Saturday, June 9, 2012

Brian Williams & NBC Nightly News Show Notes: 6/2/12 Through 6/8/12 (Updated--Full Week)

What a great week it was on Nightly News.  The operative phrase was "Diamond Jubilee".  Over and over and over.  Here's what you may have missed:

Sat. June 2--At the end of a story about wildfires in New Mexico, Miguel Almaguer was standing in front of a waving American flag.  Because...Nightly News loves America more than any other newscast!
***There was "Wild Weather" in the mid-Atlantic states!  Imagine that.  Nightly News spends more time each night on the weather than local news stations.  I guess since NBC paid $3.5 billion for The Weather Channel, they have to make sure to use it.  Every night.
***Did you know it's Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee?  Well, it is and for the second day in a row, the Nightly News producers are making damn well sure that we know all about it.
***Congratulations to the Nightly News producers!  A story about Obama, Romney and the economy featured commentary from political analyst Stuart Rothenberg.  And the producers spelled his name correctly!  Apparently, that's quite a feat because on the 5/10/12 broadcast, they spelled his last name as "Ruthenberg".  So this represents real progress.  Keep up the great work!
***The next story was titled "Cancer Breakthrough?"  Well is it or isn't it?  Why are stories so often given questions as titles?  Just tell us the damn answer.  Well, it's a lot easier to ask questions than answer them, so the producers are obviously just being lazy.
***In a story about Johan Santana's no-hitter, Lester Holt told us about a "spectacular" catch in left field.  I wish I had a dollar for every time a Nightly News anchor said "spectacular" or "stunning".  I'd have a lot of dollars.
***Lester spent 25 seconds reading the obituary for actress Kathryn Joosten.  No offense, but does this really belong on a network news broadcast?  Isn't there any real news to report?
***Did you know it's Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee?  Just in case you forgot the story they did 18 minutes ago, we were treated to another QE II story.  So that's a total of 4:45 that Nightly News spent on Queen Elizabeth on one broadcast.  What an appalling violation of journalistic ethics.  During this story, we saw the idiotic scene of Stephanie Gosk playing with Corgi pups because they are the Queen's favorite breed.  So Gosk was playing with actual Royal Corgis?  No, they were just run-of-the-mill rentals.  But the Nightly News producers always make sure to include animals in news stories as often as possible because that boosts the ratings.  This is what passes for news on Nightly News.  Also, the story included a photo of the Queen with John F. Kennedy because JFK is still very popular and also helps bring in high ratings.  Didn't they have any footage of JFK playing with Corgis?
Sun. June 3--Lester began the broadcast by teasing us with a story about the "spectacular armada on the Thames" to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
***We learned that George Zimmerman was back in jail because he and his wife mislead the judge about how much money they had.  Interesting.  Zimmerman gets thrown back in jail for deceiving the court, yet NBC News was never penalized for deceiving the public when they altered Zimmerman's 911 tapes back in March.  If Zimmerman has to go to jail, I think some NBC News producers should also have to go.  Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for Brian Williams to apologize for the doctored tapes, but something tells me I'm going to be waiting a long time.
***During a story about presidential politics, a clip from "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" is credited only as "This Week".  The Nightly News producers regularly refuse to mention the name of their rivals because they're scared that NBC will lose ratings. 
***This was a perfect time to show a two-and-a-half minute story about the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.  Four QE II stories in three days.  Responsible journalism is what Nightly News stands for.
***A story about a new breast cancer drug was virtually identical to a story Nightly News ran two days earlier.  This story featured clips and interviews with Duke University's Dr. Kimberly Blackwell and cancer survivor Fern Saitowitz that had already been aired in the Friday story.  Where do the Nightly News producers get the nerve to show us a rerun story only two days after originally airing it?
***Here's what Lester said before the second commercial break: "We're back in a moment with a stunning announcement from an Olympic champion."  So what was this "stunning" announcement?  Gymnast Shawn Johnson said that she was retiring.  I would hardly call that "stunning".  I can just imagine Lester at breakfast with his wife: "This is a stunning omelet, honey, and these home fries are spectacular!"
