Nightly News aired only five times this week--not exactly a "nightly" broadcast. But there was still time for lots of great stuff. Like "Rock Center" promos, the granny taunted on a bus, a 13-year-old chef and birthday celebrations for Paul McCartney and Prince William. Here's some of the other important stories you may have missed on NBC Nightly News this week:
Sat. June 16 & Sun. June 17--Sorry, Nightly News fans--there was no Nightly News on Saturday or Sunday because obviously the U.S. Open golf tournament was much more important. Meaning that it brought in tons of money so Nightly News can go take a hike. I love how all the weaselly execs at NBC pretend than news is so important, until they find something that pays better. Then news becomes like their first wife who they traded in for a young bleach blonde with implants.
Mon. June 18--At the beginning of the lead story about the elections in Egypt, Richard Engel interrupted Brian Williams and began talking while Brian was still introducing him. The producers probably want us to believe that this happened because of the delay from the satellite hook-up, but I'm pretty sure it happened because Richard is damn sick and tired of listening to Brian's long-winded egocentric introductions.
***In a story about the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Ben Rhodes was identified in a Nightly News graphic as the "Deputy National Security Advisor". On Friday, a Nightly News promo for "Meet The Press" identified David Plouffe as a "White House Senior Adviser". Advisor, adviser--whatever. The producers constantly alternate between the two spellings because no one at NBC News cares the slightest bit about uniformity. That's ironic because we all know that Brian acts like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert whenever he sees anyone in a U.S. Military uniform. So apparently uniforms matter, but uniformity doesn't. Interesting.
***Pete Williams continues to be my hero. As Brian introduced Pete's report about the verdict in the Roger Clemens case, he tried (as he always does) to bait Pete with a syrupy "Good evening. Pete". And as usual, Pete ignored Brian and started right in with his story, refusing to say "Good evening" to him. Brian is always so desperate to make viewers think that correspondents such as Pete really, really like him, when it seems obvious that they don't.
***A story about the Jerry Sandusky trial was really just a narcissistic self-promotional piece for Brian and NBC News President Steve Capus. This story contained a 10-second clip of David Gregory and Savannah Guthrie discussing the Sandusky case on "Today" as well as a ridiculously overlong 1:09 excerpt from Bob Costas's interview with Sandusky that originally ran on the 11/14/11 "Rock Center". So nearly half of this 2:49 report consisted of promos for other NBC News shows. Not surprisingly, Brian and his producers are using a child-rape trial as an excuse to promote "Rock Center" by showing a seemingly endless loop of Costas's interview with Sandusky. Have they no shame?
***A "news story" about Paul McCartney turning 70 (breaking news if ever there was) included a clip of Paul singing "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" at the Queen's Jubilee. One sleazy trick Brian uses to boost his ratings is peppering the broadcast with pop and classic-rock songs (just last Thursday it was "L.A. Woman") because viewers really like them. And obviously there is no better band than the Beatles to get and keep the viewers' attention. It had only been two weeks since Brian last played a clip of Paul singing at the Queen's Jubilee.
***Here's how Brian began the next story: "For NASCAR fans who are part of Dale Nation, yesterday was a big one..." He went on to tell us that Dale Earnhardt Jr. won a race in Michigan on Sunday. NASCAR viewers are a very large and important demographic, so reporting this story (and other NASCAR stories) is just another part of Brian's calculated strategy to attract viewers and boost his ratings. Same as his Paul McCartney story. They're all part of the same calculated ratings strategy.
***Then it was time for Brian to tell us that another piece of tsunami debris has washed up in Washington state. Clearly, Brian intends to tell us about each individual piece of tsunami debris that washes up on U.S. shores. It's going to be a long, long summer.
