Saturday, February 25, 2012

NBC Nightly News Show Notes--2/17 Through 2/24 (Revised)

It was a great week on Nightly News. Pete Williams dissed Brian Williams--twice! Anne Thompson danced! There were more "Winter Blasts"! And those gas prices! Here are the highlights:

Fri. Feb. 17--As always, Pete Williams continues to be my hero. At the beginning of his lead story about a thwarted domestic terror plot, Pete refused to say "Good evening, Brian" after Brian introduced him with a treacly "Good evening, Pete". This is the second time this week that Pete ignored Brian's attempt to friend him on the air. It's sad how desperate Brian is to make the viewers think that he and the Nightly News correspondents are buddy-buddy. I can't believe that any of the correspondents actually like Brian. I imagine it's a similar situation to the Star Trek TV series--none of the other actors could stand William Shatner. And I wouldn't be a bit surprised to learn that Brian thinks of himself as Captain Kirk.
***After being dissed by Pete Williams, Brian made sure to introduce Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore as "our friend". Translation: "You still like me, right Jim? Right? Huh?" Cantore then spent a minute-and-a-half telling us that there would be rain from Texas and Oklahoma through the Carolinas and up into Virginia. Obviously, Brian and his producers still don't understand that weather is a local issue and people prefer to get this information from their local news stations.
***The next story was about the early detection of autism in children. It was given the tabloid-ish title "Warning Signs?" and was obviously meant to scare parents into thinking that their kids are autistic. Nightly News frequently runs these types of alarmist stories that are meant to frighten viewers into believing that they are in some sort of imminent danger. Some other examples: "Hidden Dangers?" of lipstick (2/14) and "Hidden Risks?" of dirty surgical instruments (2/23). These stories' titles often end with question marks because making a statement (i.e. about the dangers of lipstick) could make NBC legally vulnerable to a lawsuit, but simply asking a question would not. So why run so many of these alarmist stories? Because they earn high ratings. And that's what matters to Brian and his producers.
***Al Roker then spent a minute talking to Aretha Franklin about Whitney Houston. Nightly News always includes lots of entertainment stories because they earn higher ratings than straight news. The interview was actually an excerpt from "Today" because one of Brian's main jobs is to use Nightly News to promote NBC's morning franchise. But wait, there's more. Brian ended the story by telling us that we can see more of the interview later on that night's "Dateline" (at "10 PM, 9 central") because it's also Brian's job to promote NBC's prime-time schedule. And it doesn't seem to bother Brian one bit that he's a shameless sleazebag. I guess if you're going to be a shameless sleazebag, you might as well own it.
***Brian began the next story by saying, "A satellite that keeps an eye on the sun for all of US here on earth has sent back some extraordinary images of sun tornadoes." Brian shows lots of stories about space exploration and planets because he gets to do whatever he wants. Again, he used the word "us" in the sentence because the news is always about HIM.
***The final story of the night was an idiotic "Making A Difference" piece about a man who teaches ballroom dancing to elementary school children. Now, calling a MAD piece idiotic is somewhat redundant since all MAD pieces are idiotic. But this one was especially idiotic. On what planet is this considered news? Can someone from Nightly News please explain what definition of "news" they subscribe to that would allow this piece to air on their broadcast? And this piece was even more idiotic than usual because it was reported by the idiotic Anne Thompson. It seems that her main job description is to search out and report stupid stories that have absolutely no news value. At one point during this story, Thompson was interviewing the ballroom dancing teacher--while dancing with him! I had to quickly look away for fear that I would sustain permanent retina damage. This was the most horrific thing I've seen on Nightly News since Ann Curry's spastic and discombobulated attempt to dance with Bill T. Jones on the 2/2/10 Nightly News. I'm still recovering from that horror show and now the producers hit me with this. It will be years before I'm myself again. I don't think my medical insurance covers this kind of traumatic event. By the way, earlier in the day, the German president resigned. But Nightly News didn't mention it because it was more important to show Al Roker talking to Aretha Franklin. Great job, guys.
Sat. Feb. 18--The lead story, of course, was Whitney Houston's funeral. This was just an excuse to show three-and-a-half minutes worth of footage of Stevie Wonder, Kevin Costner, Tyler Perry and Alicia Keys. More entertainment on Nightly News--because entertainment stories get better ratings than news stories. Brian and his producers constantly seem to be trying to make Nightly News more like "Access Hollywood" (which follows Nightly News in much of the country). And they are succeeding. So why not just merge the two shows and call it Nightly Access Hollywood News?
***There was "Severe Weather" across the South and through the mid-Atlantic states. Rain and snow in February is somehow news. Awesome. Thanks.
***There was another story about high gas prices (the third such story in a week). And guess what--it was the same as the previous two stories.
***We saw a story about the risks incurred by teen drivers. Two days earlier, Nightly News had shown a story about the risks incurred by elderly drivers. What's next--a story about the risks incurred by 35 to 45-year-old drivers?
***Next, we were shown a 2:20 story about transporting houses across the country. At first, I thought I had accidentally switched to HGTV. But no, this was still Nightly News. How exactly does this waste of time qualify as news?
***We saw a brief story about Judi Dench going blind. She must have spent too much time staring at Anne Thompson dancing.
***The final story of the night was a 2:25 piece about a 105-year-old woman who works in the mail room of a Florida hospital. Really. That's it. That was the entire story. This idiotic story made the story about moving houses cross-country seem like Peabody material. Together, this story and the house-moving story took up nearly five minutes of news time. How do the Nightly News producers justify showing us this garbage instead of real news? I guess ratings justify anything.
Sun. Feb. 19--Nightly News started 12 minutes late (on the east coast) because the hockey game ran long. God forbid NBC should ever cut off the end of a sports event to start the news on time. Despite the late start, Lester Holt still found time to spend a minute telling us about the "Winter Blast" moving through Virginia.
***Just in case we haven't seen enough stories on Whitney Houston, Lester showed us some footage of her burial procession en route to the cemetery. Very tasteful.
***On a night when the broadcast was only 18 minutes long, the producers included a 2:25 story about knee replacements. Maybe they should have attached a "breaking news" banner to that one. This is the type of undated story that can sit on the shelf for a week, a month or a year and then get dragged out when the producers have some time they need to fill. I guess on this night they decided that they weren't even going to bother trying.
***The shortened broadcast ended with a 2:15 story about the 50th anniversary of John Glenn's orbit around the earth. The story included some old footage from last year of Brian talking with Glenn. Even when he's not anchoring, Brian manages to find a way to insinuate himself into the broadcast.
Mon. Feb. 20--Brian spent an interminable 47 seconds introducing the lead story about Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney. Maybe if he would shut up, we could hear more from correspondent Ron Mott, who actually knows something about the story he's reporting. But there's nothing Brian likes more than hearing the sound of his own voice.
***Did you know that gas prices were rising? Just in case you didn't, Nightly News spent 2:20 airing their fourth story on gas prices in a week. This story had no new information, it simply regurgitated information from the earlier stories. Hearing drivers complain about the price of gas somehow qualifies as news at NBC.
***Brian spent 42 seconds introducing Andrea Mitchell's story about Iran and Israel. Mitchell is one of the few intelligent NBC News correspondents, and it would be nice to hear more from her if only the overly verbose Brian Williams would just shut up for a second.
***Guess what? There was a "Winter Blast" in Virginia and the surrounding states. I don't really think a "Winter Blast" is news in winter. Now, if there was a "Winter Blast" in the summer, that would be worth reporting.
***A story about three skiers who died in a Washington avalanche included a statement from Kathleen Larson, who was identified in a Nightly News graphic as the "King County Sheriff". Actually, the King County Sheriff is Sue Rahr. Ms. Larson is a spokesperson for the sheriff's department. But I'm sure she appreciated that the Nightly News producers gave her a promotion.
***Brian spent 40 seconds telling us that the AMPAS members who vote for the Oscar winners are overwhelmingly white and male. Gee, I always imagined they would be gold, like the statuettes.
***The final story was a 4:45 behemoth marking the 50th anniversary of John Glenn's orbit around the earth. That sounds familiar. Where did I see that before? Oh yeah--now I remember. I saw it the previous night on Nightly News. The Sunday story on Glenn was just a condensed version of the Monday story. So if they were already planning to run the Monday story, why did the producers bother with the Sunday story, especially on a shortened broadcast? Probably because Brian told them to. He always brags about being a NASA and space flight junkie and he gets to show whatever stories he wants, as many times as he wants. This story featured more footage from Brian's 8-month-old interview with Glenn. Meanwhile, on the CBS Evening News, Bill Plante's story on the historic orbit featured a brand new interview with Glenn. I think it's obvious who Glenn likes better. Sorry Brian, it's not you.
Tues. Feb. 21--The lead story about religion in politics included a clip from MSNBC's "Morning Joe" because one of Brian's main jobs is to promote NBC properties.
***A story about Wall Street and the economy included 30 seconds on gas prices. What a surprise.
***Again, Pete Williams dissed Brian by refusing to say good evening to him. Pete Williams is awesome!
***Brian conducted a ridiculous "round table discussion" with Ian Williams and Anne Thompson about debris from the Japanese earthquake/tsunami washing ashore on the west coast. Here's how Brian introduced the segment: "There's a report tonight that the first of the debris from the earthquake in Fukushima, Japan has arrived on our west coast." Actually, the first west coast sightings of tsunami debris were two months ago. Someone should tell Brian to google "Japanese tsunami debris washes up on U.S. west coast" and read all the articles from December.
***We saw another alarmist story--this one was titled "Hepatitis C Warning". I guess we're all supposed to rush out now and get tested for Hep C. During the story, Nancy Snyderman told us that, "More than three million Americans are infected with Hepatitis C. Even more alarming, 1/2 to 2/3 don't realize it." But the accompanying on-screen graphic read, "1/2 to 3/4 of them don't know it". Oh well--2/3, 3/4 whatever. Obviously, the Nightly News producers need some help with their fractions.
***After the Hep C story, Snyderman took 35 seconds to update us on the shortage of methotrexate, a drug used to treat pediatric leukemia. We were first told about the shortage on the 2/13 broadcast. Half of that story consisted of shots of sad-looking kids with leukemia in their hospital beds. Nightly News shows kids-with-cancer stories as often as possible because they get high ratings by appealing to the viewers' emotions. And sure enough, earlier on this night's broadcast, a promo for Snyderman's methotrexate update showed a few more seconds of a young leukemia patient in her hospital bed. It's shameful that Brian and his producers exploit kids with cancer just to get ratings, but obviously no one at NBC is bothered by this.
***Brian read a 30-second story about Mardi Gras because he always pretends to care about New Orleans. He said, "It's the place most of US would rather be." Us. Again, the news is always about Brian.
***After that, Brian told us about a rocket probe shot into the Northern Lights to gather information. This is the sixth Northern Lights story Nightly News has done in less than a month. Okay--we get it. Northern Lights pretty.
***Brian then spent 38 seconds on a story about a bridge demolition in Steubenville, Ohio. Altogether, the Mardi Gras story, the Northern Lights story and the bridge demolition story were given more than a minute-and-a-half. By contrast, earlier in the broadcast Brian spent one minute total reporting on Iran, Syria and Afghanistan. It's nice to see that Brian has his priorities straight.
***The broadcast ended with a "Making A Difference" story about a Florida man who teaches teenagers how to fish. Seriously. I'm not kidding. This is what merits two-minutes-and-fifteen-seconds on Nightly News. The producers should be very proud of themselves.
Wed. Feb. 22--A story about people who lie about having served in the military (and claim to have won medals) was titled "Stolen Valor". A bit overwrought, don't you think? Meanwhile, the irony in this story is laughable. Every time Brian goes to Iraq or Afghanistan he decks himself out in full military gear--helmet, flak jacket, khakis, boots, etc. And then he does a story about people who pretend to have been soldiers. Funny.
