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.