If you don't know the dominant theme on Nightly News this week, you just haven't been paying attention. (Hint--it's something to do with the Olympics.)
Sat. July 28--Even though this was a Saturday, Brian Williams anchored the broadcast because he didn't trust Lester Holt to do a good enough job in an Olympic week. Obviously, Brian believes that he can do a better job--of anything--than anyone else.
***Of course, Brian began the broadcast by reporting the important news that Ryan Lochte beat Michael Phelps in the 400 meter swimming individual medley. This was the lead story--not Syria, not the economy, not the drought. Lochte and Phelps. As if we needed any further proof that Brian is a carnival barker and snake oil salesman, not a journalist. And anyone who knows Brian won't be surprised by what he did next: He shamelessly bragged about NBC's viewership for the opening ceremony. "Last night's dramatic opening ceremony, which it turns out was seen by 40-plus million Americans making it the most-watched of any of the Summer Olympics opening ceremonies." Real classy move. But hardly unexpected. Brian always brags about NBC's ratings, whether it's for the Olympics, the Super Bowl or Nightly News. He's like the kid you used to know in third grade who was always bragging about how much money his father made or how he got better test scores than you.
***All in all, the broadcast began with 6:50 worth of Olympic stories, including more (much more) on swimming and the other events of the day, a recap of the opening ceremony, clips of the Queen, reaction from spectators and yet more swimming commentary from Dan Hicks.
***After all the Olympic stories, Nightly News then spent a paltry 1:23 on Syria. But I guess you can't blame Brian and his producers. After all, Syria doesn't help boost NBC's ratings so it's really of no value to him or his broadcast. Poor Richard Engel. Most of the Nightly News correspondents are in London promoting the Olympics, and he's stuck in Syria reporting what has become, for Nightly News, the forgotten, unimportant war.
***Brian then took 25 seconds to report on Mitt Romney's trip to Israel. Here's how he described Romney's arrival in Israel: "Mitt Romney left London today for Tel Aviv where he is hoping for a better reception than the one he got here after questioning this city's preparedness to host the games in his conversation with US." So even though Romney is beginning a new news cycle in a new country, Brian is still rehashing Romney's old news simply because it involves Brian. Brian's rule #1: Any news that involves HIM is much more important than other news, regardless of when it happens. The news is always about Brian.
***A story about the shootings in Aurora was just an excuse to show lots of crosses and flags. Because that's what Nightly News is about: Christianity and the good, ol' U.S. of A. And don't you forget it.
***The next important news item was Matt Lauer's 3:45 interview with Michael Phelps. Because apparently Nightly News hadn't spent enough time this evening covering Olympic swimming.
***Brian then spent a minute-and-a-half reporting that former Olympic runner Pat Porter was killed in a plane crash, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has entered the Mayo Clinic and a World War II German U-boat was discovered off Nantucket. Yeah, that makes sense. On a night when most of your broadcast is devoted to shamelessly plugging NBC's Olympics coverage, you want to make sure to also include some pointless, irrelevant stories. Especially if one of them allows you to say "Olympics".
***What do you suppose the final story was about? If you said Africa, you probably don't watch Nightly News that often. No, the final story was another 3:15 about the Olympics. Specifically, the Royal Family and the Olympics. Here's how the idiotic Chris Jansing began her "news report" (talking about Kate Middleton): "She's amazing! She's beautiful, she's charming, she's been a game changer for the Royal Family...." Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's the kind of idiotic, sycophantic drivel that passes for reporting at NBC Nightly News. Obviously, this entire story was comprised of footage of the Royals (or people talking about them). And all of it was about Will, Kate, Harry and the Queen, because those are obviously the Royals who bring in the highest ratings for Brian and his broadcast. When is the FCC going to put an end to this bullshit and shut down Nightly News once and for all?
***Let's recap. Nightly News spent 13:50 reporting on (translation: promoting) the Olympics, and a total of 5:52 on other stories. Appalling. Yet, I doubt that anyone is actually surprised.
