Friday, July 13, 2012

Brian Williams & NBC Nightly News Show Notes: 7/7/12 Through 7/13/12 (Updated--Full Week)

There was lots of important news breaking on Nightly News this week.  Mars & the Sun.  Tom & Katie.  Kate & Pippa.  Becks & Posh.  The Olympics & more Olympics.  Here's what you may have missed:

Sat. July 7--Instead of just reporting on the heat, Nightly News is now reporting on the "Dangerous Heat".  Because when you put the word "Dangerous" (or "Deadly") in front of something, you get better ratings.  And let's face it--ratings are all the Nightly News producers care about.
***During a story about Stockton, California filing for bankruptcy, the producers put up an on-screen list of local government entities that had also filed for bankruptcy around the country.  "County Hospital SC" was listed twice.  Was it an erroneous double listing or were there two different hospitals that filed for bankruptcy?  We don't know because it was never explained.  Typical.
***Breaking news!  Shark sightings off Cape Cod.  Well, duh.  It's the ocean and that's where sharks are usually found, geniuses.  Another pointless report from the idiotic Anne Thompson, whose job seems to be hanging out in nice vacation spots where she can have a fun time.  Naturally, the producers inserted a gratuitous clip from "Jaws" because it just isn't possible to report a story without using one or more movie clips.  (They also used a "Jaws" clip during the intro at the top of the broadcast because the Nightly News producers don't know the meaning of the word "overkill".  Unless it's part of a sensationalistic story title.)
***More breaking news--it's the running of the bulls in Pamplona.  I think the Nightly News producers really missed a golden opportunity.  Instead of separate stories about sharks and bulls, they should have shown a story about sharks and bulls fighting.  That's what the viewers really want to see and that's a story that would have generated high ratings.  Soon, one can only hope.
***The "Making A Difference" report this night was about former NFL star Tra Thomas who trains and mentors Camden teens.  That's nice, but this isn't news so why is this on a news broadcast?  I'll tell you why--because it's less than two months until the start of the NFL season.  And Sunday Night Football is NBC's highest-rated program.  So this story is just a way to whet viewers' appetites for football.  It's a promo for NBC's Sunday Night Football broadcasts.  It's as simple as that.  This isn't rocket science, people.
***Nightly News spent 26 seconds this night reporting on the Libyan elections--less time than they took to report that Serena Williams had won Wimbledon.  Obviously, the producers have their priorities.
Sun. July 8--Not surprisingly, the lead story was the "Extreme Heat".  Lester Holt told us that since June, 66 people have died from the heat.  Meanwhile, on ABC's World News that night, they reported the death toll at 35.  Hmmm...who should we believe?  The sensationalistic liars at NBC or the journalists at ABC.  I think I'll go with ABC.  Just call it a hunch.
***After the "Extreme Heat", we saw a report about the "Deadly Floods" in Europe.  Is there any doubt that Nightly News is the Daily News of network newscasts?
***Next, there was a 2:05 story about the Wimbledon men's final.  But that wasn't really what the story was about.  We saw clips of Kate & Pippa Middleton and Becks & Posh.  Cool!  And Annabel Roberts made sure to tell us that Wimbledon would be the site of the Olympics tennis competition in less than three weeks.  I've forgotten--which network is televising the Olympics?  Oh now I remember--it's NBC.
***Okay, that story may have been frivolous, but now it's time for some real news.  And here it is:  A report about adult outdoor playgrounds used for fitness training.  Adults go there and work out.  That's really it--that's the story.  No wonder the producers gave this story two-and-a-half minutes of news time.  I hope the Peabody Evaluation Committee members were watching this gem.
***In keeping with the theme of hard news, we next saw a story on ATV safety.  In 2010, 55 kids younger than 16 were killed in ATV accidents.  I'm surprised they didn't title this story "Deadly ATVs".  There's another two-and-a-half minutes of my life that I'll never get back.
***Lester then took 30 seconds to tell us about the death of Ernest Borgnine.  Fair enough--an accomplished Oscar-winning actor like Borgnine deserves an obit on Nightly News.
