Friday, May 25, 2012

Brian Williams & NBC Nightly News Show Notes: 5/19/12 Through 5/25/12 (Revised--Full Week)

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

Sat. May 19--Surprise--there was no Nightly News this day because of the Preakness.  Once again, NBC devoted two hours to a two-minute horse race.  What a great allocation of programming time.
Sun. May 20--A one-minute story about Tropical Storm Alberto featured The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore outdoors in Charleston, South Carolina.  As we watched Cantore, there was no rain, no wind, no evidence of a storm.  So even why bother reporting this non-event?  Here's why: Because NBC Universal spent $3.5 billion to buy The Weather Channel and they make sure they damn well use it--every night, whether or not it's necessary.  It's pathetic how much time Nightly News wastes on weather events solely to justify NBC Universal's purchase.  By the way, one of NBC Universal's partners in the Weather Channel acquisition was Bain Capital--well known these days as Mitt Romney's former firm.  I have never once heard Brian Williams or anyone else on Nightly News offer that disclosure when reporting on Mitt Romney's association with Bain.  I guess it must have slipped Brian's mind.
***Lester Holt spent 35 seconds reporting the death of the Bee Gees' Robin Gibb.  Fair enough--Gibb deserves that much time.  But something tells me this may become relevant on Monday.
***Lester then told us about the "spectacular" eclipse that was happening that night.  Yeah--we know because Brian already told us about it on Friday.  As usual, Brian's childish fixation on space events means that we are forced to see reports on these events almost every night.
***This next story was hilarious.  Lester took 55 seconds to report that Brian Williams had delivered the commencement address at George Washington University's graduation.  This "news story" included a thirty-second excerpt from Brian's pompous self-involved speech.  In this brief excerpt, he used the word "us" five times and the word "I" twice.  Hardly surprising.  There's nothing Brian likes reporting on more than himself.  Obviously, Brian ordered his producers to feature his address as a news story because of his raging, out-of-control narcissism.  And I'm certain that this isn't the last time we'll see Brian deliver his speech on Nightly News.  Mark my words--I guarantee that it will appear again.
***After that, Lester told us about a Babe Ruth game-worn jersey that sold for more than $4.4 million at auction.  This story was given 23 seconds.  The previous story about Brian's commencement speech was given 55 seconds.  So I guess that means that Brian is twice as important as Babe Ruth.  At least that's the case if you ask Brian.  Lester began this story by saying, "Eight decades after his last major league at-bat, Babe Ruth is still the king."  Actually, Ruth's last major league at-bat was in 1935.  That was 77 years earlier--not eight decades.  Can someone please buy Lester a baseball stat book?
***Next, Lester spent 45 seconds recapping the Preakness.  Since the horse that won--I'll Have Another--also won the Kentucky Derby, there's a chance that we could have a Triple Crown winner this year.  And which network is televising the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown?  That would be NBC.  So this was just a 45-second promo for an upcoming NBC event.  And just in case we missed the point, Lester ended the story by telling us that the Belmont Stakes airs June 9--on NBC.  Shameless.
***The final story was a 2:20 piece about Mark Zuckerberg's exciting week.  First Facebook goes public, then he gets married!  Awesome!  This wasn't a news story, it was a pop culture fluff profile.  The story included clips from the Zuckerberg bio-pic "The Social Network".  Let me make sure I understand this.  There's probably hundreds of hours of video of the actual Zuckerberg, but the idiot Nightly News producers felt the need to use clips from a movie.  Well, we all know that the Nightly News formula includes the frequent use of movie and TV clips because that helps boost the ratings.  So why should we expect that to change?
Mon. May 21--Here's how Brian introduced a story about Newark Mayor Cory Booker's appearance on "Meet The Press": "And it's happened again--Sunday morning on 'Meet The Press' it was another comment by a politician was rather stunning at first...."  So as far as Brian is concerned, the big story was not what Booker said, but that it was said on MTP.  Typical self-promotional bullshit from NBC's chief carnival barker.  Actually, what Booker said was important, but not only for the reasons described by Peter Alexander.  Booker expressed his distaste for the way in which Pres. Obama has criticized Mitt Romney for his work with Bain Capital.  Furthermore, Booker actually praised Bain for their work in helping small businesses.  Okay--one of Pres. Obama's main supporters voiced some criticism towards the President.  That's news.  But there's another aspect to this story.  As I mentioned earlier, Bain Capital was NBC Universal's partner in their acquisition of The Weather Channel.  So playing up Booker's criticism of Obama's attack on Bain--and emphasizing Booker's praise of Bain--amounts to a defense of Bain by NBC.  And again, Brian's refusal to disclose that NBC is a business partner of Bain fails the ethical smell test.  Once again, Nightly News is reporting news not objectively, but in a way that supports its own interests.
***Brian reported on Mark Zuckerberg's wedding, a story that Nightly News had already covered on Sunday.
***Brian then reported on the sentencing of Dharun Ravi, the Rutgers student who surreptitiously recorded his roommate's liaison with another man just days before the roommate killed himself.  During this story, a Nightly News graphic spelled Ravi's first name as "Dhuran".  Maybe the producers thought he was in the band Dhuran Dhuran.  It's pathetic that the producers can't even manage to correctly spell the name of the defendant in a trial they're covering.
***After that, Brian read an obituary for Robin Gibb.  Where have I heard that before?  Oh yeah--now I remember.  Lester read Gibb's obit on Sunday's Nightly News.  Obviously, Brian doesn't consider a story to be reported unless he personally reports it. 
***Next, Brian told us about the death of Eugene Polley, who had invented the cordless TV remote control.  Here's what Brian said about Polley: "He is the reason behind a lot of large behinds in this country."  What a dignified way to memorialize someone.  And what a dignified thing for a network news anchor to say.  But as we all know, Brian is more concerned with impressing the viewers by saying things he believes are clever and less concerned with dignity.
***Brian spent 30 seconds recapping the results of Sunday's Preakness race.  Hmmm...again, this sounds familiar.  That's because Lester already reported the Preakness results on Sunday's Nightly News.  But of course, the purpose of this story was to again promote the Belmont Stakes (June 9 on NBC), so we can expect Brian to repeat this story many more times before then.  Promoting NBC's sports and entertainment programming is one of Brian's main jobs as Nightly News anchor.
***Speaking of which--Brian then told us all about Kristen Wiig's final Saturday Night Live show.  He called it a "poignant, tear-streaked moment".  Remember when news anchors reported news instead of telling us how we're supposed to feel about it?  But then again, a real news anchor would never waste our time with this silly self-promotional non-story.  Is there any chance that Brian would have bothered reporting it if it didn't take place on NBC?  Of course not.
***The broadcast ended with a two-minute story about Sunday's eclipse.  This is the third eclipse story Nightly News has done in four days (and remember--there was no Nightly News on Saturday).  And in keeping with his practice of telling us how we should feel about things, Brian described it as "spectacular"--a word he uses all the time to convey his personal impression of various space events.  The story was titled "Ring of Fire"--the name of a popular song recorded by Johnny Cash (among others).  The Nightly News producers frequently give their stories titles that are lifted from songs, TV shows or movies in order to make them sound more interesting to the viewers (if viewers are more interested, the ratings go up).  So altogether, Brian reported four stories (Mark Zuckerberg's wedding, Robin Gibb's death, the Preakness, the eclipse) that had already been reported Sunday on Nightly News.  Those four stories represent 4:10 of news time that was spent on re-runs.  Here's a suggestion: Instead of reporting re-runs, how about reporting on Africa, Europe and Eastern Asia--regions that are routinely ignored by Brian and his producers.  But then again, most of the stories on Nightly News--re-runs or otherwise--are reported for their ratings value, not their news value.  That's the Nightly News way.
Tues. May 22--The lead story was the woman on a U.S. Air flight that was acting irrationally and claiming that she had a surgically-implanted device inside her.  It was titled "Air Scare" because the goal of the Nightly News producers is to scare viewers away from changing the channel.  Making a minor event sound alarmist is good for ratings.
***Remember last May 25 when Brian shamelessly exploited poor Bethany Lansaw, whose husband was killed while protecting her during the tornado in Joplin, Missouri three days earlier?  What a shameless and grotesque exploitation of this poor woman's suffering.  What a horrible thing to put her through.  She was 24 or 48 hours removed from tragically losing her husband (depending on when that interview was taped) and Brian was right there like a scavenging vulture to take advantage of her misfortune in order to gain a few ratings points.  Well, guess what?  He's at it again.  He spent three minutes re-visiting Lansaw a year later, because dredging up her misery means nothing to Brian as long as it helps his ratings.  Appalling.  There's a special place in hell reserved for Brian Williams.  Naturally, as Brian was introducing this story, the box over his left shoulder showed video clips from his 2011 interview with Lansaw.  So Brian's image was on-screen twice at the same time.  That sounds about right for a raging egomaniac.  This follow-up story also included a significant amount of footage from the 2011 story (including lots of clips of Brian), because Brian's goal at all times is to call attention to himself--even when he's preying on the suffering of others.
***Next, it was time for another alarmist health-scare story.  This one was about the link between sleep apnea and cancer.  The message of this story: If you snore or don't feel rested after sleep, you're going to get cancer.  Like the "Air Scare" story earlier, these alarmist stories keep viewers from changing the channel because we want to find out if we're going to die soon.  As usual, this story also had an alarmist title: "Cancer Risk?"  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.
***After that, Brian took 45 seconds to tell us that traffic congestion dropped 30% since last year.  Is this really a story that needs to be reported on a network news broadcast?  It doesn't matter.  Brian gets to report whatever he wants.
***Speaking of which, here's what Brian reported next: Airlines will start charging a fee for consecutive seats so families will have to pay more to sit together.  This is a ridiculous non-story.  People will find about the fees when they book their flights, and there's really not much they can do about it.  Nevertheless, this silly story was given a whopping 2:10 of air time.  Why?  Because Brian is obsessed with the airline industry and feels compelled to report every bit of airline news, no matter how irrelevant.  And here's how Brian introduced the story: "Here we are in the era of airline fees--the era of paying for any and every extra that the airlines can get out of US."  Us?  Really?  Are airline fees a problem for Brian and his $15 million annual salary?  And how often does he even fly commercial?  Comcast and NBC have corporate jets specially reserved for bigwigs like Brian and Matt Lauer so they don't have to mingle with the riff-raff at airports.
***Later, Brian spent 30 seconds telling us about a Kansas couple whose wedding photo and video featured a tornado in the background.  I'm not sure why this was on a newscast, but I assume it was because Brian wanted it on.  That's the only reason necessary.