***A story on politics presented a new poll of likely voters in the Arizona Republican primary. The story included an on-screen silhouette of Arizona. But something didn't look quite right. It took me a few seconds to realize what it was: During every one of Nightly News's frequent Gabby Giffords stories, they always show a silhouette of Arizona with a U.S. flag inside it. So seeing a silhouette of Arizona without a flag was baffling. But the producers made me feel better by including some flag stars at the bottom of the screen.
***Brian told us that the French would be phasing out the word "Mademoiselle", much like the U.S. phased out "Miss" in favor of "Ms." At the end of the story he said, "We don't know what the folks at Mademoiselle magazine are going to do now." Not to worry, Brian. Mademoiselle ceased publication in 2001. By the way, this story included a 17-second clip from Disney's animated film "Beauty and the Beast" ostensibly because a character used the word "Mademoiselle". But of course the real reason was because Brian knows that peppering his stories with movie clips brings him high ratings.
***After that, Brian showed a clip of a Washington state home being washed away in a rainstorm. I guess he thought it was cool. He can do whatever he wants.
***In a follow-up to a story about the TSA recovering over $400,000 per year in loose change left at their screening checkpoints by travelers, Brian told us that Florida Congressman Jeff Miller has proposed that the TSA should donate that money to the USO. Brian said, "The USO supports U.S. troops around the globe and by the way receives no taxpayer money. The USO relies entirely on charitable donations to do its work." So this story was really just a 30-second fundraising spot for the USO. Brian clearly has no shame. But we already knew that.
***The final story of the night was about Pres. Obama singing the blues at a White House concert that featured Mick Jagger and B.B. King, among others. Let's face it--there was no way that Nightly News was not going to report this story. After all, when the President sang a little Al Green last month, Nightly News showed the clip on three different days (and twice more in this story). And since this story represents a confluence of President and celebrity, the Nightly News producers just couldn't resist doing an entire 2:40 story about it. That's not really surprising. But what was so horribly distasteful about this story was its title. During Brian's entire 30-second introduction to this story, the words "The Voice" appeared to his left, below a preview screen with images of the President singing. There can be absolutely no doubt that this story was titled "The Voice" in order to promote the NBC show of the same name. By linking the NBC show to the President, the Nightly News producers were attempting to give it esteem and respectability. And even more appalling, this is the second time in less than two weeks that the Nightly News producers have promoted "The Voice" by making it the title of a story. On Feb. 13, a story about Whitney Houston was also titled "The Voice" in a shameless attempt to boost ratings for the NBC show "The Voice" which would be airing later that same night. (Using Whitney Houston's death to promote an NBC show was grotesquely morbid, to say the least.) And in a similarly shameless move, a Dec. 1 story about the auctioning of Liz Taylor's jewelry was titled "Rock Center" in a desperate attempt to promote Brian's show "Rock Center". No one at Nightly News has any shame. They will sink to whatever depths are necessary to promote their network or their sponsors. And not only by using the President, but also by using the First Lady. That's right--the Nightly News producers have attempted to link Michelle Obama to McDonald's. Every time Nightly News reports a positive story about McDonald's--such as when they decided to make their Happy Meals less unhealthy or reduce sodium in their products--the producers always make sure to mention that Michelle Obama promotes healthy eating (and show her on-screen during the story). This is a blatant attempt to imply that Mrs. Obama endorses McDonald's, which of course she does not. But McDonald's is a major NBC advertiser and Brian and his producers are constantly using Nightly News to promote the Golden Arches in any way they can. Implying an endorsement from the First Lady is just a way of doing a sleazy favor for a regular advertiser. It's as shameless as linking the President to the NBC show "The Voice". I think the Nightly News producers must stay awake at night looking for ways to out-sleaze each other. By the way, earlier in the day, 50 people died in a Buenos Aires train crash. But Brian didn't bother to report it. He was too busy talking about "Stolen Valor", Mademoiselle magazine and the USO.
Thurs. Feb. 23--The lead story was "Pain at the Pump"--the sixth story Nightly News has done on gas prices in less than two weeks. This 3:18 story included a 47-second intro from Brian because...well, because he can. By contrast, on this night's CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley spent a mere 23 seconds reporting on gas prices in the middle of his broadcast. Apparently, Scott Pelley has some perspective and he is not interested in sensationalizing a non-story just to get ratings. I think there's a word for someone like that--it's called "journalist".
***The next story was about the politics of birth control. It dealt with the different ways Democrats and Republicans view the role of government in reproductive health. During his intro, Brian said, "This (debate) happened really out of nowhere...." What an appallingly ignorant thing to say. The debate on birth control has been going on continuously for more than a hundred years. Just because Brian ignores something for months at a time does not mean it is not an important and ongoing issue. Brian is like an ostrich with his head in the sand. Every so often, he pulls his head out and squawks about "Birth Control!" "Death Penalty!" "Race!" "Religion!" or some other issue. And then he smugly congratulates himself for calling attention to these issues, like he's doing the American public a big favor. Brian thinks that if he doesn't discuss an issue, then it's not being discussed by anyone else. What a narcissist. 
***While telling us about seven marines that were killed in a helicopter crash near the California-Arizona border, Brian made sure to tell us that the helicopters were "a Cobra and a Huey" because it's really important for him to show us how much he knows about military aircraft. He does this all the time. Last Nov. 30, after Ann Curry reported live from a U.S. military base in Baghdad, 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 try to show us exactly how smart he is by dispensing useless information that no one cares about. I guess he likes advertising the fact that he's a sycophantic military wannabe who never served a day in the armed forces but makes a point of knowing all sorts of irrelevant military data.
***We then got a report about the "Wild Weather". It was mild in the northeast and cold in the upper midwest. It was windy in Boulder. Boston might get 1"-3" of snow. Chicago and Detroit might get 4"-6". Portland might get an inch! Wow. That's really worth taking up 1:45 of valuable news time, huh?
***Next, we got another ridiculous alarmist story about the "Hidden Risks" of dirty surgical instruments. Except the story was titled "Hidden Risks?" for legal reasons (see last Friday's entry for more about that). Is this really a problem? The FDA says "no". But Nightly News did the story anyway.
***Brian then said, "We wanted to show you some spectacular images of a partial solar eclipse seen from space." We? I think Brian means he wanted to show us these images. If anything happens in space, Brian reports it. Here's a suggestion: Maybe he should spend more time reporting on events here on earth.
***It was also important for Brian to tell us that the Fuller Brush company has filed for bankruptcy, the U.S. Postal Service plans to close 200 sorting centers and that Sears lost $2.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011. Interesting--Brian still hasn't admitted that NBC lost $225 million on the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but he's happy to report about Sears' troubles. By the way, these three stories together took up 50 seconds. Earlier, Brian spent a total of 32 seconds combined reporting on the situation in Syria and a bombing in Iraq that killed 55 people. How screwed up are Brian's priorities?
***Here's some breaking news: Brian told us that in Slovakia, they want to name a bridge after Chuck Norris. I think Brian was secretly disappointed that the Slovaks didn't want to name the bridge after him. It's really galling that he has the nerve to waste our time reporting garbage stories like this.
***Speaking of garbage stories, Brian then told us that Danica Patrick crashed during a qualifying race for the Daytona 500. This was really just a 30-second promo for Brian's interview with Patrick that will be seen on Friday's Nightly News. How do we know that? He ended the story by plugging the interview.
***The last story was a report telling us that the AMPAS members who vote for the Oscar winners are overwhelmingly white and male. Hmmm...where have I heard that before? Oh yeah--on last Monday's broadcast. This was just an expanded version of that story. Like with the John Glenn story, the producers showed a short version of a story followed later by a longer version of the same story. I think that's called a "rerun". This 2:40 story on the Film Academy voters didn't really contain any more information than Monday's 40-second story. Rather, the extra time was spent showing gratuitous shots of stars like Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Hudson, Anne Hathaway, Nicole Kidman and Hilary Swank. We also saw clips from "The Hurt Locker", "Avatar", "The Artist", "The Descendants" and "Hugo". The producers even dug out some older film clips like "Cross Creek" from 1983 (because it was a Universal Picture) and "King Creole" from 1958 because Elvis is still popular and gets good ratings for Brian.
Fri. Feb. 24--During his intro to a story about protests in Afghanistan over mishandled Korans, Brian said, "There were some tense moments this morning for our own correspondent Atia Abawi when she and her camera crew found themselves in the midst of the chaos in the capital city of Kabul." Brian never misses an opportunity to make the news about NBC, rather than about the actual story. Guess what? Reporting from a war zone is always dangerous and tense. I never hear other anchors draw attention to their correspondents' situations like Brian does. But other anchors are not shameless self-promoters like Brian. Side note: Why does Atia Abawi always face the camera at a 30 degree angle? Why doesn't she face the camera directly? Maybe she's trying to show her good side in case any Hollywood producers are watching.
***What a surprise--another story about gas prices. Obviously, the NBC News research department has informed Brian that viewers really like stories about how the evil oil companies keep raising gas prices and these stories keep people tuned to Nightly News.
***The next story was called "Storm Front". Slush and winds in Chicago. A storm system moved east from the Dakotas through the Great Lakes. Wow. Really newsworthy. Thanks.
***Brian reported the breaking news that a man on the cover of Time's current issue (about the voting power of Lations) wasn't really Latino. OMG! Say it isn't so, Brian.
***Here's how Brian introduced the final story--his interview with Danica Patrick: "A lot of Americans are excited for Sunday because Sunday is the Academy Awards. Some of US, however, are additionally excited to watch something earlier in the day--the Daytona 500, the official start of the NASCAR season...." Some of us. Because the news is always about Brian. So if Brian wants to do a three-and-a-half minute story about NASCAR racing, he gets to do it. (Of course, the main reason he did this story is because he gets good ratings by pandering to the middle-America blue-collar good-ol'-boy NASCAR demographic.) The most hilarious thing about this 3:30 "interview" with Patrick was that Brian spoke for 2:26 and Patrick only spoke for a minute! Of course, I don't think anyone really expected that the interview would be about Patrick. The interview consisted of Brian asking her silly questions designed to show how much he knows about racing, rather than asking her anything important, such as about sexism in the sport. And for the most part, this was one big commercial for, Patrick's main racing sponsor. When she was on-screen, the logo was all over her uniform and car, and Brian was even nice enough to show clips from Patrick's TV commercials. As someone who spends a significant amount of time promoting his sponsors on Nightly News, Brian obviously understands the importance of allowing Patrick to do the same. Does Brian care that this idiotic story was longer than any other story that aired this night? Longer than the stories on Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, the Republican presidential candidates--even longer than the story on gas prices? Of course he doesn't care. Brian knows what we all know--that Nightly News is a joke. No one takes it--or him--seriously.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

