Monday, November 21, 2011

NBC Nightly News Show Notes--11/12 Through 11/18

Here's some of the exciting stuff that happened on Nightly News last week:

Sat. 11/12--Nightly News spent an astounding 10:35--nearly half the broadcast--on stories related to the Penn State sex abuse scandal. By contrast, they spent 15 seconds reporting on the situation in Syria. Great job, Nightly News producers! You really have your priorities straight.
Sun. 11/13--A story about the previous night's Republican Presidential debate included a clip from "Saturday Night Live" because one of the main functions of Nightly News is to promote NBC sports and entertainment programs. A story about how sugar affects heart disease in women spelled "triglycerides" as "tryiglycerides" because no one at Nightly News cares the slightest bit about getting things right. The final story of the night was a ridiculous 3:15 puff piece about New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Of course, this was just a shameless and unethical way to promote that night's Patriots-Jets game, which was airing on NBC immediately after Nightly News. Did I mention that the main function of Nightly News is to promote NBC sports and entertainment programs? The producers can't spell "triglycerides", but they sure know how to promote Sunday Night Football.
Mon. 11/14--For the second time in a week, we saw a story about Patrick Witt, the Yale quarterback who has to choose between his Rhodes Scholarship interview and playing in the Harvard-Yale game (both of which take place on Nov. 19). Last Monday, the idiotic Anne Thompson spent two-and-a-half minutes fawning over Witt. The Harvard-Yale game will be televised by Versus, which is owned by NBC Universal. So the only reason Brian Williams and his producers are reporting this story (twice) is to promote a college football game on an NBC network. Slick. Brian then took 30 seconds to boast about how Chelsea Clinton is joining NBC News: "She's anxious to report stories of volunteerism and highlight the great works of ordinary humanity that we encounter every day." What a load of crap. Chelsea is joining NBC News because she wants to raise her profile and get her face on television. And NBC hired her to add to their collection of kids from famous parents. Chelsea, say hello to Jenna Bush Hager and Luke Russert. Of course, the truth is that Clinton, Bush Hager and Russert combined don't add up to one competent news correspondent. It's like a reality show at NBC News. If you have a famous last name, you can have a job at NBC News. Prediction: In about 20 years, NBC News will have at least five correspondents with the last name of Jolie-Pitt. The broadcast ended with a pointless "Making A Difference" piece (that's an oxymoron) about a 12-year-old girl who raises money for the victims of the Haiti earthquake. As is the case with every MAD piece, this one did not contain a shred of actual news. Rather, it's designed to generate high ratings by appealing to the viewers' emotions. These silly MAD pieces don't belong on a news broadcast, but seriously--when have Brian and his producers ever cared about that?
Tues. 11/15--Nightly News began with eight-and-a-half minutes of Penn State stories--including a rehashing of Bob Costas' interview with Jerry Sandusky from the previous night's "Rock Center". Is it ethical for a news anchor to use his broadcast to promote his prime-time show? But then again, when has Brian Williams ever been concerned with ethics? By contrast, Nightly News spent 35 seconds reporting on the situation in Syria. All together now: Great job guys! During one of the Penn State stories, a man (who was clearly not Nightly News correspondent Michael Isikoff) was identified in an on-screen graphic as Isikoff. So for the second time in a week, the Nightly News producers failed to correctly identify their own correspondent. (On Nov. 10, Nightly News correspondent Ron Mott was identified as "Ron Allen".) After that, Robert Bazell reported a story about the soon-to-expire patent on Lipitor. Other than Brian Williams, Bazell is the biggest shill at NBC News. So whenever Bazell reports a "news story" we should immediately start wondering what exactly he is promoting. In this case, Bazell was promoting Pfizer (a big Nightly News advertiser) as an all-around great company who will soon be doing us a huge favor by graciously allowing their cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor to be sold as a generic. Of course, Bazell never mentioned the lawsuit against Pfizer that accuses them of delaying the patent expiration on Lipitor and illegally keeping a generic version of the drug off the market. According to (, "Lead plaintiff Chimes Pharmacy claims that after a patent dispute, Pfizer and [Indian drug company] Ranbaxy agreed to artificially extend Pfizer's Lipitor patents, previously set to expire in March 2010, until Nov. 30 this year, when Ranbaxy will get a 'risk-free' 180-day monopoly on the generic version. The pharmacies say Ranbaxy and Pfizer also made a deal to fix the price of the generic version at just slightly less than Pfizer's price." The website estimates that this delay earned Pfizer "approximately $18 billion dollars, which they would not have sold in the absence of the unlawful agreement with Ranbaxy." But Bazell