***Next, he spent 40 seconds telling us about an app that displays eating habits around the country.  He ended the story by saying, "Graphic evidence of your potato chips, your Mallomars, your Haagen-Dazs."  So it's just a coincidence that he mentioned those two brands by name, right?  Wrong.  It was another calculated product placement by the marketing geniuses at NBC Nightly News, who constantly strive to turn their broadcast into one massive commercial for their best advertisers.  Mallomars are manufactured by food behemoth Kraft, and Haagen-Dazs is jointly controlled (in the U.S.) by Nestle and General Mills.  How much money do those companies spend each year advertising on all of the Comcast/NBC Universal television networks?  It's not just NBC, CNBC and MSNBC.  Comcast/NBC also owns Bravo, Chiller, Oxygen, Cloo (formerly Sleuth), SyFy, Telemundo, MUN2, The Weather Channel, USA, E!, The Golf Channel, The Style Network and NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus).  Comcast/NBC also has an ownership interest in A&E Networks, which includes The History Channel, The Biography Channel and Lifetime.  So when Brian mentions a specific consumer product, it's not random.  It's done as a thank-you to the product's manufacturer for all the advertising dollars they spend with Comcast/NBC.  There are no accidents on Nightly News.
***Brian then took 25 seconds to tell us about a man at a Cincinnati Reds game who caught two back-to-back home run balls in the same inning.  Because Nightly News is all about the hard news.
***The final story if the night was about a hearing-impaired high school pitcher in New Jersey.  That's great.  We all wish him luck.  But this isn't news and it doesn't belong on a news broadcast.  Of course, Brian and his producers don't care about news.  Their primary concern is getting high ratings by airing sappy, feel-good stories like this one.  So mission accomplished!
Wed. May 23--The lead stories were about the "Facebook Fallout".  I almost fell out of my chair when I heard Brian say this to Andrew Ross Sorkin: "So correct me if I'm wrong--is this a case of the rich get richer--another advantage to the 1%....?"  Um, note to Brian: YOU'RE IN THE 1%!  Actually, he's probably in the .1% or maybe even in the  .01%.  He's the super-rich.  Yet night after night he pretends to be a good old reg'lar guy.  He dons the persona of a character in a Springsteen song, like he gets up in the morning, puts on his work boots, heads out to the factory, punches the time clock, works nine hours, punches out when the whistle blows and goes out with his buddies for beers.  What a joke.  Does he really believe that anyone buys this bullshit act?  How many shares of Facebook did Brian buy?  I mean how many thousands of shares?  Puh-leeze!
***In a story about the Secret Service prostitution scandal, as Pete Williams was talking about prostitutes, the producers showed video of the legs of women sunning themselves at a pool.  Their faces were not shown, but they looked like college kids on vacation.  Since when did vacationers' legs become the universal symbol for prostitutes?  Only on Nightly News.  And the producers do this every time they report on the Secret Service scandal.  If they have footage of prostitutes, then they should use it.  If not, stop showing regular women as stand-ins for hookers.  I hope those women sue NBC for character defamation.
***Just in case we weren't sufficiently scared on Tuesday, the producers ran another "Air Scare" story about the deranged woman on a U.S. Air flight who claimed to have a device surgically implanted in her body.  Remember, scared viewers equal high ratings.
***The next story was about the elections in Egypt.  The first 15 seconds of the story--during Brian's introduction--consisted of old video (from February, 2011) of Brian walking around Tahrir Square talking to Egyptian people.  What a fucking egomaniac!  He never misses an opportunity to show old video of himself.  Just when I think Brian can't get any more narcissistic, he outdoes himself.
***A story about new additions to the Library of Congress was just an excuse to show clips of Donna Summer and "A Charlie Brown Christmas".  Because pop culture gets good ratings. 
***Brian took 30 seconds to tell us the important news that United Airlines will no longer allow pre-boarding for parents with small children.  Once again, Brian's obsession with the airline industry has caused him to report an item with little news value.  But that's what Nightly News is about--allowing Brian to report stuff that's important to HIM.
***Speaking of which--the next story was about Prince Charles taking a turn as a DJ.  Zero news value, but Brian is completely obsessed with the British Royal family.  Remember Brian's May 10 story about Prince Charles filling in as a weatherman for the BBC in Scotland?  Brian spent twice as much time on that story as BBC World News America--and they're a British newscast!  So obviously Prince Charles spinning some discs merits coverage on Nightly News.  Because Brian said so.
***The broadcast ended with a story about "Fifty Shades of Grey"--the porn novel for women.  This is what you would call a no-brainer for Brian and his producers.  It's certainly not news, but porn is titillating, so this story undoubtedly generated good ratings for Nightly News.  The story was reported by the idiotic Anne Thompson.  I'm sure she was intimately familiar with "Fifty Shades", since she seems like she hasn't had a boyfriend in a long, long time.
Thurs. May 24--The broadcast began with more than four minutes devoted to the weather.  The hell with all the important news stories going on across the country and around the world--Brian and his producers decided to spend four minutes promoting The Weather Channel.  The first two-and-a-half minutes was a pointless segment that recapped the "extreme weather" of the past 12 months and featured some weather experts who told us that this year we would see a normal hurricane season.  So last year's weather re-runs and a prediction of a normal season somehow qualifies as news.
***Next, Brian spent 25 seconds kissing Rick Knabb's ass: "And with us tonight, the hurricane expert at The Weather Channel who we are proud to say has been selected and is about to become the new director of the National Hurricane Center.  And Rick, can you blame a civilian like me for askin' a guy like you--in light of...we saw New England torn up this year, Joplin, Tuscaloosa, all the severe weather--why wouldn't that mean an equally severe hurricane season en route?"  Actually, I can answer Brian's obsequious, idiotic question: Because one year's hurricane activity is in no way a determinant of the following year's hurricane activity.  Any other stupid questions?  And did you notice how Brian intentionally referred to himself as a "civilian"?  That's just another calculated way for him to try to paint himself as a regular old working class guy.  Yep--Brian is a good old boy, just like all of us.  And just to drive the point home, Brian said "askin'", not "asking".  Because working-class stiffs don't pronounce their g's.  What a phony.
***During Andrea Mitchell's story about growing tension between the U.S. and Pakistan, we were shown an excerpt from her MSNBC show, "Andrea Mitchell Reports".  But in the on-screen credit line, there were no quotes around the show's title.  Quote marks around show titles are arbitrary.  They're at the whim of the Nightly News producers.  Sometimes they're there, sometimes not.  Whatever.
***After Mitchell's story, Brian took 22 seconds to make excuses for not having Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on the broadcast (apparently he was scheduled to appear).  Yeah, we get it.  The dog ate your homework.  But if the viewers didn't know that Panetta was supposed to appear, why even bother mentioning it?  Because Brian likes making himself sound important by talking about his interviews (real or imagined) with government officials.
***A story about the New Orleans newspaper The Times-Picayune was just an excuse for Brian to fawningly pander to that city: "Bad news arrived today from a great American city where this broadcast has spent a lot of time and put down roots, really, in the years since Hurricane Katrina.  New Orleans, Louisiana is easy to love, it's a city full of survivors who believe the good times must roll on...."  How sickening.  Brian is using the Katrina disaster to make himself seem like the savior of New Orleans.  Put down roots?  Really?  I'd like to see the paperwork on that.
***Brian took 30 seconds to report the important story that the father of New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady said he might have been hesitant to let his son play football years ago if he knew then what he knows now about the dangers of head injuries and concussions.  This story has zero news value--it's just part of the producers' weaselly scheme to reinforce NBC's high-rated Sunday Night Football broadcasts by reporting on football stories in the off-season.  Just a not-so-subtle reminder to the viewers that it's less than four months until football season begins.  This story was titled "Father Knows Best".  The producers frequently give their stories names taken from TV shows, movies or popular songs because they know that viewers' interest is piqued (and maintained) if they recognize a familiar title.
***The final story was about older actors who are currently appearing in Broadway plays.  This ridiculous story was just an excuse to show celebrities like James Earl Jones, Angela Lansbury and Joel Grey.  Naturally, the story included clips from "Star Wars" (Jones), "Murder, She Wrote" (Lansbury) and "Cabaret" (Grey).  Funny thing--the story was supposed to be about actors on Broadway, yet it included movie and TV clips.  Of course, there's a reason for this.  Plays are seen by far fewer people than movies or TV shows.  So if you want to pander to viewers and boost Nightly News's ratings, you get a much bigger bang for your buck with movie and TV show clips than with Broadway plays.  It's just simple math.
***Before signing off, Brian made sure to show us scenes of service members placing flags at veterans' graves in Arlington Cemetery.  The NBC News research department has informed Brian that pretending to care about veterans causes his ratings to go up.  It's a no-brainer.
Fri. May 25--A story about how travel in Florida this weekend will be affected by fires was titled "Hittin' The Road".  "Hittin'", not "hitting".  Once again, Brian is trying to make himself seem working-class.  Or maybe I should say "workin'-class".
***Next, we got a story about "extreme weather".  Duh.  There's always extreme weather going on somewhere in the country.  The producers like to use the word "extreme" because it implies urgency and therefore keeps the viewers tuned in.  In this case, Jim Cantore told us that it would be hot this weekend and that some areas in the southeast may get rain as a result of tropical depressions.  Thanks for the news flash, dude.  I think our local weather stations have the situation pretty well covered.  Brian made sure to refer to Cantore as "our friend" because he's desperate for the viewers to think that he's well-liked by the people he works with.
***Next, Brian reported on Joe Biden's speech in which the Vice President recounted how he felt forty years ago upon hearing that his wife and daughter had died in a car crash.  During his intro, Brian made sure to tell us that Biden was talking to military families.  And after the clip of Biden's speech, Brian made sure to tell us that Biden had been talking to...military families.  Question for Brian: Was Biden talking to military families?  And as Brian was reporting this story, he had the obligatory animated U.S. flag waving behind him because Brian obviously loves this country so much more than any other network news anchor.  Remember when anchors reported the news, rather than pandered for ratings by pretending to be patriotic?  Brian's insistence on literally wrapping himself in the U.S. flag is pathetic and disgusting.  If this was a Woody Allen movie, Uncle Sam himself would walk onto the Nightly News set and loudly castigate Brian for using the flag as a ratings prop.  If only life were really like that.
***Brian then spent 25 seconds reporting on a new ketchup bottle that allows the ketchup to slide right out instead of coming out in dribs and drabs.  Because Brian is all about the hard news.
***After that, he told us about more tsunami debris that washed ashore in Alaska.  I get the feeling that Brian plans to report every single item of tsunami debris that hits the U.S. shores.  At least that's what he's done so far.  Earlier in the broadcast, he spent 38 seconds reporting on the election in Egypt.  So these two stories about the ketchup bottle and tsunami debris were together given more time than the story on the Egyptian election.  Because Brian has his priorities.
***The next story made me laugh so hard that Diet Fresca came out of my nose.  Brian told us about the high salaries earned by some American CEO's.  Then he told us--with a straight face--that in 2011, the median pay for a CEO was $9.6 million, which amounts to $3,073 per hour.  He added that the average American worker would have to work 244 years to earn that amount, and it would take 636 years for a minimum wage worker.  Meanwhile, Brian earns around $15 million per year--50% more than the average CEO.  So that means that the average American worker would have to work 366 years to earn Brian's one-year salary and a minimum wage worker would have to work 954 years.  I cannot believe that filthy rich multi-millionaire Brian Williams had the nerve to report about the high salaries of American CEO's when he himself earns so much.  His efforts to appear like a regular old wage earner just suffered a significant setback.  But we learned something important about Brian.  His need to brag about his financial success trumps his desire to pretend to be common.  One more fun fact: Assuming Brian anchors 240 broadcasts per year, that would mean he gets paid $62,500 per broadcast.  That's like one-and-a-half times as much as the median U.S. individual income.