NBC Nightly News Show Notes--2/11 Through 2/16

What a great week on Nightly News!  It was Whitney, Whitney and more Whitney.  And lots of rerun stories.  Plus a Chelsea Clinton sighting.  And as always, Brian and his producers did everything they could to plug their sponsors.  Here are the highlights:

Sat. Feb 11--There was a "Winter Blast" in the central part of the country.  Really?  In February?  That's amazing.  Thanks for the news flash.
***Lester Holt informed us that the Powerball jackpot was up to $325 million.  I don't see how this is news, but it's nice to know that someone might end up being as rich as Brian Williams.
***The final story was a 2:30 piece about the Knicks' newest sensation, Jeremy Lin.  Obviously, the Nightly News producers get most of their story ideas by searching trending topics on Google, Twitter, Yahoo, ESPN and other websites.  During the story, Lester described Lin as "Chinese-American".  He's actually Taiwanese-American and that's an important distinction.  The story included such overused cliches as "Lin-Sanity", "Lin-Spiration" and a "modern-day Cinderella story".  What a brilliant piece of journalism.  Or perhaps I should say "Jour-Lin-ism".
Sun. Feb. 12--Obviously, the lead story was Whitney Houston's death.  Nightly News spent the first eight-and-a-half minutes on Houston before reluctantly spending a fraction of that time reporting other news stories like Greece (1:30), Syria (25 seconds) and the Republican candidates (2:00).
***Despite the amount of time devoted to Whitney Houston, there was still time to report a "Winter Blast".  Temperatures as low as zero in northern Minnesota and North Dakota!  Really?  In the 20's across the middle of the country and the east coast!  You don't say.  In the 30's and 40's in the south!  Omigosh.  Two to four inches of snow in Kansas City and St. Louis!  Can it be?  One to three inches in Chicago, Indianapolis and Cleveland!  Amazing.  I mean it's amazing that Nightly News wastes our time night after night reporting idiotic stories on cold weather and snow in February. 
***We saw a thrilling 2:15 story on the record-high gas prices.  Nightly News loves to show these "consumers-are-mad-as-hell-and-we-aren't-going-to-take-it-anymore" stories because they earn high ratings for the broadcast.  People just love to watch other people complain about high prices (gas, milk, heating oil, whatever).  No newscast ever lost viewers by pandering to the public's anger over price inflation.
***This next story was a doozy.  It was about a New York State prison inmate serving 25 years to life for killing a police officer--and he claims he is innocent!  Wow!  This nearly-three-minute story was lifted from Dateline to fill time on Nightly News and, of course, ended with Lester reading a promo telling us that we could see the full story later that night on Dateline.  Obviously, one of the most important functions of Nightly News is to serve as a promotional vehicle to boost the ratings for NBC's anemic prime-time lineup.  This story was reported by Luke Russert who once again demonstrated that he has no journalistic talent or ability whatsoever.  In case there is anyone out there who doesn't know Russert's story, he was personally handed a coveted on-air job at MSNBC by Brian Williams after Tim Russert (Luke's father and Brian's pal) died.  Apparently, Brian made some sort of Mafia-like vow that he would look after the kid (much like Tony Soprano looked out for Christopher after his father died), despite the fact that Luke had no background in television journalism.  There are thousands of seasoned, veteran television journalists out there looking for jobs, and Brian just hands one to Luke Russert.  Bravo, Brian.  Well done.
***The broadcast ended with another minute of Whitney Houston clips because obviously eight-and-a-half minutes just wasn't enough to tell this story.  It's pretty appalling that on a night when almost half the broadcast was devoted to Whitney Houston, the Nightly News producers still wasted our time with pointless stories about high gas prices, cold weather in winter and a prison inmate who claims he is innocent.
Mon. Feb. 13--No mystery here.  The lead story was again Whitney Houston.  This three-minute story was pared down from the previous day's Whitney-thon.  There was no new information to report, it was just a rehashing of previously-aired stories.  But, of course, that never stopped the Nightly News producers before.
***Have I mentioned how much I love Pete Williams?  As he does with all the correspondents, Brian introduced Pete with a syrupy "Good evening, Pete."   (Apparently, Brian wants his viewers to believe that the correspondents actually like him.  As if.)  But Pete (reporting on Justice Stephen Breyer's robbery) refused to say "Good evening, Brian."  As usual, he just ignored Brian and launched right into his story.  If only the rest of the sappy Nightly News correspondents could take a cue from Pete Williams (especially Kristen Welker and Peter Alexander, who always respond with an overly enthusiastic, "Good evening to you, Brian!") the world would be a much better place.
***The story on the Greek financial situation was titled "Greek Tragedy".  That's very clever...not.  Brian ended the story by saying, "Scary weekend there over the weekend."  Huh?  I think that phrase must have come from the Department of Redundancy Department.
***A story about the shortage of the leukemia drug methotrexate was really just another exploitative kids-with-cancer story.  Nightly News runs these stories frequently because they get high ratings by shamelessly playing to the viewers' sympathy.  Half of this two-minute story consisted of close-up shots of sad-looking kids with leukemia lying in their hospital beds.  Exploiting cancer-stricken kids for ratings is despicable, but it doesn't seem to bother the Nightly News producers.  They do these stories over and over.  The last one--on Oct. 17--was about...a shortage of cancer drugs for children.  Sound familiar?  By the way, correspondent/shill Robert Bazell told us that one explanation for the shortage of cancer drugs is that the drug companies often choose to produce their more profitable drugs instead of the less profitable cancer drugs.  But of course Bazell didn't mention any of these drug companies by name because his main job is to promote or protect companies like GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer (both of which are major Nightly News sponsors).  Exploiting kids with cancer and protecting the drug companies.  The Nightly News producers really hit the daily double with this story.
***Brian spent more than a minute giving us his recap of Sunday's Grammy telecast.  About Adele he said, "She chose her classic, the break-up anthem of the decade, 'Rolling In The Deep' and delivered a stunning performance to thunderous applause in the hall.  She positively sparkled and she just about walked away with the whole night."  Kiss ass much, Brian?  Okay--first of all, no matter how great a song "Rolling In The Deep" may be, it was only released a year ago and certainly cannot be called a "classic".  "Smoke On The Water" is a classic.  "Honky Tonk Women" is a classic.  "Free Bird" is a classic.  "L.A. Woman" is a classic.  "Rolling In The Deep" is not a classic.  And since when is it a news anchor's job to give us personal opinions about music, or anything else for that matter?  But of course, Brian Williams is not a news anchor.  He is a carnival barker reporting on entertainment, like Kevin Frazier of "The Insider" or Mario Lopez of "Extra".  And by the way, on Monday's CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley did not even mention the Grammys--and they aired on his own network!  That tells us everything we need to know about the difference between Brian Williams and Scott Pelley.  Pelley forgoes an opportunity to promote his own network's Grammy telecast because he would rather report actual news, while Brian goes out of his way to give us his own personal Grammy review.  I think Brian deludedly imagines himself as some sort of music guru and believes that viewers are actually interested in hearing what he has to say about the Grammys.  Can you say "massive ego"?  At Nightly News, entertainment is obviously much more important than news.  Maybe Brian should change the name of his broadcast to NBC Nightly Entertainment.  And with all his yapping about the Grammys, Brian somehow forgot to mention the show's phenomenal ratings.  I guess that's not surprising since Brian only brags about the ratings for NBC shows.  According to the 2/14/12 New York Times, "The Grammy awards telecast on CBS Sunday night smashed every recent ratings record for that show and for any awards broadcast...(T)he Grammys attracted 39.9 million viewers, making it the most-watched nonsports program of the television season.  It was the second-biggest audience for a Grammys show ever...."  So if Brian is shameless enough to tell us (twice!) that the Super Bowl was THE most-watched TV show in history, he could at least have mentioned the Grammys' sky-high rating.
***Next, Brian told us all about Jackie Kennedy's 1962 TV tour of the White House.  There is no doubt that Brian has a sycophantic and bizarre JFK fixation.  This was the ninth JFK-related story he has reported in the past five months.  Of course, let's also not forget that it's easier and cheaper to show 50-year-old news footage than to prepare a new story from scratch.  If Brian bowed to Pres. Obama, I can only imagine how he would have prostrated himself and groveled in JFK's presence.
***Brian spent 30 seconds reporting the important story of Olympic swimmer Matt Grevers, who proposed to his girlfriend on the awards podium at a swimming event in Missouri.  Obviously, this story isn't news, but Brian will report any Olympic-related story because his job is to promote the upcoming Olympics for NBC Sports.  In 2010, he spent 160 minutes promoting the Vancouver Olympics on Nightly News.  I'm guessing that Brian will spend even more time promoting the 2012 London Games.  Maybe he'll set a new Olympic record for promoting.
***The broadcast ended with another Whitney Houston story (you didn't think they would show only one Whitney story, did you?).  As Brian introduced this 2:45 story, the words "The Voice" (the title of the story) appeared over his left shoulder for more than 15 seconds, below some video of Houston.  This was no accident.  It was obviously a shameless and heartless way for NBC to use Houston's death to promote their singing competition show, also called "The Voice", which would be airing later that same night.  There is absolutely no doubt that Brian and the Nightly News producers intentionally titled this story "The Voice" to promote the NBC show of the same name.  (This is not the first time Nightly News has used a story's title to promote one of NBC's prime time shows.  On the 12/1/11 broadcast, a story about the auctioning of Liz Taylor's jewelry was given the title "Rock Center" to promote Brian's "Rock Center" show.)  This is one of the most grotesque and crass displays of sleazebag marketing that I have ever witnessed.  Is nothing sacred?  Is it really necessary to use Whitney Houston's death to promote an NBC entertainment show?  Brian Williams and his producers should be ashamed of themselves.  They owe an apology to Houston's family and fans, and to all the Nightly News viewers as well.  Meanwhile, on Monday's CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley did not even mention Whitney Houston until he was more than nine minutes into his broadcast.  Before reporting a modest 2:40 story about Houston's death, Pelley reported stories about Syria (his lead story that night), Iran and Israel, Greece, Wall Street, the U.S. economy and the U.S. debt and budget.  I think it's obvious which anchor is concerned with reporting real news and which anchor is intent on reporting entertainment stories as a weaselly way to increase his ratings.  I'll let you decide which is which.
Tues. Feb. 14--The lead story was a 2:45 report on the record-high gas prices.  That sounds familiar.  Where have I seen this before?  Oh yeah--now I remember.  It was on Sunday's Nightly News.  Tuesday's story (reported by John Yang) was virtually identical to Sunday's story (reported by Kevin Tibbles).  That's right--Nightly News reran a story they had aired only two days earlier.  On Sunday, Tibbles was at a Mobil Station in Chicago.  On Tuesday, Yang was at the same Mobil station.  On Sunday, Tibbles reported that by Memorial Day, gas prices were expected to reach a national average of $3.95 per gallon, including high prices in Atlanta ($4.60 per gallon), Los Angeles ($4.70 per gallon) and Chicago ($4.95 per gallon).  On Tuesday, Yang reported that by Memorial Day, gas prices were expected to reach a national average of $3.95 per gallon, including high prices in Atlanta ($4.60 per gallon), Los Angeles ($4.70 per gallon) and Chicago ($4.95 per gallon).  On Sunday, Tibbles explained that these high prices were partly due to rising tensions in the Middle East and reduced capacity in some east coast refineries.  On Tuesday, Yang explained that these high prices were partly due to rising tensions in the Middle East and reduced capacity in some east coast refineries.  On Sunday, Tibbles profiled a soda delivery company that is being affected by the higher gas prices.  On Tuesday, Yang profiled a bakery/sandwich shop that is being affected by the higher gas prices.  This was absolutely ridiculous.  It's hard to believe that with all the important news going on across the country and around the world, the Nightly News producers insult us by showing a story that is a virtual rerun of a story that aired only two days earlier.  They must really think we're morons.
