Saturday, April 28, 2012

Brian Williams & NBC Nightly News: Show Notes 4/21/12 Through 4/27/12 (Revised--Full Week)

Breaking on Nightly News this week: A Japanese soccer ball, ducks and whales.  And Jimmy Fallon got more coverage than Iran, Iraq and Syria--combined.  Then Bill Maher dissed Brian.  Here's some of the other "spectacular" stuff you may have missed:

Sat. April 21--The lead story was the "Wild Weather".  That's certainly understandable.  I mean, the lead story is supposed to be the most important story of the day, right?  So rain along the east coast is obviously a much bigger story than anything else going on across the country or around the world.
***Next, we saw a story on George Zimmerman.  He's still in jail, exactly where he was on Friday, because nothing happened with his legal case on Saturday.  We got to hear Zimmerman's apology to Trayvon Martin's parents again.  Funny thing--it sounded a lot like it did when we saw it on Friday's Nightly News.  So this was essentially a 2:20 rerun of the previous day's events.  Fascinating.  Thanks.
***After that, it was time for a story on the Secret Service prostitution scandal.  Again, there was no new information, so this was two minutes of previously-aired video.
***Lester Holt then spent a minute telling us about an Amsterdam train crash that injured a hundred passengers, a huge cache of explosives found in Afghanistan, and the ongoing fighting in Syria.  Gee, a whole minute on international news.  Are the Nightly News producers sure they can spare all that time?
***Here's something important: A Japanese soccer ball washed up on the shores of an Alaskan island.  It floated across the Pacific after the tsunami.  I can see why this was given time on Nightly News.
***Lyme disease can kill you!  Be very afraid.  That was the subject of yet another alarmist Nightly News story meant to scare us.  So if you've been walking in the country, remember to check for ticks.  Nightly News runs these silly stories all the time.  Other recent examples of alarmist stories included exploiting the fear of autism, Hepatitis C, dirty surgical instruments, overmedication, measles and the risk of x-rays.  They tease these stories at the beginning of the broadcast so we stay tuned to find out how we can avoid Lyme disease, Hepatitis or some other major illness.  It's just a ratings stunt.
***After a commercial break, Lester told us that the NHL suspended a member of the Phoenix Coyotes for an illegal hit.  The only reason he reported this story was because NBC is airing the NHL playoffs.  So this was just a promotion for hockey on NBC.  The implicit message in this "news story" was that if you watch hockey on NBC, you may get to see something as violent as this illegal hit.  One can only hope.
***This next story was really quite something.  The idiotic Anne Thompson burnished her stellar reputation by bringing us an in-depth report about people who exercise while at work.  They're working on the computer while they're walking on the treadmill!  OMG, can you believe it?  What a ridiculous way to waste 2:20 of valuable news time.  During this story, a man named Jason Robart was identified in a Nightly News graphic as the Chief Human Resource Officer of "BlueCross BlueShield" of Massachusetts.  Actually, the company's name is "Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts".  There are spaces between the words.  But I wouldn't expect any of the Nightly News producers to get that right.  After all, it would require them to look something up on Google.  Moments later, we were shown a clip of someone identified as "Jennifer Remcharan" of  Her name is actually Jennifer Ramcharan.  Again it was too much work for the producers to spellcheck or proofread.
***Lester then told us about a "spectacular sky show" resulting from the Lyrid Meteor Shower.  We all know that Brian Williams is fascinated by meteors and other silly space events, so he obviously ordered his producers to include this story on Saturday's broadcast.  Because the news is always about what Brian likes.
***The broadcast ended with a particularly vapid story about a company that cleans gum off the streets of Washington, D.C.  They're known as Gum Busters.  Wow.  Of course, this story did not deserve to be on Nightly News.  And it was reported by Luke Russert who also does not deserve to be on Nightly News.  Everyone knows that Luke was handed a plum on-air job by Brian because Brian was a pal of Luke's father, Tim Russert.  There are thousands of seasoned, experienced news correspondents looking for work, but Brian just hands a gift-wrapped job to Luke Russert.  It's good to have friends in high places.  I guess it must have been good karma for Brian, because someone at HBO handed a similarly gift-wrapped job to Brian's daughter, who now appears on "Girls" (obviously not because of any acting talent).  They say what goes around, comes around.  Maybe that's true.  So Nightly News wasted six-and-a-half minutes on idiotic stories about Lyme disease, exercising at work and cleaning gum off the streets.  And they spent a total of one minute on international news.  Great job, Nightly News producers.
Sun. April 22--There was no Nightly News (on the east coast) because the hockey game ran late.  And we all know that hockey is much more important than news.  Why?  Because hockey's higher ad rates bring in more money than news.  End of discussion.
Mon. April 23--There's more "Wild Weather" going on, and Brian and Jim Cantore spent 2:45 telling us about it.  Buffalo, New York had snow in April!  I can hardly believe it.  And I hardly care.  News flash for Brian: There's "Wild Weather" going on somewhere every day of the year, and it's been that way since the beginning of time.  Furthermore, weather is a local issue.  People tune into their local news stations to get this information.  Like Jerry Seinfeld said, all we really want to know is do we need to take an umbrella to work today.  Everything else is superfluous.  Nightly News wastes minutes every night on the weather for one reason: Because NBC Universal owns The Weather Channel.  TWC correspondents are already out reporting on the weather, so putting them on Nightly News is a cheap and easy way to fill air time.  Brian and his producers are not reporting on the weather because it's an important story, but because TWC weather reports are a ready-made package that can just be popped into the Nightly News schedule.  It's like the Hot Pockets equivalent of TV news.
***A story about politics included an old clip of Rudy Giuliani on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" because one of Brian's main responsibilities is to promote other shows on the NBC family.
***Brian spent 30 seconds giving us an urgent update on the Japanese soccer ball that washed ashore on an Alaskan island.  Apparently, the 22 seconds that Lester Holt spent on this story Saturday wasn't nearly enough to do it justice.
***Then Brian spent another 30 seconds telling us about a family of ducks that were trying to cross an L.A. freeway.  At first I thought I had accidentally switched to "America's Stupidest Home Videos--Animal Edition".  Nope.  Still Nightly News.  Still idiotic.
***Continuing the animal theme (which Nightly News does frequently because these stories earn high ratings), Brian reported on a white orca whale.  The video was from 2010.  I guess some things are timeless.
***The final story was a "Making A Difference" piece about the first senior prom at Joplin High School since last year's tornado.  Obviously, this isn't news.  It falls under the category of weepy human interest, something that Nightly News specializes in.  Reporting actual news doesn't earn high Nielsen ratings, but airing a story like this attracts lots of viewers.  The icing on the cake was that this story was reported by Chelsea Clinton.  It was the beginning of a ratings sweeps period, so it's not surprising that Brian trotted Chelsea out to do this story.  She's amiable and well-meaning, but really not much of a reporter.  In fact, it's quite sad to see Chelsea allowing herself to be used as Brian's ratings showpiece when there are so many other things she could be lending her famous name to.  She could be earning millions for charity, but instead she's earning millions for NBC.  Sad.  At the end of this overly-long 3:35 behemoth, Brian said to Chelsea, "You know I used to live in Joplin!"  I would have given anything for Chelsea to have said, "No shit, asshole.  You told us that every day for two weeks after the tornado hit last year!"  Well, I can dream, can't I?  Remember last May 25, when Brian exploited poor Bethany Lansaw by cajoling her to appear on Nightly News just days after her husband died in the tornado?  That was a low point for network news.  Then again, every night on Nightly News is a low point for network news.
***Meanwhile on this day, the Dutch Prime Minister offered his resignation and the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan continued to intensify.  Nightly News didn't report these stories (or any important foreign news, for that matter).  But at least we know all about the Japanese soccer ball, a family of ducks in L.A., a white orca and that Brian used to live in Joplin.  John Chancellor must be so proud of what Nightly News has become.
Tues. April 24--The lead story was on college debt.  Nightly News reported virtually the same story on March 22, but they like to repeat stories because apparently we're so stupid that we forget what we saw a month ago.
***After the student debt story, Brian read a 40-second story about the Secret Service prostitution scandal.  But for the first 28 seconds of this story, the box over Brian's left shoulder was showing video from the previous story on student debt.  I guess the Nightly News producers were so worried about their student debt that they couldn't concentrate on the job at hand.
***Brian makes a practice of frequently reporting stories about Chicago and Detroit.  Apparently, the NBC News research department has identified those two cities as key Nielsen demographic regions, so Brian makes a special point of pandering to them.  Also, since those cities are considered salt-of-the-earth, working class midwestern cities, it allows Brian to project his fake image as a good ol' regular man of the people (rather than the caviar-eating penthouse-living multi-millionaire that he actually is).  So this week, Brian dispatched Kevin Tibbles to Detroit to find stories that would help boost Brian's Nielsen ratings.  On this day, Tibbles told us about a new film about the Detroit Fire Dept.  That makes good marketing sense--people like seeing stories about fire fighters.  During the story, Tibbles actually said this about the documentary film: "A truly American story of hope, courage and camaraderie."  Seriously?  It sounds like something you might hear in an SNL parody about movie trailers.  I bet the people at "The Young and the Restless" are snickering at Tibbles for his idiotic overwrought writing.  And here's how Brian introduced this story: "Despite a lot of good people workin' hard to make it better, the city of Detroit has seen more than its share of problems in recent years...."  Yep, you read correctly.  Brian said "workin'" instead of "working" because he's such a blue-collar clock-punchin' type of guy.  And of course he included a reference to the "good people" of Detroit.  That's one of his all-time favorite pandering phrases.  He's used the phrase at least five times in the past two weeks to describe the "good people" of Sanford, Florida (4/11), Oklahoma (4/13) and the Secret Service (4/16 & 4/20) in addition to Detroit.  Here's what I was wondering: Not every city, state and region in this country could be made up entirely of "good people".  So for those other areas (without "good people"), I'd like to hear Brian refer to the "bad people" of....
***Another of Brian's favorite phrases is "spectacular".  He used it twice on 4/17 (to describe a solar flare and the Space Shuttle).  And today he also used it twice.  First, he used it to describe Mt. Etna ("Look at this latest spectacular display from Italy's Mt. Etna...").  Then he used it to describe the Northern Lights ("Some fresh solar winds made for a spectacular light show....").  