***Enough garbage news.  It's time for a really important story.  And here's the breaking news: There was a dog in the Nightly News editorial meeting on Thursday.  So Brian spent 30 seconds telling us about it.  Most of the story was devoted to showing a photo of Brian with the dog.  As we all know, Brian never misses an opportunity to call attention to himself.  This was one of the most sadly egotistical displays I have ever seen on a news broadcast.  It pretty much sums up Brian's mantra: "I love dogs and I love myself."  So this was a story that included his two favorite things.  Bravo.  Well done.  It didn't even seem to matter to Brian that every single person who saw this "news story" thought the exact same thing: Brian Williams is the biggest fucking narcissist on the planet.
***Here's how Brian began the final story: "What may be the party of this Memorial Day weekend will be in San Francisco as that beautiful city celebrates the 75th anniversary of the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge."  Wow.  He took pandering to a new height by using the word "beautiful" twice in one sentence.  I'm surprised he didn't put on a San Francisco Giants cap as he said this.  It's sad what he's willing to do for ratings.
***Because Brian obviously hadn't done enough pandering, he ended the broadcast by saying, "Please pause to remember out veterans."  So now it's an anchor's job to tell us how we should commemorate Memorial Day?  Where does he get the nerve?  As he said this, we were shown re-run footage from the previous night of service members placing flags on veterans' graves at Arlington Cemetery.  Shameless.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Brian Williams & NBC Nightly News Show Notes: 5/12/12 Through 5/18/12 (Revised--Full Week)

The big news on Nightly News this week was horrible diseases.  They told us about Hidden Hazards, Hidden Risks, Hidden Dangers and Health Risks.  The point: Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  Here's all the other great stuff you may have missed:

Sat. May 12 & Sun. May 13--There was no Nightly News scheduled on these days because golf was more important (meaning more profitable).  It seems dishonest to use the word "Nightly" in your newscast's title when it doesn't actually appear on a nightly basis.
Mon. May 14--A preview for a story about the California budget crisis was titled "Dire Straits".  As a ratings ploy, Brian Williams and his producers frequently give their news stories titles that are movies, TV shows, albums or popular group names.  The recognition factor helps ensure that viewers don't change the channel.
***A story on JPMorgan Chase's bad investment decisions was titled "Risky Business".  Brian figured that people would be more likely to stay tuned if they thought there was a chance they might see Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay.
***We saw a 2:50 story about the risks of small children swallowing coin-sized batteries.  The story was titles "Hidden Hazard".  Nightly News runs these alarmist stories all the time.  Similar recent stories include "Hidden Dangers" (of osteoporosis--1/22/12), "Hidden Dangers?" (of lipstick--2/14/12), "Warning Signs?" (of autism--2/17/12), "Hepatitis C Warning" (2/21/12), "Hidden Risks?" (of dirty surgical instruments--2/23/12), "Silent Killer" (heart attacks--2/25/12), "Danger At Sea" (luxury cruises--2/29/12), "Overmedicated?" (drug-resistant infections--3/19/12), "X-Ray Risk?" (overexposure to X-rays--4/10/12) and "Measles Outbreak" (4/19/12).  These stories take small-risk situations (lipstick--really?) and blow them wildly out of proportion in order to scare the viewers.  The formula is always the same--the story is teased at the beginning of the broadcast and then reported later.  Why?  Because a scared viewer will stay tuned in to see what the risk is.  And now add to this list the "Hidden Hazard" of swallowing batteries.  This is what Nightly News wasted nearly three minutes of news time reporting.  Seriously.
***Brian then told us that the "Avengers" movie has topped $1billion in worldwide sales.  This is the fourth story Nightly News has done on the "Avengers" movie in the past ten days.  Why?  Research shows that using lots of movie and TV clips in news stories leads to an increase in ratings.
***Breaking News: Brian then told us about the most popular baby names.  He seemed really disappointed that Brian wasn't at the top of the list.  I mean, he's so damn popular and loved so why aren't people naming their babies after him
***Here's how Brian introduced the next story: "In non-essential food news tonight, confirmation from the Girl Scouts of what A LOT OF US already knew--thin mints are your number one Girl Scout cookie choice...."  Wow--he already knew that!  There's nothing Brian likes more than bragging about how smart he thinks he is.  And by the way--is Brian now going to tell us every time he reports a non-essential news item?  If so, he'll be using that phrase quite a lot each night.  Along with the Girl Scout cookie news, Brian also told us that 7-11 stores will be rolling out a Slurpee Lite.  Because it's always a good idea to give free advertising to regular Nightly News sponsors.
***Brian then reported another story about the World War II plane that was found in the Sahara Desert.  This is the second story about the lost plane he has reported.
***The final story of the night was a real doozy.  It was a 2:20 story about a young woman who won first place on "Britain's Got Talent" by dancing with her dog.  Even if that was all there was to the story, it would be an idiotic waste of time for a news broadcast.  But it was really so much more than that.  Here's how Brian introduced it: "Finally tonight, TV talent shows have become national obsessions.  The new season of 'America's Got Talent' debuts tonight on NBC...."  Ah--I get it.  Brian used an idiotic story about "Britain's Got Talent" as a way to sleazily promote the new season of "America's Got Talent".  How does this sleazebag sleep at night, knowing that he intentionally ignores real news in order to promote NBC entertainment shows?  The FCC should force NBC to remove the word "news" from the title of the show.  Or better yet--shut them down completely.  And just for good measure, the story included clips from "The Artist", "Lassie" and "Rin Tin Tin".  Because viewers like that.  Throughout the broadcast, Brian ran three promos (totalling 20 seconds) for this story.  Meanwhile, Greece is teetering on the brink of collapse, but Brian didn't even mention this.  That's right--he spent more time on promos for the dancing dog story than he spent reporting on Greece.  What a scumbag.
Tues. May 15--In a story about the John Edwards trial, Brian was forced to show a "Nightline" clip.  And moments later, in a story about politics, he was forced to show Pres. Obama's appearance on "The View".  Brian must have been seething at the prospect of having to show two ABC clips.  Brian goes to great lengths to ignore ABC and CBS because he's scared that if he mentions a competing network, viewers will change the channel.  And at the beginning of the Obama story, there was the usual American flag animation waving behind Brian.  It's pathetic that he uses faux-patriotism as a ratings gimmick to attract and maintain viewers.  It reminds me of all those late-night infomercials that use American flags as a sleazy prop to hawk their products.  But I guess when you think about it, Brian is really just an infomercial host.  He's certainly not a journalist.
***A story about JPMorgan Chase was, of course, titled "Risky Business".  Just like the movie.  This is the fourth JPMorgan story to carry that title.
***Brian then took a minute (total) to report on the situation in Greece and on the swearing-in of France's new president, Francois Hollande.  Gee--a whole minute.  Is he sure he can spare that much time?
***Brian spent 30 seconds reporting that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has restricted flights on Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter jets because of problems with the plane's oxygen system.  The following day's New York Times reported that the flight restrictions were a direct result of "a '60 Minutes' program that profiled two pilots who refused to fly the planes because of fears of oxygen deprivation in the cockpit."  Naturally, Brian never mentioned "60 Minutes" in his story  because little children don't like to share credit.
***After that, he spent 1:20 reporting three very important stories.  First, he told us about the best American cities for women to live in.  Then, he showed some Beatles photos that were taken at the time of the Abbey Road album cover.  And he also informed us that Honda is making a Segway-like scooter.  I'm really glad I know that.
***The broadcast ended with a two-and-a-half minute story about France's new first lady, Valerie Trierweiler.  She's elegant and strong-willed!  The story also featured plenty of footage of Carla Bruni, France's former first lady.  She's beautiful and sexy.  Funny thing--Nightly News never profiles frumpy, unattractive women.  Interesting.  Earlier, Brian spent 28 seconds profiling Francois Hollande.  So he devoted five times as much airtime to the French First Lady as he did to the French President.  Good thing he has his priorities straight.
***Here's some of the stories Brian ignored this night: European Union naval forces attacked Somali pirate bases on the mainland; at least 80 Palestinians were injured in clashes with the Israeli army; and Rebekah Brooks testified before the Leveson Inquiry into the News Corp. phone hacking scandal.  Nightly News didn't report any of these stories, but at least we know all about the French First Lady.  Great job, Nightly News producers.
Wed. May 16--The lead story was about the suicide of Mary Richardson Kennedy.  Of course, for Brian this was just an excuse to show lots of footage of John F. Kennedy's funeral, along with clips of Bobby, Ted, Jackie and JFK Jr.  Brian obviously has a raging Kennedy obsession, as evidenced by the 20 Nightly News stories in the past several months that have included Kennedy footage.  I wonder what items Brian purchased in the 1996 Jackie Kennedy Onassis auction.  He probably bought some of Jackie's nightclothes so he could make his wife wear them to bed.  Gross.
***Run for your lives!  It's the Flesh Eating Bacteria!  Another exploitative Nightly News story meant to scare us.  This disease is extremely rare, but they reported on it like it's as common as a cold.  What's next--a medical report on how not to be turned into a zombie?  Maybe I shouldn't have said that--I don't want to give the producers any ideas.
***After that, Brian spent 25 seconds reporting on a settlement to be paid out by the makers of Skechers sneakers for using false health claims in their ads.  The story included clips from a Skechers ad featuring Kim Kardashian, which was obviously the only reason Brian even bothered to report this story.
***Time for another kids-with-cancer story.  An existing lung cancer drug was discovered to be effective in fighting lymphoma in children.  That's great.  Nightly News loves to exploit kids with cancer for ratings because these stories earn high viewership due to the sympathy factor. 
***Brian's Kennedy obsession is nothing compared with his Medal of Honor obsession.  He pretends to care about MOH recipients because it makes him appear patriotic and because these stories earn high ratings.  And also because MOH recipients are everything Brian will never be: Brave, selfless, humble.  Here's how he began the story about a posthumous MOH that was awarded to the widow of a Vietnam War veteran: "There was not a dry eye in the East Room of the White House today--it's always the most emotional of White House ceremonies when a president awards the Medal of Honor...."  Not a dry eye?  Really?  In the footage that accompanied Brian's sappy report, I saw plenty of dry eyes.  But that's the thing about Brian--he never lets the facts get in the way of a good story.
***Did you know that according to a New England Journal of Medicine report, coffee drinkers live longer than non-coffee drinkers?  Now you know.  Because Brian told us this very important news.