***A discussion with CNBC's Mandy Drury about Wall St. and the economy was really just a 90-second promo for a CNBC special airing later that night.  Not very tactful, but then again at Nightly News, tact doesn't matter--only ratings matter.  I had never heard of Drury before this but a Google search of her name revealed that she has a penchant for wearing skimpy, cleavage-baring blouses to go along with her bad dye job.
***The final story of the night was a "Making A Difference" piece about a twelve-year-old boy who has built a successful recycling business.  Um...okay.  I cannot for the life of me imagine how this qualifies as news, but obviously the Nightly News producers are not interested in presenting news.  They're interested in presenting garbage that gets good ratings.  This story was reported by Kevin Tibbles, who has also reported stories about Pringles snack chips and Barbie's 53rd birthday.  I hope the Peabody evaluation committee was paying attention to this one.
Mon. June 4--The lead story about lax security practices among TSA employees featured commentary from security consultant Johnathan Tal.  Unfortunately, the idiot Nightly News producers misspelled his first name as "Jonathan".  I guess they could have logged onto his website to get the correct spelling, but...wait a second, I'm laughing too hard to type any more.  Nightly News producers checking a website for correct spelling?  That's a good one!
***As Brian introduced the next story about New Mexico wildfires, he said, "NBC's Miguel Almaguer starts us off tonight from the front lines in New Mexico."  Actually, this was the second story of the night, so Almaguer wasn't exactly "starting us off".  Poor Brian.  He's just confused.  And just like on Saturday, Almaguer was standing with a waving American flag visible over his right shoulder because if you don't love the flag, you're a freakin' commie, goddammit!
***Speaking of the flag, as Brian introduced the next story about the Wisconsin Governor's recall vote, there was a giant animated American flag waving behind him.  I guess because this story took place in the United States it deserves to begin with a waving flag.  It's pathetic and desperate how Brian and his producers exploit the flag for ratings every chance they get.  Why doesn't Brian just wear one of those trucker's caps with a U.S. flag on it?  In this story, Stuart Rothenberg's name was once again spelled correctly, so the producers are on a roll.  Except for the Johnathan Tal screw-up.
***A story about new cancer drugs featured old footage of a 15-year-old leukemia patient named Sonali Verma.  This footage was first shown during a 2/13/12 Nightly News story about the shortage of the drug methotrexate.  But apparently, the producers have no qualms about continuing to exploit this poor young girl by rerunning footage of her in her hospital bed.  The Nightly News producers love to show footage of kids with cancer because sad stories like these tap into viewers' emotions and generate great ratings.
***OMG!  Prince Philip is in the hospital with a bladder infection.  Will he be able to attend the Queen's Diamond Jubilee?  Stay tuned to find out.  At the beginning of the broadcast, Brian teased this story by saying, "A member of the Royal Family is hospitalized."  Of course, he didn't tell us then who it was.  Obviously, he wanted us to think it was Will, Kate or the Queen.  That's how Brian operates.  Instead of providing facts, he teases us with incomplete information so we'll keep watching.  Sleazy.
***Here's what Brian said during a story about the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway: "It was just six months after Pearl Harbor and while our naval fleet was outnumbered four to one, we had great code breakers and brave pilots and the U.S. destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers and more than 200 planes in that battle which then changed the course of the war."  That sounds like the sappy, cheesy voice-over that would accompany a documentary on the Military Channel.  News flash for Brian: The Japanese had great code breakers and brave pilots, too.  Ever hear of Kamikazes, moron?
***Brian took more than a minute to read an obituary for Joe Haggar, the clothing manufacturer.  The obit included a conversation between Haggar and Lyndon Johnson as the President was ordering pants.  It sounded like something from a Woody Allen story.  This is what merits a minute of coverage on Nightly News.
***Guess what story ended the broadcast.  If you said the Queen's Jubilee, you'd be right.  This 2:45 story showed footage from a concert that included Annie Lennox, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.  So if you take footage of the Royal Family and then add footage of famous performers...that's a recipe for ratings success.  If only there were some Corgis in there as well, I think Brian would have come in his pants.