***During a story about the U.S. visit of China's Vice President Xi Jinping, Andrea Mitchell showed a clip from "Saving Private Ryan" (because Xi liked the movie).  Obviously, the Nightly News producers were concerned that viewers would lose interest in this news story so they spiced it up with a little Spielberg.  Well done.
***The idiotic Anne Thompson reported a story about allergies in February.  Maybe the producers should have attached a "breaking news" banner to this one.  At one point during the story, Thompson was walking through a park in Pine Mountain, Georgia.  This reminded me of Thompson's Jan. 31 story about the mild winter weather, when she was walking through New York's Central Park with a rental dog that we were supposed to believe was her actual dog.  So why couldn't she find a rental dog in Georgia?  Maybe the dog rental company wouldn't deliver one because of the high gas prices.
***In a story about the best and worst airports for on-time arrivals and departures, we were shown an NBC News animation made to resemble an airport arrival/departure board.  On the board was a list of randomly-chosen cities like Phoenix, Oakland, Atlanta and Seattle.  Anchorage was also on the board, except the Nightly News producers misspelled it as "Ankorage".  This is not the first time this has happened.  Actually, it's the third time.  Nightly News used the same animated flight board on Jan. 14 and Jan. 18.  And on both those days they also misspelled Anchorage.  Come on guys, it's been a month now.  Fix the damn problem.
***Brian spent 45 seconds narrating a story about Pres. Obama's speech in which he implores men not to forget Valentine's Day.  News reporting at its finest.
***After that, Brian spent another 45 seconds on a story about the "hidden danger" of lead in lipstick.  Nightly News loves to run stories about the "hidden danger" of this or that because alarmist stories attract viewers and get high ratings.  The bottom line?  Some lipstick does contain lead, but the FDA considers the lead levels to be completely safe.  Hidden danger, my ass.
***The final story was about Richard and Mildred Loving, a couple who were chased out of Virginia more than fifty years ago because he was white and she was black.  They didn't return to Virginia until the Supreme Court overturned the state's ban on interracial marriage in 1967.  It was an interesting story, but Nightly News only reported it because the Lovings are currently the subject of an HBO documentary.  So it's actually an entertainment story.  At Nightly News, a story isn't really news until it's been on TV.  By the way, Rehema Ellis began the story by saying, "For Richard and Mildred, it was love at first sight."  In fact, the Nightly News story was titled "Love At First Sight".  But that wasn't the case.  In the HBO film, Mildred Loving says, "When we first met I didn’t like him, I don’t know, he was arrogant.  But I got to know him and he was a very nice person."  It's appalling that Ellis didn't know this.  Did she even see the HBO film?  Apparently not, or she wouldn't have made that glaring mistake.
Wed. Feb. 15--In a story about the continuing hostility between Israel and Iran, a man named Yoram Schweitzer was identified in a Nightly News graphic as being from Israel's "Institute for National Securities Studies".  Actually, it's the Institute for National Security Studies.  Schweitzer doesn't study securities (i.e stocks and bonds).  He looks for ways to keep Israelis safe from terrorist attacks.  There's a difference.  Someone should tell the Nightly News producers.
***In a story about the Michigan Republican Primary, we were shown a gratuitous clip of the Clint Eastwood "Halftime in America" Chrysler ad.  That's not surprising.  One of Brian's main jobs is using Nightly News to promote Chrysler.  While this certainly rewards Chrysler (a regular NBC advertiser), it is also self-serving.  It bolsters the image Brian has carefully cultivated for himself as a "good old red-meat-eating NASCAR-loving American-car guy".  Every time Chrysler launches a new ad campaign, Brian covers it extensively.  And this time is no exception.  Excerpts from the "Halftime in America" ad have been shown several times already in Nightly News reports, and the campaign is barely a week old.  Just one problem--during this story, the Nightly News producers misspelled Chrysler as "Chyrsler" in the ad's on-screen credit line.  Not too bright.  Brian busts his ass shilling for Chrysler and his idiot producers screw it up by misspelling the company's name.  Oops.  Brian ended this story with a "quick program note" (which is, of course, a euphemism for "promotional announcement") for a "Rock Center" story later that night about a GM plant in Flint (you didn't think that Chrysler was the only car company Brian shilled for, did you?).  By the way, that "program note" wasn't all that quick.  Brian's promo for "Rock Center" actually lasted longer than the entire story on Syria he had narrated earlier in the broadcast.  Well, at least Brian has his priorities straight.
***In a teaser for an upcoming story about dolphins that are beaching themselves on the shores of Cape Cod Bay, Brian said, "We'll check in with the good folks trying very hard to solve a mystery."  Good folks?  How does he know they're good folks?  Has he ever met any of them?  Of course not.  But when you're a serial panderer like Brian, everyone is "good folks".
***Brian then told us about the winner of the Westminster Dog Show.  He mispronounced the dog's name (Malachy) as "Machaly" before correcting himself.  The entire 20-second story consisted of video of the dog show (which was televised by the USA Network--owned by NBC/Universal) so Brian was really just promoting an NBC property.  Nice job.
***In a story about a J.D. Power survey of the most reliable and least reliable cars, Brian had the unenviable task of telling us that Chrysler placed dead last in reliability.  Ram, Jeep and Dodge (all made by Chrysler) were also among the least reliable cars and trucks.  How on earth did this story get on Nightly News?  Brian's job is to promote Chrysler, not to report bad news about it.  I am at a loss to explain this.  It was a bad day for Chrysler on Nightly News.  First the producers misspelled their name and then this negative story came out.  Maybe their "promotional" payment to Brian was late so he decided to show them what would happen if they didn't pay on time in the future.
***The broadcast ended with a 2:20 story about the Knicks' newest sensation, Jeremy Lin.  That sounds familiar.  Where have I heard it before?  Oh yeah--now I remember.  It was Saturday.  When Nightly News did a story about...Jeremy Lin.  And this "new" story was virtually identical to the earlier story.  Well, at least the producers waited four days before rerunning the Jeremy Lin story.  That's better than the mere two days that separated the stories about high gas prices.  I'd call that progress.  Naturally, before signing off, Brian gave us one more plug for "Rock Center".  Just because he can.
Thurs. Feb. 16--The lead story was about General Motors' recovery.  This was little more than a 3:05 rah-rah commercial for GM cars and trucks (oh how Brian loves plugging American car companies).  This story included an old Nightly News clip (from 6/1/09) that showed Brian announcing that GM had filed for bankruptcy.  I thought flashbacks were only used in entertainment shows.  But Brian loves them because they're a cheap way for him to get more screen time.  And that's what it's all about for Brian.  Him, him, him.  Meanwhile, I'm just wondering how much an actual three minute commercial on Nightly News would have cost GM.  Free advertising.  Gotta love it.
***A story about the Congressional hearings on birth control featured a clip from "Andrea Mitchell Reports" in which Santorum campaign contributor Foster Friess said, "Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives.  The gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly."  The only reason this quote made it onto the air was because Friess mentioned Bayer aspirin.  Bayer is by far the single largest advertiser on Nightly News (usually running commercials for three or four of its products each night) and the producers would never miss an opportunity to give a plug for their biggest sponsor.  More free advertising.  Bravo.
***Reporter/shill Tom Costello did a 2:15 story about arsenic in foods.  As always, Costello's main goal was to protect the NBC sponsors who might be adversely affected by this story.  So Costello and his producers made sure to only use generic illustrations of products instead of showing actual products.  The one product they did show (apple juice) had the labels removed.  I'm sure the people at Mott's appreciated that.
***Nancy Snyderman wasted three minutes on a story about adult children who take the car keys away from their elderly parents.  I'd like someone to explain how this qualifies as news.
***Brian wasted 25 seconds telling us about a "medical condidion" in which people have a fear of being out of cell phone range.  Great.  Thanks.
***The broadcast ended with a "Making A Difference" story reported by (trumpet fanfare, please) Chelsea Clinton.  This story was ostensibly about education at an elementary school in Central Falls, Rhode Island, but I can assure you that the Nightly News producers don't care about education in Rhode Island.  The story was really about Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea.  Look--there's Chelsea helping a student read!  There's Chelsea observing the class!  There's Chelsea interviewing the kids!  There's Chelsea talking to the teachers!  All told, Chelsea was on screen for 42 seconds of this 2:20 story--that's 30% of the time.  Compare her screen time to that of some other correspondents on this broadcast.  During his 2:30 story about the Michigan primary, Ron Mott was on screen for 15 seconds--only 10% of the time.  During his 2:15 story about arsenic in foods, Tom Costello was on screen for 10 seconds--only 7.4% of the time.  And during her 2:25 story about the House hearings on birth control, Kelly O'Donnell was on screen for 10 seconds--only 6.5% of the time.  Clearly, Chelsea is the new star at NBC News and her stories are meant to highlight her much more than the subject she is reporting on.  Brian is using her as a prop to attract viewers.  But I guess turnabout is fair play--after all, Chelsea is certainly using NBC News to bolster her resume.  Although with the declining relevance of NBC News, I don't know how much Chelsea will actually benefit from the association.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Brian Williams Exploits Whitney Houston's Death