***The final story was a 2:15 piece about a viral YouTube clip in which a 32-year-old director interviews his 12-year-old self.  Clever, but certainly not news.  Then again, the Nightly News producers aren't at all concerned with what's news and what's not news.  They're only concerned with getting the highest ratings, and stories about viral YouTube clips get the job done nicely.  If five million people watch a clip on YouTube, that's a pretty good reason to show it on Nightly News.  The producers figure that should translate to a lot of TV viewers.  This particular story was given the title "Back to the Future".  The Nightly News producers love to give their "news stories" the titles of movies, TV shows or songs because if a title is familiar to the viewers, they are more likely to watch the story and therefore the ratings will increase.  Here are some of the titles the producers have used for their stories in the past three months: "To Catch A Thief", "Top Chef", "A League of Her Own" (similar to the movie "A League of Their Own"), "Risky Business" (five different times), "All in the Family", "Father Knows Best", "The Natural", "Ring of Fire", "A Star Is Born", "Modern Family", "Moonstruck" (three times), "Coming to America" and "The Rising".  (I think it's obvious which immature Springsteen-obsessed idiot came up with that last one.)  By the way, during the broadcast Lester read four promos for the "Back to the Future" story--totalling an astonishing 40 seconds.  That's more time than they spent reporting on the deadly European floods.  They could have reported an entire news story in the time it took them to promote this silly fluff piece.  And one of these promos included the Steve Miller Band song "Fly Like An Eagle".  Using pop songs to promote stories is another trick of the Nightly News producers.  When viewers hear a classic, familiar song that they like, it reinforces whatever it's being used to promote.  Not unlike Pavlov's dogs.  "Fly Like An Eagle" makes us salivate for the story it's promoting.  And they're not just using random songs.  They employ research to determine which songs resonate strongest among viewers.  That's why this is the third time "Fly Like An Eagle" has been used in Nightly News stories in the past 15 months (the other dates were 4/3/11 and 4/16/12).  Remember--nothing happens randomly on Nightly News.  Everything the producers do is part of some calculated scheme or trick to get the viewers to watch.  That's how the Nightly News producers operate.  Like sleazy ad execs or bumbling rogue secret agents.  Like Darrin Stephens crossed with Maxwell Smart.
Mon. July 9--Obviously, the lead stories were about the hot weather.  Brian Williams told us that 90 people have died from the heat so far this summer.  Over at CBS, Scott Pelley put the number at 65.  Oh oh--someone's not telling the truth.  If Brian continues to lie like this, his surgically-altered nose will start growing back to its original size--just like Pinocchio.  Janet Shamlian spent two minutes reporting on how the heat was affecting Arkansas cow farmers, for all the bovophiles out there.
***During a story about the verbal jousting over tax cuts in Washington, a clip of Mitch McConnell on CNN's "State of the Union" did not identify either the show or the network.  The Nightly News producers don't like to mention other networks because they're scared that their viewers will switch channels.
***Next, Richard Engel spent four minutes reporting on his recent trip to Syria.  Engel is one of the few honorable correspondents at NBC News.  His sole interest is in reporting the news, not in promoting himself or the broadcast.  But Brian Williams--not so honorable.  Brian described Engel's report as "exclusive" even though dozens of networks have correspondents reporting from Syria.  Brian frequently lies about the exclusivity of Nightly News reports in order to help boost his ratings.  I think I just saw Brian's nose grow a little bit more.
***After that, we were treated to a three-minute story about how retirees are being helped by high-tech devices.  Oh yeah--that's really breaking news.  Here's how he introduced the story: "As more and more Americans head down the road to retirement, one of the biggest juggling acts is the one that takes place when WE become caregivers for family members."  We.  Because the news is always about Brian.  At the end of the story, Nancy Snyderman jumped on the "me, me, me" bandwagon and told us that her parents were 85 and 89.  I'm surprised she didn't show us pictures.  Guess what, Nancy--no one watching Nightly News cares how old your parents are. 
***Brian then spent 55 seconds reading an obituary for Ernest Borgnine.  I really experienced a feeling of deja vu when I heard this.  That's because Lester had already read an obit for Borgnine on Sunday.  So Borgnine got two separate obits totalling nearly a minute-and-a-half, but Yitzhak Shamir got only a single 27-second obit on June 30.  Yes--the Nightly News producers really have their priorities straight.  This was part of Brian's obit, "Perhaps the most notable thing about Ernest Borgnine was his ten years in the U.S. Navy."  Uh, no, you idiot.  The most notable thing about Borgnine was his Oscar and the hundreds of films and TV shows in which he appeared.  But Brian is the chief propaganda officer for the U.S Military, so his first obligation is to emphasize military service over everything else.  Just another way in which his personal interests skew the way he delivers news.