***Here's how Brian introduced the next segment: "Couple of great videos getting heavy circulation on the web...."  He then proceeded to spend a minute showing us a Dutch soccer player who was consoled by his daughter after a tough loss and a video about the secret lives of cats.  Apparently, Brian doesn't understand the difference between a news broadcast and YouTube.  The former is for important news stories that affect the world, and the latter is for idiotic videos that make people say "oh, how cute!"  It's shameful that a news anchor wastes so much valuable time on garbage every night.
***Speaking of which: The final story was about efforts to lure swallows back to the Mission San Juan Capistrano after an absence of several years.  This silly story was given 2:20 of news time.  Meanwhile, Brian did not report a single foreign news story this night.  Oh wait--my bad.  He told us all about the Dutch soccer player comforted by his daughter.  That's what passes for foreign news on Nightly News.  Some real foreign news that Nightly News ignored: The Ratko Mladich trial began at The Hague, a Greek caretaker Prime Minister was sworn in, and fighting between soldiers and rebels has resumed in the Congo.  Brian didn't report any of these stories because he was too busy telling us about Kim Kardashian, coffee drinkers and the secret lives of cats.
Thurs. May 17--A story about the political and economic situation in Greece was titled "Greek Tragedy" because the Nightly News producers think it's very important to come up with what they believe are clever story titles.  Maybe if they spent less time on the titles and more time on the actual stories, they'd do a better job of informing their viewers.  The story began, naturally, with video of the Olympic torch being handed off to Princess Anne because promoting the London Olympics is NBC's main goal from now on.  In 2010, during the Vancouver Games (and including the weeks before and after the Games), Nightly News devoted 160 minutes to Olympic-related stories.  I can only imagine how much time they will devote to promoting the London Games.
***During the Greece story, we saw some commentary from Uri Dadush, who was identified as being from the "Carnegie Endowment for Int'l P...."  We couldn't read the last word of his description because it just faded away into nothingness.  All we know is that it began with a "P".  So what was it?  The Carnegie Endowment for Int'l Pancake Making?  Int'l Parcheesi Players?  Int'l Palindrome Creators?  I guess we'll never know.
***Hey!  Guess what?  It's time for another story on Tsunami debris from Japan!  Nightly News leads all networks in reporting this story.  Every time a gum wrapper or plastic spoon washes up on the west coast, Brian tells us about it.  Thanks!  Good to know.
***OMG!  There's a Health Risk that the antibiotic Azithromycin (also known as Zithromax or the Z-Pak) can cause sudden cardiac death!  We know this because the words "Health Risk" appeared over Brian's left shoulder in giant letters as he was introducing the story.  And at the beginning of the broadcast, as Brian teased this story, the words "Hidden Risk" appeared next to him.  So there's a Health Risk and a Hidden Risk!  Wow.  The 2/23/12 Nightly News story about the dangers of dirty surgical instruments warned only of a Hidden Risk, so this antibiotic must be extra risky.  We can add this to all the other ridiculous alarmist medical stories Nightly News has done in order to scare us into watching.  By the way, here's how Brian introduced this story: "Today's health news story hit a lot of US where WE live.  It's about the antibiotic a lot of US ask for by name...."  Us.  We.  Once again, the news is about Brian.
***An obituary for Donna Summer included commentary from the entertainment editor of  That's an interesting choice, as opposed to interviewing someone from Vibe or The Source--two of the largest and most influential magazines and websites that cover African American culture and music.  But of course those magazines aren't owned by Comcast NBC Universal.  The is owned by NBC, and of course the main goal of the Nightly News producers is to promote NBC properties, not to provide information from the most reliable sources.
Fri. May 18--In the lead story about Facebook going public, we were told that the initial stock valuation made it more valuable than McDonald's.  Of course, this was just a sleazy excuse for the producers to put the McDonald's logo up on the screen.  Nightly News makes a point of promoting McDonald's as often as possible because they are one of the biggest advertisers on the Comcast NBC Universal networks.  So the producers are just doing a favor for a good friend.  How thoughtful of them.
***Today's alarmist medical story is the "Hidden Danger" that Hepatitis C poses to baby boomers.  At the beginning of the broadcast, it was also described as a "Health Risk".  The producers seem to be repeating themselves a lot.  They already used "Hidden Danger" (or "Dangers") for the 1/22/12 osteoporosis story and the 2/14/12 lipstick story.  And they used "Health Risk" just one day earlier for the Azithromycin story.  Can't they come up with some new phrases to try to scare us?  I guess not.  We know from all the spelling mistakes on Nightly News that the producers don't know how to use a dictionary, so why should we expect them to know how to use a thesaurus?  By the way, Nightly News also did a story about Hepatitis C on 2/21/12.  Back then, they titled it "Hepatitis C Warning".  So in three months, it's gone from a warning to a risk.  That sounds serious.
***Lester Holt (substituting for Brian) then told us about the "stunning eclipse" that would be visible this weekend on the west coast.  Brian and Lester frequently use words like "stunning", "terrific" and "spectacular" to describe things they like (usually space-related events).  Apparently, they don't understand that the role of a news anchor is to provide us with information, not to tell us how we're supposed to feel about things.
***A story about SpaceX founder Elon Musk included clips from the "Iron Man" movie because Musk was supposedly the inspiration for the Tony Stark character in the movie.  Of course, the producers look for any excuse to include movie clips in their stories because it keeps viewers tuned in and keeps the ratings high.  Well done.  [Editors Note: On Tuesday (5/22), Scott Pelley did a three-minute profile of Musk on The CBS Evening News.  There was no mention of Iron Man, and there were no clips from the movie.  Obviously, CBS is interested in reporting news while NBC is interested in pumping up their ratings with gratuitous movie and TV clips.]
***Next, we saw a 2:15 "news story" about a retired Army colonel who was cast in the "Battleship" movie despite having lost both his legs in combat.  The story contained plenty of clips from the movie, which was--surprise--released by Universal Pictures, which is owned by NBC Universal (at least correspondent Mara Schiavocampo was honest enough to admit this).  So this story was just a big fat promotional ad for a Universal movie.  Nice.  [Editor's Note: "Battleship" earned an anemic $25 million during its premier weekend, so Nightly News's efforts to promote the film apparently had no effect on ticket sales.]
***The final story was a "Making A Difference" piece about a man in Kentucky who bought out the remaining stock from a soon-to-close Kmart store and donated it all to charity.  That's a nice thing to do, but how is this news?  It isn't.  But sappy feelgood stories like this one get better ratings than actual news, so the producers make sure to constantly include these stories in the broadcast.  Because Nightly News is a joke and the producers are more interested in getting high ratings than reporting news.  This MAD piece was sponsored by Phillips Colon Health, which seems appropriate, since the story was really just a load of crap.  At one point in the story, we saw a clip of an interview with a woman named Camille Colon.  I suspect that that isn't her real name, but rather was made up by the producers to help promote Phillips Colon Health.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Brian Williams & NBC Nightly News Show Notes: 5/5/12 Through 5/11/12 (Revised--Full Week)

Big news on NBC Nightly News this week: "The Avengers", the Supermoon and promoting NBC sponsors.  Not big news: Iran, Iraq, Syria and most other foreign stories.  Here's what you may have missed on the broadcast this past week:

Sat. May 5--There was no Nightly News because of NBC's Kentucky Derby coverage, which ran from 4:00-7:00 PM on the east coast.  So NBC devoted three hours to a two-minute horse race.  That would be the equivalent of devoting 360 hours to a four-hour football game.  Maybe I shouldn't say anything--I don't want to give NBC any ideas for the 2015 Super Bowl.
Sun. May 6--The lead story was the presidential election in France.  In the preview at the top of the broadcast, an on-screen graphic described this election as a "Political Earthquake".  What a joke.  Nightly News completely ignored the French election all through the campaign.  They did not report a single story about it until today, yet they describe it as a "Political Earthquake".  If it's such a "Political Earthquake", shouldn't they have reported on it sooner?  This is typical of Nightly News's method of operation.  They ignore an important story for weeks or months, and then jump on the bandwagon and pretend that they're "all over it".  What a bunch of phonies and hypocrites.  The FCC should require the producers to run a disclaimer stating, "By the way, we've ignored this story for the past three months because it wouldn't have generated the high ratings that we get from idiotic stories about whales, penguins, Kate Middleton and hit movies."
***A 2:15 story about security at the London Olympics was, of course, just another opportunity for the Nightly News producers to promote NBC's upcoming Olympic coverage.
***Lester Holt took 30 seconds to read an obituary for George Lindsey (who played Goober on "The Andy Griffith Show").   The producers always pack their broadcast with old TV and movie clips because that's a sure way to boost the ratings.
***Lester then spent 25 seconds telling us that the National Christmas Tree had died.  Because apparently, this is news at NBC.
***And he spent an additional 20 seconds reporting that the new "Avengers" movie took in over $200 million at the domestic box office over the weekend.  Obviously, showing clips from hit movies generates good ratings for the broadcast.
***The final story of the night was a two-minute story about the Supermoon.  The story was titled "Moonstruck".  This title is a calculated ratings ploy by the producers because they understand that using movie titles for their stories strikes a chord of recognition with the viewers and taps into their thirst for entertainment stories.  Throughout the broadcast, we were shown three promos (totalling 30 seconds) for the Supermoon story.  So the Nightly News producers spent more time promoting the Supermoon story than they spent reporting on Iran, Iraq or Syria (no stories on those countries were reported this night).  But at least we know all about Goober's death, the National Christmas Tree, "The Avengers" and the Supermoon.  Great work, Nightly News producers.
Mon. May 7--I love Pete Williams!  Once again, he refused to respond to Brian Williams's treacly "Good evening, Pete".  Instead of saying "Good evening, Brian", he just launched right into his story about the thwarted al-Qaeda bomb plot.  Man, how Pete must despise Brian.  I think that just below camera level, Pete is giving Brian the finger.
***Here's what Brian said while interviewing counterterrorism expert Michael Leiter about the bomb plot: "Final quick question--for those of US who fly--WE saw the liquid ban after one attempt--WE saw other security measures after the so-called underwear bomb attempt--do you think WE will see evidence at an airport near us in the future that comes out of this intercept today?"  Us, we.  Is there any doubt that the news is first and foremost about Brian?  By the way, for those of you who were wondering: Brian didn't literally kiss Leiter's ass.  Only figuratively.
***Brian devoted 2:20 to the elections in France and Greece.  This was only the second Nightly News story about the French election.  By comparison, Nightly News has reported nine stories about the Northern Lights, five stories about the President singing Al Green and four stories about homeless high school student Samantha Garvey.  Obviously, Brian has his priorities straight.
***A story about obesity in America included a clip from a Taco Bell commercial.  So feigning concern about the obesity problem is really just an excuse for the producers to show a paid product placement for a regular NBC Universal sponsor.  Nice.
***Brian spent 35 seconds telling us about an 18-wheeler that was hit by a train in North Carolina (no one was injured).  Obviously, Brian doesn't understand the difference between local news and national news.
***Next, he spent 33 seconds reporting on a 17-inning baseball game between the Red Sox and the Orioles.  Wow.  Glad I know about that.