On Monday's NBC Nightly News, the lead story was Whitney Houston's death.  This three-minute story was merely condensed from the nine-and-a-half minutes of Whitney Houston stories that had already aired on Sunday's Nightly News.  There was no new information to report--it was just a rehashing of these previously-aired stories.  Monday's Nightly News also ended with a 2:45 Whitney Houston story.  As Brian Williams introduced this story, the words "The Voice" (the title of the story) appeared over his left shoulder for more than 15 seconds, below some video of Houston.  This was obviously a shameless and heartless way for NBC to use Houston's death to promote their singing competition show, also called "The Voice", which would be airing later that same night.  There is absolutely no doubt that Brian and the Nightly News producers intentionally titled this story "The Voice" to promote the NBC show of the same name.  (This is not the first time Nightly News has used a story's title to promote one of NBC's prime time shows.  On the 12/1/11 broadcast, a story about the auctioning of Liz Taylor's jewelry was given the title "Rock Center" to promote Brian's "Rock Center" show.)  This is one of the most appallingly crass displays of sleazebag marketing that I have ever witnessed.  Is nothing sacred?  Brian Williams and his producers should be ashamed of themselves.  They owe an apology to Houston's family and fans, and to all the Nightly News viewers as well.

Meanwhile, on Monday's CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley did not even mention Whitney Houston until he was more than nine minutes into his broadcast.  Before reporting a modest 2:40 story about Houston's death, Pelley reported stories about Syria (his lead story that night), Iran and Israel, Greece, Wall Street, the U.S. economy and the U.S. debt and budget.  I think it's obvious which anchor is concerned with reporting real news and which anchor is intent on reporting entertainment stories as a weaselly way to increase his ratings.

Also on Monday, Brian Williams spent more than a minute giving us his recap of Sunday's Grammy telecast.  About Adele he said, "She chose her classic, the break-up anthem of the decade, 'Rolling In The Deep' and delivered a stunning performance to thunderous applause in the hall.  She positively sparkled and she just about walked away with the whole night."  Kiss ass much, Brian?  Okay--first of all, no matter how great a song "Rolling In The Deep" may be, it was only released a year ago and certainly cannot be called a "classic".  "Smoke On The Water" is a classic.  "Honky Tonk Women" is a classic.  "Free Bird" is a classic.  "L.A. Woman" is a classic.  "Rolling In The Deep" is not a classic.  And since when is it a news anchor's job to give us his personal opinions about music, or anything else for that matter?  But of course, Brian Williams is not a news anchor.  He is an entertainment barker, like Kevin Frazier of "The Insider" or Mario Lopez of "Extra".  And by the way, on Monday, Scott Pelley did not even mention the Grammys--and they aired on CBS, his own network!  That tells us everything we need to know about the difference between Brian Williams and Scott Pelley.  Pelley forgoes an opportunity to promote his own network's Grammy telecast because he would rather report actual news, while Brian goes out of his way to give us his own personal Grammy review.  I think he deludedly imagines himself as some sort of music guru and believes that viewers are actually interested in hearing what he has to say about the Grammys.  Can you say "massive ego"?  At Nightly News, entertainment is obviously much more important than news.  Maybe Brian should change the name of his broadcast to NBC Nightly Entertainment.

Postscript:  With all his yapping about the Grammys, Brian somehow forgot to mention the show's phenomenal ratings.  I guess that's not surprising since Brian only brags about the ratings for NBC shows.  According to the New York Times, "The Grammy awards telecast on CBS Sunday night smashed every recent ratings record for that show and for any awards broadcast...(T)he Grammys attracted 39.9 million viewers, making it the most-watched nonsports program of the television season.  It was the second-biggest audience for a Grammys show ever...."  So if Brian is shameless enough to tell us (twice!) that the Super Bowl was THE most-watched TV show in history, he could at least mention the Grammys' sky-high rating.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

NBC Nightly News Show Notes--2/4 Through 2/10 (Revised)

This past week, Nightly News spent more time reporting on Bruce Springsteen than they spent reporting on Australia, South America, Africa and Eastern Asia combined.  That makes sense.  Brian Williams knows that he gets high ratings reporting on entertainers and celebrities and low ratings reporting foreign news.  And for Brian, it's all about the ratings.  Always.  Well, there probably wasn't much going on in those places, anyway.  Just a hunch--I'm guessing that in the months leading up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics (to be televised by NBC), Nightly News will spend a lot of time reporting on South America.  Here's what happened on Nightly News this week:

Sat. Feb. 4--Breaking news!  There was a "Winter Blast" in Denver!  Obviously the producers decided to report this story because a snowstorm in Colorado is such an anomaly.  Especially in winter.
***We got to see an awesome "Super Bowl Preview".  I'm sure this story was included on the broadcast because it was important, not because it was a shameless way to spend 2:45 promoting NBC's Super Bowl coverage.  Funny thing--Nightly News didn't do a Super Bowl preview last year when the game was on CBS.  Oh well, I guess they were too busy doing stories on Mary Thornberry that week to bother with the Super Bowl.
***The final story was about the kids from an Indiana high school football team who were selected to be stand-ins for the Super Bowl players when NBC was preparing their coverage and setting up their camera angles.  What a surprise--another Super Bowl story.  Who would have thought.
Sun. Feb. 5--No news today because of the Super Bowl.  Duh.  Obviously, a news broadcast would have interfered with NBC's 11 straight hours of Super Bowl coverage.
Mon. Feb. 6--I  guess everyone at NBC was hung over from the Super Bowl because Nightly News reported just six stories this night--and only three could be considered actual news.  They reported on Syria, President Obama and the Washington man who killed himself and his sons by blowing up his house.  Fair enough--those stories are newsworthy.  But the other three stories--about JFK's intern, the Super Bowl Chrysler ad and WW II veterans (which together took up more than 10 minutes of news time)--had no news value and did not belong on a network newscast.
***During the story about Matt Lauer's interview with President Obama, Brian and Chuck Todd referred to it three different times as the "Super Bowl interview".  Um, guys, the game's over.  You don't have to promote it anymore.  How nice that the leader of the free world is reduced to being a pawn in NBC's non-stop back-slapping self-promotion.  And apparently there was a "turf war" between Matt and Brian for the right to interview the President on that day.  It seems pretty obvious who the NBC executives consider their "golden child".  Sorry, Brian--it's not you.
***We saw a three-minute story about Mimi Alford, the JFK intern who doubled as the President's sex toy.  (In his intro to the story, Brian mispronounced her name as "Minnie" before correcting himself.)  This story was really just a promo for a longer version of the story that would be airing on "Rock Center" later in the week.  Brian seemed to think that the interview was some sort of scoop.  I guess he didn't notice that Ms. Alford was using Nightly News to promote a book she had written about the affair.  And why is this news anyway?  The affair had already been revealed years ago.  Clearly, Brian is obsessed with JFK.  This is the fourth JFK story Nightly News has reported in the past two weeks.  For Brian, it's a lot easier (and cheaper) to report 50-year-old news than to report current news.  Naturally, the story (and the broadcast) ended with a promo for "Rock Center". 
***After that, Brian spent 40 seconds rehashing the Super Bowl.  First he told us that it was "the most-watched television program in American history."  That's nice--a news anchor who shamelessly brags about his network's ratings.  How humble.  (Funny thing--I never hear Brian bragging about ratings for programs on other networks.)  Then he said, "Nielsen estimates 111.3 million of US watched as the Giants defeated the Patriots in an epic battle in Indianapolis."  Us.  Because the news is always about Brian. 
***Then Brian spent more than two minutes fawning over the Clint Eastwood "Halftime In America" Chrysler ad that aired during the Super Bowl.  He called it "a big, sweeping and impactful ad."  He showed us 45 seconds of the ad, including a 30-second continuous clip.  So much for anchor neutrality.  But don't let Clint Eastwood's appearance in the ad fool you.  Brian Williams is Chrysler's most avid pitchman.  He has made it his mission over the years to relentlessly promote Chrysler on his broadcast.  On the 2/7/11 Nightly News, Brian devoted a whopping 3:15 to shamelessly promoting the Eminem "Imported From Detroit" Chrysler ad that aired a day earlier during the 2011 Super Bowl.  And who could forget the 11/13/07 Nightly News, which Brian anchored from a Chrysler plant in Detroit?  That broadcast was nothing more than a 30-minute commercial for Chrysler.  The broadcast ended with an "interview" Brian conducted with Jim Press, then Chrysler's #2 executive.  This "interview" began with Brian asking Press softball questions and concluded with Brian and Press talking about how great Chrysler cars and trucks are.  What an incisive interview.  Why doesn't the Nightly News announcer just say, "And now, here's Brian Williams for Chrysler."  I'm just wondering--how much does Brian get paid to be Chrysler's shill?  His partisan support of NBC's sponsors is a gaping violation of journalistic ethics.  I'm sure he doesn't care.
***The broadcast ended with a ridiculously long 4:15 piece about World War II veterans in New Hampshire who are contributing their stories to a book about the war.  Here's how Brian introduced the story (with a waving flag animation behind him):  "It might be the greatest slow motion tragedy of our times and we can't stop it.  The greatest generation is fading from the scene--World War II vets are dying at the rate of 740 a day...."  And here's another of Brian's sappy, Hallmark-style quotes:  "Long ago he was a young man--brave, scared, proud to be a part of a fighting force on a foreign shore trying to save the world."  Sheesh.  I'd ask who wrote that crap, but it's obvious that Brian wrote it.  Once again, he's pandering to the viewers because the NBC News research department has informed him that rah-rah gung-ho stories about veterans are popular and get high ratings.  So altogether, Brian wasted more than 10 minutes with his ridiculous stories about JFK's intern, the Clint Eastwood Chrysler ad and WW II vets.  How much real news could he have reported in that time?  And it's even more appalling when you consider that Nightly News did not air on Sunday, so Brian had 48 hours of news to catch up on.  And this is the garbage he chose to waste valuable time on.  Appalling.
Tues. Feb. 7--Kelly O'Donnell reported on that day's caucuses and primaries from St. Charles, Missouri.  After her report, Brian said that she was reporting from St. Charles, Minnesota.  Can someone please buy this guy an atlas?  Brian later corrected himself, no doubt after his producers pointed out his error.
***In a story about the Obama administration's decision to require religious institutions to provide birth control, David Axelrod was identified in a Nightly News graphic as a White House "advisor".  On the Jan. 28 broadcast, a "Meet the Press" promo identified Axelrod as a White House "adviser".  No one cares at Nightly News.
***Pete Williams continues to be my hero.  Every time Pete reports a story (such as this night's story about same-sex marriage), Brian segues to him with a treacly "Good evening, Pete".  But Pete never takes the bait.  Instead of responding with "Good evening, Brian", Pete just launches right into his story.  You go, Pete!  Why does Brian feel the need to exchange pleasantries with every correspondent he talks to?  Can't he friend them in private?
***Brian spent 26 seconds reporting about the events in Syria.  A few minutes later, he spent 30 seconds reporting on the parade given for the New York Giants after their Super Bowl victory.  The Giants get more air time than Syria--I think that tells us everything we need to know about Brian and Nightly News.
***Nightly News correspondent/shill Tom Costello spent 2:20 reporting on the dangers of sodium in food.  As usual, Costello's main job was to protect the NBC sponsors by not showing any name-brand products.  Costello reports frequently on hidden dangers in consumer foods and never shows any actual products.  NBC's pals at Kraft and Frito-Lay wouldn't like that.
***Brian spent 20 seconds telling us that Michelle Obama would be participating in a physical fitness challenge on that night's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon".  In the past week, Brian has also promoted Mrs. Obama's appearances on "The Tonight Show" and "Ellen".  He is a shameless shill.
***The broadcast ended with a 2:20 profile of Nicole Lyons, a female race car driver.  She was one of's 100 history makers chosen for Black History Month.  Let me get this straight. (an NBC-owned website) arbitrarily chooses history makers and then Nightly News reports on them?  That's just a mutually self-promoting scam.  And by the way, this story had zero news value.  But Brian loves to show racing stories because they allow him to pander to the important NASCAR demographic.  And we all know that Brian gets to air stories on whatever he wants.
Wed. Feb. 8--What a surprise--another story on JFK's intern.  This time, Ms. Alford was given a 4:05 chunk of airtime to promote her book.  So in the span of two weeks, Brian has reported five stories (totalling more than eleven minutes) on JFK.  That's even more than the four stories he's reported on Michelle Obama in that time!  Obviously, the JFK story was meant as bait to lure viewers to that night's "Rock Center" (which has been moved to Wednesdays to try to improve the anemic ratings it was generating on Mondays).  In case there was any doubt, the story ended with a shameless plug for "Rock Center". 
***Brian showed us photos of the Northern Lights taken from space.  This was the fifth story on the Northern Lights that Nightly News has run in the past two weeks.  Brian thanked his "friends" on the International Space Station for the photos.  I'm sure they think of Brian as their friend, too. 
***Brian read an obituary for Nello Ferrara, the inventor of Atomic Fireballs, Red Hots and other candies.  No disrespect to Mr. Ferrara, but does this really belong on a network evening newscast?
***The final story was a 2:05 "Making A Difference" piece about a group of San Diego women who began getting together for dinner and started raising money to help needy girls and women around the world.  Now, Dining for Women has more than 8,000 members in 38 states.  It's really great that these women are helping people in need.  But why is this on a news broadcast?  Has anyone ever noticed that Nightly News shows hundreds of minutes of "Making A Difference" stories every year and not one of them has ever contained even a shred of actual news?  Obviously, these MAD pieces are included because they're viewer favorites that earn high ratings.  Viewers connect with these sappy "people helping people" stories on an emotional level, and that translates to ratings.  Brian and his producers understand that viewers are bored with real news so they pad the broadcast with garbage like this (not to mention stories about famous actors, musicians, cute animals, British Royals and other ratings-grabbers).  It's a formula that works.  Nightly News may not be a real news broadcast, but it certainly gets high ratings.  And that's what matters most to Brian and his producers.  The broadcast ended with another promo for "Rock Center".  Did you expect any different?
Thurs. Feb. 9--Here's some breaking news that Brian reported:  "As we mentioned, there's music news for Bruce fans.  The Boss will be sporting an entire brass section when the Wrecking Ball tour sets out later this year."  Wow!  A story about Bruce Springsteen!  Awesome!  Of course, this isn't news, but it gave Brian yet another opportunity to show some totally rad concert footage of his pretend-pal Bruce.  Don't forget--no one tells Brian what to do.  He gets to report on whatever the hell he wants.  So he's going to show us as many stories about Springsteen, Bono, Bon Jovi, Michelle Obama, Michael Douglas, John and Jackie Kennedy, Kate Middleton, Meryl Streep and George Clooney as he damn well pleases.  And don't you forget it, pal.
***You can add Steve Jobs to the above list.  He's another one of Brian's favorites.  This time, Brian brought us a 45 second story about the FBI file on Jobs.  People said he was arrogant!  He used drugs!  He didn't support an out-of-wedlock child!  He twisted the truth to achieve his goals!  As if any of this was news.  I can't wait to read the FBI file on Brian.
***Next, we got an important story about L.A. County officials raising the fine to $100 for throwing a football or frisbee in any undesignated area of L.A. beaches during the summer.  Oh no, say it ain't so.
***The broadcast ended with a pointless "Making A Difference" story about a former marine who helps returning soldiers find jobs in agriculture.  He should be congratulated.  But this isn't news.  This was a waste of 2:15 of valuable news time.  By constantly doing these hokey "golly-I-sure-do-love-America" stories, Brian proves that wrapping himself in the flag is a ratings bonanza.  By the way, on this night, Nightly News did not air a single story about Greece, Syria or any other foreign country.  Not one report from outside the U.S.  But we learned all about the L.A. school sex scandal, the measles outbreak in Indiana, the dangers of C-sections and that Gabby Giffords' aide will run for her congressional seat,  Foreign news bad, Springsteen good.  Thanks, Nightly News producers!  Great job!
Fri. Feb. 10--Finally!  The Nightly News producers discovered the crisis in Greece.  The other networks have been covering this story for weeks, but not Nightly News.  If only the producers had used their heads, they could have turned the crisis in Greece into a promo for this summer's London Olympics by showing footage of the 2004 Athens Games.  Do I have to tell them how to do everything?
***The idiotic Anne Thompson reported a story about a Philadelphia Cardinal who died one day after a judge ruled that he could testify in a lawsuit alleging child sex abuse by priests.  Anyone who's ever seen Thompson's fawning and obsequious coverage of the Pope (or any matter relating to the Catholic Church) knows that she is far too biased to report objectively on the subject.  She should go back to reporting about the nice weather in winter and walking her rental dog in Central Park.  Of course, that's not going to happen.  Brian's own rabidly pro-Catholic stance insures that he will continue to assign shills like Thompson to cover his beloved church.
***We then got a two-and-a-half minute story about a Norovirus outbreak on a cruise ship.  I don't know why Nancy Snyderman needed so much time to report this story.  Maybe it has something to do with Nightly News demonizing cruise ships after the Costa Concordia tragedy.  Cruise ships are the new Jerry Sandusky!  Well, at least we got to hear Dr. Nancy say "diarrhea". 
***Brian then spent 35 seconds telling us about some Boeing test pilots who used their flight route to trace the Boeing logo "over an eight-state area".  Actually, according to the on-screen map that accompanied the story, it was across a nine-state area.  I guess Brian dosen't think too much of South Dakota.  Brian said that, "Our friends at the website 'FlightAware' alerted us to this...."  Really?  I wonder if Brian's "friends" at FlightAware know his other "friends" from the International Space Station who took those photos of the Northern Lights.  He has so many friends!
***The next story was very important.  Brian told us that, "We now know that New York fans 'held it in' the whole time because water usage in the city of New York spiked 13% in those first moments after the [Super Bowl] game."  Really?  Forty-five seconds about Giants fans not peeing until the game ended?  I think Walter Cronkite turned over in his grave.  Of course, this was just another excuse for Brian to spend more time talking about the Giants' victory.  "One of the best football games in Super Bowl history not to mention the world champion New York Giants' stunning victory.  It was also THE most-watched TV show of any kind for all time."  Good thing he's not biased or anything.  By the way, Brian always gives selective information about NBC ratings.  According to a blog on (  "The ratings for Super Bowl 46 were very strong, but not quite strong enough to set a new record.  The Giants’ 21-17 win over the Patriots came in with a 47.8 overnight rating and 71 share of the viewing audience, according to the Associated Press. That’s just off the record 47.9 overnight rating for the Packers’ victory over the Steelers last year, a mark that game shares with Super Bowl 21 when the Giants beat the Broncos."  So it wasn't the highest-rated Super Bowl in history.  Sorry, Brian.  I hope you're not too devastated.  That reminds me of two years ago when Brian spent countless minutes on Nightly News bragging about NBC's ratings for the Vancouver Olympics without ever mentioning that NBC lost $225 million on the Games.  Brian is a deceptive weasel.  I can only imagine all the things he withholds from his wife.
***At the risk of sounding repetitive, the night's final report was a pointless 2:20 story--with no news value--about veterans.  Where have I heard that before?  Oh yeah--Monday and Thursday.  And lots of other days.  So this was the third story this week about veterans.  This time, it was about some people in San Diego who pitched in and raised money to give a second wedding to a wounded vet.  But I'll let Brian describe it:  "We try, as you may know, to focus as much attention as possible on our returning veterans.  Tonight we have a genuinely heart-warming story about how a community pulled help a wounded hero and his bride to have the wedding of their dreams."  Are you as sickened as I am?  Isn't there anyone at NBC News with the guts to tell Brian that his job is to report news, not to warm our hearts?  Brian doesn't care.  Warm hearts equal high ratings.  Another great week at Nightly News.