Tues. June 5--At the conclusion of his story about the Wisconsin recall vote, Ron Allen was standing in front of a giant flag.  Just another attempt to use hyper-patriotism as a way to pander to the viewers.
***Next, Brian spent 4:20 interviewing Bill Clinton.  Brian began the interview by asking Clinton about the headline "Bill Clinton Out Of Control On 2012".  Except Brian misquoted the headline.  He read it as "Bill Clinton Out Of Control In 2012" (I added the italics for emphasis).  So Brian can't even manage to correctly quote a headline and we're supposed to trust him to interview a former president?  He has zero credibility.  Instead of asking probing, relevant questions, he asked Clinton what he thinks of Facebook.  I was hoping Clinton would say, "You're an idiot and I'm unfriending you."  Brian has no skill as an interviewer.  His goal is not to challenge his interview subject, it's not even to elicit information.  It's to ingratiate himself with his subject and to ask easy questions that will make viewers like the interview, rather than learn from it.  If you need any further proof of this, watch Brian's 11/13/07 Nightly News "interview" with Chrysler's #2 executive at the time, Jim Press.  Brian's only concerns are appearing to be Press's pal and feed him softball questions about how great Chrysler cars and trucks are.  It was an infomercial, not an interview.  Brian billed the Clinton interview as a "one on one", clearly meaning to imply that it was an exclusive.  In truth, Clinton gave lots of interviews that day, including one to CBS' Scott Pelley, who asked much more pertinent questions.
***Brian then told us about the Queen's "spectacular" Diamond Jubilee.  I've noticed that everything is either "stunning" or "spectacular" to Brian.  He has an extremely limited vocabulary.  I guess that's what happens when you flunk out of college.  This is the seventh story about the Queen's Jubilee that Nightly News has done in five days.  Over that period, they wasted an appalling 17 minutes on this story while ignoring other, more relevant, news.  But of course, Brian's goal is not to enlighten the viewers, but rather to present stories that will cause people to tune in.  Higher ratings generate more ad revenue for NBC and that is Brian's ultimate objective.
***Brian then read an obituary for Herb Reed of the Platters.  The Platters had lots of hits in the 1950's, but I can think of better ways than this to fill a newscast.  But of course, Nightly News isn't a newscast, it's a pop culture-cast.  This was just an excuse for Brian to play some doo-wop music and appeal to the viewers' sense of nostalgia.  After all, what's more interesting--news or pop culture?  Would you rather hear an economic forecast or "Only You"?
***After that, he told us about Sheryl Crow's benign brain tumor.  She's a pop celebrity, so of course Brian reported this story as if it was real news.
***Next, Brian took 35 seconds to tell us about a high school track athlete who helped carry a tired rival across the finish line.  This is just idiotic.  Is there no depth to which he will not stoop in order to dumb down the news for mass-market ratings-boosting consumption?  Here's how he began the story: "It was an act of valor and selflessness the likes of which you see in a war movie...."  Pass the barf bag, please.
***Because of Brian's personal obsession with all things NASA, he reports every move made by any of the space shuttles.  Today he spent 33 seconds telling us about minor damage incurred by the Shuttle Enterprise as it was being transported to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.  Isn't it great to have your own news broadcast so you can as much time as you want each day reporting on things you personally like (instead of, let's say, actual news)?  Funny thing--I never hear Scott Pelley doing that.  But then again, Pelley is a journalist, not a self-promoting carnival barker.
***The final story was--drumroll, please--about something Brian likes.  He's infatuated with anything that happens in outer space, so that means he reports every one of these stories to us as if they were important news.  He spent 2:20 telling us about the Venus Transit across the face of the Sun.  Most other newscasts spent about 30 seconds on this, but then most other newscasts aren't anchored by egomaniacal narcissists.  During the broadcast, Brian read three promos for this story--totalling 25 seconds--including a promo that played the Shocking Blue song "Venus".  Wow--the Platters, Sheryl Crow, Shocking Blue--this wasn't a newscast, it was a top-40 radio show.