He even made poor Lester Holt say "spectacular" on Saturday to describe the Lyrid Meteor Shower.  The Northern Lights is one of Brian's all-time favorite stories to report on (this is the ninth Northern Lights story Nightly News has done in the past three months).  And of course that's what Nightly News is all about--reporting on stuff that Brian likes.
***After 30 seconds on these "spectacular" phenomena, Brian spent another 22 seconds telling us about a girl in China who fell through the sidewalk when a sink hole opened up.  I guess this satisfies Brian's requirement to broadcast international news.
***Then Brian took almost a minute to show us a home video made by a Dutch father that documents his daughter's growth from birth to age 12.  Brian again put on his "creepy" hat and described the girl as "a beautiful 12-year-old girl...."  Eww.  Not again.  Brian has also recently used the word "beautiful" to describe six-year-old murder victim Etan Patz (on 4/20/12) as well as Sasha & Malia Obama (on 12/15/11).  Hearing a network news anchor describe children younger than 13 as "beautiful" is just...creepy.  I can't think of a better word for it.  I guess in Brian-speak, "beautiful" is right up there with "spectacular".
***Brian also took time to promote Pres. Obama's appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show later that night.  It wasn't enough to simply mention the appearance--Brian took 40 seconds to tell us that the show would air at 12:35 eastern time on NBC.  Because promoting NBC entertainment shows is one of Brian's main responsibilities as Nightly News anchor.  Shameless.  Meanwhile, more than 60 people were killed over the past two days in Syria.  Brian never mentioned this, but at least we know all about the Chinese girl who fell through the sidewalk and Pres. Obama's appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show.  Great work, Brian.  Or perhaps I should say "spectacular".
Wed. April 25--Pete Williams, you are my hero.  Night after night, Brian introduces Pete with a treacly "Good evening, Pete" in a sad, desperate attempt to entice Pete to reply in kind with "Good evening, Brian".  But Pete refuses to take the bait.  He never says good evening to Brian.  Instead, he just begins his report.  Clearly, Pete Williams disdains Brian Williams.  Who can blame him?
***In a story about the presidential race, a segment about Pres. Obama included a 13-second clip from his appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show the previous night.
***A story about the Secret Service prostitution scandal featured an 18-second clip from the President's appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show the previous night.  So these two stories featured a combined 30 seconds of clips from Fallon's show.  Even by Nightly News's shamelessly aggressive policy of promoting NBC sports and entertainment, this is an astoundingly sleazy display.
***In his second silly, pointless report from Detroit, Kevin Tibbles told us about a company that makes TV sets.  Really?  Fascinating.  The TV's are packed in boxes adorned with the American flag.  I think that's the only reason Tibbles even reported this story.  Just another opportunity for Brian and his producers to pander to the viewers' sense of rah-rah gung-ho God-Bless-America faux patriotism.  And just in case we didn't get all the bullshit symbolism, the story was titled "Made in the USA" (with those words superimposed over an American flag).  Hey--that's almost like a Springsteen song!  Well done.
***Stop the presses!  Brian spent 45 seconds telling us all about a previously-unreleased 1971 Louis Armstrong concert recording.  You didn't think Nightly News was a news broadcast, did you?  Clearly, it's an entertainment show that occasionally features news.  Brian ended the story by saying, "And now WE get to buy it and hear the master all these years later."  We.  Because the news is always about Brian.
***A story about debris from the Japanese tsunami en route to the U.S. featured another picture of the soccer ball that washed ashore in Alaska.  This is the third Nightly News story about that soccer ball.  That is one impressive soccer ball.  Brian said this about the debris: "It can't be stopped--it is on its way here."  A bit alarmist, don't you think?  Should we cower in the basement?  Should we duct-tape our windows?
***Although last week was all about bird strikes on Nightly News, there is still one more bird strike story for Brian to waste time on.  Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?  No.  It's a bird hitting a plane.  Again.
***On a Canadian news broadcast, a weatherman's dog wandered onto the set during the news segment and got himself on TV.  Brian spent 20 seconds telling us about this.  Of course, what Brian was really interested in was whether the dog helped the broadcast's ratings.  If it did, look for Brian to feature a dog on Nightly News every night.  He would probably claim it was his dog, but I would bet that it would be a rental.
***The broadcast ended with a two-minute story about a woman who plants trees in Oakland, California.  That's a good thing to do.  But it's not news.
***Let's recap.  Amount of time Brian spent reporting on Jimmy Fallon: Thirty seconds.  Amount of time he spent reporting on Iran, Iraq and Syria combined: Zero seconds.  That sounds about right.
Thurs. April 26--Breaking News: Millions of Americans are sleep-deprived.  It took Robert Bazell 1:45 to tell us that.  I think it could have been said in a lot less time.  Tip for these people: Watch Nightly News.  It'll put you to sleep right away.
***A woman was fired from a Ft. Wayne Catholic school for using in vitro fertilization to try to get pregnant.  This silly local-interest story was given 2:15 on Nightly News.
***There was a rough plane landing in Spain.  Savannah Guthrie spent 20 seconds telling us about it.
***Here's how Guthrie began the next story: "There was controversy at last night's Texas Rangers-New York Yankees game...."  Here's the "controversy": A little boy in the stands missed catching a foul ball so he cried until someone from the Rangers' dugout gave him a ball.  Some controversy.  This is what merits 30 seconds on Nightly News.
***Next, Guthrie spent almost a minute on a story about how Michelle Obama wants to sneak out of the White House and go for ice cream.  But they never told us what flavor she wants.  I think they should have assigned more Nightly News producers to this story so we could get all the important facts.
***Bob Dylan, John Glenn, Pat Summitt, Madeleine Albright and Toni Morrison are among the people who will be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  "Medal of Freedom" sounds kind of like "Medal of Honor" so I'm guessing that's why Brian made his producers include this story in the broadcast.
***The final story was about Ted Williams' daughter, who is auctioning off much of her father's personal and baseball memorabilia.  Can one of the Nightly News producers please explain how this fluff story qualifies as news?  Not surprisingly,  this two-and-a-half minute waste of time was reported by the idiotic Anne Thompson.
***Here is some of the other news that happened on this day: An international court found former Liberian President Charles Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes; A suicide car-bombing in Nigeria killed 7 people; Pakistan Prime Minister Gilani was found guilty of contempt of court.  Nightly News did not report any of these stories.  But at least we know all about the rough plane landing, the kid who got a foul ball, Michelle Obama's ice cream craving and Ted Williams' memorabilia.  Great work, Nightly News producers.
Fri. April 27--A story about presidential politics included clips from Bill Clinton on "The Arsenio Hall Show", Richard Nixon on "Laugh-In" and Mitt Romney on "Late Show with David Letterman".  And just for good measure, the producers threw in a clip of "Saturday Night Live" because Romney is "considering" making an appearance on that show.  Of course, the most astounding thing about this story was that they actually showed a clip of Letterman's show.  I don't think they were supposed to do that.  Someone's in trouble.
***A Delta flight from Detroit to Chicago was quarantined for a few hours because someone thought that a passenger had contracted monkey pox on a trip to Africa.  But she didn't.  So nothing actually happened.  There was no story here.  Still, Nightly News spent 2:15 reporting it.  Thanks.
***I laughed so hard that diet root beer almost shot out of my nose when I saw the hilarious ad for Rock Center that aired at minute 16 of the broadcast.  Apparently, Brian weaseled an interview with President Obama to discuss the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death and NBC is promoting the hell out of it.  After we saw some shots of Brian with the President, the Secretary of State and others, there was a closing still shot of Brian with a giant American flag waving behind his head.  Like he's Patton addressing the troops before D-Day.  It's laughable that apparently Brian really does think of himself as a leading American statesman.  He probably thinks his image should be on American currency or stamps.  This Rock Center promo was funnier than anything I've seen on SNL in years.
***Did you know that more people than ever are getting divorced after they turn 50?  Well, now you do because Nightly News spent 2:20 telling us about it.  This was about as interesting and relevant as Thursday's story about sleep-deprived people.
***Next, Brian told us that, "There is a threat of severe weather in the midwest this evening and through this weekend."  He also told us that "our friends at The Weather Channel" will be keeping an eye on it.  Good old Brian.  Everyone is his friend.  I would love to ask people at The Weather Channel if they really like Brian.  I'm guessing not so much.
***Brian then spent 30 seconds telling us about a lawsuit against the manufacturers of Nutella (a chocolate-hazelnut spread) to stop them from making health claims about their product.  There is no apparent reason why this story should be reported on a network news broadcast.  Unless you think about it.  Nutella is an Italian product whose makers are hoping to crack the American market.  Its chief competitors in the U.S. are peanut butter brands like Peter Pan, Jif and Skippy.  These brands (and their parent conglomerates ConAgra, Smucker's and Unilever) spend millions of dollars each year advertising on NBC-owned networks.  So by reporting a story damaging to Nutella, Brian is protecting his sponsors' products.  What a weaselly thing to do.  He even went so far as to tell us that eating Nutella in the morning gives you the same amount of calories, fat and sugar as having a 3 Musketeers bar for breakfast.  Well done.  Brian can expect his pals from ConAgra, Smucker's and Unilever to send him a thank-you fruit basket.  Or perhaps a suitcase filled with cash.
***Before the last commercial break, Brian read a promo for a story about the Space Shuttle Enterprise and said that it was seen "in the skies over Gotham."  Why does he talk like he's in a comic book?
***The story about the Enterprise (which was being flown to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum) was the fourth Space Shuttle story Nightly News has done in the past two weeks.  Brian pads the broadcast with Space Shuttle stories because they help pander to the viewers' sense of faux patriotism.  And they're good for ratings.  And the producers even included a gratuitous clip from the "Star Trek" TV series because NBC makes money on the sale of "Star Trek" DVD's.
***On his HBO show Friday night, Bill Maher did a segment about how ridiculously stupid network news has become.  He said that on Monday, he saw stories about the weather, the basketball player Metta World Peace, a Japanese soccer ball that washed ashore in Alaska and a family of ducks that were trying to cross an L.A. freeway.  He didn't mention any particular network, but then again he didn't have to.  All four of those stories aired Monday on NBC Nightly News.  So now it's official: Even Bill Maher thinks Brian Williams is an asshole.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