Friday, February 3, 2012

NBC Nightly News Show Notes--1/28 Through 2/3 (Revised)

On Thursday, Mitt Romney was endorsed by the most self-promoting egocentric narcissist on NBC. But enough about Brian Williams. This week, Nightly News featured clips from "Downton Abbey", "Seinfeld", "The Social Network", "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", "Celebrity Apprentice", "The Late Show with David Letterman", "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", "The Tomorrow Show", "Soul Train", "Ellen", "American Bandstand" and of course "The Today Show". Surprisingly, they even managed to squeeze in a little bit of news around these clips. Here are the highlights:

Sat. Jan. 28--The lead story about Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich featured a segment about the Romney campaign ad that included a clip of Tom Brokaw from a 1997 Nightly News story. The segment also included a statement from NBC News requesting that NBC News material be removed from all political campaign ads and a statement from Brokaw saying that he is uncomfortable with his image being used in the ad because it compromises his role as an objective journalist. That was immediately followed by a statement from Brian Williams saying that he will gladly make his image available for use by all campaigns at no cost because he has no ethics or morals and just wants to appear on TV as much as possible. (Okay--that last part didn't really happen.) By the way, despite all their bitching and moaning, I'm guessing that NBC was happy to get the money that the Romney campaign paid them to air the Brokaw ad.
***We then saw a two-and-a-half minute story about people who use on-line coupons to get discounts on medical and dental services. The story was reported by Tom Llamas, a third-rate reporter and anchor for the local WNBC station in New York. So instead of reporting important national and international news stories, Nightly News is content to show us trite, frivolous stories that they re-ran from a local news station. Obviously, this story was cheap to produce, and that's always a consideration for the Nightly News producers. And let's not forget that "on-line coupons" is often a trending topic on Yahoo, Twitter and Google. The Nightly News producers like to pander to their viewers by reporting on topics that are trending on social media sites.
***Kate Snow spent 20 seconds telling us about the Northern Lights, the "spectacular light show that mesmerized a lot of folks around the world every night this week. Wow!" Actually, we know all about the Northern Lights because this is the fourth story Nightly News has done on them in the past five days.
***We saw an obituary for Ian Abercrombie, who played Mr. Pitt on "Seinfeld". Seriously? A guy who's known for one small role gets a 35-second obit on Nightly News? I guess it's not surprising. The producers prefer to show entertainment stories instead of news because they get higher ratings. And of course, the NBC Universal store sells "Seinfeld" DVDs, t-shirts, key chains, coffee mugs and other paraphernalia. So airing this story is just a way for NBC to capitalize on Abercrombie's death and earn a few quick bucks. Great job, guys.
***What a treat! We got to see another story about Samantha Garvey, the homeless high school student who was a semi-finalist for the Intel science prize. Thanks to a charitable organization, Garvey and her family now have a home! This is the fourth story Nightly News has done on Garvey in the past two weeks. Obviously, the producers would much rather waste our time on these sappy emotional stories with no news value because the viewers like them and they get better ratings than real news.
***The final story, titled "Heroes' Welcome", was about a couple of guys from St. Louis who decided to throw a ticker tape parade for soldiers who have returned from Iraq. This is the most sickening and most base type of pandering story in the Nightly News arsenal. It's just another one of many Nightly News stories designed to appeal to the viewers' eagle-soaring, flag waving, rah-rah, gung-ho, God-Bless-America sense of patriotism. It's not a news story--it's just an excuse for the producers to show waving flags and people talking about how much they love the good old U.S of A.. U.S. Flags appeared in almost every shot, and of course the obligatory waving animated flag appeared behind Kate Snow as she was introducing the story. The producers should be ashamed of themselves for showing this garbage. But, of course, they're not. Why would they be? Brian Williams and his producers have appointed themselves as the propaganda arm of the U.S. military. And they get great ratings by desperately trying to show that Nightly News loves this country more than any other network news broadcast. It is truly nauseating (but hardly surprising) that the producers stoop to this level of pandering.
Sun. Jan. 29--Lester Holt spent 25 seconds telling us that the NFL is allowing players to tweet live from the Pro Bowl. Naturally, the story ended with a promo informing us that the Pro Bowl would air on NBC later that night. This was just a 25-second commercial for an NBC sports program. Shameful.
***The final report of the night was a two-minute "news story" about fast food restaurants that are now staying open later to accommodate the schedules of their customers. First of all, there is no definition of "news" that could possibly include this ridiculous story. But, of course, the producers weren't interested in presenting a news story. Rather, their intent was to promote some of NBC's best fast food sponsors. The story began with ad clips from Taco Bell and Wendy's--both of which are regular advertisers on some of the many Comcast/NBC Universal networks. But the rest of the story focused on McDonald's. This story contained more than a minute's worth of gratuitous McDonald's footage--interiors, exteriors, franchise owners, customers, workers, food--and even included an extended shot of correspondent Mike Taibbi standing in front of a McDonald's in a way that clearly displayed the McDonald's name and logo. And just to make sure we didn't miss the point, Taibbi then told us that, "McDonald's now has 40% of its restaurants open 24 hours--up from 30% seven years ago." That statement--and the entire report--sounded suspiciously like a commercial. Obviously, the Nightly News producers' goal in running this story was to inform the viewers that McDonald's has new extended hours so we should rush out later and get some of those delicious Big Macs, Quarter Pounders and fries. As always, one of Nightly News's main jobs is promoting their major advertisers like McDonald's. Well done.
Mon. Jan. 30--The lead story was the Florida car crash pile-up. As part of the story, we heard some audio tapes of the 911 calls with on-screen transcripts provided. And as usual, the producers couldn't get them right. One woman is heard saying, "This is the third one now already." But the transcript omitted the word "now". Why is it so difficult for the producers to accurately transcribe phone calls? I guess it's because no one at Nightly News cares the slightest bit about accuracy.
***A story about the Republican candidates included a clip of Mitt Romney on "The Today Show" because Brian and his producers make a point of using Nightly News to promote other NBC shows.
***In the next segment, also about politics, Brian told us that Chuck Todd was "paying a rare visit to the mothership tonight." What is wrong with him? Why does he talk like that? He says more stupid things than Mitt Romney and Rick Perry put together.
***Here's how Brian promo'd an upcoming story about blood pressure: "Up next here on a Monday night, turning medical practice on its ear a bit--now there's a new way WE should all be getting OUR blood pressure measured." Once again, Brian used personal pronouns to turn a news story into a story about him. Because first and foremost, the news is always about Brian.
***We got to see a 1:25 story about the winter heat wave. Brian used the word "June-uary".
***Brian spent 40 seconds telling us about the death of John Baker, a Medal of Honor recipient. Brian reports the death of every MOH winner as if it's real news. Brian has a bizarre obsession with MOH winners and the military in general. In fact, he serves on the board of directors for the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. So Brian is reporting on an organization on whose board he serves. That sounds like a conflict of interest to me. And by repeatedly reporting on Medal of Honor recipients, he's keeping the MOH Foundation in the public eye and helping them to solicit contributions. That's unethical. But Brian doesn't care. He only cares about promoting the U.S. Military because it generates good ratings for his broadcast.
***Brian then spent 25 seconds telling us that Shirley MacLaine will join the cast of "Downton Abbey" next season. Most of the story consisted of clips from the show. This is the second "Downton Abbey" story that Nightly News has done in January. On Jan. 9, Stephanie Gosk spent a whopping 2:45 reporting on the popularity of the show. In her story, Gosk had the ethical integrity to disclose that "Downton Abbey" is produced by a company owned by NBC Universal. But in Brian's report, he never made that disclosure. I guess we can put it this way: Stephanie Gosk is ethical, Brian Williams is a sleazebag.
***The next story was about a UK study which concluded that women are better at parking than men. For some reason, Brian loves to report stories that pit men against women. A week earlier, we saw a story about how men may have a higher tolerance for pain than women. Why does he insist on reporting these stupid, divisive stories? I think he gets some sort of deviant satisfaction out of starting gender arguments. Or maybe it's an indication that something's not right at home with Mrs. Williams.
***The broadcast ended with a "Making A Difference" story reported by (sound the trumpet, please) Chelsea Clinton. What a shame. Chelsea could be doing so many good things with her life, and instead she's chosen to work for a hack news broadcast reporting silly stories with no news value. This was another one of those rah-rah gung-ho God-Bless-America stories about a decorated WWII war hero (and former prisoner of war) who raises money to provide service dogs for wounded veterans. The story featured plenty of shots of cavorting puppies and adorable adult dogs. A story featuring Chelsea Clinton, a WWII hero and cute puppies? I think Brian must have come in his pants.
Tues. Jan. 31--Here's how Brian began the lead story about the Florida primary: "For the good people of Florida it's all over as of tonight..." And last Friday, this was how Brian began his introduction to a story about a Kentucky town that has become infested with birds: "Finally tonight we're gonna take you to a town with a big problem. It's in northern Kentucky where good people live...." Good people? Is there any level to which Brian will not stoop in order to pander to the people of a particular state or region? That is just so desperate and pathetic.