***Speaking of which--Brian next told us that the Washington Monument would be closed for a few years for repair.  Brian reports on the Washington Monument like it was breaking news.  Back in September--a full month after the quake that damaged it--Brian reported six stories about the Monument.  I guess he felt the need to inform us about every individual crack that was found.  Obviously Brian reports so frequently on the Washington Monument because it is part of his ratings-grabbing strategy in which he pretends to care so much about Americana.  It's the same strategy that's responsible for the virtually non-stop animated flag that waves behind his head.  By manipulating his image and painting himself as a flag-waving, USA-loving, NASCAR-watching blue collar guy, he insures that he will get high ratings from those heartland viewers between the coasts.  It's a ratings ploy, like just about everything else he does.
***"If you're among those who contend that life is just made better by a dog, well now there's proof...."  This is how an actual network news anchor began an actual news story.  Seriously.  I'm not kidding.  Look it up.  It's absolutely amazing that Brian gets to say shit like this.  He just reports on whatever the hell he wants without any consideration for news value.  He likes Springsteen so we get lots of Springsteen stories.  He likes outer space, so we get lots of stories about the planets.  He likes firefighters, so we get stories about them.  JFK, the British Royal Family, Michelle Obama--they all get lots of time on Nightly News because Brian says so.  And, of course, dogs.  Brian likes dogs so he gets to manipulate his broadcast to include lots of dog stories.  In case you were wondering, the story was about a report concluding that children tend to be more healthy if there is a dog in the family.  Wow do I miss Charles Gibson.  In the three years he anchored ABC's World News, he never ever allowed his personal feelings--positive or negative--to influence his reporting.  I had no idea if he liked dogs, jello, curling, break dancing or building sand castles because he never made the news into a reality show about all the stuff HE liked.  Unlike Brian, who makes every Nightly News broadcast all about HIM.  It's sickening, really.
***Here's a real treat--Brian then spent 30 seconds showing us a photo of a shark pursuing a kayaker.  On Saturday, Nightly News devoted two-and-a-half minutes to sharks off Cape Cod.  And now this.  I guess it must be Shark Week at Nightly News.  But every week is Shark Week (or Whale or Dolphin or Penguin Week) at Nightly News.  Why?  Because Brian likes sharks and whales and dolphins and penguins.  Did you really need to ask?
***Did I mention that Brian also likes outer space?  Because he does.  So he spent 25 seconds showing us a photo collage of the Mars landscape.
***But I wouldn't want anyone to get the impression that Nightly News isn't serious about reporting the news.  On this night, the broadcast ended with a riveting two-minute story about Tom & Katie's divorce.  It was reported by Kristen Dahlgren, who may actually be the shallowest of all the shallow Nightly News reporters.  And that's no easy feat.
***So let's recap:  Hot weather, retirement tips, Ernest Borgnine redux, the Washington Monument, dogs, sharks, Mars and Tom & Katie.  Yes--Nightly News is a serious news broadcast.
Tues. July 10--The lead story was ostensibly about cost-cutting budget measures in Scranton, PA.  But really it was about firefighters and police officers.  Because a big part of Brian's fake "regular-guy" image revolves around exploiting firefighters and police for ratings.  It's a pretty good strategy.  After all, no anchor ever lost viewers by showing stories about firefighters and police.
***Here's something special--Anne Thompson doing a report on climate change.  Well, it's not really that special.  In fact, she does this same story just about every week.  Sometimes twice.  And they're all identical.  She spews the same Wiki-information out over and over and over again ad nauseam.  And her producers use the same old stock videos of fires, floods, hail, droughts and arctic ice in all her stories.  It's like a "climate change's greatest hits" video on an endless loop.  Available from K-Tel.  She last did this story on July 5.  I guess we'll see another one on July 15.
***Brian then took 30 seconds to give us a follow-up on the Colorado firefighters who had no health insurance.  Soon they'll have health insurance.  Great.  Another story on firefighters.  What a surprise.  Brian made sure to tell us it was an update "to a story we aired just a few days back", implying that HIS original story is the reason that the President and Congress are providing insurance to these firefighters.  Add humility to Brian's other traits.
***Next, Nancy Snyderman did a story about a child who needs a bone marrow transplant.  I should say another story about a child who needs a bone marrow transplant.  She already did similar stories on June 14 & June 26.  So in three weeks, she devoted more than eight minutes to bone marrow stories.  Maybe that's not a lot for Discovery Fit & Health or the Live Well Network, but it's a bit much for a general-purpose news broadcast.  And when Snyderman isn't reporting bone marrow stories, she's reporting sensationalist, exploitative stories with alarmist titles like "Hidden Risk", "Hidden Danger", "Health Risk" and "Hidden Hazard".  The "Hidden Hazard" of kids swallowing batteries was one of her masterpieces.