Wed. June 6--The lead story was about pension and service cuts in local governments.  There were lots of shots of fire trucks because Brian is obsessed with shiny red fire trucks and big, beefy firefighters.  And the news is always about what Brian likes.
***As Brian introduced the next story about the Wisconsin recall vote, there was the obligatory animated flag waving behind him.  I guess if something happens in the U.S., it requires a waving flag to pander to the viewers' sense of rah-rah, gung-ho superpatriotism.
***I almost fell out of my chair laughing when Brian said this: "If you join us regularly here then you know we've been tracking the progress of that Japanese tsunami debris making its way here to the U.S. west coast...."  Really?  You don't say.  Come to think of it, I have noticed that Nightly News reports on every single piece of tsunami debris, and now Brian is actually bragging about it.  This time, it was a floating dock that washed up in Oregon.  I suspect that this isn't the last story we'll see about this particular piece of debris.
***Stop the presses!  Breaking News--Abraham Lincoln was assassinated!  Brian presented a 2:10 story about a doctor's account of the Lincoln assassination because it's much easier (and cheaper) to report 147-year-old news than to report current news.  Coming soon to Nightly News: The North wins the Civil War.  Naturally, as Brian introduced this story, an animated flag was again waving behind him.  Doesn't he ever get tired of shamelessly pandering for ratings?  Apparently not.
***Because Brian did not adequately exploit Sheryl Crow's brain tumor the previous night, he brought us another--much longer--story about it.  Tonight he spent two-and-a-half minutes on a "follow-up" story.  Definition of a Nightly News follow-up story: When the NBC News research department informs Brian and his producers that a previous story had high ratings, they immediately do another story on the subject to milk those ratings even more.  But it wasn't enough for Brian to merely exploit Crow's condition.  He also had to humiliate her by showing concert footage of her forgetting the lines to one of her songs.  I wonder how Brian would feel if a brain tumor caused him to forget his lines on the air and some scumbag leech played that footage over and over.  Expect many more stories about Crow and her tumor in the coming months.
***Guess what?  It's time for another story about the Shuttle Enterprise.  I'll let Brian tell it: "The Shuttle Enterprise has landed tonight after an amazing final journey up the Hudson River on a barge past the concrete canyons, the New York City skyline, Statue of Liberty and finally hoisted by crane onto its new home--the flight deck of the USS Intrepid the World War II-era aircraft carrier--it is now a museum.  The Enterprise, of course, was retired along with the entire NASA shuttle program last summer.  We put more of the stunning images of this day and the shuttle's Hudson River journey on our website...."  Amazing.  Stunning.  How about a little less amazing & stunning and a little more news & information?  That will never happen, of course, because news & information doesn't get big ratings.
***The final story of the broadcast was hilarious.  It was a "Making A Difference" piece--reported by none other than Brian Williams himself--about a NYC school called the Harlem Village Academies.  I don't know why Brian chose to report this story--maybe his kids went there, maybe he thinks it's good for his image--but I'm sure he must have had some ulterior motive.  Most "Making A Difference" stories run in the 2:15-2:20 range, but because this one was reported by King Brian, it was given a whopping 4:10.  And Brian made sure that he was on-screen for more than a minute during this story--so he personally hogged more than a quarter of the story's total air time.  None of the teachers or students were given nearly that much screen time.  But, of course, the story wasn't meant to be about the teachers or students, it was meant to be about Brian Williams and how wonderful and magnanimous he is for bringing the school to our attention.  I hope he didn't injure his shoulder from repeatedly patting himself on the back over this.  I know that I injured an abdominal muscle from laughing so hard at his narcissistic egomania.  My favorite part of the story was when Brian condescendingly talked to the students in a desperate attempt to make himself seem like a cool adult who was really just like them, only older.  I'm pretty sure none of the kids bought his sad self-promoting act.