***After discussing the Republican candidates with Tamron Hall, David Gregory and Chuck Todd, Brian said, "Our thanks to the firm of Hall, Gregory & Todd for their expertise this evening." Wow, he's funny. I mean idiotic.
***Next, we got another one of those awesome "Where's Winter" stories and again Brian used the word "June-uary". And for the next two minutes, the idiotic Anne Thompson told us that it was, like, really, really warm in January. (Has she ever reported a story on anything that actually matters?) At one point during the story, Thompson was shown walking in Central Park with a dog on a leash. Using a dog to get cutesy pander-points in a news story is just sad. I doubt the dog was even hers. It was probably a rental. What will she do in her next story? Walk through the park with a panda? A koala? A polar bear cub?
***Then Brian gave us another story on the JFK tapes. Apparently, it's a lot easier (and cheaper) for Brian to report 50-year-old news than to report current news. It's pretty funny that Brian actually thinks of himself as a historian. Just like Newt Gingrich.
***Brian took 25 seconds to tell us about an upcoming renovation in the White House's West Wing. I guess he'll be able to see it for himself the next time he goes there to do a fawning obsequious profile of the President. During this story, Brian referred to the White House as "the people's house". What is his problem? Why can't he just speak like a normal person.
***After that, Brian spent 25 seconds telling us that Peyton Manning is denying retirement rumors. He described Manning as, "The son of Archie Manning, the brother of YOUR New York Giants' starting Super Bowl quarterback Eli Manning...." Of course. If Brian likes the Giants, then obviously everyone else does. This was just a not-too-subtle way of reminding viewers that the Super Bowl is on NBC this Sunday.
***The last story was a "Making A Difference" piece about an orthopedic surgeon who (along with his fellow surgeons) performs pro bono surgeries on people who don't have health insurance. That's a nice thing to do. But why is it taking up 2:15 on a news broadcast? Isn't there any real news to report? There is, but Brian just isn't interested in being the one who reports it.
Wed. Feb. 1--The lead story was a ridiculously long 3:45 piece about Facebook going public. This is the third time this week that Nightly News has reported this same story. Okay, we get it. Tell us about it when it actually happens. Meanwhile, the story included clips from movie "The Social Network" because apparently the Nightly News producers can't report a story without using movie clips. It's not like there's a shortage of news footage of the actual Mark Zuckerberg, you know. At one point during this story, there's a seven-second clip of a Facebook detractor telling us that Facebook has just become annoying, but the producers failed to identify this person. If they didn't know his name, maybe they should have just identified him as "Some Guy Who Doesn't Like Facebook". And why is Kate Snow always smiling in every story she reports? Is there something funny about Facebook?
***Brian then spent two-and-a-half minutes on a retrospective of the life of Don Cornelius. Naturally, the story included clips from a "Today Show" interview that Cornelius did more than 15 years ago. Here's an excerpt from Brian's narration: "The featured spot was the 'Soul Train' line. Couples who made it to the line had a few seconds of airtime and the rest of US watched amazed. It was performance art before WE knew the term." Us. We. Again, the news is always about Brian. One of the people interviewed for the story was the vile Al Sharpton. As if a convicted liar, noted race-baiter and rabid self-promoter deserves to be part of a news broadcast. But Sharpton is now the host of his own show on MSNBC, so Brian is just doing his part to help out his sister network.
***Brian spent 25 seconds reporting that Pfizer recalled a million packets of birth control pills because a mix-up between active and inert pills could cause some women to get pregnant. The story broke on Tuesday, but Brian delayed reporting it (and probably tried to figure out a way to squash it) because Pfizer is a major advertiser on Nightly News and Brian doesn't like to report negative stories about his advertisers. Of course Brian is always happy to report positive stories about his sponsors. For Brian, it's more important to help his advertisers than to report news. Meanwhile, the Nightly News story barely lasted 20 seconds. If you blinked, you might have missed it. Brian may have been unable to avoid reporting the story, but he made sure to keep it as short as possible.
***Brian then spent nearly a minute doing a congratulatory story about David Letterman's 30th anniversary on late-night television--without ever once mentioning CBS--Letterman's home for the last 19 years! That is incredible. Brian began by saying, "A big anniversary is being celebrated at a rival network," before going on to tell us that Letterman, "started here at NBC". In fact, in this story about Letterman, NBC was mentioned three times and CBS was mentioned zero times. And the only clip in which we actually hear Letterman talking was from a 1978 appearance on Tom Snyder's "Tomorrow Show" where Letterman dryly says that, "My ultimate desire is to anchor the Nightly News on NBC." Sorry Dave, but you are way too intelligent for that job. And of course in order to counterbalance the Letterman story, Brian immediately followed it with a story about Jay Leno. Obviously Brian couldn't do a story about "a rival network" without also doing one about NBC. There was no legitimate reason for the Leno story, but then again most Nightly News stories lack any legitimate news value. Brian airs stories based on the ratings they bring him, not because the stories are newsworthy. On this particular "Tonight Show" clip, Michelle Obama was the guest, which is enough of a reason for Brian to make a story out of it. The clip featured Mrs. Obama talking about her husband's penchant for singing and, of course, included a clip of the President doing his Al Green impersonation at the Apollo (this was at least the third time Nightly News used the clip of the President singing). At one point, Brian says, "...and that's when we learned the President is evidently quite the singer around the people's house." That's the second time in two days that he has referred to the White House as "the people's house". It sounded stupid the first time and really stupid the second time. This story was like the trifecta for Brian. He got to show Michelle Obama (a Nightly News darling because she generates high ratings for Brian), he got to promote Jay Leno and "The Tonight Show" and he got to show the President singing. Awesome. I wonder if it ever bothers Brian that he is perceived as a joke because he wastes most of his broadcast promoting NBC shows and desperately chasing ratings by pandering to his audience. Probably not.
***The final story of the night was a 2:20 piece about how the Arctic Snowy Owl has been seen further south than usual, due to the warmer winter weather. Fascinating. So I guess there's nothing going on in Europe, Africa, Asia or South America. Nightly News is a joke.
Thurs. Feb. 2--Peter Alexander spent 2:40 reporting that Donald Trump has endorsed Mitt Romney. On every other news broadcast, this story was an afterthought and Trump was treated like the buffoon he is. But on Nightly News, Trump is treated like a serious kingmaker because he has a show on NBC. And this story was obviously created for the sole purpose of promoting that show. So cue the clip from "Celebrity Apprentice". At the end of this story, a caption below Alexander informed us that he was in "Washington D.C." before it was changed to read "Las Vegas", where he actually was.
***In the next story, Chuck Todd told us that, "President Obama...jabbed repeatedly and methodically at Republican front-runner Mitt Romney without ever mentioning his name." When I heard this, I laughed so hard that root beer shot out of my nose. That's exactly what Brian Williams does! He talks about TV shows without ever mentioning the other networks because he's scared that if he mentions CBS or ABC he'll lose viewers. Just one day earlier, he spent an entire minute talking about David Letterman without mentioning CBS. Obviously, Brian is very much like a politician. A politician panders to the voters and tells them what they want to hear in order to earn votes. Brian panders to the viewers and tells them what they want to hear in order to earn ratings. Brian is the Mitt Romney of network news.
***Kristen Dahlgren spent two-and-a-half minutes on a follow-up story about a mystery illness that is afflicting high school students in Le Roy, N.Y. As usual, there was no new information presented. At Nightly News, a "follow-up" story is just an excuse to waste a few minutes of valuable news time by using existing footage to rehash an old story. The most interesting thing about this story was that Dahlgren was wearing mittens with the thumbs cut off. I cannot for the life of me imagine why anyone would wear thumbless mittens. During this story, we saw a clip of a middle-aged man explaining the disorder on a TV talk show. The man was identified in a graphic as "Thera Sanchez High School Senior". Oh well, the producers were only off by about 30 years and one X chromosome. No big deal.
***Brian then spent 20 seconds showing us some police video of a meteor that shot across the sky in Texas and Oklahoma. Earlier, during the intro at the beginning of the broadcast, Brian showed a teaser clip of the meteor video and asked, "And what exactly was that streaking across the night sky last night?" But if he knew it was a meteor, why did he ask what it was? Why didn't he just tell us what it was? Obviously, Brian wanted us to think it was an alien spaceship or something of that nature so we would stay tuned to his broadcast to find out the horrible, horrible truth. This type of duplicitous reporting is vile. It would be like saying, "Was Leon Panetta killed today? Stay tuned for details," and then reporting that nothing of the sort happened. If something is a meteor, tell us it's a meteor right away instead of sleazily trying to imply that it was something else.
***After that, Brian reported the breaking news story that a lot of people lie about their height and weight at the doctor's office and that white women specifically are most likely to lie about their weight. There he goes again trying to start some shit. This time, it's between white people and black people. On Monday, with the story that women are better at parking than men, he was trying to start some shit between men and women. Brian is like Mike the Situation from "Jersey Shore". Always trying to initiate a conflict because somehow it makes him feel better about himself. Brian the Situation.
***Then came the piece de resistance. Brian spent 33 seconds on a story about Michelle Obama on the "Ellen" show doing push-ups with Ellen. It's truly sickening how frequently Brian panders to the viewers by showing garbage stories like this. "Ellen" airs mostly on NBC Universal stations, so he's plugging an NBC property. And of course Michelle Obama is very popular with viewers so his frequent use of the First Lady on Nightly News is simply a ratings-boosting gimmick. Let's see--how long had it been since Brian last showed footage of Mrs. Obama? Oh yeah--about 24 hours. On Wednesday, Brian spent a minute showing clips from Mrs.Obama's appearance on "The Tonight Show" as she told Jay Leno all about how her husband likes to sing. Does anyone see a pattern here? Michelle Obama on "Ellen", Michelle Obama on "The Tonight Show". Brian is shamelessly using the First Lady to plug NBC shows (in addition to boosting his own ratings). Unless she talks about invading North Korea, the First Lady appearing on an entertainment show is not a news event. But then again, Nightly News is not a news show. It's the first half-hour of "Access Hollywood". When is the FCC going to shut down Nightly News once and for all?
***Before the last commercial break, a promo for a story about a retired soldier who was erroneously declared dead by the government was accompanied by some instrumental music from "Uncle John's Band". Now I like the Grateful Dead as much as the next guy, but can someone explain why that song is playing during a news broadcast? Maybe the answer has someting to do with Kristen Dahlgren's thumbless gloves. And can someone explain why the story about a man erroneously declared dead is even a news story? Some producer at Nightly News thought this deserved two minutes of news time? Imagine the real news they could have covered in that time. Then again, imagine how much real news they could cover if they eliminated all the garbage non-news stories they report. It boggles the mind.
Fri. Feb. 3--We got more than an minute on the "Monster Storm" in Denver. Because snow in Colorado in February is such an anomaly.
***Then, Tom Costello spent 2:10 telling us about the heavy security at the Super Bowl. Obviously, this was just--big surprise--a promo for the game. At one point during the story, Costello interviewed Eric Rembold, Director of Aviation for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. In a response to one of Costello's questions, Rembold used the word "purposely", but the Nightly News on-screen caption transcribed the word as "purposefully".
***The final story was a very important news report about Super Bowl ads. Obviously, it benefits NBC to generate interest in the ads so more people will tune in to the game to see them. This 2:20 piece included 30 seconds from a Honda ad, 34 seconds from a VW ad and 10 seconds from an Acura ad. It also featured clips from Chevy, Pepsi and Doritos ads. I wouldn't be surprised if NBC charged these companies to be featured in this story. If you add this story to the story about Super Bowl security, that's four-and-a-half minutes of news time that Nightly News used to plug the Super Bowl. Everyone should thank the unethical Nightly News producers.