Saturday, July 28, 2012

Brian Williams & NBC Nightly News Show Notes: 7/21/12 Through 7/27/12 (Updated--Full Week)

Remember back in 2010 how Brian Williams pretended to care about the Haiti earthquake until NBC's coverage of the Vancouver Olympics started, after which he forgot all about Haiti?  Well, this time around he's pretending to care about the shootings in Aurora, Colorado until NBC's coverage of the London Games begins.  After that, it's Aurora who?  Here's all the great stuff you may have missed this past week:

Sat. July 21--With the Olympics still a week away, most of the broadcast was devoted to covering the Aurora shootings.  In his live report just past 6:30 eastern time, Miguel Almaguer said, "It's been 24 hours since the shooting...."  Actually, by that time, it had been 40 hours since the shooting.  Someone should buy Almaguer a chronograph.  This story also featured a clip of Savannah Guthrie interviewing one of the people who was in the theater that night.  Obviously, it's the responsibility of the Nightly News producers to use their broadcast to avidly promote Guthrie as the new "Today Show" co-host.
***A story about the continuing debate over gun control featured a clip of U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy.  I would like to commend the Nightly News producers for correctly identifying Rep. McCarthy.  On March 17, 2009, a Nightly News graphic misidentified Rep. McCarthy as Rep. Carolyn Maloney.  I guess you'd call that progress.
***A story about people who continued to go to the movies despite the shootings featured clips from "The Dark Knight Rises", "The Avengers", "Spiderman" and "Gangster Squad".  As always, one of the main jobs of the Nightly News producers is to constantly pander to the audience by including movie clips in the broadcast.  After all, movie clips help boost the ratings.
***After the second commercial break (more on that later), anchor Kate Snow said, "We want to check in on some of the day's other news...."  So what do you suppose constitutes "other news"?  The civil war in Syria?  The economic crisis?  The presidential race?  The drought?  Of course not.  At Nightly News, "other news" can mean only one thing--the Olympics.  Stephanie Gosk then spent the next 2:42 telling us how the British have caught Olympic fever.  The torch entered London!  Mayor Boris Johnson gave a speech!  The athletes are arriving!  People are dancing in the streets!  They're rehearsing the opening ceremony!  The rain is gone!  The Sun is shining!  And that's the day's other news.  It's absolutely shameless that in the aftermath of the Aurora shooting, Nightly News is still rabidly promoting NBC's Olympic coverage.  Shameless, but not at all surprising.
***Now that the obligatory nightly Olympics promotion has been taken care of, the final story was about the "outpouring of support" and "acts of goodness" being carried out by the people of Aurora.  This is the exact same type of generic story that Nightly News does after every disaster--flood, hurricane, tornado, whatever.  It features sad music and lots of videos and still photos of people with pensive expressions on their faces.  And flags.  Lots of flags.  Because above all else, the Nightly News producers make a point of using disasters to pander to the flag-waving, NASCAR-loving, God Bless America-singing, middle-American demographic.  After all, what's the point of a mass shooting if you can't use it to boost your broadcast's ratings
***Speaking of acts of goodness, this broadcast featured seven-and-a-half minutes of commercials because shooting or no shooting, there was no way in hell that the Nightly News producers and executives were going to give up all that beautiful, beautiful ad money.
Sun. July 22--Lester Holt (in London) and Kate Snow (in Aurora) put up a decent facade of pretending to care about the Aurora movie theater shooting before Lester got down to what really matters--the Olympics.  It was basically the same story they've been reporting over and over--the torch, the weather, security, Brits have Olympic fever, blah, blah, blah.  One aspect of the Olympics that Nightly News is vigorously hyping is the possibility of a terrorist attack against Israeli athletes in London.  The Nightly News producers are hoping people will tune in to the Olympics looking for such an attack.  That would boost NBC's viewership and really help their ratings.  So during her Olympic story, Michelle Kosinski showed a clip of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussing the subject of terrorism on CBS's "Face the Nation".  But in keeping with Nightly News's policy of never mentioning other networks, Kosinski refused to mention either CBS or "Face the Nation" by name.  All she said was, "Today Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose his words carefully on American television."  Any network other than NBC gets referred to only as "American television" (or a variation such as "late night television") because the Nightly News producers and correspondents are the pettiest sleazebags in all the land.
***Wait!  Stop the presses!  Lester has breaking news!  Michael Jackson's mother was reported missing before she was found safe and sound.  Lester took 34 seconds to report this story.  Earlier, he spent 24 seconds reporting on the crisis in Syria.  So obviously, Michael Jackson's mother is more important than Syria.  Only on Nightly News.  And "Access Hollywood".
***The broadcast ended with a story about Yoko Ono's current art project in London--photos of people smiling.  Of course, this cannot remotely be considered a news story, but that's not important to the Nightly News producers.  Yoko is a celebrity who was married to a Beatle and that's ratings gold.  Not only did Nightly News waste 2:50 on this silly fluff piece, but they also ran four promos (totalling 40 seconds) for this story during the broadcast.  So not only did Michael Jackson's mother get more air time than the Syria story, but Nightly News spent more time promoting the Yoko Ono piece than they spent covering Syria.  Does anyone need further proof that Nightly News is a fucking joke?
Mon. July 23--The lead story about Aurora shooter James Holmes featured a clip of Savannah Guthrie delivering some of her pointless, banal commentary.  Of course, it doesn't really matter what she says, just as long as her face is plastered on the air as a reminder that she's the new "Today Show" co-host.  Hilariously, in this clip, Guthrie was identified as the "NBC News Chief Legal Correspondent" so we know that she's, you know, really smart and not just a bubble-headed morning host.