NBC Nightly News Show Notes 4/14/12 Through 4/20/12 (Revised--Full Week)

There was definitely an avian theme on Nightly News this week.  Eagles.  Penguins.  Bird strikes.  Lots of feathers.  And some fish.  And hookers' legs.  Here's what you may have missed:

Sat. April 14--Sorry, there was no Nightly News this night (on the east coast) because golf ran long.  Golf commands much higher ad rates than does news, so the decision for the NBC weasels was easy.  Follow the money.
Sun. April 15--Well, the situation seems to be improving.  We actually got 12 minutes of Nightly News (on the east coast) because the hockey game ran 18 minutes long.  So a 12-minute newscast is good, right?  Um, not so fast.  Despite its severely truncated air time, Nightly News still took two commercial breaks.  So the broadcast actually lasted only 8:20.  That's right--a 12-minute newscast still managed to contain more than three minutes of commercials.  Great job, Nightly News producers!
***But in another area, I've got to give mad props to the producers.  During the story about the Secret Service prostitution scandal, they actually managed to correctly spell the name of the country of Colombia.  This may not sound like a big deal, but believe me, it is.  On two previous occasions (11/9/08 and 5/10/10), the Nightly News producers misspelled "Colombia" as "Columbia".  So today's correct spelling represents a huge leap forward.  I guess they finally replaced their pre-teen editors with more mature teenage editors.  Way to go, Nightly News producers!
Mon. April 16--In a tease for the Secret Service prostitution scandal story at the top of the broadcast, Brian Williams asked, "Was there a breach of security?"  Here's a thought for Brian: How about answering questions instead of asking them?  I thought that was what a news broadcast was supposed to do.
***While introducing the Secret Service story, Brian called Secret Service agents "the brave and silent protectors of the President".  After the story, he said, "We should add for the good men and women of the U.S. Secret Service, this comes as quite a shock...."  Does anyone else get nauseous listening to Brian's fawning and obsequious attempts to ingratiate himself with the U.S. military and law enforcement?
***Next, Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent (and current candidate for the U.S. Senate), was given more than two minutes to defend the integrity of Secret Service agents.  During this story, the camera was constantly cutting from a front view of Bongino to a side view.  In fact, this 2:08 story contained 14 cuts--that's one cut about every 9 seconds.  I felt like I was watching a music video, not a news story.  Meanwhile, I don't know why this one-sided rah-rah story was of any news value, other than for Brian to present yet another defense of the Secret Service.  Perhaps Brian thought he was giving air time to his idol Jon Bon Jovi instead of Dan Bongino.  By the way, I hope Bongino's opponent in the Senate race demands equal air time from Nightly News.
***Brian took 30 seconds to tell us about a fire at Brown's Hotel in the Catskills because it gave him the opportunity to show movie clips from "Dirty Dancing".  Obviously, that was the only reason he bothered to report this story.  Brian's constant use of movie clips in news stories helps to boost his ratings by pandering to his viewers' thirst for entertainment news.
***Brian also took 30 seconds to tell us about the final flight (to the Smithsonian) of the Space Shuttle Discovery.  Because the space shuttle represents everything that is great about America.  And America's greatness is what Nightly News is about.  Stories like this are a good way for Brian to pander to the viewers' rah-rah, gung-ho, God-Bless-America faux patriotism.  I'm surprised that Brian didn't feature videos of soaring eagles during this segment.
***Oh, wait a second--actually he did.  The final story of the night was a vapid and insipid story (from the vapid and insipid Kevin Tibbles) about how bald eagles are turning up in urban areas.  This silly 2:07 waste of time was nothing more than an excuse to show video of soaring eagles because viewers love to see animal stories.  So in this one broadcast, Brian has demonstrated three different ways to pander to the viewers--through patriotism, movie clips and animals.  Well done, Brian.
***During this broadcast, the producers showed three different promos (totalling 26 seconds) for the eagle story.  Meanwhile, they spent only 25 seconds reporting on Afghanistan (and did no stories on Syria, Iran or Iraq).  So the producers spent more time promoting the eagle story than they spent reporting on those four countries.  Well done, Nightly News producers.  One of the promos featured the Steve Miller Band song "Fly Like an Eagle".  Just over a year ago (4/3/11), Nightly News did an eagle story and also used "Fly Like an Eagle" to promo the story.  So this is the fourth entry on Brian's pander list--playing pop songs keeps viewers tuned in.  Nightly News is like a sycophantic concoction of movie trailers, classic rock radio, animal videos and waving flags.  If it helps boost the ratings, Brian will use it.
Tues. April 17--The lead story was "Refund Ripoff"--about how scammers are stealing people's tax refunds.  Funny thing--this sounded familiar.  Oh yeah--now I remember where I heard it before.  It was on the Feb. 26 Nightly News.  That's right, Nightly News repeated the exact same story twice in less than two months.  Tonight's story even used old footage from the earlier story.  Brazen.
***Pete Williams continues to be my hero.  When Brian introduced him with a treacly "Good evening, Pete," Pete just ignored him and went right into his story.  It's sad that Brian is so desperate to make viewers think his correspondents really, really like him.  Clearly, they don't.  Why would they? 
***Because obviously last night's brief story about the Space Shuttle Discovery wasn't nearly long enough to adequately pander to the viewers, tonight we got an expanded 2:50 version of the story.  Brian began by saying, "There was something special in the skies today," and the idiotic Anne Thompson ended the story by saying, "Now Discovery will have an earthbound role at the National Air and Space Museum annex to inspire a new generation of Americans for the exciting adventures of space."  Pass the barf bag, please.  When did evening news change from reporting facts to bombarding viewers with the anchor's personal viewpoints?  For Nightly News, it was when Tom Brokaw retired.  Fortunately, Brian saves us the bother of deciding how we should feel about stories by telling us exactly what we're supposed to feel.  Obviously, his viewpoint is the right viewpoint.  This bullshit propaganda story included shots of Discovery flying past the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Capitol and the White House.  And of course, there were flags.  Lots of flags.  What would a propaganda story be without flags, after all?  This was just another sickening pseudo-patriotic Nightly News story.
***Brian spent 25 seconds telling us about a "spectacular" solar flare.  Once again he's saved us the trouble of deciding for ourselves what we actually think of something.  Thanks, dude.  Brian reports any story that has to do with outer space because these stories are of interest to HIM.  And that's what Nightly News is all about--what's interesting and important to Brian. 
***Speaking of which--here's how Brian began the next story: "We've been reporting on this broadcast about how bright the planet Venus currently is in the night sky...."  So he's actually bragging about wasting valuable news time on stories that are only of interest to him.  Talk about nerve.  This idiotic 30-second story was about a pilot who mistook Venus for an oncoming plane and took evasive maneuvers that injured 16 passengers.  Great.  Thanks.
***Next, Brian spent another 30 seconds telling us that after the Alabama football team won the National Championship, the father of a player accidentally broke the $30,000 football-shaped crystal trophy.  Maybe he should have attached a "breaking news" banner to this one.
***Brian took 45 seconds to tell us that Pres. Obama will be awarding a posthumous Medal of Honor to a soldier who died in Vietnam.  We all know that Brian is obsessed with the U.S. military, and specifically with Medal of Honor winners.  He's so obsessed that he actually serves on the Board of Directors of the MOH Foundation.  Since this is a private organization that relies largely on donations, Brian is using his anchor's chair to fund-raise for the MOH Foundation.  He does this by constantly reporting on MOH winners.  Every time one of them sneezes, Brian reports it as if it was actual news.  And by keeping the MOH in the news, he increases public awareness and undoubtedly helps solicit donations.  Allowing a news anchor to serve on the board of an organization he reports on is a blatant conflict of interest and an ethical breach.  But Brian doesn't care.  It's all about him.  And anyway, who's going to stop him?  Who's going to tell him that he can't belong to an organization he reports on?  NBC News President Steve Capus?  That's a joke.  Capus is Brian's little toady.  His main job is to tell Brian that his tie looks nice.
***So let's recap: Brian wasted more than two minutes of valuable news time on pointless, silly stories about solar flares, Venus, a broken football trophy and the Medal of Honor.  Meanwhile, he did not even mention Iran, Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan.  Great job, Brian.  Way to report important news.
***Because last night's eagle story was so popular, Brian and his producers decided to end tonight's broadcast with a two-minute story about penguins.  Obviously, the NBC News research department has informed Brian and his producers that penguin stories test very well with focus groups and boost the broadcast's ratings.  This story, about using satellite images to count emperor penguins in Antarctica, was the fourth penguin story Nightly News has reported since September.  Too bad Steve Miller never recorded a song called "Fly Like A Penguin".
Wed. April 18--The lead story was the death of Dick Clark.  However, throughout this four-and-a-half minute tribute, Neither Brian Williams nor Chris Jansing ever once mentioned ABC, the network with which Clark was most closely associated (most of his shows--including "American Bandstand" and "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve"--appeared on that network).  This was not an omission or a coincidence--it is part of an intentional strategy formulated by Brian Williams and Steve Capus whereby Nightly News anchors and correspondents are prohibited from mentioning other networks so as not to give away free publicity to competitors.  A week earlier (4/11/12), Brian wasted three minutes of Nightly News time on a trite profile/interview with Ashley Judd.  Brian said that she had a new TV series, but refused to tell us its name ("Missing") or say that it was on ABC.  On 5/18/10, Nightly News did a three-and-a-half minute profile of Eva Longoria Parker without ever mentioning that she was starring in "Desperate Housewives" (no surprise--ABC was also never mentioned).  And on 5/14/10 and 5/17/10, Brian personally spent more than five minutes interviewing Sally Field.  He noted all her early TV work--"Gidget", "The Flying Nun", "Sybil"--but never mentioned that she was at the time starring in ABC's "Brothers And Sisters"--a role for which she had won an Emmy in 2007.  Brian's refusal to mention other networks is no accident.  It is, however, one of the pettiest displays ever put on by a news anchor. 