***Did you know that some ultra-wealthy Americans are renouncing their citizenship to live in countries with low tax rates?  After 2:15 on this breaking news story, you know now.  Speaking of the ultra-wealthy, I wonder if Brian is ever tempted to move out of the country for tax purposes.
***Time for some important stories about the Olympic torch and the uniforms for the U.S. Olympic team.  Good thing Nightly News isn't over-exploiting this Olympic thing.  Because that would be bad.
***Breaking News--Spam turned 75 years old.  And that's certainly worthy of 25 seconds of Nightly News airtime.  Brian is always happy to do a favor for a regular NBC advertiser like Hormel, maker of lots of great meat and meat-like products.  Here's part of Brian's testimonial to Spam: "All of US who lived on it at one time in our lives came to respect it, if not love it."  All of US.  Again, the news is about Brian.
***The final story was another anniversary--the 50th anniversary of the TelStar Satellite.  It's hardly surprising that Brian would choose to report this story.  After all, satellites are part of TV news, and if there's one thing Brian likes reporting on, it's his own profession.  It's like reporting on himself.  Naturally, the story featured a clip of JFK.  Brian frequently peppers his news stories with Kennedy clips because the Kennedys are very popular and they help boost his ratings.  This is the 23rd time this year that Brian has used a Kennedy clip or photo in a news story (and more than half of these stories were entirely about one or more members of the Kennedy family).  The TelStar story was titled "Back to the Future".  Just two days earlier, the Nightly News producers had given the same title to a completely different story (about a 32-year-old director who interviewed his 12-year-old self).  The same title twice in three days.  The producers aren't very creative, are they?  In fact, they seem kind of stupid.  My favorite part of Brian's narration was when he said, "We just now assume that when something happens from Cairo to Cameroon to Cleveland, Ohio, we will have live pictures of it instantly."  Cameroon?  That's hilarious.  When was the last time Nightly News reported on Cameroon, or even mentioned it, for that matter.  Did George Clooney ever travel there on a humanitarian mission?  If so, that would be the only reason for Nightly News ever to cover Cameroon.  Maybe Brian is confusing Cameroon with British PM David Cameron.  That's an understandable mistake.
***After Brian signed off for the night, there was an astounding 30 seconds of dead air time.  For that duration, all we saw was a video of the New York City skyline accompanied by the Nightly News theme music.  Thirty seconds.  That's an awful lot of time.  That would be enough time to cover an entire story.  For example: Hundreds were killed and hundreds of thousands were forced to flee from the Democratic Republic of Congo as rebel troops continue to fight government soldiers.  Also, Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga was sentenced by the International Criminal Court to 14 years in prison for recruiting underage children and forcing them to fight as soldiers.  And former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert was found guilty of one count of corruption but acquitted on two other counts.  Nightly News could have covered any of these stories--perhaps all three--in those 30 seconds.  But obviously they didn't.  Brian doesn't like to report foreign news because it gets low ratings.  Especially news from Africa.  Well, at least we know all about bone marrow transplants, the Olympic uniforms and Spam's 75th anniversary.  Great job, Brian.
Wed. July 11--During the first three stories, there was an animated U.S. flag waving behind Brian's head.  This flag is one of his favorite ratings ploys--it allows him to pander to the good ol' middle American folks who believe that everything is better if it has a flag on it.  Samuel Johnson famously said, "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."  He might as well also have said that it's the last refuge of a sleazy, pandering anchor who is desperate for ratings.
***It had been a while since we last got a story about tsunami debris, so we were treated to two-and-a-half minutes of stuff that has washed up on U.S. shores.  This was mostly old footage of the debris that had already been featured in previous Nightly News stories, so it was more like Tsunami Debris's Greatest Hits.
***Next, we saw a 2:45 story about I'll Have Another, the horse that withdrew from the Belmont Stakes after winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown.  NBC is heavily invested in televising horse racing, so the purpose of this story was obviously to drum up viewer interest in NBC's race coverage.  Congratulations to the Nightly News producers for continuing to milk this story long after the expiration date has passed.
***Brian then spent 40 seconds showing us footage of the July 4 fireworks mishap in San Diego, where all the fireworks went off at once.  Nightly News had already reported this story on July 5, so this was the second time this story has aired.  During his narration, Brian said, "And WE native New Jerseyans are getting over the embarrassment that it was the Garden State Fireworks Company that misfired."  That's nothing compared to the embarrassment of most New Jerseyans, who are sadly aware that one of their own is the biggest ass on television.