***The final story was about a 13-year-old chef in L.A. Idiotic correspondent Kristen Dahlgren called him "one of the country's hottest chefs". That's not even a speck on the boulder of the truth. He has a few enthusiastic fans who showed up at the restaurants he sporadically cooks at. Of course, the specific facts of the story are not important. What we really should be asking is why this 2:15 story was put on a news broadcast in the first place. There's absolutely nothing about this story that remotely qualifies as news. And it's even more egregious when you consider that because golf pre-empted Nightly News during the weekend, Nightly News hasn't been on the air since Friday. So after going 72 hours without news, this is what Brian and his producers decide to show us. That's an insult. They were already scrambling to catch up on all the weekend news that they missed--in addition to Monday's news. So how can they possibly justify this idiotic story? I guess it would be one thing if Nightly News was actually a news broadcast, but it's really just an aggregate news collector. They put on a few news stories, a few entertainment stories a few general interest stories and voila--instant broadcast. Even more appalling--during the broadcast, the producers hyped this silly pseudo-celebrity chef story with three promos totalling 21 seconds, which is more time than they sometimes spend on important stories like Syria. And as if all that wasn't bad enough, the promo for this story at the top of the broadcast carried the banner "Top Chef" because Brian and his producers are sleazy enough to use a promo to plug the show "Top Chef"--which airs on Bravo (owned by Comcast NBC Universal). This whole story is so dirty that it makes me want to take a shower. And I'm not even talking about a regular shower--I need one of those Silkwood-type super-high-pressure chemical showers.
Tues. June 19--Nightly News took two minutes to report on the hot weather around the country. As if that's actually news. And guess what--we already know it's hot. We have local TV and radio news for that. We don't need them to tell us. This was another story reported by the idiotic Anne Thonpson. Has she ever reported an original story? Her reporting style is to constantly regurgitate the same information over and over and over. Just like most Nightly News correspondents.
***The next story was about how Asians are now the fastest-growing immigrant group in the U.S. Of course, we all know what that means: Brian and his producers are now going to spend as much time pandering to Asians as they spend pandering to Latinos and African Americans. And speaking of pandering, as Brian introduced this story, there were two flags on-screen at the same time. Because pandering to good-ol' regular Americans is also still very important at Nightly News.
***Kate Snow spent 2:40 reporting on heroin addiction in Chicago. Okay--but why is this news? With Snow riding around in a patrol car, it looked more like an episode of "Cops" than a news segment.
***Brian took 35 seconds to show us video of a woman who got fed up with being patted down at airport security, so she began to pat down the TSA employee. This is news? Oh well, as you know, Brian gets to show us whatever he wants.
***Then he showed us some photos of a Chinese farmer herding 5,000 ducks. Because Nightly News is all about reporting important stuff. Really. I mean it.
***The broadcast ended with a 3:10 story about Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones, who hopes to win gold in London next month after missing out on a medal in Beijing. Let's see--why would the Nightly News producers show us this story? Hmmm...why, why, why? Oh yeah--now I remember. Because NBC is televising the London Olympics and every two years Nightly News gets turned into a shameless Olympic promotional vehicle. For the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Nightly News showed 160 minutes of Olympic-related "news stories" (that's the equivalent of seven entire Nightly News broadcasts). So how much time will Nightly News spend promoting the London Olympics? Since the Olympics are all about breaking records, I'd count on the Nightly News producers breaking their 2010 record. By a wide margin. And by the way, during this story news shill Kevin Tibbles made sure to tell us that Jones's training regimen was developed by her sponsor Red Bull. And we got several nice shots of the Red Bull logo. Because it's not only the job of the Nightly News producers to promote the Olympics, it's also their job to promote Olympic sponsors. Well done.
Wed. June 20--As Brian spent an interminable 55 seconds introducing the lead story about a House committee that voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, there was an animated flag waving behind Brian's head. Why? Because the story took place in the U.S.? Doesn't he ever get sick of pandering? I guess not. And why does he need to talk for so long? Can't he let the reporter (who might actually know something about the story) have some extra time? Of course not. The news is always about Brian.
***During this story, Rep. Darrell Issa was identified in a Nightly News graphic as "Rep. Jason Chaffetz". You'd think that someone at Nightly News would be given the responsibility for correctly identifying members of Congress. Especially considering that this isn't the first time a slip-up like this has happened. In fact, the Nightly News producers once managed to mis-identify two members of Congress on two consecutive nights. On the 3/17/09 broadcast, they identified Rep. Carolyn McCarthy as "Rep. Carolyn Maloney". And the very next night, they identified Rep. Barney Frank as "Rep. Paul Kanjorski". Ironically, Carolyn Maloney was shown in today's Eric Holder story--and she was correctly identified. Too bad we can't say the same for Darrell Issa. So congrats Rep. Issa--you now join the elite (but growing) group of congressmembers who have been mis-identified by a Nightly News producer.