***And then he spent 30 seconds telling us that the new "Avengers" movie earned more that $200 million in domestic box office receipts over the weekend.  That sounds familiar.  Where have I heard that before?  Oh yeah--Lester reported the exact same story on Sunday.  But a story doesn't really count unless Brian himself reports it.  This is the third "Avengers" story Nightly News has done--that's one more story than they've done about the French election.
***SUPERMOON ALERT!!!  SUPERMOON ALERT!!!  Here's what Brian said: "This was a big weekend for moon watchers--it's like everyone realized all over again the incredible joy the nighttime sky can bring."  And I'm sure everyone realized all over again what an incredible asshole Brian is.  Naturally, this Supermoon story was also titled "Moonstruck".  Because, that's like, you know, a movie we all love.  This is the fourth Supermoon story Nightly News has done in the past five days--that's two more stories than they've done about the French election.
***The broadcast ended with a "news story" about the restoration of the boat that was used in the movie "The African Queen".  Really.  I mean it.  I'm not kidding.  This is what merits 2:12 on Nightly News.  Meanwhile, also on this day, Syria held sham parliamentary elections.  Nightly News ignored this story, but at least Brian told us all about "The Avengers", the Supermoon and "The African Queen".  I honestly can't understand why thousands of irate viewers aren't marching on 30 Rock with torches and pitchforks demanding the heads of Brian Williams and NBC News President Steve Capus for airing an idiotic fake news broadcast every night.  Come on, people--Occupy 30 Rock!
Tues. May 8--Pete Williams rocks!  For the second consecutive night, he dissed Brian.  I thought I saw Pete mouth the words "Fuck you, Brian".  But I could be mistaken.
***In a story about falling gas prices, Brian said, "It all means WE may not see the apocalyptic predictions of $5.00 a gallon gas this summer."  Wait a second!  Brian is one of the screaming alarmists who were making those predictions!  In February and March, Nightly News reported ten stories on rising gas prices, and most of those stories tried to scare us into believing we would soon be paying $5.00 a gallon.  What a hypocrite.  And a narcissist--once again he managed to use the word "we".  I'm sure that Brian and his 8-figure salary wouldn't even notice $5.00-a-gallon prices.  His chauffeur probably pays for gas and gets reimbursed directly from Brian's accountant.
***Here's how Brian began his obituary for children's author Maurice Sendak: "There was a lot of sadness among adults who were once kids themselves...."  As opposed to whom?  Adults who weren't kids?
***Before the first commercial break, Brian previewed the upcoming "Making A Difference" story.  But instead of showing footage from that story, the producers accidentally showed one of the blue Nightly News internal production cards for a different story.  Once again, the producers must have fallen asleep in the control room.  Probably from boredom.
***Next, Brian spent 30 seconds telling us that March and April saw above-average temperatures.  "Government weather experts are out with the numbers tonight for April confirming what a lot of us already knew--it was warm."  There's nothing Brian likes more than telling us how much he knows about stuff and how much of an expert he is on various subjects.
***After that, Brian read an obituary for game show creator Bob Stewart.  Because creating "Password" and "The Price Is Right" are really outstanding achievements that deserve to be honored on a network news broadcast.
***Then he read an obit for James Browning, who held the bible during John F. Kennedy's swearing-in ceremony.  Because of his creepy JFK obsession, Brian will report an obit for anyone who was ever photographed with JFK.  This is the 19th Nightly News story since September to include clips of JFK or Jackie.  I'm pretty certain that Brian makes his wife dress up in Oleg Cassini dresses and pillbox hats while talking with a Boston accent so he can pretend that he's in bed with Jackie.
***The next story was one of the most unintentionally funny things I have ever seen on Nightly News.  I almost spit root beer out of my nose when I heard Brian say, "There is fascinating new research that shows--thanks to the folks at Science magazine--what happens in our brains when we brag about ourselves...They estimate that these days people devote about 40% of everyday speech to telling other people what they feel or think."  Brian Williams reading a story about bragging?  That would be like Joan Rivers reading a story about cosmetic surgery or Mark McGwire reading a story about steroid use.  No one brags more than Brian.  People spend 40% of the day bragging?  For him, the number is more like 98%.  Or higher.  And he read the story with a straight face, completely oblivious to the incredible irony of the whole situation.  Priceless.
***The final story was a "Making A Difference" report about a Hollywood producer who founded an organization that helps kids in prison learn how to write poetry and prose.  This story had zero news value.  But that doesn't matter--because it was reported by Chelsea Clinton!  As was the case with her previous Nightly News reports, Chelsea was photogenic and pleasant enough, but she has no journalistic acumen.  She's like a male Luke Russert.  It's sad that with so many qualified journalists looking for work, Brian and Steve Capus just handed a plum job to Chelsea because she's the daughter of a president.  But, that's how things work at NBC News.  They exploit people (exhibit A: Jenna Bush Hager).  Chelsea is obviously being used as a ratings magnet.  In fact, this is Chelsea's second Nightly News appearance during the important April-May sweeps period.  Well, I guess turnabout is fair play.  She's using NBC News just like NBC News is using her.  But NBC definitely gets the better part of the bargain.  As usual, Chelsea appeared live in the studio with Brian because he's obsessed with presidential spouses and daughters.  I think I saw him drooling as he was leering at her.  I hope she made it home safely.
Wed. May 9--The lead story, of course, was President Obama's declaration that he supports same-sex marriage.  Brian was clearly seething because this story broke on ABC News and NBC had to run video of the President's statement with a big "ABC News Exclusive" banner across the bottom of the screen.  And Brian, naturally, did not even mention ABC by name.  He never mentions competing networks because he's paralyzed with fear that if he utters "ABC" or "CBS", viewers will switch channels and his ratings will go down.  Here's the most hilarious part of the story: Earlier in the week, Brian was strutting and crowing because on Sunday's "Meet The Press", Joe Biden told David Gregory that he supported same-sex marriage.  NBC News exploited this news like they just broke the Watergate story.  And then Pres. Obama blew NBC out of the water by talking exclusively to ABC about same-sex marriage.  Psych!  I actually think I saw smoke coming out of Brian's ears.
***At one point during this lead story, a gay rights advocate was shown speaking for 15 seconds, but he was never identified.  Perhaps we were supposed to guess who he was.
***The idiotic Anne Thompson then wasted 2:10 of our time on a follow-up story about same-sex marriage.  This story just rehashed old information and did not provide any new insight, although it did feature fifteen seconds worth of clips from "Modern Family", "Will & Grace" and "Ellen".  Imagine: Over at CBS, Scott Pelley was able to do a story on same-sex marriage without using any TV clips.  How on earth did he manage that?  Oh yeah--I forgot.  At CBS, they're interested in reporting news, not showing TV and movie clips.
***Before the first commercial break, Brian introduced what he led us to believe was a very important medical story about rheumatoid arthritis.  In truth, this was really a very important promotional story about Pfizer and their new arthritis drug tofacitinib.  Pfizer is a regular advertiser on Nightly News (and dozens of other shows on the many NBC Universal networks), and this story was produced  as a way for NBC to kiss the collective ass of Pfizer (unless Pfizer actually paid NBC to air the story.  We can't be sure that wasn't the case.).  This story was reported by Robert Bazell, who is one of the biggest scumbags at NBC News.  His main job is to promote NBC sponsors like Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Bayer, which he does frequently in his sham "news stories". 
***Next, we saw Kate Snow's report about high school girls who get concussions from playing soccer.  This wasn't actually a news story, it was just a condensed version of a story that would be appearing on "Rock Center" later that night.  So it was basically a three-minute commercial for "Rock Center".
***Next, Brian read an obituary for Vidal Sassoon.  Nothing wrong with that--even Scott Pelley did an obit for Sassoon.  The hilarious thing about this story was the juxtaposition of airing an obit for Vidal Sassoon right after we spent three minutes staring at Kate Snow's hideous dye job. 
***An obit for former Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach included a photo of him with Robert Kennedy.  Anyone who has ever been in the same room with any of the Kennedys automatically gets an obit on Nightly News.  Brian actually thinks of himself as Kennedy-esque and fantasizes that he's a member of the Kennedy family.  I've heard that sometimes Brian stands in front of a mirror and says "Ich bin ein Berliner" over and over.
***The broadcast ended with a story about a Columbia University janitor who took courses there and will get his bachelor's degree in classics later this month.  That's great.  But why was this story given two minutes of valuable time on a network news broadcast?  It's mind-boggling that on this night, Nightly News did not report a single foreign news story, but Brian and his producers spent seven minutes promoting Pfizer, reporting on girls' soccer concussions and telling us about a janitor who is getting a college degree.  Unbelievable.
Thurs. May 10--This Nightly News broadcast was one for the ages.  A classic.  Like Wednesday night, the lead story was Pres. Obama's support for gay marriage.  Why report this as the lead story for a second consecutive night?  Because on this night, the President was speaking at a fund-raiser at George Clooney's house.  So the producers entertained us by lingering on a newly-released photo of the President with Clooney.  Brian and his producers put Clooney on Nightly News as often as possible because he's--you know--famous.  And people like him.  Especially female viewers.  It's just another way for Brian to pander for ratings.  He does that really well.
***During a story about Mitt Romney's days as a private school bully, the producers misspelled the name of political analyst Stu Rothenberg (in a graphic, they spelled it as "Ruthenberg").  So what.  They don't care.
***A story about the $2 billion in bad investments by JPMorgan Chase was titled "Risky Business".  Once again, a news story was given a movie title to make it seem more like pop culture.  Brian figures that more people will watch a boring financial story if they think they'll get to see clips of Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay.
***During a story about the John Edwards trial, the Nightly News producers were forced to include excerpts from Edwards' damaging 2008 "Nightline" interview.  This has been a bad week for Brian and his producers.  On Wednesday, they had to show Pres. Obama's pro-gay marriage interview (which aired on ABC), and now they had to show Edwards' "Nightline" interview.  It couldn't get much worse--unless George Clooney decided to go on Jimmy Kimmel's show.  Then Nightly News would have to show a clip from that.
***The next story was about the mysterious large-scale death of bees.  It was titled "Bee Mystery", which was undoubtedly meant to sound like a sequel to Jerry Seinfeld's 2007 movie "Bee Story" (surprisingly, they didn't show any clips from that film).  While the story was ostensibly about Colony Collapse Disorder, there was actually a hidden agenda to this story.  One recent theory about why bees are dying is that they are being killed by pesticides manufactured by Bayer.  Bayer is by far the most frequent advertiser on Nightly News--they run as many as four commercials per night for their products such as Bayer Aspirin, Aleve, Alka-Seltzer, One A Day vitamins, etc.  And of course Bayer also advertises on other NBC Universal networks, so they pay NBC Universal millions and millions of dollars per year in ad fees.  So the whole point of this story was to give the weasels from Bayer 30 seconds of free network news time to deny that their pesticides are causing Colony Collapse Disorder.  It's just a little something that the NBC weasels did for the Bayer weasels, their good pals.  And why not?  On Wednesday, the producers aired a two-minute story to help Pfizer, so why shouldn't they also do a story that helps Bayer?  FYI--moments after this story ended, Nightly News ran an ad for Bayer's One A Day vitamins.  Not surprising.  By the way, the funniest part of this story was seeing the idiotic Anne Thompson dressed in a head-to-toe beekeeper's suit.  She should be required to wear one of those suits every time she's on-camera. 