Thurs. June 7--Whenever Nightly News has a few minutes to fill, they do another story on climate change where they repeat the same information over and over from previous reports.  And there's no one better at wasting time than the idiotic Anne Thompson who doesn't really seem to know much about anything.  Thank goodness for Wikipedia.  This story wasted 2:20 of valuable news time on previously-reported gobbledygook.  And just for good measure, they threw in ten seconds of bear videos because bears are cute--and cute animals help to boost the ratings.  Well done.
***Once again, Brian bragged about how much coverage he gives to tsunami debris washing up on the west coast.  This night he said, "As you know, we've been tracking the tsunami debris from the Japanese earthquake just now arriving on the shores of the Pacific Northwest...."  Oh--I hadn't noticed.  Except for the dozen or so tsunami debris stories Nightly News has already done.  A few tsunami debris stories are okay, but Nightly News has done them ad nauseam.  So Brian is actually boasting about how much time he wastes on silly stories.  This time, it was a floating dock that landed in Oregon.  So how many stories do you suppose Nightly News will report on the floating dock?  Stay tuned to find out.
***Great news--it's time for another alarmist medical story.  Nightly News does these stories all the time.  They called this one "Cancer Risk?" (of CT scans to children).  So don't ever allow your child to have a CT scan--even if he or she really needs one.  Here are some of the other ridiculous alarmist medical stories Nightly News has presented recently: "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), "Measles Outbreak" (4/19/12), "Hidden Hazard" (of kids swallowing batteries--5/14/12), the danger of the Flesh-Eating Virus (5/16/12), the "Health Risk" and "Hidden Risk" of antibiotics (5/17/12), the "Health Risk" and "Hidden Danger" of Hepatitis C (5/18/12), the "Cancer Risk?" (of sleep apnea--5/22/12) and the "Heart Risk" posed by calcium supplements (5/26/12).  Do you see a pattern here?  "Health Risk", "Hidden Risk", "Hidden Danger"--they use the same stupid alarmist titles over and over again.  Some of them contain question marks because that's a way to avoid legal action (the Nightly News producers are not making an accusation, they're simply asking a question).  These stories take small-risk situations (lipstick and cruises--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.  These stories are just ratings stunts.
***Immediately after the "Cancer Risk?" story, we were shown another alarmist story titled "Risky Behavior".  I guess the Sesame Street words for the day are "Risk" and Risky".  This story was about all the kooky things those crazy kids are doing these days.  Kids are smoking, drinking, taking drugs, having sex and texting while driving.  That's really some breaking news.
***Speaking of breaking news, Brian took 30 seconds to tell us about the death of Eugene Ferkauf, who started the Korvette's chain of discount stores in the 1950's.  Well I can certainly understand why Brian took time out to report this important obituary.
***The broadcast ended with a story about a falsely-accused man who, after being released from prison, got a try-out with the Seattle Seahawks.  It's obvious why Brian chose to report this story--because it has to do with the NFL.  One of Brian's main responsibilities on Nightly News is promoting NBC sports programs, and Sunday Night Football is always NBC's highest-rated program.  Remember--the NFL season begins in less than three months!  By the way, this story also included 24 seconds of Jay Leno footage because Brian's other main goal is promoting NBC entertainment shows.
***Here's how Brian signed off for the night: "And a reminder to please join us this evening for 'Rock Center' in its new home at 10 eastern, 9 central from this very studio."  How dignified--a network news anchor begging people to watch his other show.  Unfortunately, "Rock Center" didn't fare so well in the ratings.  It got a measly .7 rating (and a 2 share) among the important 18-49 demographic.  "Rock Center" actually managed to lose viewers from NBC's 9 PM show--the poorly-rated Canadian summer time-filler "Saving Hope".  That's just sad.  Brian should really wake up and smell the coffee--people don't like him or his stupid "Rock Center" show.  Take the hint.  Put "Rock Center" out to pasture once and for all.  The NBC execs would be grateful--they only keep that clunker on the schedule as a favor to Brian because they want to keep their "news star" happy.