***After a 2:15 story about the Jerry Sandusky trial (which miraculously did not include any "Rock Center" clips), Savannah Guthrie was brought in to share her expert commentary. She makes a practice of stating the obvious, and she rarely adds any insight to the situation. In this case, she managed to go on for 35 seconds, and all she ended up saying was that the jury would be deciding the verdict. Really? Thanks, Perry Mason. And here's how Brian introduced her: "Watching this, it looks relentless--the evidence against this man. As a lawyer, though, you were cautioning us earlier today--what should we think about this?" It never fails. Every single time Brian introduces Guthrie, he makes sure to state that she's a lawyer. Like that's so impressive. Last I heard, there wasn't exactly a shortage of lawyers in this country. Maybe she should switch to something more productive. Like cabinet making. Or auto repair.
***In a story about a San Francisco fire, Brian made sure to tell us that, "Firefighters bravely made a fast attack...." Brian loves to tell us about brave firefighters. I guess that's not a bad ratings strategy. You can't go wrong pandering to viewers by praising firefighters.
***Hey--it's really hot out there! And here's the idiotic Anne Thompson to spend two-and-a-half minutes telling you all about it. Because you probably didn't know. So over two days, Thompson has managed to spend four-and-a-half minutes talking about the hot weather. What a great allocation of news time. By contrast, over at CBS, Scott Pelley spent a total of fifteen seconds (on Wednesday only) talking about the heat. But that's really not a fair comparison. After all, Pelley is a journalist who understands that his job is to report important news stories. Brian is a carnival barker whose job is to promote himself, his sponsors and NBC's sports and entertainment shows. It's like comparing apples and oranges.
***Kate Snow spent another three minutes reporting on heroin addiction. Do we really need almost six minutes on this subject over two days? No, we don't.
***Here' show Brian began the next story: "We wanted to take a quick second here to talk about space." Okay--for one thing--there is no "we". It's him--Brian. He's the one who constantly wastes so much news time reporting on things happening thousands or millions of miles away. And "a quick second"? This story took up 1:10. In just the past two months, Brian has presented fourteen stories about space or space travel--including four stories about the Supermoon and three stories about the Ring of Fire eclipse. These stories have taken up more than twelve minutes of valuable news time. And he has the nerve to say he's taking a "quick second here to talk about space"? What an asshole. I'll let him finish his soliloquy: "Specifically, something really extraordinary that's taking place this week in the skies above our country--the International Space Station orbits the Earth sixteen times a day...Especially if you have kids or if you yourself grew up AS I DID in the space era, it's an awesome sight...Channel your inner Clark W. Griswold and as you watch, remember--it's a home to six people up there travelling 17,000 miles an hour. They're over 200 miles high above the Earth and we happen to know they watch this broadcast on a NASA upload, so it's only fair to them that we watch them back this week." Can you believe that? Can you believe his fucking nerve? He just gets to say whatever the hell he wants every night and no one ever bothers to rein him in. He managed to use one of his favorite phrases--"As I did"--because the news is always about Brian. Then he threw in a reference to Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase's character from the National Lampoon Vacation movies) to show us how hip he thinks he is. And on top of all that, he had the nerve to brag that the astronauts watch his broadcast! Because they have so much free time up there that they can just kick back and watch some tube. Actually, I'd like to see some paperwork on that. Brian is a serial exaggerator and liar, so I wouldn't take anything he says at face value. Every time he brags about NBC's ratings for an award show or sports event, his numbers are always higher than what I read in the paper the next day. Here's another example of Brian being untruthful: On 1/8/10, when Brian appeared on "The Jay Leno Show", Jay asked him about Nightly News's coverage of the Tiger Woods meltdown (Woods had recently crashed his car and was a target of the tabloid press). Brian said, "We have done the Tiger Woods story I think twice and the second time was just the business impact...." That was not a truthful response. Let me refresh Brian's memory: From the time of Woods's car crash on 11/27/09 through Brian's appearance on Leno's show, Nightly News did no fewer than five Tiger Woods stories (11/27, 12/2, 12/11, 12/12 and 12/13) although they may have actually done more than that. Brian intentionally understated the number of Tiger Woods stories Nightly News had reported in order to make his broadcast appear more serious and less frivolous. Another instance where Brian lies: Any time he and his producers anticipate that Nightly News will earn less-than-desired ratings (such as if Brian is not anchoring on a weeknight), they will submit their show to the Nielsen rating service intentionally misspelled (as "Nitely News") because that way the lower-rated "Nitely News" broadcasts are counted in a separate category from Nightly News, and as such don't bring down the show's ratings. It's fudging the numbers. Cheating. So when Brian tells us that astronauts watch Nightly News, I'd take it with a grain of salt. I think that's only happening in his fantasy world, where Brian is a military pilot and an astronaut. This sickening story about the space station is one of the most appallingly narcissistic stories Brian has ever reported. And that's saying an awful lot.