***Brian then took 36 seconds to tell us that the Dawn spacecraft is sending back data about a large asteroid named Vesta, and also that a meteor fell in Nevada and California a few weeks ago.  Brian has a junior-high-school-like fixation on space stuff, and we all know that the point of Nightly News is to report on Brian's favorite stuff.  Because his favorite stuff is much more important than actual news, right?  Right.
***This next story was one of the most sickening things I have ever seen on Nightly News, or on any newscast ever.  Remember back on March 27 when Brian introduced a sickening three-minute "news story" about NBC Universal's new program ("Hiring Our Heroes") to help get jobs for military veterans?  Well, he's at it again.  This time it's another nauseating self-promoting program to help veterans integrate back into their communities, or some bullshit like that.  Here's how Brian introduced it: "Tonight an unprecedented effort to help American military men and women return to their families and some sense of a normal life back here at home.  With combat operations starting to wind down, more than one million veterans will be returning home to their communities.  Which brings us to a new campaign we here at NBC Universal are very proud to be a part of--and it takes its name from a military phrase--'I've got your 6'."  Then for the next two minutes we saw video of veterans talking about the program, along with clips from the slickly-produced NBC promotional video that featured Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan and other people who I did not recognize (but are certainly appearing in NBC shows).  Michael Douglas was also featured in the video, because Brian has a huge man-crush on him.  Oh yeah--Brian himself was featured in the video because his massive ego requires him to appear on screen as much as possible (just wait until you see his 2012 college commencement address later this month).  Brian ended the story by saying, "This is a great campaign--a lot of great people are involved--and if you're interested in joining in--getting involved in the work--we've put more information on our website."  Just a second--I think I'm getting sick all over again.  Okay, I took a few deep breaths and I feel better now.  First of all--unprecedented?  Maybe Brian doesn't understand what that word means.  It's hard to believe that no one has ever before launched a program to integrate vets back into civilian life.  But it's more likely that Brian understands what "unprecedented" means but he's just lying when he used it to describe this program.  But there's a bigger picture here.  Can someone please explain to me how the hell it's the job of a news organization to initiate a program for veterans--and then report on it as if it was actual news?  What an appalling breach of journalistic ethics.  The job of NBC News is to report news, not create it for self-promotional purposes.  This is just another one of Brian's rah-rah, gung-ho, eagle-soaring, flag-waving stories calculated to stir up patriotic feelings and gain good ratings among the NASCAR demographic.  We all know Brian has given himself the responsibility of helping children of his friends (like Luke Russert) and presidential progeny (like Chelsea Clinton), but now he's also deluded himself into thinking that it's his job to help veterans, too.  What an ego.  His job is to report news, not waste time on his personal fixations.  This is just Brian patting his own back for pandering to the viewers' sense of faux-patriotism.  "Look how great I am!  Look what I'm doing for our vets!  Love me, love me, love me!"  Nightly News viewers are certainly aware that Brian is a fawning sycophantic toady who gets off by carrying water for the American military.  He has single-handedly turned Nightly News into the propaganda arm of the U.S. armed services.  And now, he's somehow convinced NBC News President Steve Capus to go along with this grotesque self-promotional display of jingoism.  I guess it's not a big surprise.  Capus will do anything to keep Brian happy (such as continuing to carry the burdensome "Rock Center" on the NBC schedule despite its horrendous ratings).  So he's willing to indulge Brian in this shameless and egotistical pursuit.  And from a ratings perspective, it's probably not going to hurt.  No one ever lost ratings points by waving the American flag around (Brian proves that every night).  I have to say this is one of the most sickening things Nightly News has ever done--and that's saying a lot.  How does the FCC allow this sham news organization to continue operating?  What a waste of 2:20 of valuable news time.
***By comparison, this next story is somewhat less sickening.  But only somewhat.  Brian spent 25 seconds narrating a story about the ceremony in Greece for the lighting of the Olympic torch.  So although Greece is currently going through one of its most dire political and economic crises in history, Nightly News ignored that and chose instead to report on the torch-lighting ceremony.  Obviously, promoting NBC's Olympic coverage is far more important that covering Greek politics.  Appalling.
***For the final story of the night, Nightly News devoted 2:20 to reporting that Prince Charles delivered a weather report on a BBC broadcast in Scotland.  Naturally, the story included clips of Will & Kate, Prince Harry and Queen Elizabeth.  To put this in context, BBC World News America only spent a minute reporting this story.  So Nightly News spent more than twice as much time on this story as the British Broadcasting Corporation.  That's hilarious, but also pathetic.  Brian is infatuated with the Royal Family, so obviously his fingerprints were all over this story.  And Brian gets to do whatever the hell he wants.  Throughout the broadcast, Nightly News showed three promos (totalling twenty seconds) for this story.  The first promo, at the top of the broadcast, carried the title "The Weather Channel", because that's a weaselly way to promote an NBC Universal property.  The story itself was titled "Modern Family", which was just a sleazy way for Nightly News to capitalize on the popular ABC sitcom of the same name.  I could see giving this story fifteen seconds.  But 2:20?  That's a joke.
***So let's recap.  Clips of George Clooney and Michael Douglas (who does Brian have a bigger man-crush on?).  Story titles lifted from movie and TV titles.  A forum for Bayer to defend their sleazy bee-killing pesticides.  Asteroids and meteors.  Exploiting veterans to promote NBC TV shows and pander for ratings.  Ignoring the Greek economic and political crises in order to report on the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony.  And more than two minutes devoted to Prince Charles reporting the weather.  I told you this Nightly News broadcast was one for the ages.  You didn't think I meant that in a good way, did you?  I only hope the Peabody Award Evaluation Committee members were watching.
Fri. May 11--Once again, the lead story about JPMorgan Chase was titled "Risky Business".  Because at Nightly News, everything boils down to entertainment.
***A story about recovering from a stroke included a photo of John F. Kennedy, even though he never had a stroke.  But that's just a minor detail.  What really matters is satisfying Brian's JFK obsession.  Mission accomplished!
***Brian spent 30 seconds telling us about the murder trial of the man who killed Jennifer Hudson's family members.  Because, she's like, you know, really famous.
***Next, we saw a 2:20 story about middle-aged women who have had to change careers.  News value: Zero.  After this story, Brian said this: "There's a lot more on this for everybody from our friends, the experts at AARP, on our website...."  Friends?  How are they his friends?  Why is Brian so desperate to make people think everyone is his "friend"?  I have never seen anyone so insecure and so desperate to be thought of as likeable.
***A surfer in Portugal rode a 78-foot wave.  This is what gets airtime on Nightly News.  Maybe they should have put a "Breaking News" banner across the bottom of the screen.
***Brian spent 30 seconds telling us about a 70-year-old British plane that was found in the Sahara Desert.  So on this day, Brian did not report a single story about the many military conflicts currently raging around the globe, but news of a 70-year-old World War II plane gets air time.  Great.
***Here's how Brian began an overlong obituary for car designer Carroll Shelby: "Every American kid who grew up loving cars lost a giant today and for SOME OF US hard-core car guys he was a hero."  Some of us.  Because the news is always about Brian.  At Nightly News, stories get reported based not on their importance, but on their importance to Brian.  And he just had to brag some more about his hobbies.  I never hear Scott Pelley calling himself a "hard-core" anything guy.
***After that, Brian read a 20-second story about a returning Marine who was greeted by his son who has cerebral palsy and who had learned to walk while his father was away.  Yeah, I guess I can understand how this is a more important story than what's going on in Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq.
***The final story was about the increased interest in archery since "The Hunger Games" was released.  Obviously, this 2:20 story was just an excuse to show lots of clips from the movie, since movie clips are what keep viewers tuned in.  Here's a thought: Maybe people who turn on the news actually want to see news stories.  Nah, never mind.  Forget it.  Much of this story was comprised of footage of correspondent Kristen Dahlgren learning to shoot with a bow and arrow because she's one of the most self-involved reporters working in TV news today.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Brian Williams & NBC Nightly News Show Notes--4/28/12 Through 5/4/12 (Revised--Full Week)

This week, Nightly News was all about promoting Wednesday's Rock Center.  And the Supermoon.  Things Nightly News was not about: Sudan, Syria, the Cairo riots or the French Presidential election.  Here's all the great stuff you might have missed:

Sat. April 28--In the lead story about the blind Chinese dissident who escaped to the U.S. embassy, some of the Nightly News footage was doctored to make it appear older.  The producers made the footage grainy and sepia-toned, and they added vertical lines to indicate wear on the film stock.  This is totally unethical for a news organization.  It is their responsibility to show us actual news footage, not footage that has been altered.  And this makes me wonder: What other footage are the producers doctoring and not telling us about?
***In a story about political campaign ads and the killing of Osama bin Laden, some footage of John McCain walking through the Capitol was labeled "Obama Campaign Ad".  Clearly, this wasn't a campaign ad.  Just another example of the Nightly News producers failing to pay attention.
***During a story about the effort to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Ron Allen spent 15 seconds interviewing a man who appeared to be a spokesman for the Governor.  I say "appeared to be" because this man was never identified, either by narration or graphic.
***In a story about the 20th anniversary of the acquittal of the police officers who had beaten Rodney King, current footage of South Central L.A. was doctored to make it appear older.  This is the second time in the broadcast that the producers doctored video footage.  You'd think that after the humiliation of being caught red-handed doctoring the George Zimmerman 911 tapes, the producers would have learned their lesson about altering audio or video tape.  Obviously they haven't.
***Lester Holt took 45 seconds to show us excerpts from one of the commencement speakers who gave an address at Pepperdine University's graduation ceremony.  That speaker's name was...Lester Holt.  And I thought Brian Williams was the only news anchor with an ego big enough to show himself delivering a commencement address.  Welcome to the club, Lester.
***It wouldn't be Nightly News without a story on dolphins, whales or penguins.  So Lester told us all about a dolphin stranded in a California lagoon.  Thanks, Lester.
***The final story of the night was about a new television channel for dogs.  I know you probably think you misread that sentence, so let me repeat it: The final story of the night was about a new television channel for dogs.  That's right--a television channel for dogs.  This is what merits 2:10 of news time on NBC Nightly News.  Meanwhile, the broadcast did not mention Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt or Sudan.  It did not mention the presidential race in France, the Anders Breivik trial in Norway or the Charles Taylor trial in The Hague.  The producers ignored dozens of important domestic and international stories so they could tell us about a TV channel for dogs.  Great work, Nightly News producers.  You should be very proud of yourselves.
Sun. April 29--Sorry, but there was no Nightly News this evening because the hockey game went into overtime.  As everyone knows, sports is much more important than news to the NBC weasels because sports programs generate higher ad rates than news programs.
