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.