, not "a thousand". Someone should buy Brian a calculator. Then we got another story on the death of Dan Wheldon, a 1:40 story on a dust storm in West Texas and 25 seconds of footage of a bear cub running around in an Alaska supermarket. Because Nightly News is a professional newscast. They should have attached a "breaking news" banner to that last story. Brian also spent 25 seconds telling us about the latest falling satellite because alarmist stories make people tune in regularly. The broadcast ended with a 2:35 story on homeless students because...well, I'm not really sure why they aired that story. But it must have had something to do with the ratings.
Wednesday Oct. 19--We saw a 2:05 story about Michelle Obama on the campaign trail because Michelle Obama stories are ratings gold. We also got a 1:35 story about windstorms in Chicago. Really? You don't say. How surprising. Brian then told us excitedly about Starbucks' new Blonde Roast. Brian likes to read press releases from Starbucks. Maybe promoting Starbucks on the air gets him free coffee. He also told us about Carla Bruni's new baby--just in case they didn't mention it on Access Hollywood. The final story of the night was about the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas. I'm not sure why that was on the broadcast. Maybe Brian wants to eat there free next time he goes to Vegas.
Thursday Oct. 20--As part of the coverage of Khaddafy's death, Andrea Mitchell showed us footage of Hillary Clinton arriving in Tripoli on Tuesday. But on-screen, the footage is labeled "March 28, 2011". Oh well, it's only off by about seven months. Brian then spent 1:55 interviewing counterterrorism expert Michael Leiter. During this "interview", Brian spoke for 64 seconds, while Leiter was only allowed to speak for 51 seconds. I always thought that the point of an interview was to hear what the subject, not the interviewer, had to say. I guess I must be wrong. My bad. The final story of the night was a "Making A Difference" piece about a Los Angeles woman who teaches inner-city kids to play music. Hmmm...where have I seen that before? Oh yeah--on Nightly News. Over the past few years, they've done dozens of identical stories about teachers or philanthropists who teach inner-city kids to play music. As Yogi Berra said--it's like deja vu all over again. And the funny thing is that if you add up all those MAD pieces, they don't have a single shred of news value between them.
Friday Oct. 21--We got our second story on the falling German satellite. (The third story will air the following day.) Nightly News certainly has that story covered. The final story was a "Making A Difference" piece about Jon Bon Jovi's pay-what-you-can restaurant in Red Bank, N.J. Really? This is a news story on Nightly News? I think the reason is obvious. Bon Jovi is an FOB (Friend of Brian) so obviously Brian ordered his producers to do this story. And Bon Jovi says he was inspired to open his restaurant by a story he once saw on Nightly News! Awesome! There's nothing Brian and his producers like reporting on more than themselves. As if that's not ridiculous enough, this isn't even the first time that Jon Bon Jovi was the subject of a "Making A Difference" story. On 11/9/09, Brian himself profiled Bon Jovi for MAD. For four minutes and ten seconds. Brian told us about all the great things JBJ has done to make a difference. And back then, JBJ was also inspired by a previous MAD segment he had seen! Wow! It was so cool to see Brian hanging out with his pseudo-pal JBJ. As I recall, during that 2009 MAD piece, JBJ was in the middle of his exclusive artist-in-residence stint with NBC for the purpose of promoting his latest album. So he was showing up on one NBC show after another--Nightly News, 30 Rock, The Today Show, The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien, The Jay Leno Show (which then aired at 10 PM), SNL--even "Inside the Actors Studio" on Bravo (an NBC Universal network) because of (I assume) all his great acting roles. And now here he is again on MAD. So I wonder what JBJ is promoting this time. And is he an NBC artist-in-residence again? And more importantly--when can we see Bono or Springsteen on a MAD segment? This is all so fascinating. Jon Bon Jovi gets a second MAD segment. It must be great to be an FOB.