Mon. April 30--The lead story was titled "Inside the Situation Room".  It was about the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden.  Fair enough--it's a legitimate news story.  CBS covered it (but only after reporting two stories about the blind Chinese dissident).  However, the Nightly News stories (yes, there was more than one) were not so much about bin Laden's killing as they were about Brian Williams.  He had interviewed Pres. Obama, Secy. Clinton, Adm. Mullen (and others who were in the situation room that day) for a "Rock Center" story scheduled to air on Wednesday.  And we all know that one of Brian's main jobs is to promote NBC's prime time, sports and entertainment programming.  But there's nothing Brian Williams likes promoting as much as Brian Williams.  So he went all out to promote this "Rock Center" story.  That's not surprising--"Rock Center" has had abysmal ratings.  On April 25, "Rock Center" had a .9 rating and a 2 share at 9:00 PM in the all-important 18-49 demographic.  By comparison, "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" (which aired on NBC at 8:00 PM) had a 1.7 rating and a 5 share in the 18-49 demo.  That means that twice as many people in that age group (considered desirable young viewers by the networks) would rather watch 90-year-old Betty White than Brian Williams.  "Rock Center" is regularly the lowest-rated program in its time slot among the four major networks.  Other 9:00 PM shows like "Criminal Minds" and "Modern Family" often get three or four times as many total viewers as "Rock Center" and the difference is even greater in the 18-49 demo.  For example, on April 11, "Rock Center" had 2.62 million total viewers, and a .5 rating/1 share in the 18-49 demo.  The numbers for "Criminal Minds" were 11.81 million total viewers, and 3.0/8 rating/share in the 18-49 demo.  "Modern Family" had 10.35 million total viewers and 4.2/11 for the 18-49 demo.  At 9:30, the premiere of a new show--"Don't Trust the B in Apt. 23"--had 6.91 million total viewers and 2.9/7 in the 18-49 demo.  That night, Betty White's show had 6.06 million total viewers and a 1.6/5 in the 18-49 demo.  (Ratings info courtesy of  So in other words, competing shows are drawing five to ten times as many 18-49 year-old viewers as "Rock Center".  Apparently, people don't like the show, or Brian, very much.  So it's no surprise that Brian desperately and shamefully uses Nightly News to plug "Rock Center".  It's all about his ego.  He can't comprehend why people aren't interested in watching him in prime time, like they do at 6:30 on Nightly News.  I guess he doesn't understand the concept of "big fish in a little pond".  When the other choices are Diane Sawyer or Scott Pelley, Brian does well in the ratings.  It's easy to have the top-rated newscast when most of your "news stories" are about cute animals, celebrities, British royalty, silly space events, JFK, veterans and popular films.  But against entertainment shows, his ratings are crap.  I bet he actually thought that "Rock Center" would win its time slot.  Instead, it's regularly beaten by shows on third-rate cable channels like USA, Discovery or even Univision.
***So on this night, Brian spent three minutes showing excerpts from his "Rock Center" report.  His interview with President Obama was just an opportunity for Brian to be seen with the President and to kiss the President's ass.  At one point, Brian told the President that the Blackhawk helicopter that crash-landed in bin Laden's compound was "superbly piloted".  That was a cringe-worthy moment.  Well, at least Brian didn't bow to the President, like he did in his 2009 "Inside the Obama White House" special.  I'd call that progress.
***At one point during this story, when Brian was interviewing Adm. Mike Mullen (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time of bin Laden's death), the "Rock Center" logo at the bottom right corner of the screen obscured the word "Staff" in Mullen's ID graphic line.  Clearly, nothing is as important as plugging "Rock Center"--not even Mullen's ID.  Naturally, the story ended with a full-screen promo for the "Rock Center" special. 
***The next story was about the Presidential campaign between Obama and Romney.  But it only focused on one campaign issue--the war of words about whether the President is politicizing the killing of bin Laden.  So this story is really just an extension of the massive promotion for the "Rock Center" special on the killing of bin Laden.  The story featured a clip from David Gregory's Sunday "Meet the Press" interview with Romney senior "adviser" Ed Gillespie.  That may not seem notable, but it will become important on Wednesday.
***We then saw another 1:10 excerpt from Brian's interview with Adm. Mullen.  This time, the "Rock Center" logo was in the upper left hand corner of the screen.  So why didn't the genius producers think of that earlier, when the logo obscured part of Mullen's military title?  All together, these three stories--whose major purpose was to promote "Rock Center"-- took up more than six minutes of news time.  Appalling.
***The next story was about the new One World Trade Center going up at Ground Zero.  The story was titled "The Rising".  Why does that sound familiar?  Oh yeah--it's the title of a Springsteen album.  Brian fulfills his teenage-like obsession with Springsteen by frequently putting him on Nightly News.  And when he can't actually put him on the broadcast, he uses Springsteen song or album titles as story titles.  Very professional.  This story was reported by Harry Smith, whose sappy, Hallmark card-like narration has earned him the coveted title of "the New Roger O'Neil".  Example: "A void long thought impossible to fill has a presence now.  We see tomorrow."  Oy vey, is that schmaltzy.
***After that, we saw a 2:15 story on debris hitting the west coast after last year's tsunami in Japan.  Tsunami debris is the new carmageddon, Mary Thornberry and gas prices all rolled into one.  Brian will relentlessly report on this for weeks or months because the NBC News research department has informed him that these stories earn high ratings.  And, of course, that's really all that matters to Brian.
***Brian then spent 35 seconds telling us about delays at Heathrow Airport.  Why is this important?  It isn't.  But it gave Brian an opportunity to mention the London Olympics, and that's what's really important.
***He then spent 40 seconds reporting on the soccer match between Manchester United and Manchester City.  Does this really belong on a Network newscast?  Of course not, but Brian gets to do whatever the hell he wants.
***The broadcast ended with a "Making A Difference" story about a D-Day veteran and his wife who renewed their wedding vows in Normandy.  Another Nightly News story with zero news value.  But it gave Brian a chance to kiss the collective ass of military veterans (one of his favorite activities) and to show lots of American flags (another of his favorite activities).  Another two-and-a-half minutes of wasted airtime.  By the way, the couple were able to return to Normandy thanks to an organization called "Wish of A Lifetime".  This organization was founded by Jeremy Bloom, a former Olympic skier and NFL player.  So this story was an opportunity to plug the Olympics (which will air on NBC) and NFL football (which also airs on NBC).  Veterans, flags, Olympics and the NFL.  I think Brian probably came in his pants.
Tues. May 1--At the beginning of the broadcast, while Brian was again hawking his "Inside the Situation Room" prime time special, the video box over Brian's left shoulder showed a clip of...Brian talking with Pres. Obama.  So Brian was actually on screen twice at the same time--one live shot and one taped shot. Awesome!  Leave it to Brian to figure out a way to have two images of himself on screen at the same time.
***Later, Brian spent another 4:45 promoting his upcoming "Rock Center" special.  Part of this involved an interview with former Obama counterterrorism advisor Michael Leiter.  At the end of the interview, Brian said, "Very happy to have you affiliated with our team these days."  This was not just another one of Brian's fawning, obsequious ass-kissing statements.  Do you see what he's trying to do here?  He's painting NBC News as a "team" just like the people in the situation room photo are a team.  Brian and his cronies are just like Pres. Obama and the National Security team!  So Brian is the Pres. Obama of NBC News!  Of course he is.
***Brian took 20 seconds to announce that Nabisco is changing the name of Fig Newtons to just plain Newtons.  He called it "A big product name change in the news tonight".  Clearly, this is breaking news.  Oh wait--it isn't.  Here's what it is: Brian reading a Nabisco press release verbatim as a way of thanking them (and their parent company Kraft) for all the ad dollars they've spent with NBC Universal networks over the years.  After all, it had been almost two months since Nightly News last gave a shout-out to Nabisco.  (On March 4, Lester Holt reported the important story about the 100th anniversary of Oreo cookies.)  Brian and his producers obviously understand the importance of taking care of their pals at Kraft with gratuitous plugs like this one.  Unless it was just a paid product placement.  That's always a possibility at Nightly News.  Needless to say, photos and video of the cookies (or are they cakes?) were on screen for the entire 20 seconds, including 12 seconds of full-screen shots that also included the Newtons' slogan "One Unique Cookie".  Brian also said this: "Few people know they are named after Newton, Mass, near where they were first produced in the late 1890's."  Few people?  Brian loves showing us how much more he knows about stuff than we do.  By the way, according to Wikipedia, Fig Newtons were first made in 1891, which isn't exactly the "late 1890's".
***The final story of the night was terrific.  How do I know?  Because Brian told me so at the beginning of the broadcast.  Yes, he actually used that word to describe it.  It was a "Making A Difference" piece about a special matinee performance of the Broadway show "Mary Poppins" that was staged for autistic children and their families.  That was a nice thing to do.  But how does this qualify as news?  It doesn't.  The story was reported by the idiotic Anne Thompson, who at one point was shown holding a Starbucks cup for ten seconds.  Clearly, this was an intentional product placement.  Nothing happens by accident on Nightly News.  So how many real news stories could the producers have shown in the 2:20 they took to tell this story?  I guess we'll never know.
Wed. May 2--The lead story was the suicide of former NFL player Junior Seau.  This was ridiculous, but hardly surprising.  While this story deserved to be covered, it was certainly not the most important story of the day.  But Brian always makes a point of giving prime space to NFL-related stories, because Sunday Night Football is NBC's highest-rated program.  There is no doubt whatsoever that Junior Seau's suicide was reported as the lead story solely because it allowed Nightly News to promote the NFL, and by extension, NBC's Sunday Night Football.  This is how Brian and his producers operate.  Stories are given air time based not on their news value, but based on how they can help promote NBC sports and entertainment shows.
***A story about Newt Gingrich suspending his campaign included a clip from "Saturday Night Live".  Did I mention that the main job of Brian and his producers is to promote NBC's sports and entertainment programs?  I think I may have mentioned that.  This story also included a clip from an Obama campaign ad that featured CBS's Bob Schieffer and Norah O'Donnell.  Someone in the production office obviously didn't get the memo informing Nightly News employees that they are never, ever allowed to show people from competing networks.  Especially someone like Norah O'Donnell, who left NBC to join CBS.  I guess she grew sick and tired of working for a news organization that was more interested in ratings and self-promotion than in reporting news.
***Next, it was time for another shameless 2:20 story whose only purpose was to promote that night's "Rock Center" broadcast.  Brian began the story this way: "Tonight here on NBC we will broadcast our exclusive hour-long special edition of 'Rock Center Inside the Situation Room'...."  The first 40 seconds of the story consisted of Brian aggressively hawking his prime time program (the rest of the story consisted of excerpts from the show).  Once again, as Brian was doing this, a box over his left shoulder showed clips of himself talking with Pres. Obama.  So Brian again managed to show two different images of himself on-screen simultaneously.  Not even Donald Trump can get away with that.  But of course, Trump is nowhere near the self-promoting, egocentric huckster that Brian is.  By the way, this "special edition" of "Rock Center" again finished dead last in its time slot among the four major networks.  Each of the other shows it was competing against ("American Idol", "Modern Family" and "Criminal Minds") had 2.5 to 4 times as many viewers as "Rock Center"--both in total viewers and in the coveted 18-49 demographic.  In fact, "Rock Center" was the lowest-rated prime time network show of the night in both categories. 
