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.

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