***During a story about the Secret Service prostitution scandal, we were shown a clip of a pair of female legs walking down a street.  It was the third time this week that Nightly News has used this clip (it was also used on Sunday and Monday).  What the hell was this?  Whose legs were these?  Did they belong to one of the prostitutes in the scandal?  Did they belong to a different prostitute?  Was she a prostitute at all?  Was she even a Colombian woman?  Was it stock footage (no pun intended)?  There was no explanation or context for this shot.  Absurd.
***Later, we saw a story about Ted Nugent.  He may or may not have threatened the President.  This is what Nightly News wastes two minutes on?  Apparently, yes.  It's just another shameful excuse for the producers to create a story around a celebrity (although in Nugent's case, that title is dubious).  This "news story" was 99% celebrity and 1% news.  Now that I think about it, maybe the legs we saw in the Secret Service story were from a ZZ Top video.
***After that, Janet Shamlian wasted another two minutes telling us about the final Mega Millions winners.  Has Shamlian ever reported a story that actually matters?  This story could have been fully told in fifteen seconds, but why spend fifteen seconds telling a story if you can drag it out to eight times that length?  Wasting time on irrelevant garbage while ignoring real news is the Nightly News philosophy.
***It had been a full day since Nightly News did a story on the Space Shuttle.  Tuesday (and Monday, as well) it was the Discovery.  Today it was the Enterprise.  We learned that the Enterprise was headed to the USS Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York.  Wow--fascinating.  That's the Nightly News mantra--find something that the viewers like (regardless of whether or not it's newsworthy) and report on it over and over and over again.  That's how to boost your ratings.  It's called pandering.
***Did you know that there were only 100 days until the Olympics?  You know now.  Because Brian spent thirty seconds telling us.  I can't even begin to imagine how much actual news time Nightly News will spend in the next few months "reporting" on the Olympics.  (By "reporting",  I really mean shamelessly promoting.  But you already knew that.)
***To end the broadcast, the idiotic Anne Thompson spent two-and-a-half-minutes reporting on Jamie Moyer--a 49-year-old pitcher who became the oldest man to win a game in the major leagues.  Just think of all the real news they could have reported in that time.  If you add up the stories on Jamie Moyer, Ted Nugent and the Mega Millions winners, it comes to 6:40.  Meanwhile, Nightly News did not report a single foreign story this night (unless you count the thirty-second promo for the Olympics).  That's shameful.  By the way, the Jamie Moyer story included a clip from "Top Gun" because...well, because they can.
Thurs. April 19--The lead story was about the Secret Service prostitution scandal.  As the fawning toady Kristen Welker told us that, "more than twenty Secret Service and military personnel allegedly partied with prostitutes," we were shown a pair of female legs lounging by a pool.  Whose legs were these?  Was this the same woman whose legs we saw on previous days?  What is it with the Nightly News producers and their obsession with women's legs?  And why do they think that a pair of legs automatically evokes a prostitute?  What kind of issues do the Nightly News producers have?
***OMG!  There's a measles outbreak!  Lock yourself in your basement and don't breathe.  In truth, this was just another alarmist Nightly News story meant to scare us.  Scare us into watching Nightly News, that is.  By the way, in this story, the producers managed to shoehorn in gratuitous shots of the Super Bowl (which aired on NBC) and the upcoming Olympics (which will air on NBC).  Nice going.
***We then got a three-minute story on Pat Summitt, the Tennessee women's basketball coach who is retiring due to Alzheimer's-like symptoms.  It's a sad story and we all wish her well.  But how does this merit three minutes of news time?
***After that, Brian spent almost a minute reporting the death of Levon Helm, the former drummer for The Band.  Actually, this is one of the few musician obits that actually deserved time on Nightly News.  Helm was one of the great personalities of American rock music.  It doesn't make up for all the gratuitous obits Brian has read in the past, but it was nice to see Levon get some credit.
***The final story was about cancer drugs that come from coral reefs.  Of course, this was just an excuse to show lots of video of fish, because viewers like seeing fish and it keeps them tuned in to the broadcast.  Meanwhile, also on this day, 35 people were killed in bombings in Iraq, and India tested a nuclear-capable long-range missile that can reach China.  Brian made no mention of these stories.  But at least we know all about the measles outbreak and cancer drugs from coral reefs.  Thanks, Brian.  Great work.
Fri. April 20--With everything going on across the country and around the world, the lead Nightly News story was bird strikes.  They also did a brief bird strike story on Thursday.  Is this really a huge problem?  I don't think so.  It probably happens on .0000001% of flights.  You stand a greater chance of encountering a raving out-of-control pilot or flight attendant than a bird strike.  This is just another Nightly News alarmist story.  So I guess we're supposed to stop flying and hide in our attics.  But without a doubt, the best part of this frivolous story was Pete Williams.  Once again he dissed Brian by refusing to say good evening to him.  He must really despise Brian.  You go, Pete!  By the way, on the same day, 127 people died in Pakistan when a Bhoja Air 737 jet went down.  Brian never mentioned this, but he spent 2:45 on bird strikes that didn't kill anyone.  Nightly News is a joke.
***I almost fell off my Barcalounger during the next story when Kerry Sanders said that a picture of George Zimmerman with bloody cuts on his head was originally broadcast on ABC.  ABC?  Obviously, Sanders didn't get the memo.  Kerry, dude, you're not allowed to mention ABC.  Ever.  Say "a rival network" or "another network".  But never, ever say ABC.  I haven't seen Sanders lately--I hope he wasn't disciplined too harshly.
***After this story, it was, of course, time for another installment of Savannah Guthrie's "stating the obvious" analysis.  Guthrie could put the hyperactive Nancy Grace to sleep with her droning monotone.  Brian introduced Guthrie by saying, "I watched today as a civilian and I was surprised--you watched as a lawyer...."  It never fails.  Every single time Brian introduces Guthrie, he makes certain to announce that she's a lawyer.  He's a fawning sycophant.
***Speaking of fawning sycophants, the next story on the Secret Service prostitution scandal was reported by Kristen Welker.  Every night, Brian says good evening to her, and every night she says, "Good evening to you, Brian."  It's like they're friending each other on Facebook.  Pete Williams needs to have a serious talk with Welker.  Soon.  Let's not forget that Welker was the company stooge that turned a 9/24/10 report on Americans' purchasing habits into a product placement for Cheerios.  And on 8/12/10, she did a "news story" about "America's newest singing sensation"--Jackie Evancho, who was then appearing on NBC's "America's Got Talent".  Obviously, Welker's main job is to promote NBC's entertainment shows and sponsors.  Does anyone believe that anything she says can be taken seriously?
***Here's how Brian began his intro to the Secret Service story: "The unfolding Secret Service prostitution scandal that has soiled the good name of that organization continued to unfold today...."  Does he ever miss a chance to kiss the asses of members of the military or law enforcement?  No, he doesn't.
***And here's how Brian began his intro to a story on Etan Patz: "He was a beautiful little boy with an exotic name...."  Beautiful?  Eww--creepy.  That was even more creepy than Brian's 12/15/11 story on the Obama family portrait when he said of Sasha and Malia, "It sure looks like both parents are hanging on to those beautiful girls for dear life."  Also pretty creepy.
***Later, Brian spent 25 seconds telling us about a North Carolina town that gave a "warm welcome home" to a soldier who lost parts of both legs in Afghanistan.  Just another opportunity for Brian to kiss the collective ass of the U.S. military.  I have never seen anyone with such a desperate need to subserviently kowtow to the armed services.  It's obvious that when he was a child, the other kids would never let Brian play soldier with them.  Needless to say, this story contained multiple shots of U.S. flags.  Because that's what Nightly News does.
***Next, Brian wasted another 25 seconds telling us about a kid who ran onto the field during a Chicago White Sox game.  Breaking news if ever I've heard it.
***After that, Brian spent 25 seconds telling us that cursing is good for us.
***Speaking of breaking news, Brian then told us about some drunken English tourists who kidnapped a penguin from an Australian sea park.  Well, it had been three whole days since Nightly News last did a penguin story.  So I guess they were overdue.  These last four stories took up nearly two minutes of news time.  Meanwhile, on this night Brian did not report a single story from Europe, Asia or Africa.  But at least we know all about the stolen penguin and the kid on the field in Chicago.  I hope the Peabody Award committee takes note of this broadcast.
***The broadcast ended with a story on Pinterest.  I had never heard of Pinterest before this, and after the story I still had no idea what it is.  Is it a site for people who like Harold Pinter plays?  Could be.  I don't know.  Whatever it is, I'm certain that it is not important enough to merit 2:20 on an evening newscast.  Did Pinter ever write a play called "The Morons at Nightly News"?  If not, he should have.