***The final story of the night was about saving coral reefs in Florida, but after writing about that last space station story, I just don't have the energy to offer any more criticism.
Thurs. June 21--The lead story about the Jerry Sandusky trial included a clip from "Rock Center With Bob Costas". What a surprise. This was followed by another Sandusky story whose only purpose was to promote that night's "Rock Center".
***Later, we saw a story about George Zimmerman's videotaped statement to the Sanford police. Brian didn't say whether or not Zimmerman's statement had been altered by NBC News, like his earlier 911 tapes had been.
***As Brian introduced the next four stories--the resignation of Commerce Secretary John Bryson, the sparring between Attorney General Eric Holder and Congress, the Supreme Court decision regarding indecency on network television and Mitt Romney's immigration speech--there was a giant animated flag waving behind his head the entire time he was on camera. Beacuse Brian Williams loves this country more than any other news anchor, godammit! And don't you fucking forget it.
***When Brian reported that the Supreme Court had voided fines and penalties against ABC and Fox that had been imposed by the FCC (for nudity and profanity), he refused to mention ABC and Fox by name. In keeping with his policy to never, ever mention competing networks, he would only refer to them as "broadcasters". Obviously, Brian is scared that if he mentions another network by name, Nightly News will lose viewers.
***The story about Romney's immigration speech included a clip from the Jan. 23 Republican debate which aired on "Rock Center". That was the third "Rock Center" clip shown this night on Nightly News. That's hardly surprising, since Brian's main goal is to sleazily and shamefully promote "Rock Center" (which would be airing later that night). It didn't help--"Rock Center" had the same abyssmal ratings that it gets every week.
***Brian then took 2:05 to report a story about a bunch of middle school kids who were caught on video taunting their elderly bus monitor. Because Nightly News is a serious newscast.
***Before the commercial, Brian promoted an upcoming story this way: "Up next--a happy customer who saw and enjoyed the show we recommended last night in her own back yard." And here's the actual story Brian read: "And last night here we urged you to grab the family, grab the kids, grab somebody and go outside on a cloudless night away from any lights to see the International Space Station fly overhead. At 16 orbits a day it will get to wherever you are eventually. And in the next few days, east coasters are gonna get a good bright view of it passing over faster than any plane across the sky. Well, we've already heard from one viewer, a nice woman named Becky who writes, 'Last night after you reported about being able to view the ISS in many parts of the U.S., I did my homework, found on the NASA website when and where to look, called my neighbors and dragged sleepy husbands out to our fields to get a first-hand look. While fighting off an army of hungry mosquitoes, but exactly on time, we were absolutely thrilled to be treated to a spectacular show of the ISS streaking across the evening sky! Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm and sense of wonder. We do live in an amazing world!' Well, Becky, thank you and look at our website for when the space station will be passing over where you live." It might be hard to believe that a news anchor could be that incredibly egotistic and self-promoting--except for the fact that Brian has been doing it for the past seven years. He wasted 1:10 the previous night begging us to watch the ISS because space shit is a hobby of his. But as if that wasn't bad enough, he took another 1:10 to basically pat himself on the back for being wonderful enough to tell us about it! So he wasted 2:20 over two nights telling us to look up in the sky. What an arrogant, presumptuous, fatuous asshole. He thinks it's perfectly okay to waste news time talking about his hobbies! And there's not a single person at NBC News with the balls to stand up to him. Brian Williams is a fucking joke. Nightly News is a fucking joke.
