Friday, December 2, 2011

NBC Nightly News Show Notes--11/26 Through 12/2

It was a great week at Nightly News. Misspellings, math errors and repeat stories abounded. Tom Costello protected his sponsors...again. Brian's massive ego was on full display and the incompetent Nightly News personnel allowed a fire alarm to go off during Tuesday's broadcast. Here are the highlights:

Saturday 11/26--Here's how Lester Holt introduced a story about baby boomer women living together as roommates: "Turning now to some real-life Golden Girls. The story of Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia was a huge TV hit in the 80's...." And during the story, Thanh Truong told us, "It's a scene reminiscent of that iconic 1980's sitcom 'The Golden Girls'." "Huge hit"? "Iconic"? Obviously, this story was concocted for the sole purpose of promoting and selling "Golden Girls" DVDs and other merchandise, which is available at the NBC Universal on-line store. An appallingly crass and shameful way to make money for NBC. In other words, business as usual at Nightly News. The final story of the night was a "Making A Difference" piece about Operation Love ReUnited, in which photographers volunteer to take pictures of military families before the service member ships out. First of all, this isn't news. This is just another example of Nightly News acting as the propaganda arm of the U.S. military. Brian Williams has decreed that Nightly News shall do everything in its power to be a rah-rah, gung-ho promoter of the military and as a result, we are forced to watch dozens of these sappy, tear jerker, eagle-soaring, flag-waving, God-Bless-America stories. They're like bad Hallmark cards. In fact, Nightly News does so many of these ridiculous stories that they have begun to repeat them. On 12/15/09, Nightly News aired a MAD story about "Portraits of Love"--in which photographers volunteer to take pictures of military families to send to the deployed service member. Same story two years later. So that's twice as much of our time that Nightly News wasted on pointless drivel with no news value. Great job, Nightly News producers.
Sunday 11/27--The Nightly News producers spelled Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman's name as "John". They just don't care. Later, in an "Education Nation" story about on-line schooling, Rehema Ellis informed us that, "Thirty states offer a full-time on-line education to at least some students." But in the accompanying on-screen map, only 28 states were highlighted. Does anyone see the irony in this? In a story about education, the Nightly News producers can't even correctly count to 30. After that, we got a two-minute story about Prince William flying a helicopter during a rescue mission. The story also included footage of Harry and Kate, because it's the Nightly News producers' obligation to show as much Will, Kate and Harry footage as humanly possible (since July 1, we've seen over 32 minutes of Will, Kate and Harry stories on Nightly News. Does anyone else think that's excessive?). The broadcast ended with a 2:20 "news story" about celebrity auctions. It was just an excuse to show footage of Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles, Cyndi Lauper and Michael Jackson. Obviously, the NBC News research department has informed the producers that viewers like to see stories about celebrities and as a result it boosts the ratings. So the Nightly News producers make a point of showing celebrities as often as possible. Constantly. Never mind the fact that these stories contain absolutely no news. After all, when has news ever been important to the Nightly News producers? Naturally, Lester Holt ended the broadcast by plugging that night's Steelers-Chiefs game on NBC. Because the primary job of a Nightly News anchor is to promote NBC sports and entertainment programming.
Monday 11/28--In a story about shopping on Black Friday, Brian Williams informed us that, "$52 billion was spent by 226 million of us...." Once again, he used his favorite word--"us"--because it allowed him to turn a news story into a story about him. Because the news is always about Brian. Always. We were also treated to a "Making A Difference" report about campus food pantries that provide food to needy students. In the story, there were no fewer that 8 clear shots of Campbell's canned foods. The final shot of the story was an extreme close up of a can of Campbell's Chunky Soup. This was no accident. Campbell's is a major Nightly News sponsor. Obviously, this story was concocted solely as a way to promote Campbell's products. Shameful. The broadcast ended with Brian begging us to watch "Rock Center".