***Viewers in the New York market were extra lucky on this day because Brian stopped by the local WNBC 5:00 PM newscast and spent five minutes shamelessly hawking his "Rock Center" broadcast.  He told us that, "This is an incredible hour of television."  Incredible?  Really?  Thanks for the unbiased opinion, asshole.  This is truly a man without dignity.  There are no depths he will not stoop to in order to promote himself.
***Finally, after promoting Sunday Night Football, SNL and "Rock Center", Brian got around to reporting on the blind Chinese dissident.  On the CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley reported this story as the lead story of the night.  But then again, Pelley is concerned with reporting news, rather than promoting his network and himself.
***During the story about the Chinese dissident, Tony Blinken was identified in a Nightly News graphic as "Vice President Biden's National Security Advisor".  Two days earlier, Ed Gillespie was identified as a "Senior Adviser to Mitt Romney".  Advisor, Adviser--whatever.  Obviously, the Nightly News production crew was too busy showing "Rock Center" promos to bother worrying about consistency in their spelling.
***Brian spent thirty seconds reporting the death of Earl Rose, who was the Dallas medical examiner at the time of John Kennedy's assassination.  Obviously, there was no chance that Brian would fail to report a story that involves JFK.  Since last September, Nightly News has aired 18 JFK or Jackie-related stories because Brian has a raging JFK obsession.  (I would also guess that JFK stories get high ratings).  Brian clearly fancies himself as a JFK scholar and presidential historian.  So here's something that JFK scholar Brian Williams said about Dr. Rose during this story:  "Days later [after JFK was killed], he performed the autopsy on Jack Ruby."  That would have been some feat, since Jack Ruby wasn't dead yet.  Rose did eventually perform the autopsy on Ruby, but it was in 1967, more than three years after JFK was assassinated.  Perhaps Brian was thinking of Lee Harvey Oswald, whose autopsy Rose actually did perform just days after Kennedy's assassination.  You would think that someone who pretends to be a JFK scholar would know the difference between Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald.  But I guess Brian was way too busy promoting "Rock Center" to bother with details like these.
***After that, Brian read a story about the best and worst airports.  Brian also has an obsession with stories about airplanes and air travel, so he never misses a chance to talk about those subjects.  In fact, Brian reported virtually the exact same story about best and worst airports on 1/18/12 and again on 2/14/12.  I guess he figures his viewers are too stupid to remember the previous stories.  In this "new" story, we were shown an NBC News graphic animation of an airport arrival/departure board.  On the board was a list of randomly-chosen cities like Phoenix, Oakland, Atlanta and Seattle.  Anchorage was also on the board--and it was spelled correctly!  That's amazing!  I say that because in the three previous times that the Nightly News producers used that same animated flight board (1/14/12, 1/18/12 and 2/14/12), they misspelled Anchorage as "Ankorage".  Yes, on three separate occasions, they misspelled Anchorage.  In fact, the Nightly News producers really seem to have a problem with Alaska.  On the 12/25/10 broadcast, they spelled the capital, Juneau, as "Juno" (you know--like the Ellen Page movie).  And on two separate occasions (4/26/11 and 4/23/10) the producers abbreviated Arkansas as AK, which is actually the abbreviation for Alaska.  So the fact that they spelled Anchorage correctly represents great progress for the Nightly News producers.
***The broadcast ended with a story about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  An NFL team.  They drafted Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed while playing football for Rutgers.  That was a nice gesture by the Tampa Bay organization.  But it isn't news.  Here's what it was: Another opportunity for Brian and his producers to use their broadcast to promote NBC's football coverage.  So when this two-minute story is added to the 2:45 Junior Seau story that began the broadcast, that means that Nightly News spent almost five minutes reporting football stories in order to promote Sunday Night Football on NBC.
***On this day, 20 people were killed during protests in Cairo, there was a debate between French presidential candidates Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande and the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan intensified.  Brian Williams didn't report any of those stories, because he was too busy promoting NFL football and "Rock Center".  Great job, Brian.  You should be very proud of yourself.
Thurs. May 3--Brian spent three minutes recapping his "Rock Center" broadcast from the previous night.  Unbelievable.  He even promotes his show after it's already aired.  During this story, John Brennan was identified as a "White House Counterterrorism Adviser".  So on Monday, it was spelled "adviser", on Wednesday it was "advisor" and on Thursday it was back to "adviser".  I guess next time they use the word, it will be "advisor" again.  Unless it isn't.  Whatever.
***Hey--great news!  Brian told us that MSNBC is re-airing the "Rock Center Inside the Situation Room Special" later tonight!  So that's why he's still promoting it--the rating for the MSNBC airing can be added onto the original NBC rating to artificially boost the show's total rating.
***Did you know that some senior citizens are having a hard time selling their homes in this depressed real estate market?  Well, now there are organizations to help them sell their homes.  And this is considered important news to Brian and his producers.  They spent two-and-a-half minutes telling us all about it.  During this story, a woman by the name of Sharon Grambow was identified in a Nightly News graphic as the "Sun Health Chief Operating Office".  She's the "Chief Operating Office"?  Is that anything like the chief operating officer?  Could be.  But then again, maybe not.
***Next, Brian spent 30 seconds on a story about a lion pawing at a toddler from behind reinforced glass at a Portland, Oregon zoo.  For a moment, I thought I was watching "America's Funniest Home Videos".  This is the third lion-paws-at-kid-from-behind-glass story Nightly News has done in the past year (6/17/11 and 1/11/12 were the other dates).  I think it's safe to say that Nightly News has these lion stories completely covered.  Now, if only someone could convince them to cover actual news.
***SUPERMOON!!!  SUPERMOON!!!  We're getting a SUPERMOON!!!  And Brian spent 37 seconds telling us all about it.  So if you add the Supermoon story to the lion story, that's more than a minute of news time that Brian wasted.  Oh well--just add that to the other few hundred minutes of news time he wastes every year.
***The final story was a "Making A Difference" report about young high school mothers who are being mentored by older, more experienced mothers.  That's nice.  But why is this news?  It isn't.  Add it to the pile of wasted news time.
***In Sudan, the government is bombing its own people.  In Ukraine, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is being mistreated in prison.  Brian didn't mention these stories, nor did he mention the 20 protesters who were killed in Cairo on Wednesday.  But at least we know all about the lion who pawed at the toddler and the Supermoon.  Yay.
Fri. May 4--Nightly News spent 2 minutes showing excerpts from a Colombian radio station's interview with the prostitute at the center of the Secret Service scandal.  The producers made sure to include three different photos of her in bikinis.  This certainly wasn't a tough call on the part of the producers.  Prostitutes equal ratings.  End of discussion.
***A story about the blind Chinese dissident was titled "Coming To America?"  Brian and his producers always like to give their stories titles that are names of movies or songs because the recognition factor keeps viewers tuned in.
***A story about thunderstorms in the upper midwest quickly transformed (after several seconds) into a 25-second promo for Saturday's Kentucky Derby, which, not surprisingly, will be televised on NBC.
***A 25-second story on Junior Seau's suicide led into a two-minute story about the damage to athletes from repeated hits to the head.  These stories were chock full of NFL images and logos.  That's hardly surprising, since the whole purpose of these stories was to once again promote NFL Sunday Night Football on NBC.
***Brian spent 35 seconds reading an obituary for blues and soul guitarist Charles Pitts, who is best known for playing guitar on the song "Shaft".  No disrespect to Mr. Pitts or his family, but this is not someone who merits an obituary on a network news broadcast.
***Here's how Brian began the next story: "The folks at NATO have put out a beautiful video about Chicago in preparation for the upcoming NATO summit there--and while it's a terrific tribute to a great city, there are some problems."  After that, we were shown some excerpts from the video along with a female narrator's voice telling us that Chicago is "the capital of Illinois..."  At that point, a big red circle with a line through it (courtesy of the Nightly News producers) appeared on screen, followed by the word "Springfield" below it.  Oh I get it--the producers are correcting the video's errors.  The narrator continued: "The decision was made by the American President Barack Obama--he wanted this event to take place in the city he grew up in."  At which point the big red circle appeared again, followed by the word "Hawaii".  So Hawaii was the city that Barack Obama grew up in?  I don't think so.  News flash for Brian and his producers: Hawaii isn't a city, it's a state.  The correct answer is that Pres. Obama grew up in the city of Honolulu (he also spent four years in Jakarta).  The Nightly News producers didn't seem to know this.  So Brian's snarky attempt to show how many inaccuracies there are in the NATO video only reinforced how little he and his producers care about paying attention to details.  After the excerpt from the NATO video, Brian continued, "Okay--a few facts wrong--but there are other errors in it as well and in all fairness, how many Americans know where NATO is headquartered?  Answer: Brussels.  And the Secretary General of NATO's name?  Answer: That would be Anders Fogh Rasmussen.  NATO is said to be correcting their narration."  Oh my God--did he really just do that?  Did Brian Williams just try to show off by proving to us that he knows facts about NATO?  That's really sad.  And the only thing it actually proves is that he knows how to use Google.  It reminded me of the episode of "The Office" (British version) where David Brent is engaged in a conversation about Dostoyevsky with an employee who obviously knows much more about the author than he does.  So Brent keeps disappearing into his office and coming out with new Dostoyevsky facts that he obviously got directly from Google.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, Brian Williams is David Brent.  And does anyone else see the irony here?  Nightly News is constantly making spelling, math, grammar and factual errors.  So Brian Williams pointing out mistakes in a NATO video is the epitome of the pot calling the kettle black.  It's so ludicrous that it's funny.  Or it would be if it wasn't so pathetic.
***SUPERMOON ALERT!!!  SUPERMOON ALERT!!!  Time for another Supermoon story.  This one was titled "Moonstruck" because, as I noted earlier, Brian likes to give his stories titles that come from movies or songs.  Well guess what--he did it again!
***The broadcast ended with what was essentially a two-and-a-half minute commercial for the new "Avengers" movie.  It contained 75 seconds of clips from the movie, including a 32-second continuous clip.  It also contained clips from other super-hero movies like "Spiderman", "Batman", "Catwoman" and even contained a clip from the 1970's "Wonder Woman" TV show.  That's not a news story, it's a movie trailer.  It's obvious what's going on here.  NBC ran this story as a big "thank you" to Marvel Entertainment for all the ad dollars they've spent with NBC Universal over the years.  Or maybe not.  Maybe this was a paid product placement that Marvel arranged and paid for through the NBC sales and marketing department.  Is there anybody out there who would actually say that NBC is too ethical to charge a movie studio for a fake news story about their new summer blockbuster?  I didn't think so.