***And just in case you need further proof, the final story of the night was a "news story" about Prince William's 30th birthday. Brian will air any story about the Royal Family--no matter how inane--because these stories always get high ratings. And that's what Brian cares about--ratings. Not covering the world, not informing people--just ratings. In the past five weeks, Nightly News has shown 22 minutes worth of stories about the Royal Family--including Brian's idiotic reports about Prince Charles as a weatherman and as a DJ. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Brian Williams is a professional journalist.
***Naturally, Brian ended the broadcast by begging people to watch "Rock Center". Shameless.
***Meanwhile, on CBS, Scott Pelley reported that a Syrian pilot had defected to Jordan and that Aung San Suu Kyi had made an historic address to Britain's parliament. But Brian ignored these stories because he had to tell us about the elderly bus monitor who was taunted, the International Space Station (for the second time) and Prince William's 30th birthday. Great job. Keep up the good work.
Fri. June 22--The lead story was about Philadelphia Monsignor William Lynn, who was convicted of child endangerment for failing to remove a pedophile priest. It was reported by the idiotic Anne Thompson. Anyone who has ever seen Thompson's previous reports on Catholic matters would know how incredibly biased she is in favor of the church. Allowing her to report on the church would be like allowing Jerry Sandusky to report on the Boy Scouts.
***Speaking of which--after a story about the Sandusky verdict watch, Savannah Guthrie was brought in to once again state the obvious. She told us that some of the jurors may have reasonable doubt in their minds. Really? Thanks for the brilliant legal analysis, Louise Brandeis.
***At the end of Richard Engel's report about the Egyptian election, anchor Lester Holt asked Engel about a Turkish jet that had been shot down after entering Syrian air space. And while Holt was asking about this, there was an animated U.S. flag waving behind his head! During a story about Turkey and Syria! We know that the Nightly News producers shamelessly flaunt the animated American flag behind Lester and Brian during stories about the U.S., but now it seems they're even using it for foreign stories. Appallingly ridiculous.
***David Gregory reported a silly, overlong story about how Obama and Romney are competing for Latino votes. This was just a 3:05 promo for Sunday's "Meet The Press", which would be featuring Marco Rubio as Gregory's guest.
***A story about falling gas prices featured comments from four different motorists filling up at various gas stations. Yeah, that's a really good cross-section of the public. What do you suppose their feelings are about gas prices?
***After that, we saw a follow-up story about the granny bus monitor who was taunted by middle school students. Some of the kids apologized! And an internet fund-raising drive has collected over $500,000 for her retirement! Awesome! So the producers decided to take a story that didn't even deserve to be on Nightly News once and they put it on Nightly News twice. That seems about right. After all, Nightly News isn't about informing viewers, it's about generating ratings. If the taunted granny story is trending on Yahoo and Google, it definitely gets on Nightly News. Twice. I heard a rumor that the taunted granny will be Ann Curry's replacement on "The Today Show".
***Wait! Stop! Hold the presses! Or cameras (or whatever you hold on a televised newscast). Lester Holt has some breaking news: It's National Take Your Dog To Work Day! I guess that would explain why Anne Thompson was in the NBC News studios.
***The broadcast ended with stories about doping allegations against Lance Armstrong, the Miami Heat winning the NBA Championship, the Greece-Germany soccer match and the 40th anniversary of Title IX, which mandates equality in school sports. The Title IX story featured interviews with tennis legend Billie Jean King, Rutgers basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer and U.S. Olympic hockey gold medalist Angela Ruggiero. So basically, the last quarter of the broadcast was about sports. I guess that's a good strategy. Viewers are more interested in sports than news, so a sports theme will generate higher ratings than a news theme. And if your goal is to get high ratings any way possible, then that's a good way of doing so.
***Here are some stories Nightly News did not report on this day: Taliban terrorists killed at least 20 at an Afghanistan resort because people there were drinking alcohol and dancing; The Paraguayan senate voted to impeach President Fernando Lugo; And in Norway, the Anders Breivik trial concluded after ten weeks. Nightly News did not cover any of these stories, but at least we know all about the taunted granny bus monitor (for the second straight day) and National Take Your Dog To Work Day. Well done, Nightly News producers.