Fri. June 8--During a story about the economic problems in Spain and Greece, commentary from financial analyst David Buik was accompanied by the on-screen logos of Apple, Intel, General Motors, Ford and McDonalds.  This sad display was just a way for the producers to shoehorn in a bunch of gratuitous product promotions for some of NBC's best advertisers.
***After that, we saw 45 seconds of "Wild Weather".  There's always wild weather somewhere in the U.S.  Does Nightly News really have to show us all of it every night?
***Here's how Brian introduced the story about I'll Have Another being scratched from the Belmont Stakes: "Now to the story people have been talking about all day--the news that broke a lot of hearts and scuttled a lot of betting plans today."  I didn't hear anyone talking about this.  I don't know anyone who even cared.  Then again, I don't hang around race tracks or OTB's with a bunch of degenerate gambling addicts.  You know whose hearts were broken?  The executives at NBC.  They were planning on big ratings for the Belmont if I'll Have Another was vying for the Triple Crown, but without the chance of a Triple Crown winner, their ratings could be heading into the toilet.  I'm sure the NBC weasels would have preferred to see the trainer keep the horse in the race, even if it meant endangering its life.  They would rather see the horse break a leg and have to be destroyed than suffer a ratings drop.  Too bad they didn't get their wish.  This story was reported by Anne Thompson.  Finally--the Nightly News producers found a story that Thompson wasn't too stupid to cover.  Talking about a nice horsey was just about right for her shallow intellectual capacity.  There was only one problem--I had a hard time telling the difference between Thompson and the horse.  I think the horse was the one that didn't dye its brown hair a hideous shade of blonde.
***Later, Brian showed us some YouTube video from the Middle East of what he wanted us to think was a UFO.  Turns out it was just a Russian ICBM missile.  What would Brian report on if he didn't have YouTube clips of UFO's, lions growling at toddlers from behind glass, idiotic engagement proposals, dancing wedding videos, infants talking to each other, soccer stars being comforted by their daughters and other garbage that he shows us every week.  I guess Brian would have to report actual news.  Thank God for YouTube.
***Speaking of which: The next "news story" was about a couple's wedding picture that also included a bear in the photo.  This is the second night in a row that Nightly News has featured bears.  And why not?  They're great for ratings.
***Then Brian took 36 seconds to tell us about a Boston transit driver who stopped his train in order to retrieve a stuffed bunny that a three-year-old girl had dropped out the window.  The bunny's name was Nummy.  Brian said "Nummy" six times.  Brian is a fucking moron for wasting our time with this shit.
***Another important story: The NPR "Car Talk" guys are retiring from their radio show.  Since the show originated from Boston, Brian made sure to use his fake New England accent and pronounce it as "Cah Talk".  Because it's always nice to condescend to a segment of your audience.
***It's hard to find the right words to describe the night's final story.  Pointless?  Indulgent?  Idiotic?  All are applicable.  Quick quiz: Who doesn't belong in this group: Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Academy Award winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, actress Jane Lynch, Actress Viola Davis and Brian Williams.  Answer: I think it's glaringly obvious who doesn't belong in this group.  These people all gave speeches that were all included in Nightly News's 2012 commencement story.  That's right--we got to spend four-and-a-half minutes listening to them talk mostly about nothing.  But the most hilarious part of the piece was that Brian forced his producers to include his own idiotic address along with the speeches of these genuine dignitaries.  But wait--it gets better.  This is actually the second time we got to hear Brian's address.  On May 20, Lester Holt spent nearly a minute reporting on Brian's commencement address at George Washington University.  So Brian's address actually got more air time than a mayor, a Supreme Court Associate Justice, an Oscar winning screenwriter, the creator of one of the most influential comic strips of all time and the chief of Google.  Can you imagine a more narcissistic, egomaniacal, self-promoting display?  Is there no containing Brian's massively out-of-control ego?  Was there no one at NBC News who could tell him how really tacky and inappropriate it is for a news anchor to include his own commencement address in a news story?  Apparently not.  And even if someone had said something to Brian, he probably would have just ignored them.  Or fired them.  Becaue he does whatever the hell he wants.  All the time.  He's Brian Fucking Williams.

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