Friday, April 13, 2012

NBC Nightly News Show Notes--4/7/12 Through 4/13/12 (Revised--Full Week)

Here's some of the great stuff you may have missed on Nightly News this week:

Sat. April 7--In an obituary for artist Thomas Kinkade, the idiotic Nightly News producers actually managed to spell his name wrong.  As weekend anchor Lester Holt introduced the story, a graphic over Holt's left shoulder read "Thomas Kinkaid [sic] 1958-2012".  They misspelled his name in his own obituary!  Appalling--but hardly surprising.  Nightly News broadcasts are rife with spelling, grammar, math and factual errors.  Can you imagine ABC or CBS misspelling Kinkade's name?  I can't.  Apparently, the Nightly News producers are too busy concentrating on promoting NBC's sports and entertainment programming to bother checking their spelling.  I guess they have their priorities.
***Speaking of which, the final story of the night was a two-and-a-half minute "news story" about the 50th anniversary of the film version of "To Kill A Mockingbird".  Why on earth would a news broadcast commemorate the film version of a famous book, rather than the book itself (Harper Lee's book was published two years earlier)?  It doesn't make any sense.  But of course, as is the case with virtually every story that airs on Nightly News, there was an ulterior motive.  In this case, Lester rabidly plugged Saturday's USA Network screening of "Mockingbird" for one reason only--because USA is owned by Comcast/NBC Universal.  Of course, Holt never mentioned this to the viewers.  Neither did he mention that "Mockingbird" was released by Universal Pictures, also a Comcast/NBC Universal company.  He intentionally withheld this information to try to trick the viewers into believing that this was an actual news story, rather than a shameless plug.  So this story amounts to a two-and-a-half minute commercial for an NBC Universal film which will be airing on an NBC Universal TV network.  That is just sleazy.  Holt and his producers should be ashamed of themselves.  But of course they're not.  Their main job at all times is to relentlessly promote NBC properties.  It doesn't bother them in the least that their broadcast constantly ignores real news in order to self-promote.  Well, what do you expect--weasels will be weasels.  Meanwhile, this month PBS is airing an excellent "American Masters" episode called "Hey Boo: Harper Lee and 'To Kill A Mockingbird'".  But of course Holt never mentioned it because PBS is not owned by Comcast/NBC Universal.
Sun. April 8--A redrawing of the border between North Carolina and South Carolina may result in some SC residents discovering that they actually live in NC.  Wow!  This piece of fluff was given 2:20 of valuable news time on Nightly News.  Thanks.
***Next, John Yang took 2:25 to tell us that U.S. auto sales were up.  This story could have been reported in 30 seconds.  Nightly News makes a habit of stretching out trivial, stale stories to fill time instead of reporting on relevant issues.  That's a great way to run a news broadcast.
***The final story of the night was one for the ages.  Ostensibly it was about product placements in the new James Bond film (and in other films).  Sixty-four percent of this story (96 seconds out of 2:30) was made up of clips from James Bond movies.  There were also additional clips from "E.T.", "Risky Business", and "Wayne's World"--bringing the total percentage of film clips that made up this story to a whopping 72%.  This is the seventh time in the past three weeks that Nightly News has devoted an entire story to a movie or movies.  On March 16, they did a two-minute story on "The Hunger Games".  The next day, they devoted 2:45 to a story about "The Godfather".  On March 23, it was another "Hunger Games" story, this one ran 2:20.  On April 1, Nightly News did a 2:15 story about the 80's nostalgia trend in current films.  On April 5, it was a 2:15 report about the thriving Miami film and TV industry.  And on April 7, they spent 2:30 shamelessly promoting the USA Network showing of "To Kill A Mockingbird".  If you add in tonight's James Bond story, that means that Nightly News has spent 16:35 on movie stories in the past three weeks.  That's an appalling waste of time for a news broadcast.  So why is Nightly News spending so much time reporting on movies?  The answer is obvious.   People like seeing stories about movies and TV shows, so these stories keep viewers tuned in.  And if people stay tuned in, it boosts the ratings.  So all these movie stories are just a ratings ploy by Brian Williams and his producers.  Keep in mind that in addition to all these stories solely about movies, Nightly News regularly peppers its other stories with clips from movies and TV shows as a further enticement for entertainment-starved viewers (Nightly News's recent stories about the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic naturally included clips from various Titanic-themed movies).  Another reason to do these stories, of course, is to promote Universal movies (both new releases and DVD's of old movies) and soundtracks.  For example, the "Hunger Games" soundtrack was released on a Universal label.  And the possibility certainly exists that the NBC sales & marketing department is actually selling these movie stories to the studios as part of ad packages.  For a set fee, the studio can buy a certain number of commercials plus a contrived news story about their film that will air on "Today", Nightly News or both.  Movie studios would no doubt jump at the chance to buy this sort of publicity masquerading as news coverage.

But the most hilarious aspect of the James Bond story was that it was purportedly about product placements in movies (in the new James Bond film, Bond will drink Heineken beer in addition to his usual martinis).  The story featured film clips of products like Reese's Pieces (from "E.T"), Ray-Ban sunglasses (from "Risky Business"), Pizza Hut (from "Wayne's World") and BMW cars and Omega watches (from previous James Bond movies).  Do you actually believe that Nightly News didn't get paid for plugging these products?  A story about product placements was really just an excuse for Nightly News to insert more product placements and get paid for them!  And the irony of Nightly News reporting on product placements is thicker than frozen pea soup.  Brian Williams and his Nightly News correspondents insert product placements into their news stories on a regular basis!  Over the past few years, Nightly News has plugged these products: McDonald's (one of Brian's favorite companies to plug), Subway sandwiches, Bayer products (Bayer aspirin and Aleve), Heinz ketchup, Starbucks, Cheerios, Chevy, Chrysler, Walmart, Kraft, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Frito-Lay, Microsoft, Boniva, United Airlines, Pringles, and Smith & Nephew joint replacements.  Here are the details of these Nightly News product placements:

>7/18/07--Nightly News airs a story about Restless Leg Syndrome.  The sole purpose of the story is to establish the legitimacy of RLS because many doctors do not acknowledge it as a legitimate medical condition.  One of the main drugs used to treat RLS is Requip, a frequent Nightly News advertiser at the time (Requip was specifically mentioned in the story).  And in addition to their regular advertisements, Requip (manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline) sponsored nine Nightly News "Making A Difference" segments from April 2007 to January 2008 (the dates were 4/20/07, 5/25/07, 6/22/07, 7/6/07, 7/27/07, 8/3/07, 9/14/07, 1/11/08 and 1/18/08).  There is absolutely no doubt that the story on Restless Leg Syndrome was done as a special favor to Nightly News's pals at Glaxo as a way of saying thank you for all that Glaxo ad money.
>11/13/07--Brian Williams anchors Nightly News from a Chrysler plant in Detroit.  This broadcast is a thinly-disguised 30-minute commercial for Chrysler, a frequent Nightly News and NBC advertiser.  At the end of the broadcast, Brian interviews Chrysler executive Jim Press.  Brian's "interview" is made up of softball questions that allow Press to talk about how great Chrysler's cars and trucks are (Brian even gets in on the act of praising Chrysler products: "This is going to make some buyer somewhere very happy.").  Less than three months later (2/5/08), Chrysler sponsored the entire Nightly News broadcast.  An obvious example of quid pro quo.
>1/31/09--A story about 3-D ads during the Super Bowl prominently features Lifewater beverages--a product that advertised on the following day's Super Bowl.  On NBC.
>2/23/09--Nightly News features a report about how thoroughly United Airlines cleans its planes.  United is a frequent Nightly News advertiser.  This story is just a big thank-you from NBC to United.
>5/5/09--Nightly News airs a "news story" about McDonald's new gourmet coffees.  McDonald's is a major advertiser on Nightly News and other NBC Universal shows.  Ann Curry introduces the story by calling McDonald's coffee a "delicious brew".  More than a third of this story is comprised of excerpts from McDonald's commercials and interviews with McDonald's spokespersons.  This story is simply a commercial for McDonald's new gourmet coffees.  (So as not to offend another sponsor, Nightly News also gives Starbucks lots of good publicity in the story.)
>5/12/09--A story purportedly about FDA assertions regarding Cheerios' health claims ends up becoming a fawning two-minute promotional message for Cheerios.  The report intentionally minimized the FDA aspect of the story and instead spent most of its time promoting the positive attributes of Cheerios.  This was Bazell's first line: "It is one of America's iconic products--Cheerios."  Well, that certainly set the scene.  We were then shown 20 seconds of Cheerios commercials while Bazell tells us that, "Soluble oat fiber--a key component--can help reduce cholesterol."  In other words, Bazell just made the very claim that the FDA had expressly forbidden General Mills from making.  He then briefly interrupts his Cheerios love-fest to mention the FDA reprimand: "A letter from the FDA to General Mills, the manufacturer, says that the health claims have gone too far.  The big problem is those claims about how much cholesterol can be reduced in how many weeks.  They are repeated on the box.  The FDA says those are drug-like claims that can only be made after studies have been submitted to the agency and approved."  So rather than acknowledging that General Mills made inappropriate claims, he chooses to defend the claims as if they were mere technicalities.  As Bazell says this, he was sitting at a table with a bowl of Cheerios in front of him, and at least six boxes of Cheerios neatly stacked next to him.  He looks like he is in a Cheerios commercial.  Actually, he is.  Bazell continues, "In a statement, General Mills said, 'The science is not in question and we look forward to discussing this with the FDA and reaching a resolution.'"  The science is not in question!  Bazell does not take issue with the General Mills statement--he simply accepts it as fact.  The General Mills statement also appears on screen alongside a pleasing graphic of a breakfast table with a bowl of Cheerios, a box of Cheerios and a glass of orange juice.  We then see a close-up of milk being poured into a bowl of Cheerios.  There is a brief interview with a doctor who says that three grams of soluble fiber is not really going to help you, but that it's better than eating something that's high in fat.  Bazell then twists this statement into, "Food industry experts say there is no question that Cheerios is a healthy product but the FDA seems to be paying more attention to the claims that companies make."  No question!  Bazell's commercial--I mean news story--ends with boxes of Cheerios going by on a conveyor belt, a slow pan down a box of Cheerios, and a mother pouring some Cheerios for her toddler.  Can anyone dispute that this is a product placement? 
>7/13/09--The entire Nightly News broadcast is sponsored by the University of Phoenix, an online university.  Four days later, Nightly News airs a report about Western Governors University (also an online university).  This story features a gratuitous plug for the University of Phoenix as well as a prominent graphic displaying their logo.  It seems apparent that University of Phoenix's July 13 sponsorship also bought them a plug on the July 17 broadcast.
>9/6/09--A story about search engines becomes a story about Bing.  Bing is a Microsoft product, and Microsoft was a former partner of NBC in MSNBC and current partner in  This story is just a plug for one of NBC's corporate partners.
>10/22/09--During a piece about women in the workplace, Nightly News spends 75 seconds profiling Jan Fields, the Chief Operating Officer of McDonald's USA.  The story gives her ample time to talk about things like McDonald's "world famous fries".  Ms. Fields is now the president of McDonald's USA--no doubt thanks in part to her ability to manipulate NBC News into allowing her to plug her greasy burgers and fries.
>2/4/10--Brian Williams reads a 30-second story about the great new Heinz ketchup packages (he also manages to mention McDonald's in the story).  This is just a plug for Heinz.
>3/17/10--Brian Williams reads a 30-second story about how Kraft Foods will be reducing the sodium in their products.  Another plug for a regular advertiser.
>3/19/10--Ann Curry (filling in for Brian Williams) reads a story about how Wal-Mart will be slashing their grocery prices.
>5/14/10--In part one of a two-part interview with Sally Field, Brian Williams spends the entire 90 seconds talking with Field about her Boniva commercials (at the time, Boniva advertised on Nightly News every night).  Three days later, in part two of the interview, Brian again mentions Boniva.
>6/8/10--Nightly News airs a report about an obscure Danish medical study that concluded that Aleve can reduce the risk of heart attacks.  Aleve (and its parent product Bayer) advertise on Nightly News every night. 
>6/10/10--Brian Williams introduces a ridiculous "news story" about whether or not Chevys should be referred to as Chevrolets.  Clearly, this is a two-minute-and-ten-second thank-you to the Chevy people for all the advertising dollars they have given NBC over the years.
>6/14/10--Lester Holt reads a "news story" about how Starbucks and McDonald's are now providing free Wi-Fi in their stores.  Interestingly, this is the second time Nightly News has paired these two companies in a fake news story whose sole purpose is to promote them as sponsors.
>6/22/10--Nightly News shows a 30-second clip of Jimmy Fallon playing Microsoft's new Kinnect video game.  Again, since Microsoft is a partner of NBC, this is just another plug for one of NBC's corporate partners (and a plug for Fallon's show, as well).
>7/2/10--A Nightly News profile of LeBron James includes clips from his McDonald's commercials. 
>7/21/10--Brian Williams contrives a "news story" about knee surgery in order to call attention to a new Nightly News advertiser--Smith & Nephew Replacement Knees.
>9/24/10--In one of the most egregious examples of product placement, a story on the diminishing use of credit and debit cards for food shopping begins with a couple in a Target store standing in front of a massive wall of Cheerios that was almost certainly assembled by the Nightly News producers just for this story.  We also see the couple walking through the aisles with the Cheerios box and the camera gets a clear shot as the box is scanned at the register.  The first 45 seconds of this story is a non-stop product placement for Cheerios.  (The last shot of the story is the mother feeding Cheerios to her infant.)  Cheerios is a frequent Nightly News sponsor and advertiser.  This story is a great big "thank you" to General Mills.
>10/27/10--Brian Williams reports an important story about how the Scott Paper Company is manufacturing tubeless toilet paper.  The story features plenty of ad clips from Scott products.
>10/31/10--A story on the end of the Pontiac brand is really just some free advertising for General Motors.
>11/4/10 and 11/5/10--Nightly News airs two virtually identical stories about a great new Spiral CT Scanner.  It just happens to be made by GE, NBC's then-parent company.
>11/9/10--The broadcast airs stories about the end of GM's Mr. Goodwrench ad campaign and the new ad campaign beginning for Planter's Mr. Peanut brand.  Both stories contain lots of ad clips.
>12/6/10--A story about the health benefits of aspirin is nothing more than a product placement for Bayer, a frequent Nightly News advertiser.  This "news report" begins with a five second clip from a Bayer commercial.  Then there are three close-ups of Bayer aspirin: A box on a shelf in a Walgreens, a pill in someone's palm and a bottle of Bayer.  No other name-brand aspirin is shown in the story, just generic or store brands.  Even an animated graphic of a bottle simply labeled "aspirin" is brown and yellow--easily recognizable as Bayer's traditional colors on their aspirin bottles and the main colors on their website.  Not very subtle.
>12/7/10--A story about how San Francisco is banning toys that come with children's fast food meals begins with a cute segment about a woman who collects Happy Meal toys.  The rest of this 2:30 "news story" (which was really just a commercial for McDonald's) contains clips of actual McDonald's commercials and non-stop footage of the McDonald's logo, restaurants and food.
>12/28/10--Brian Williams spends 30 seconds telling us the great news that Frito-Lay products will soon be "all-natural".  With the Frito-Lay logo behind him, he specifically mentions Tostitos, Sun Chips, Lays and Rold Gold.
>1/5/11--Brian Williams spends 30 seconds telling us that Starbucks will be changing their logo.
>1/17/11--Brian Williams announces that Starbucks will be introducing a new size drink called Trenta.  I guess Brian reports on Starbucks so often because he wants free drinks.
>1/20/11--Brian Williams tells us that Wal-Mart will be cutting prices on fresh fruits and vegetables and reducing fats, sugar, salt and trans fats in its store brands over the next few years.  This sounds like a press release written by the Wal-Mart marketing department.
>2/7/11--Nightly News does a three-minute rah-rah story about Chrysler's "Imported From Detroit" Super Bowl commercial (featuring Eminem) that aired the previous day (the story features 80 seconds of clips from the ad).  This was little more than a three-minute commercial for Chrysler.
>3/8/11--Brian Williams takes 30 seconds to tell us the important news that Subway now has more U.S. outlets than McDonald's.  So as not to offend McDonald's, he also tells us that McDonald's earns more money than Subway.
>4/5/11--Nightly News does a two-and-a-half minute "news story" about the Vermont Country Store.  This is a promotional story for a company that does $100 million in annual business.
>4/6/11--Nightly News airs a 2:05 story about Pringles.  This may be the most shameless product placement Nightly News has ever done.  Then again--probably not.  The story begins with Brian Williams plugging some of Procter & Gamble's brands--Tide, Crest and Pampers.  We are then shown clips from Pringles commercials--including one that featured Brad Pitt.  We get to see a Pringles-related clip from "Ally McBeal".  But mostly, we get to see Kevin Tibbles having a great time with Pringles.  Just like Brad Pitt!  There's Tibbles sitting with two cans of Pringles.  There's Tibbles with a math professor who explains that the exact shape of the chip is a hyperbolic paraboloid.  There's Tibbles holding a Pringles chip up to the camera.  Then we see some clips of other P & G products--Tide, Gillette, Oral B and Wella.  The story ends with 15 seconds of various closeup shots of Pringles.  And the very next night--surprise--a Pringles commercial airs on Nightly News.  I guess the Pringles people bought a combo news-story-and-ad package.
>5/9/11--Brian reads a 30-second "news story" about McDonald's great new redesign plans for their restaurants: "Mickey D's is spending over $1 billion to make their restaurants more chill, more comfortable, more laid back, more Starbucks than Mayor McCheese.  Look for wooden tables, muted colors and faux leather seats coming soon to a Mac's near you.  And you can get fries with that."  That's not a news story, it's a McDonald's press release. And it's shameless.  Notice how Brian slipped in a Starbucks mention, as well.
>5/18/11--Brian personally defends McDonald's against criticism from parenting organizations and nutritional advocacy groups that accused McDonald's of unfairly using Ronald McDonald to attract children to their high sodium, high cholesterol, high fat food.  In the story, Brian says that this criticism "seems a little harsh".  So much for anchor neutrality.
>7/26/11--Brian read this 30-second press release from McDonald's: "McDonald's said today that it's taking steps to make Happy Meals healthier.  The company is cutting the size of the french fry portion in half for starters and adding apple slices to every meal.  The new meals will have about 20% fewer calories--coming in at under 600 calories total.  First Lady Michelle Obama, who campaigns, of course, for better nutrition, put out a statement today calling this a good step."  It was clear that Brian and his producers mean to imply that Mrs. Obama was endorsing McDonald's--which, of course, she was not.  (As Brian read this, the McDonald's logo is onscreen for the entire thirty seconds, along with the words "Healthy Choices" and a picture of a Happy Meal.)
>9/20/11--Brian Williams takes 30 seconds to tell us all about Heinz's exciting new ketchup packages: "There's a new fast food staple coming our way after years of fighting with the old ones.  Heinz is out with a new vessel for fast food ketchup.  It's shaped differently, it opens differently, contains three times the amount of product in the old packets.  They're already being used at some Dairy Queens, Wendy's gets them later in the year--no comment yet from the really big players--McDonald's and Burger King."  The accompanying video shows plenty of promotional footage of people using the new Heinz packets.  (I'm surprised that Brian didn't conduct a live in-studio demonstration.)  Why does that sound familiar?  Oh yeah--it's because Brian already told us about the new Heinz packages on the 2/4/10 Nightly News.  I guess Heinz must have paid NBC News for two product placements.
>10/27/11--The lead story is about the health benefits of aspirin as a cancer-fighting drug.  This story is virtually identical to the 12/6/10 story on aspirin.  In truth, this is just another 2:40 product placement for Bayer.  Like the 12/6/10 story, this story features only one national brand of aspirin--Bayer.  All the other aspirin brands are generic or store brands like CVS or Sunmark.  The story also shows two vintage Bayer newspaper ads and just for good measure, it features an 8-second clip from a current Bayer TV commercial.  This story is a joke.  It is nothing more than a shameless way to plug Bayer aspirin.  And the fact that they showed it as the lead story is even more shameless. The message is obvious--buy Bayer aspirin and you won't get cancer.
>11/17/11--Right in the middle of a story about Congress's decision to categorize pizza as a vegetable, correspondent Anne Thompson takes a ten-second break to read a McDonald's commercial.  With a huge McDonald's logo next to her, Thompson tells us that, "McDonald's got the message--reducing french fries and adding fruit to its happy meals."  This has absolutely nothing to do with the story about pizza being a vegetable--it is just another opportunity for a Nightly News correspondent to shill for the Golden Arches.
>1/29/12--A story about fast food restaurants that stay open late is really just another product placement for McDonald's.  This story contains more than a minute's worth of gratuitous McDonald's footage--interiors, exteriors, franchise owners, customers, workers, food--and even includes 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 tells 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--sounds suspiciously like a commercial.  Obviously, the Nightly News producers' goal in running this story is 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.
>2/6/12--Brian spends more than two minutes fawning over the Clint Eastwood "Halftime In America" Chrysler ad that aired during the Super Bowl.  He calls it "a big, sweeping and impactful ad."  He shows us 45 seconds of the ad, including a 30-second continuous clip.  But don't let Clint Eastwood's appearance in the ad fool you.  Brian Williams is Chrysler's chief spokesman