***Kate Snow's report on the shooting victims was yet another shameless attempt to exploit these poor people for ratings purposes.  Most of the clips in this story had been previously aired over the past few days, but of course that never stops the Nightly News producers.  They show more rerun clips than any other network newscast and they're damn proud of it!
***Michael Isikoff's story about the NCAA's punishment imposed on Penn State's football program featured commentary from Bob Costas.  Costas was reporting from NBC's Olympic studios in London--with the Olympic rings directly behind his head.  Subtle--not.  Nightly News actually reported two stories--totalling five minutes--on Penn State.  The second story was from the idiotic Anne Thompson, whose role at NBC News seems to be continually stating the obvious without introducing any new information on any subject.
***Obviously, Nightly News had to promote NBC's Olympic coverage.  Again, this 2:45 story was the same old stuff they've been reporting for days.  The torch, the London subway system, security--watching these stories over and over is like being in "Groundhog Day".
***Here's some breaking news: If you try to walk across hot coals, you may burn your feet.  This happened at a Tony Robbins motivational event, and Nightly News spent 2:05 telling us about it.  Thanks for the news flash.
***Also on this day, Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for bombings that killed 115 people across Iraq--that country's deadliest day in two years.  And President Obama issued a stern warning to Bashar al-Assad against using chemical weapons in Syria's civil war.  Nightly News didn't report either of these stories because obviously they don't meet Brian's definition of important news (meaning these stories wouldn't generate high ratings).  But the broadcast spent a total of fifteen minutes on three stories--the Aurora shootings, Penn State and the Olympics.  Not to mention the Tony Robbins hot coals story.  Yeah--that's responsible journalism, alright.
Tues. July 24--Nightly News continued to exploit the Aurora shootings with another segment about "stories of bravery and survival" and "acts of heroism".  Obviously the producers know that a shot of a victim lying in a hospital bed is great for the ratings.  How do these people sleep at night (I mean the Nightly News producers, not the shooting victims)?
***As Brian introduced the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal presidential poll, there was the obligatory animated U.S. flag waving behind his head.  Because Brian is a real American, goddammit.  I bet he owns a pickup truck and a hunting rifle.  Or at least he'd claim to if he thought it would boost his ratings.
***In his obituary for Sherman Hemsley, Brian mispronounced the actor's name as "Helmsley"--three times.  I guess Brian was too busy trying to be funny--he made sure to use the phrase "DEE-luxe apartment in the sky" and tell us that "Sherman Helmsley [sic]--of the East Side--was 74 years old."  Hilarious.
***In a story about the end of publication for the "Weekly Reader" school magazine, Brian told us that, "Millions of US...grew up on it...."  Us.  As always, the news is first and foremost about Brian.  He should change the name of his broadcast from "Nightly News with Brian Williams" to "Nightly News About Brian Williams".
***Meredith Vieira ended the broadcast with a story about the Olympics.  Apparently, this is the year of the woman.  Or so says NBC in a desperate effort to pander to female viewers.  At least it wasn't another one of Stephanie Gosk's repetitive reports about the torch, the subway, the weather and security.  Of course, it's still shameless promotion--just in a different form.
***Here's some other news that happened on this day: The President of Ghana died and Congolese rebels backed by Rwanda continue to fight government troops.  It goes without saying that Brian didn't report these stories.  He rarely reports stories about Africa because those stories register low interest among viewers.  And if people aren't interested, they'll change the channel (and that hurts the ratings).  So he continues to broadcast his mushy baby food version of the news--heroic shooting victims, celebrity obits and Olympic promos.  Well done, Brian.
Wed. July 25--After rabidly promoting the Olympics for weeks (and in various forms for months), Brian finally arrived in London to start the full-on promotional assault.
***After a story on the Aurora shooting suspect, Brian showed us his interview with Mitt Romney.  Obviously, Romney conducts dozens of interviews every week.  He uses the media to sell himself in the same way NBC uses its networks to sell the Olympics.  Yet Brian is under the impression that HIS interview with Romney (or with anyone) is somehow more incisive than other interviews.  That's hilarious.  Here are some of the hot topics Brian asked Romney about: His Massachusetts assault weapons ban, his income taxes, his religion and his potential vice-presidential pick.  These are the types of dull and unimaginative questions that you would expect from a small market local news reporter, not a network news anchor.  When Brian asked Romney about his VP candidate, he read this quote: "You are looking for an incredibly boring white guy for your vice-presidential nominee.  Can you confirm or deny?"  To which Romney replied, "You told me you were not available."  Oh smack--Romney just dissed Brian!  Amazingly, Brian Williams is one of the few people that can actually make Mitt Romney seem like a dynamic personality.  