Has Robert Bazell ever reported a story that was not somehow intended to promote an NBC sponsor? Whenever the Nightly News producers want to use a sham "news story" to promote a medical or pharmaceutical product from Glaxo, Pfizer or Bayer, they give the job to Bazell. On May 12, 2009, he even did an entire two-minute story whose sole purpose was to extol the benefits of Cheerios, a major Nightly News advertiser. And now Bazell is branching out even further, into the realm of promoting NBC entertainment, which had heretofore been the domain of NBC news-shills like Kristen Welker, Tom Costello, Kerry Sanders and Anne Thompson. On Wednesday, Bazell started a story about a weight loss drug with a 12-second clip from NBC's "The Biggest Loser". Here's how Bazell began his story: "The popularity of the show 'The Biggest Loser' is one of the countless examples of people's desire to lose weight." So not only did Bazell shamelessly use a clip from an NBC entertainment show, he also made sure to tell us that the show was popular. And just for good measure, Bazell ended his story with another "Biggest Loser" clip. Let's be clear: Nightly News only aired this story because it presented an opportunity to plug "The Biggest Loser", a reality show that currently airs Tuesday nights on NBC. Obviously, Bazell, Brian Williams and the Nightly News producers work closely with the marketing and promotions staff at NBC entertainment (and NBC sports) to figure out ways to use Nightly News to promote NBC entertainment and sports shows (remember the 160 minutes of Olympic-related stories than Nightly News aired during the Vancouver Olympics?). Which news reports air on Nightly News is determined by the extent to which a particular report can be used to promote an NBC sports or entertainment show or an NBC sponsor. I would estimate that 70%-80% of all the stories that air on Nightly News have some sort of hidden promotional agenda. The NBC prime time schedule is currently mired in fourth place among the networks (and would be in much worse shape without Sunday Night Football). So it's hardly surprising that the NBC executives are using Nightly News in a desperate attempt to promote their prime time schedule. (There was an excellent article on NBC's prime time woes in Monday's New York Times business section. You can link to it at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/07/business/media/nbc-struggles-for-its-footing.html?pagewanted=all.) So I guess it's no surprise that Robert Bazell is now shilling for NBC entertainment, in addition to his usual shill-work for Glaxo, Pfizer and Bayer.
On Thursday's Nightly News, the lead story was the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University. The story was reported by Ron Mott. However, at the end of Mott's report, he was identified in a Nightly News graphic as "Ron Allen". Both Mott and Allen are African American males. I don't want to jump to any rash conclusions here, but I think we have to at least consider the possibility that some of the Nightly News producers are challenged when it comes to differentiating between African American men. Whatever the reason, it's appalling that the Nightly News producers could not correctly identify their own correspondent. This is a professional news broadcast?
Thought for the day: If you air seven stories about whales in a two-month period (as Nightly News did) then you are not a professional news broadcast. If you air seventeen stories about Will & Kate (totalling more than 30 minutes) since July 1 (as Nightly News did--a full two months after their wedding), you are not a professional news broadcast.