Okay--I got a little sidetracked there, but the point is that next time the Nightly News producers have the nerve do a story about product placements in James Bond films (or any other films), they should keep in mind that Nightly News features more product placements than any other show on TV.
Mon. April 9--The lead story about the Trayvon Martin shooting was titled "Turning Point?"  Well, is it a turning point or isn't it?  They're supposed to tell us, not ask us.
***We got another idiotic story about the "Extreme Weather" from the idiotic Anne Thompson.  How many times can she do the same story?  Many, many times, apparently.  Several times during this story, Thompson mentioned NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) without ever explaining what it is.  I have no doubt that after seeing this story, some viewers think the extreme weather is being caused by "Noah" (after all, he had to build an ark to escape the extreme weather).
***A story about the link between obesity in mothers and autism in babies is titled "Autism Link?"  Well, is there a link or not?  Are we supposed to guess?
***In yet another story about whether or not the Augusta National Golf Club will admit IBM CEO Virginia Rometty as its first female member, Brian described Rometty as an "avid golfer".  Every other news source has described her as an occasional golfer (Rometty has even described herself that way).  In her March 30 Nightly News story about Augusta, NBC News's Senior Investigative Correspondent Lisa Myers said Rometty "is said to play golf--though sparingly."  So Brian wasn't even close.  Another idiotic statement from the uninformed Brian Williams.
***Brian then told us about a pod of orca whales that came right up to a whale-watching boat.  What is the deal with Brian's whale obsession?  From September, 2011 through January, 2012, Nightly News aired eight stories about whales.  Now, apparently, they're starting again with the whale stories. 
***Brian ended the broadcast with his three minute tribute to Mike Wallace.  Kind of ironic, don't you think?  Wallace was defined by his propensity for asking tough interview questions, while Brian is known for the easy, non-threatening softball questions he asks his interview subjects.  Wallace was a newsman and a journalist, Brian is an entertainment anchor and carnival barker.  Wallace was interested in the story, Brian is interested in his image and his ratings.  Brian Williams is the anti-Mike Wallace.
Tues. April 10--In the lead story about Rick Santorum's withdrawal from the GOP presidential race, correspondent Ron Mott was not standing in front of a giant flag in his opening and closing live shots.  What?  Nightly News viewers demand an explanation.  We all know that every Nightly News correspondent who reports a political story MUST be standing in front of a huge U.S. flag.  The bigger the better.  It's an NBC News rule.  A giant U.S. flag is one of the best ways to pander to the viewers' rah-rah gung-ho sense of faux patriotism, so the producers never miss an opportunity to exploit the flag for ratings.  So where was Mott's flag?  To make matters worse, Mott was reporting from Gettysburg, Pa--a historic city.  I'm sure there is no shortage of flags in Gettysburg, so what was Mott's excuse?  He probably could have bought one in any of the city's gift shops.   Actually, he should carry his own emergency flag for times like these when there are no public flags to be found.  Mott better not let this happen again.
***Mott's story also featured a gratuitous clip of JFK.  This was the 17th time in the past six months that Nightly News has done a story about (or featured a clip of) John or Jackie Kennedy.  Obviously, Brian and his producers have identified JFK as one of those audience-pleasing subjects that boost the Nightly News ratings (like whales, for example).  As such, they make a point of inserting the Kennedys into news stories as often as possible.  It's certainly not a coincidence that we've seen this much of Camelot on Nightly News.  Rather, it's a calculated decision meant to achieve a specific ratings goal.  Ich bin ein panderer.
***In a report about George Zimmerman, Kerry Sanders could not seem to correctly read from Zimmerman's new website.  Sanders said, "On his welcome page, Zimmerman writes in part 'I was involved in a life altering event which led me to become a subject of media coverage.'"  Actually, Zimmerman wrote, "I was involved in a life altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage."  Sanders changed one word and omitted another.  If you're quoting someone, you really do need to be exact.  And to make matters worse, the Nightly News on-screen transcript of Zimmerman's page omitted the word "me" from that sentence.  More sloppy work from Nightly News correspondents and producers.  By the way, Zimmerman's website uses an American flag as the background.  I guess he has something in common with the Nightly News producers.
***Every Nightly News story on George Zimmerman is followed by Savannah Guthrie's shallow, pointless analysis.  I guess they're trying to give her more exposure for when she replaces Ann Curry on "Today".  Here's how Brian introduced Guthrie's commentary: "WE'VE all seen too many cop shows--WE'VE seen those scenes where they're told to stay close, don't make any travel plans--you're a lawyer--how common is it to lose your client?"  As usual, Brian uses his favorite word ("we") because the news is always about Brian.  And it's hilarious that every time Brian introduces Guthrie, he makes a point of telling us that she's a lawyer.  Are we supposed to be impressed?  I think Brian's the one who is really impressed by someone who finished law school--because he never even graduated college.  And did you ever notice that when Guthrie gets to the end of her sentences, she sounds like she's growling?  What's up with that?
***Brian introduced a story about fires on the east coast by saying, "Now we turn to a clear and present danger in twenty different states along the eastern seaboard...."  Brian loves to use movie titles in his sentences, especially if the movies starred macho he-men like Harrison Ford or Clint Eastwood.
***Here's how Brian introduced Richard Engel's report about the North Korean missile launch: "Now to our exclusive reporting from inside North Korea..."  Exclusive?  Does Brian know the meaning of "exclusive"?  Every one of the several dozen foreign journalists reporting from North Korea this week reported the exact same stories.  They were all put on the same bus and they were all taken to the same sites and they all filmed the same things from the same angles.  So Engel's story was identical to every other reporter's story filed from North Korea.  The same day, I also saw a BBC World News report (on PBS) about North Korea and it was virtually identical to Engel's report.  And Brian certainly knows all this, so his description of Engel's report as "exclusive" is a blatant, intentional lie.  Brian frequently lies about the exclusivity of NBC News reports in order to make them sound more buzzworthy.  It's sad that a network news anchor would do that.  Shame on Brian.
***A story about overuse of dental X-rays was titled "X-Ray Risk?"  So is there a risk or isn't there?  Just tell us and stop playing these stupid games.  This story joins a long list of recent Nightly News stories with alarmist titles that are meant to scare us into watching.  Other recent examples include "Hidden Dangers?" (of lipstick--2/14); "Warning Signs?" (of autism--2/17); "Hidden Risks?" (of dirty surgical instruments--2/23); "Danger at Sea?" (cruise ships--2/29); "Silent Killer" (heart disease in women--2/25) and "Overmedicated?" (too much medication--3/19).  These silly titles sound like comic book stories or Lifetime Network movies.  Obviously, the titles are intentionally phrased this way to frighten viewers into staying tuned in.  Not only do these silly titles appear in the actual story, but Brian also announces them during the tease at the beginning of the broadcast.  That way, we have to watch most of the broadcast in order to find out about the "hidden risk" or "hidden danger".  Another unethical ratings ploy from Brian and his producers. 
***Next, we saw a story about a mini-baby boom in Los Angeles that is being attributed to last summer's Carmageddon (apparently, a lot of people just stayed home).  Brian began the story this way: "You may remember Carmageddon in L.A. last year...."  Well, you certainly do if you were a Nightly News viewer.  Last July, Nightly News reported eight silly Carmageddon stories in nine days.  It was a huge non-event, but that didn't stop Brian from hyping it like it was the biggest story of the week. 
***The last story was about the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  Fair enough--it's a legitimate news story and the other networks also reported it.  Of course, for Nightly News this was just another opportunity to show a clip from James Cameron's "Titanic".  Funny thing--CBS also reported a Titanic story, but they were somehow able to do so without a movie clip.  I guess that's the difference between Scott Pelley and Brian Williams.  Pelley is interested in presenting news, while Brian is interested in presenting entertainment.
Wed. April 11--Once again, Brian found it necessary to inform us that Savannah Guthrie is a lawyer.  As part of his introduction to her banal analysis of the Trayvon Martin case, Brian said, "Savannah, you're the lawyer here, not me..."  Yeah, we know she's a lawyer because he tells us so every night.
***At the end of the third segment (!) on the Trayvon Martin shooting, Brian began a question to Ron Allen by saying, "Of course Ron, on behalf of all the good people of Sanford, Florida...."  Apparently, at least according to Brian, all the people in all the cities in all of America are "good people".  Is there any depth he will not stoop to in order to pander?  Pathetic.  Meanwhile, Allen's story featured some nice footage of Al Sharpton.  Did you know he has a show on MSNBC?  This story was followed by a 12-second promo for Trayvon Martin's parents appearance on the following day's "Today Show".  Real classy. 
***In a story about U.S. Rep Allen West's accusation that some House Democrats are communists, West said, "I believe there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic party that are members of the Communist party."  Unfortunately, the accompanying Nightly News on-screen transcript substituted the word "it's" for "there's".  When are the Nightly News producers finally going to understand that a transcript must be an exact quote, not an approximate one?  Whatever--they don't care.
***A story about Delta Airlines looking to buy its own fuel refinery began with Brian saying this: "It's kind of like McDonald's growing its own potatoes for french fries."  Once again, Brian has turned a news story into a plug for McDonald's.  In a story about Delta, he actually managed to mention McDonald's first.  That's dedication.
***When Brian began reading the last story, I thought I was still watching the "Extra" promo that always precedes the final Nightly News story of the evening.  We went right from hearing Mario Lopez talking about Howard Stern and Kim Kardashian to hearing Brian talking about Ashley Judd.  That's right--the last Nightly News story of the night was a three-minute piece on...Ashley Judd.  Because Brian is all about hard news.  And just in case you thought maybe the story had a sliver of redeeming value, it didn't.  It consisted of Judd ranting against all those people who claimed she had cosmetic work done.  Of course the 10-ton elephant in the room was Brian's own cosmetic surgery.  Not surprisingly, he never mentioned it.  Another thing he never mentioned: Judd's new ABC TV series "Missing".  Instead, Brian simply referred to "her new TV series", refusing to mention the series by name or network.  Brian has a policy of never, ever mentioning other networks or TV shows because he's afraid that could negatively impact NBC's own minuscule ratings.  If anyone forgot that Brian Williams is the most petty anchor on TV, this was a good reminder.  Oh--and by the way, as the story began, the words "Nightly News Exclusive" appeared on screen (and would appear two more times for a total of 27 seconds) despite the fact that Judd would also be appearing on that Night's "Jimmy Kimmel Live".  Another example of Brian lying about the exclusivity of a story.  So let's put things in perspective: On this night, Nightly News did not report a single story about Iran, Iraq or Syria.  They spent a grand total of 35 seconds on the Indonesian earthquake.  But they gave Ashley Judd three minutes to whine about being accused of having had cosmetic surgery.  Are we really supposed to take Brian Williams and Nightly News seriously?
Thurs. April 12--The lead story was about Hilary Rosen's comments concerning Ann Romney's lack of work experience.  Fair enough--it's a legitimate news story.  But after this story, we got an idiotic follow-up by the idiotic Chris Jansing that featured pointless comments from working mothers and stay-at-home mothers.  It was like reading stupid twitter posts.  And it had zero news value.  Even when Nightly News gives air time to an appropriate news story, they still can't help tacking on a completely meaningless story.
***After a story about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, it was once again time for Savannah Guthrie to state everything that is completely obvious about the case.  Surprisingly, Brian did not tell us that Guthrie was a lawyer.  Maybe she's been disbarred since Wednesday.
***We saw a very important story about people with long commutes.  Did you know that some people spend hours commuting to work?  One man in the story has a round-trip commute of 190 miles!  Golly.  The producers should have placed a "Breaking News" banner on this one.  Has Janet Shamlian ever reported a story with any news value?  Not that I'm aware of.  The story was titled "Going the Distance" and "Long Way Home".  Do you suppose that Nightly News actually pays someone to think up these stupid titles?  And I still don't understand why every Nightly News story needs two titles.  Too bad Shamlian didn't tell us about Brian's commute.  A helicopter picks him up at his penthouse apartment and whisks him to 30 Rock in about 7 minutes.  Nifty.
***Brian told us that unmarried couples are having children at a higher rate than in the past.  Oh, okay.  Thanks for the info.  I'm just glad Brian didn't waste our time with any trivial stories about Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria.
***Stop the presses!  There was a meteor visible in the night sky over the midwest!  Every time something is visible in space (or is threatening to fall on our heads from space), Brian reports it as if it was real news.  He has an obsession with outer space and since Brian gets to report on whatever he wants, stories like this somehow become newsworthy. 
***The final story of the night was about a 9-year-old boy from East L.A. who built his own arcade out of cardboard boxes and tape.  I actually liked this story.  The kid was cute and very innovative.  A filmmaker discovered the arcade and made a short film about the kid called "Caine's Arcade", which went viral and hepled raise money for Caine's college fund.  That's nice.  But how this ended up on a news broadcast is beyond me.  Isn't there a show called "Today" for just this sort of trivial fluff?  For a change, this story was given two titles--"Building A Dream" and "Step Right Up".  Maybe they should have given it three titles.  I would have called it "Arcade Fire", but what do I know?
Fri. April 13--During Brian's intro to the lead story about tornadoes, he said, "Beyond what the good people of Oklahoma are suffering through, forecasters are already warning of an extremely violent weekend."  I wonder if the good people of Oklahoma know the good people of Sanford, Florida that Brian told us about on Wednesday.  In this story, Brian spoke for 1:19 and meteorologist Greg Forbes spoke for 1:27.  That makes sense.  After all, I'm sure Brian knows as much about tornadoes as Dr. Forbes, the Weather Channel's expert on twisters.
***It had been a few days since we saw a pointless, repetitive story on climate change, so Brian trotted out Anne Thompson to tell us that part of the country is in a drought.  During this story, a farmer named Kevin Mitchum was identified in a Nightly News graphic as "Brad Rippey, USDA Meteorologist".  Later in the story, the actual Rippey spoke, but he was never identified.  I guess on Fridays, the Nightly News graphics department goes home early.
***A story about the increase in on-the-job deaths of police officers was given the title "Line of Fire".  It's nice that Brian reduces this serious subject to a Clint Eastwood movie title.
***Brian then told us about Pres. Obama's tax return.  Just wondering--when is Brian going to release his tax return?  I bet that Brian paid a lower tax rate than his secretary, butler or chauffeur.
***After telling us about the giant statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il that were unveiled in North Korea, Richard Engel said, "You can't make this stuff up."  Why not?  The Nightly News producers  make stuff up all the time.  In fact, Engel himself has even been known to make stuff up.  On the 12/31/10 Nightly News, Engel reported a story about added security measures being implemented in and around New York City.  Engel told us that, "On the Hudson River...a barge and crane are...constructing a major anti-terrorism upgrade to New York's underwater subway line."  Actually, the NYC subway system does not go under the Hudson River to New Jersey.  The upgrade was to the PATH train, which is completely separate from the NYC subway.  No big deal--it was New Year's Eve.  Engel was probably drunk.  So go ahead, Richard, make up more stuff.  We don't care.
***Brian then told us that according to a NHTSA study, women drivers hit the wrong pedal more than men, but men cause more accidents.  Brian loves to report these types of stories that pit men against women.  On Jan. 30, he reported on a British study that concluded that women were better parkers than men.  On Jan. 23, he told us that men have a higher tolerance for pain than women.  Why does he insist on reporting these stupid, divisive stories?  Is it because he liked those Miller Lite "tastes great, less filling" ads of the 1970's?  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 final story was one that Brian described as "amazing" three different times.  Okay--we got it after the second "amazing".  It was about a couple who found out after they had been married for years that they both had ancestors who survived the sinking of the Titanic.  I must say that I was very surprised by this story.  I expected the producers to include a gratuitous clip of James Cameron's "Titanic", but instead, they included a gratuitous clip from the 1958 Titanic movie "A Night To Remember".  I guess the producers have a few tricks left up their sleeves after all.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