Tuesday 11/29--In a story about the attack on the British embassy in Tehran, Brian introduced Andrea Mitchell as "Our Chief Foreign Correspondent". Actually, no. Richard Engel is the NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent. Mitchell is the NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent--a position she's held for the past 17 years. Brian makes this mistake all the time. But he doesn't care. He's too important to bother with these petty trivialities. The final story was about three Connecticut money managers who won a $250 million lottery and may or may not be fronting for an unseen winner who wishes to remain anonymous. So? This isn't news, but Brian likes showing stories about people who are as wealthy as he is because it highlights the difference between his opulent existence and our humdrum middle-class lives. Meanwhile, the entire broadcast was continuously interrupted by a blaring fire alarm in the studio. Because Nightly News is a professional broadcast.
Wednesday 11/30--Tom Costello did a report about arsenic levels in fruit juices, but as usual, he protected the NBC sponsors by not showing a single name brand of juice. He even turned the bottles around in a supermarket juice aisle so the labels wouldn't show! That's not exactly ethical. Meanwhile, The CBS Evening News reported the same story that night, but they showed bottles of Mott's and Apple & Eve juice. Obviously, between CBS and NBC, one network news organization believes in truthful journalism and the other believes in manipulating the facts. I'll let you guess which is which. At one point during the Nightly News story, Costello told us that, "(T)he FDA now says it's considering a new standard that will reduce consumers' exposure to arsenic in apple juice." But when this statement appeared in print on-screen, "consumers'" was spelled as "consumer's". Note to the Nightly News producers: I think the FDA is looking to reduce the exposure for more than one consumer. During a story about the Republican presidential candidates, we were shown a clip from a Mitt Romney television ad that carried this credit line (supplied by the Nightly News producers): "Mit [sic] Romney Campaign ad". Yes, the Nightly News producers actually managed to misspell "Mitt". It takes a supreme effort to misspell such a short name, but the Nightly News producers were obviously up to the task. Romney is now the fourth candidate (along with Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann) to have his or her name misspelled by the Nightly News producers. As for the remaining four candidates--well, it's only a matter of time. Do you want to bet that the Nightly News producers can misspell "Ron Paul"? It seems that Ann Curry is up to her usual tricks. In her live report from Baghdad, she continued her practice of condensing words and talking in her own secret language. In Curry-speak, "Obama administration" became "Obaministration". Why do they allow Curry to appear on Nightly News? She's clearly not ready for prime time. Meanwhile, after Curry's report, Brian said, "And Ann, you can hear those c-17 and c-130 cargo planes in the air above you...." Brian never misses an opportunity to show us exactly how smart he thinks he is by dispensing useless information that no one cares about. But he likes advertising the fact that he's a sycophantic military wannabe who never served a day in the armed forces but knows all sorts of irrelevant military data. At the end of the broadcast, Brian took time to talk about the fire alarm that interrupted the previous night's broadcast. Apparently, Brian and his producers have never read a basic public relations manual. The first rule of public relations is never, never, EVER mention your own mistakes, especially unsolicited. Has Herman Cain ever started a news conference by asking, "First of all, does anyone have any questions about all the women I'm alleged to have harassed?" Has Bill Clinton ever brought up the subject of Monica Lewinsky? Of course not. When you make a stupid mistake, let it die. Don't bring it up. But Brian couldn't resist because his favorite subject is Brian Williams. Talking about the fire alarm incident gave him the opportunity to talk about himself. And as if that's not bad enough, Brian told us that he "looked for the guy responsible". What a magnanimous thing for a news anchor to say. Then he took some time to promote the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, which would immediately follow Nightly News on NBC. Here's what Brian said: "Hopefully things will go better out in our backyard tonight. This is a big night every year--we're here at Rock Center in New York with thousands of our closest friends outside--that would include tonight Mr. Roker, Savannah Guthrie, entertainment including Buble and the Biebs--it's all tonight on NBC as they light THE most famous Christmas tree in the world--right here at 30 Rock." The Biebs? That's just sad.