isn't interested in those details. He just wants us to believe that Pfizer is eager to do us the big favor of allowing their Lipitor drug to be sold as a generic. Wow, what a great company Pfizer is! And what a huge shill Bazell is! Later, Brian spent 45 seconds reporting on Gabby Giffords' video message to her constituents--without ever once mentioning that Diane Sawyer interviewed Giffords on the previous night's "20/20"! I guess that's not surprising. Sawyer's "20/20" crushed Brian's "Rock Center" in the ratings so he was understandably ticked off. Promote "Rock Center", ignore "20/20"--that's Brian's philosophy. Then, Brian wasted sixty seconds of valuable news time telling us about Annie Leibovitz's photographic technique--excerpted from his interview with Leibovitz on the previous night's--you guessed it--"Rock Center". That's the second time that night that Brian has shown excerpts from "Rock Center" on Nightly News. Brian Williams is without a doubt the sleaziest self-promoter on NBC, and that's saying a lot for a network that also includes Donald Trump. Brian continued the broadcast with a 40-second obituary for Irving Franklin, who made his fortune manufacturing baseball batting gloves. This is news? Does Irving Franklin really deserve an obituary on an evening newscast? And even more alarming--Franklin's obit got more air time than the Syria situation! The broadcast ended with a "Making A Difference" piece about a woman on Block Island who helps needy people pay for things like heating bills or medical expenses. Riveting. In the interview with Jerry Sandusky that aired earlier, Sandusky told Bob Costas that he "is trying to make a difference in the lives of young people." Hey--that sounds like a great idea for a "Making A Difference" piece. Maybe it could be Chelsea's first Nightly News story.
Wed. 11/16--Yet again, Brian told us that a Nightly News correspondent is reporting from "State College P-A", rather than actually saying "Pennsylvania". Is it really too much trouble for Brian to pronounce the state's name in full? He doesn't verbally abbreviate the names of any other states, so why does he do it with Pennsylvania? Brian then spent 40 seconds on an obituary for Karl Stover, the last surviving munchkin from "The Wizard of Oz". Because Brian is first and foremost about reporting hard news. And speaking of hard news, the "Making A Difference" story this night was about two guys who walked across the country picking up garbage. I wonder how many Nightly News broadcasts they picked up.
Thurs. 11/17--In a story about congress's decision to allow pizza to be classified as a vegetable, Anne Thompson took ten seconds to plug McDonald's, telling us that, "McDonald's got the message--reducing french fries and adding fruit to its Happy Meals." (While she was saying this, a huge McDonald's logo appeared to her left.) This nugget of info had nothing to do with the story, it was just a gratuitous product placement. But if there's anything Brian and his crew love doing, it's plugging McDonald's. And why not--they spend a boatload of money advertising on NBC Universal networks every year. Brian's just showing a little love to his pals at the Golden Arches. In a story about a pilot who got locked in his plane's restroom mid-flight, a transcript of a second pilot's conversation with the control tower spelled the word "oughtta" (as in "you guys oughtta declare an emergency and just get on the ground") as "outta". Then Brian spent 30 seconds on the obituary for Lee Pockriss (who wrote "Johnny Angel") because apparently Brian gets to do whatever he wants. That was followed by a story about a Secret Santa gift exchange that will be starting in the U.S. Senate. I think they should have attached a "breaking news" banner to that one. Finally, we were treated to a "Making A Difference" story about...oh, who cares.
Fri. 11/18--The lead story was the murder of Natalie Wood because Brian would rather show us 30-year-old entertainment news than current world or national news. This was just an excuse to show clips from Wood's movies because NBC research shows that viewers like movie clips on the news and it keeps the ratings up. After all--why make viewers wait for "Access Hollywood" to get their fill of entertainment news? Then we saw Chuck Todd's interview with Hillary Clinton which included a discussion of Chelsea's new job at NBC News. It's obvious that one of the main reasons NBC hired Chelsea was in order to get access to Bill and Hillary (Bill Clinton was featured in an exclusive interview on Nov. 7--obviously he gave the interview to NBC out of gratitude for hiring Chelsea). After that, we were treated to yet another story on climate change from the idiotic Anne Thompson. Thompson reports on climate change every few weeks (the last time was on Nov. 1) and the stories are all the same with no new information. I guess the NBC News research department has informed Brian and his producers that it's okay to repeat a story after two weeks because by that time the viewers will have forgotten about the previous story. The broadcast ended with a riveting 2:10 story about a First Ladies exhibit at the Smithsonian because it's easier than reporting real news. What a great week it was at Nightly News!

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