NBC Nightly News Disrespects Thomas Kinkade, Plugs "Mockingbird" On USA

As Nightly News weekend anchor Lester Holt introduced Saturday's story about the death of artist Thomas Kinkade, a graphic over Holt's left shoulder read "Thomas Kinkaid [sic] 1958-2012".  They misspelled his name!  It is just appalling that the Nightly News producers cannot even manage to correctly spell Mr. Kinkade's name in his own obituary.  Appalling, but hardly surprising.  Nightly News broadcasts are rife with spelling, grammar, math and factual errors.  Can you imagine ABC or CBS misspelling Kinkade's name?  I can't.  Apparently, the Nightly News producers are too busy concentrating on promoting NBC's sports and entertainment programming to bother checking their spelling.  I guess they have their priorities.

Speaking of which, the final story on Saturday's Nightly News was a two-and-a-half minute "news story" about the 50th anniversary of the film version of "To Kill A Mockingbird".  Why on earth would a news broadcast commemorate the film version of a famous book, rather than the book itself (Harper Lee's book was published two years earlier)?  It doesn't make any sense.  But of course, as is the case with virtually every story that airs on Nightly News, there was an ulterior motive.  In this case, Lester Holt rabidly plugged Saturday's USA Network screening of "Mockingbird" for one reason only--because USA is owned by Comcast/NBC Universal.  Of course, Holt never mentioned this to the viewers.  Neither did he mention that "Mockingbird" was released by Universal Pictures, also a Comcast/NBC Universal company.  He intentionally withheld this information to trick the viewers into believing that this was an actual news story, rather than a shameless plug.  So this story amounts to a two-and-a-half minute commercial for an NBC Universal film which will be airing on an NBC Universal TV network.  That is just sleazy.  Holt and his producers should be ashamed of themselves.  But of course they're not.  Their main job is to relentlessly promote NBC properties.  It doesn't bother them in the least that their broadcast constantly ignores real news in order to self-promote.  Well, what do you expect--weasels will be weasels.

Meanwhile, this month PBS is airing an excellent "American Masters" episode called "Hey Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill A Mockingbird".  But of course Lester never mentioned it because PBS is not owned by Comcast/ NBC Universal.