It should be noted that during this 5:15 segment, Brian spoke for 2:40 while Romney spoke for 2:35.  So as usual, Brian's "interview" consisted of him talking for longer than his subject.  Because the news is always about Brian.  Always.
***Okay, now that the unimportant stuff is finished, time to move onto the Olympics.  Kevin Tibbles, who will shamelessly shill for anything his producers tell him to, presented what amounted to a 3:05 commercial for the Olympics.  Not surprisingly, his "news report" began with women's beach volleyball because women in thongs and bras is one of NBC's major selling points for their Olympic coverage.  There's nothing like soft-core porn to sell sports (except maybe hard-core porn and I'm sure NBC is busy working on that for the 2016 Brazil games).  Tibbles's report included the same old topics that Nightly News has been reporting on: security, doping, social media.  At one point, Tibbles interviewed a Chilean cyclist who was identified in a Nightly News graphic as "Paolo Munoz".  Actually, her name is "Paola".  You'd think that the network broadcasting the Olympics could take a moment to get the athletes' names right.  Obviously not.
***Next, we got another story on the heat and the drought.  Actually, it was the same story Nightly News has been reporting all summer.  At one point in the story, we heard this comment from a person-on-the-street in St. Louis: "Oh it's hot.  It's real hot."  Ya think?  I guess the producers felt that this comment would help to inform and enlighten the viewers.  But then again, come to think of it, I don't think that's ever their goal.
***Heading into the commercial, we heard The Clash's "London Calling".  Brian and his producers frequently use pop songs to pander to the viewers' appreciation for music because it boosts their show's ratings.  And of course, Brian likes to show how cool he thinks he is by playing songs by niche bands.
***A story about Kim Jong-un's new mystery wife featured a clip of Kate Middleton at her wedding.  Brian includes Kate as often as possible in his broadcast because people love her and thus are likely to keep watching Nightly News.  Just another ratings gimmick from the slickest weasels in the news business.
***In the Kim Jong-un story, Victoria Nuland was identified as a spokesperson for the "US State Department"--with no periods after "US".  Earlier, during the Olympics story, several athletes were identified as being from the "U.S. Men's Gymnastics" team and the "U.S. Women's Volleyball" team.  So I guess the producers use periods when they feel like it.  Periods, no periods whatever.  This is not a professional newscast.
***Here's some breaking news: An 11-year-old Manchester boy stowed away on a flight to Rome.  Although I can't blame him for wanting to get out of Manchester, this hardly qualifies as news. 
***The final story of the night was about members of the U.S. Olympic Sailing team who are being trained by Navy Seals.  It was reported by the fawning and obsequious Chris Jansing, who may be even more of a shill than Kevin Tibbles.  This story focused on two of Brian's favorite things: Promoting the Olympics and his sycophantic obsession with the U.S. military.  I think that he must have come in his pants while watching.
***Here are some stories Brian didn't report: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testified before a U.S. House Financial Services Committee.  A carbomb killed five police officers in Thailand.  And in Syria, the battle for Aleppo intensified as Assad began using his air force against civilians.  Brian ignored these stories, but at least he told us all about the 11-year-old stowaway, Navy Seals and the heat in St. Louis.  And the Olympics.
Thurs. July 26--The big story on Nightly News this evening was about...Brian Williams.  According to Brian, "The backlash here in London over what Mitt Romney said to us here yesterday about the Olympics--it erupted today in public and now the question is: How did a Romney campaign overseas trip end up offending so many people here in London?...Something Mitt Romney said during our conversation with him here yesterday exploded here in London today and actually caused a lot of tension with the British Prime Minister."  This story--about Romney's comments regarding London's preparedness for the Games--took up 4:36 of valuable news time.  Obviously, the story wasn't about Romney, but rather it was about that fact that his comments were made to Brian.  Let's be clear: There's nothing Brian likes reporting on more than himself.  It's sad and pathetic that Brian would make himself the lead story of his own broadcast, but I guess it's not surprising for an anchor who has the biggest ego in all of television.  And after that story, Brian spent another two minutes talking about his interview with Romney and showing more clips.  Brian finished up with a full-screen promo for Romney's appearance on the following day's "Today Show", because Brian is desperate to extend this story about himself for as long as possible.  So Brian spent a total of six-and-a-half minutes--more than a quarter of the broadcast--reporting on himself.  What an appalling display of narcissism.
***Next, he told us about storms in the northeast.  Every night, without fail, Nightly News devotes two, three or four (or more) minutes to the weather.  Why?  Several years ago, NBC spent $3.5 billion to buy the Weather Channel.  And in order to justify this huge expense (and promote their property), the NBC weasels require Brian to devote a chunk of his broadcast to the Weather Channel each night.  Obviously, weather is a local issue and people get their weather information from local news stations.  But at NBC News, weather is seen as a profit center, and there's nothing more important than profit.  By the way, one of NBC's partners in the Weather Channel acquisition was Bain Capital.  That would explain Brian's softball questions to Romney in their recent interview.
***After a perfunctory 90 seconds on Syria, Brian got around to the big story: "Less than 24 hours to go now until the opening ceremony.  The Olympic flame took a majestic victory lap today, all around this beautiful city."  