***Speaking of television, here's an important story that Brian reported: Sony and Nielsen got together to announce the most memorable TV moments of the past 50 years.  Brian loves to report stories like this because showing memorable TV moments brings him high ratings.  Certainly higher than if he were reporting actual news.
***The broadcast ended with a story about the archives of the Saturday Evening Post.  They're being digitized so they can be preserved for posterity.  That's good, but it certainly isn't news.  It's just another opportunity for Brian to use Post covers to walk us through some of the landmark events of the twentieth century.  So in other words, it's exactly like the previous story.  It's all part of Brian's ratings philosophy--show lots of stuff that happened years or decades ago as a compendium of greatest hits of the twentieth century.  Reporting past events brings higher ratings than reporting current events, so that's why Brian does it.  This story featured three shots of Post covers featuring John F. Kennedy.  That's also part of Brian's ratings philosophy--JFK remains popular, so he orders his producers to put the former president on Nightly News as often as possible.  The last time Nightly News featured a JFK clip?  Yesterday.
***Here are some stories that BBC News reported this day: In Madrid, miners went on strike to protest low wages and cuts in government subsidies for the coal industry.  In Sana'a, an Al-Qaeda suicide bomber killed 22 police cadets and injured dozens more.  And in Srebrenica, Bosnia, more than 500 newly-identified victims of the 1995 genocide were re-buried.  Of course, Nightly News didn't report any of these stories.  But at least we know all about tsunami debris, I'll Have Another, the San Diego fireworks mishap and the greatest TV moments of the past 50 years.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Nightly News is a serious broadcast.
Thurs. July 12--Brian began the broadcast with 7:20 on the Penn State sex abuse report released by Louis Freeh.  It's certainly a story worth reporting, but does it really deserve a third of the entire broadcast?  No, but Brian wanted to make sure that Bob Costas was given three minutes of air time to talk about it.  Costas had absolutely nothing of value to add to Michael Isikoff's report that had preceded this segment, but Costas was already in London for the Olympics, and the Olympic rings directly behind his head afforded NBC a shameless opportunity to promote their Olympic coverage.  This was one of Brian's silly questions to Costas: "Does this wash up against other programs, other colleges, especially FOR THOSE OF US who have college students in our families?"  For those of us.  Because obviously the news is first and foremost about Brian and HIS family.  Here's how Brian ended the segment: "Bob Costas, who I'll add on this very day was nominated for an Emmy Award for his coverage of this topic on our broadcast 'RockCenter'."  So Costas's segment was included only for the purposes of promoting NBC's Olympic coverage and Rock Center.  Nice.
***During Isikoff's initial segment about Penn State, former Penn State president Graham Spanier's name was misspelled on-screen as "Spainer"--twice.  Obviously, the producers were too busy worrying about promoting the Olympics and Rock Center to bother spelling Spanier's name correctly.
***Janet Shamlian's story about how the drought is affecting crops in southern states was mostly comprised of old footage from her story that had previously aired on Monday's broadcast.  This is the producers' formula--slap some new narration on old footage and voila--you have a new story.  Or so they want us to believe.
***As he did on Monday, Brian described Richard Engel's report from Syria as an "exclusive", despite the fact that every network has correspondents reporting from Syria.  Has Brian seen any of Clarissa Ward's recent reports from Syria on the CBS Evening News?  Probably not--I'm guessing that Brian only DVRs his own broadcast.  Engel's report was followed by a ten-second promo for Rock Center, the second time so far that Brian has managed to promote his other show on Nightly News.
***Time for another exploitative, sensationalist pseudo-medical story from Dr. Nancy Snyderman.  This time, she's warning men about the "Hidden Risk" of propecia, a hair-regrowth drug.  Apparently, it can cause erectile dysfunction.  This is the twentieth time since the beginning of the year that Nancy Snyderman or Robert Bazell has reported an alarmist story about hidden risks, hidden dangers, hidden hazards or some such mumbo jumbo.  My favorite?  The 2/14/12 story about the "Hidden Dangers" of lipstick.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.
***Every Nightly News broadcast (or almost every one) must include a story from outer space, because Brian says so and he gets to do whatever he wants.  On this night, it was another solar flare.  This was the twentieth story about outer space that Nightly News has reported in just the past nine weeks.  Here's a fact: Brian spends more time reporting on the Sun, the Moon and the planets than he spends reporting on Africa.  No surprise--space stuff gets better ratings than Africa.
