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.