Excuse me, I have to go vomit.  The idiotic Chris Jansing then spent two-and-a-half minutes following the Olympic torch around London and asking British people what they thought of it.  Exciting.  Naturally, there were the obligatory shots of Will, Kate and Harry because Brian is obsessed with the Royal Family (and they bring in good ratings).  And Michael Phelps was featured because as one of the faces of the Olympics, Nightly News is using him to try to maximize NBC's Olympic viewership.  Chris Jansing is like a trained seal.  Her producers tell her what to do and what to say, and she does it.  I wouldn't be surprised if they throw her a fish each night after her story is done.
***For the second straight day, Brian reported on the 11-year-old kid who stowed away on a flight from Manchester to Rome.  Obviously, focus groups indicated that they liked this story so it was featured on the broadcast for another day.  That's the way Brian and his producers operate.  Stories make it onto the air based not on news value (obviously), but on their ability to generate ratings. 
***The broadcast ended with Brian's interview with composer John Williams, who composed the Olympic theme.  But most of the segment involved John Williams playing another of his compositions--a piece called "The Mission", which Brian had specifically requested.  Why this piece?  Because it's better known as the Nightly News theme music.  This report was an excerpt from a longer story that would be appearing later on "Rock Center".  So basically this "news story" consisted of Brian appearing on-screen while the Nightly News theme music was being played as Brian plugged his show "Rock Center".  Where does he get the fucking nerve to be so pompously and arrogantly self-promoting?  If this wasn't a news broadcast, I'd think it was a "Saturday Night Live" sketch about the world's most egocentric news anchor.
***Elsewhere in the world: In northern Pakistan, a bomb exploded at a busy market, killing eleven people.  The wife of a formerly powerful Chinese politician was charged with murdering a British businessman.  And Congolese civilians are fleeing to avoid being killed by fighting between rebels and government forces.  Brian didn't report any of these stories, but he told us all about HIS interview with Romney, the Olympics and (for the second consecutive night), the 11-year-old stowaway.  Why is this man allowed to anchor a news broadcast?
Fri. July 27--Do I really need to say it?  The first 5:50 of the broadcast was devoted to the Olympics because at NBC, promoting their Olympic coverage is far more important than anything else going on in the world.  Brian used the word "spectacular" twice in less than 40 seconds to describe the opening ceremony because he's kind of shallow and his vocabulary really isn't all that large or varied.  Chris Jansing offered her usual litany of pseudo-feel-good moments and opening ceremony teases as part of her desperate attempt to get us to watch the festivities later on NBC.  And just when you thought she couldn't get any more shameless, she then began reading tweets and posts from people who had already seen the ceremony (due to the five-hour time difference between the U.S. east coast and London, the opening ceremony was well underway).  Then there was another minute-and-a-half story about Michelle Obama giving a pep talk to U.S. athletes.  That's extra good for ratings because Mrs. Obama is popular in her own right, but even more so as part of an Olympic story.  Both of these stories featured the exact same clip of Mrs. Obama greeting Will, Kate and Queen Elizabeth.  The Nightly News producers are notorious for using the same clips over and over and over again.  And they're not the least bit concerned about doing it.
***Speaking of which, the next story was about Mitt Romney "trying to right the ship after he questioned the city's preparedness for the games during OUR interview with him which drew the full-on heat of the British press, the Prime Minister and members of the British public."  So the story wasn't so much about what Romney said as it was about the fact that he said it to Brian Williams.  That's what really matters.  The story also featured a 25-second clip of Romney talking to Matt Lauer, because promoting "Today" is one of the Nightly News producers' most important jobs.  And this "Today" clip also included Romney picking Michael Phelps over Ryan Lochte, because promoting the Olympics is still paramount.
***After the first commercial break, Mary Carillo was brought in to preview the Olympics.  Without a doubt, Carillo is far too intelligent to be on Nightly News, but let's face it--this was just another 2:20 promotion for the Olympics.  This was one of Brian's "questions" to Carillo: "You and I both have kids--they say the Olympics is the last event that puts families together watching something.  What is that?"  Obviously, this was Brian's not-too-subtle way of telling parents that they should make their kids watch the Olympics.  And of course he threw in a reference to his kids, because the news is always about Brian and his family.  Anyone who watched this segment was probably thinking the same thing I was thinking: Carillo should be anchoring Nightly News and Brian should be her assistant.
***Here's some breaking news Brian reported: The taunted bus granny is retiring.  This is the fourth story that Nightly News has reported about this woman.  I wonder if the 11-year-old Manchester-to-Rome stowaway will get that many stories.  Probably.
***Brian ended the broadcast with a 4:25 story about the 1948 London Olympics, because that's a good way to promote the 2012 Olympics.  Naturally, he signed off with a "reminder" to watch the opening ceremony later on NBC.  If there was a gold medal for shameless hucksterism, Brian would win hands down.
***Brian didn't mention Syria on the broadcast, but when you show twelve-and-a-half minutes of Olympic-related promotional stories, there isn't much time left for actual news reports.  But at least he told us about the taunted bus granny.  And his kids.  Great job.