Thursday 12/1--At the beginning of the broadcast, Brian previewed a story about hidden phone software by saying this: "Tonight the phone software 140 million of us don't even know we have...." Us. We. Again, the news is all about Brian. A story about the Massachusetts Attorney General's lawsuit against some big-name banks was titled "Bankers Suits". Actually, it should have been "Bankers' Suits". In his introduction to Hillary Clinton's trip to Myanmar, Brian said, "Now we go to a place we hardly ever see--Myanmar." Well, who's to blame for that? We hardly ever see Myanmar because Nightly News hardly ever reports on it. That's like blaming the power company when your lights go off even though you didn't pay your electric bill. Then as a special treat, we got to see Brian's interview with Bono. But before the commercial break that preceded the interview, a teaser showed some old footage of Brian and Bono in Africa. After the commercial, we saw more of the Brian/Bono footage, accompanied by a U2 song. This is unbelievable. Is there no limit to Brian's ego? "Look at me with my pal Bono," the footage seemed to be screaming. The interview (about Bono's efforts to fight AIDS) was uninformative and unenlightening, but it gave Brian an opportunity to once again show us that he has really cool rock star pseudo-friends. Brian makes it a point to put Bono (and Springsteen and Bon Jovi) on Nightly News as often as possible because it makes him feel hip and important. Let's be clear about something: Brian Williams does not care the least bit about AIDS or World AIDS Day. He only cares about how Bono and other celebrities can improve his ratings. If it wasn't for the Bono interview, Brian never would have bothered to mention World AIDS Day. Brian also reported a 30-second story about how Coca-Cola is abandoning their white holiday cans because consumers didn't like them. The entire thirty seconds of this story was comprised of video of Coke cans and clips of Coke ads. Good ol' Brian. He's always happy to give some free air time to one of his regular sponsors. The night's final story was a pointless 2:20 piece about the auctioning of Liz Taylor's jewelry. It had no news value, but it was a great opportunity to show lots of movie and newsreel clips of Liz. The story was reported by the idiotic Anne Thompson, who seems to have found a story that matches her lack of intellectual depth. This is the second Nightly News story in four days about celebrity auctions. News? Of course not. They are just gratuitous celebrity stories. But viewers like celebrity stories and that drives up the ratings. And that's really all that matters. By the way, the Liz Taylor story was given the on-screen title "Rock Center" because Brian always makes everything about himself. He gets to promote his nickel-and-dime TV show and stroke his ego at the same time. Good deal.
Friday 12/2--After a story about Herman Cain, Brian said, "And on this night of breaking political news, we're fortunate to have the moderator of 'Meet the Press', David Gregory, here with us in our New York studios." Fortunate? Why? What does it matter if Gregory is in the New York studio or appearing on a split screen from Washington? It doesn't make a bit of difference. And he didn't really even have anything relevant to say--he was just there to promote MTP. In a story about the U.S pullout from Iraq, Brian made sure to mention Burger King and Cinnabon because he wants to continue to get free Whoppers and cinnamon buns. This is nothing new. On his 4/6/10 Daily Nightly blog, Brian wrote, "Yes, I've had Cinnabon in Iraq. And Burger King, and Taco Bell. And I loved every bite, every minute of it." Wow. Shill much? While introducing another story about spying software in phones, Brian said, "The software in millions of smartphones that some experts say is spying on us users--tracking virtually everything we do with our phones...." Us. We. Now the story is all about Brian. The spyware story was reported by Pete Williams, who continues to be my hero. Once again, Brian tried to bait Pete with a treacly "Good evening, Pete", but Pete wouldn't take the bait. Instead of replying in kind with "Good evening, Brian", Pete just launched right into his story. You go, Pete Williams! Then Brian took 1:40 to report three important stories: House of Representatives Sergeant at Arms Bill Livingood is retiring; a Massachusetts lobster trap washed up in Ireland (just an opportunity for the producers to show clips from "The Perfect Storm); and a dog that stepped on a rifle trigger and shot its owner. Because Brian is all about hard news. Brian introduced the dog story by saying, "Those of us who are dog people heard this next item...." There it is again. "Those of us". Brian's favorite expression. The final story of the night was about postal employees who answer letters to Santa. Maybe the producers should have attached a "breaking news" banner to this one. They do the same ridiculous story every year. (They did it previously on 12/15/10 and on 12/20/09.) Same old, same old at Nightly News.

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