***Time for the obligatory Olympic stories.  Brian took 1:10 to tell us that former Olympian Michael Johnson took a lap around Stonehenge with the Olympic torch, and that the "snappy and snazzy" Ralph Lauren USA Olympic opening ceremony uniforms had actually been made in China.  It doesn't really matter what Brian says, as long as he keeps saying "Olympics".
***The final story was perfect for Nightly News, which is obviously why Brian selected it.  It was all about the Rolling Stones' 50th anniversary.  What could be a better story for a shallow newscast that relies on old pop culture footage to enthrall viewers and boost ratings?  This entire 2:20 "news story" consisted of interviews, photos, videos and concert footage of the Stones.  A definite ratings winner.  Here's how Brian introduced the story: "And while they're not known reflectively as collective as a reflective bunch...."  He really shouldn't drink before he goes on the air.  During the story, correspondent Michelle Kosinski told us that Mick Jagger was 69.  Actually, Mick doesn't turn 69 until July 26, so Kosinski was wrong.  But when did facts ever matter in a Nightly News story?  At one point, Kosinski asked Mick, "Did you get the satisfaction?"  Mick then tilts his head back and says, "Oh my God no, Michelle!", before the producers abruptly cut away to another shot.  Clearly, they wanted us to believe that "Oh my God no" was Mick's answer to the question, but it seems obvious that he was just mocking Kosinski for asking such a hackneyed question.
***Brian ended the broadcast with a promo for "Rock Center"--the third "Rock Center" promo he read that night.  You can smell the desperation on him.
***On this day in Nigeria, more than 100 people were killed when a fuel truck veered off the road and exploded.  Of course Brian didn't report this because he was too busy telling us about solar flares, the Olympic uniforms and the Rolling Stones.
Fri. July 13--With a giant animated flag waving behind his head, Brian introduced Peter Alexander's "one-on-one" interview with Mitt Romney.  Technically, that's true, but Romney gave dozens of "one-on-one" interviews that day to a slew of reporters.  I didn't see Scott Pelley making a big deal out of Jan Crawford's interview with Romney on CBS, but Pelley isn't a self-promoting carnival barker like Brian.
***After that, David Gregory was trotted in for some "stating-the-obvious" analysis.  Gregory had nothing of value to add, but it was Friday and the producers were obligated to promote Sunday's "Meet the Press".
***We saw 4:45 worth of Olympic stories in the broadcast's first segment--a segment usually reserved for actual news.  I guess at NBC, the Olympics is the only news that actually matters.  First, we saw a story about Olympic security.  This story was mostly comprised of previously-aired footage of things like missiles on London rooftops and an interview with British defense analyst Michael Clarke.  And the next story was about the controversy over U.S. Olympic uniforms being made in China.  If there's any aspect of the Olympics that NBC can manufacture into a controversy, they will do it because that would surely boost Olympic ratings.  This story featured several comments from random people on the street, as well as a tweet from Donald Trump, because those things were very helpful in explaining the issues of the story.  Great investigative reporting!  As Kelly O'Donnell ended her report, there were two American flags behind her.  God bless the Olympics!
***Stop the presses--there's breaking news!  Brian took 30 seconds to tell us that Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez were leaving "American Idol".  We can always rely on Brian to give us important news.  Actually, the only reason Brian reported this story was to try to pull viewers away from Idol and steer them to NBC shows like "America's Got Talent" and "The Voice".  This isn't rocket science, people.
***Speaking of breaking news, Brian then announced that, "A MASSIVE flare on the surface of the Sun, while technically still on its way here, may give us an EXTRAORDINARY light show this weekend."  Earlier, Brian had promo'd the story by saying, "We're back in a moment with a SPECTACULAR show free of charge perhaps headed to a backyard near you this coming weekend."  Massive.  Extraordinary.  Spectacular.  What an asshole.  This is what gets 45 seconds of time on Nightly News.  When's the last time Brian reported a story on sub-Saharan Africa?
***The "Making A Difference" story was about a woman who travels to Kabul to help Afghan orphans.  That's nice.  She should be commended.  But why is this news?  It isn't.  It's just another vapid human interest story designed to boost ratings rather than inform the viewers.  Let's face it: Nightly News is basically a ten-minute broadcast.  After you take out the commercials and all the crap that isn't news, you're left with around ten minutes of actual news stories.  Apparently, that's good enough for Brian.
***In South Africa, a truck collided with a train, killing 26 people.  But Brian didn't report it because it didn't involve the Olympics or solar flares.

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