  1. I'm so glad to discover this blog! I was insensed last week and both called and emailed the network, as well as npr's on the media. I was only watching the saturday coverage because PBS news doesn't air on weekends. Here's what I posted on facebook:

    I'm shocked and appalled that as the network news stations all switched to 'other news' about midway through their broadcasts of the tragedy tonight, the very first story NBC went to was on the olympics. "Hard to believe it's only six days away....," the anchor said.

    That is shameful. How dare they fold in stories on the olympics immediately after 15 minutes of coverage of loss and violence, as if that's somehow not only newsworthy--but the next most important news story after Colorado. That is bald-faced self-promotion by the network, which is covering the olympics, and completely undermines any credibility the news organization has as an independent entity. The words 'conflict of interest' don't begin to cover that kind of behavior.

  2. 'm shocked and appalled that as the network news stations all switched to 'other news' about midway through their broadcasts of the tragedy tonight, the very first story NBC went to was on the olympics. "Hard to believe it's only six days away....," the anchor said.

    That is shameful. How dare they fold in stories on the olympics immediately after 15 minutes of coverage of loss and violence, as if that's somehow not only newsworthy--but the next most important news story after Colorado. That is bald-faced self-promotion by the network, which is covering the olympics, and completely undermines any credibility the news organization has as an independent entity. The words 'conflict of interest' don't begin to cover that kind of behavior.

  3. Bald-faced self-promotion is what Brian Williams and his producers live for! They wear it like a badge of honor.