Sun. July 29--Brian anchored again tonight, because he obviously feels that Lester just isn't competent enough. He began the broadcast talking about Mitt Romney, a desperate attempt to try to trick us into believing that he actually cared about something other than the Olympics. Here's how Brian started the story: "When he was here in London just days ago, in a conversation with US, Governor Mitt Romney said he didn't want to be critical of the President or be fashioning foreign policy, as he put it, while he was on foreign soil." Absolutely incredible. No matter what Romney does between now and election day, Brian will begin every single story about Romney by referencing his "conversation with us". Brian even ordered his producers to include clips in this story of his old interview with Romney because the news is all about Brian. What Romney said to Brian is old news, but that doesn't matter. All that matters is that it involves Brian. Welcome to the biggest fucking ego on TV.
***The Romney story included a clip of Robert Gibbs, who was identified in a Nightly News graphic as an "Obama Campaign Senior ADVISER". Two days earlier, a clip of Stephen Hadley identified him as the "Former Bush National Security ADVISOR". Adviser, advisor, whatever. The Nightly News producers don't care. They're too busy peddling the Olympics to bother with consistent spelling.
***Almost as an afterthought, we got a 1:44 story about Syria. I'm surprised that Richard Engel hasn't jumped to another network, considering how little time his important reporting is given at NBC News.
***Okay--enough bullshit. Time for important stuff. Here' show Brian began the day's first story about the Olympics: "Now let's switch our attention to this global gathering here in London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games". What a pompous ass. And as if listening to Brian wasn't bad enough, we also had to listen to newsmoron Chris Jansing's idiotic ramblings. Here's how she began her part of the story: "This was a classic day at the Olympics--chills, spills and those stunning upsets." Who writes that crap? She is the very definition of a hack. Of course the recap of the day's events included clips of the Royal Family and Michelle Obama--they're ratings producers. This idiotic piece was so vapid that it even included an interview with the man who was the Queen's stunt double in Friday's opening ceremony James Bond sketch. Breaking News! By the way, the stunt double's name is Gary Connery. It seems quite amusing that a man involved in a James Bond-themed parody would have the name Connery, but Jansing was too dense to notice or comment on it.
***The next story was--surprise--also about the Olympics. Beach volleyball is one of the sports that NBC expects will generate huge ratings for them, so there was little doubt that Nightly News would use valuable news time to promote it. How much time? 3:45. It was basically a big commercial for Olympic beach volleyball. With a clip of Will & Kate thrown in, of course.
***Brian took 37 seconds to report the death of William Staub, who had developed the treadmill for home use. Seriously? Is this someone who deserves an obit on a network newscast? No, but Brian gets to do whatever the hell he wants.
***Next, we learned that Gray's Store, which had been operating in Rhode Island for 224 years, would be closing. I think the producers should have attached a "breaking news" banner to this one.
***Then Brian spent 45 seconds telling us that all the U.S. flags on the moon (except one) are still standing. Wow am I glad I know that. Thanks, Brian.
***The final story was a ridiculous three-and-a-half minute piece about the Yeomen Warders (also known as Beefeaters) who patrol the Tower of London and answer visitors' questions. All of these men were former members of the British military, so as the world's biggest military wannabe, Brian immediately adopted his fawning, sycophantic attitude towards them. He called them, "The few, the proud, the brave." And later he said, "These are great men". No, you ass-kissing idiot. Winston Churchill, FDR and Martin Luther King, Jr. were great men. The Beefeaters are basically tour guides. Brian is such an asshole.
***Nightly News only spent eight minutes on the Olympics this night. I guess Brian needed the extra time time to report on William Staub, Gray's store and the Beefeaters.
Mon. July 30--Brian continued to report on Mitt Romney's European trip, but only because it allowed him to include himself in the story. This was the first sentence of Brian's intro: "Mitt Romney tonight continues what was supposed to be a low risk and statesman-like three-nation overseas trip. Instead, and beginning with HIS CONVERSATION WITH US HERE IN LONDON, it's been controversial." US. Almost a week has passed since his interview, but Brian is still milking it and still making the news about himself. Romney will give an interview to virtually any network that requests one because it's free publicity. But as far as Brian is concerned, only HIS interview counts. David Muir of ABC News interviewed Romney on Sunday, but of course Brian never mentioned that interview because it didn't take place on HIS broadcast.
***The Romney story included a clip of Victoria Nuland, who was identified in a Nightly News graphic as being from the "U.S. State Department". On the previous Wednesday, a Nightly News graphic identified Nuland as being from the "US State Department". Periods, no periods...whatever. It doesn't matter. No one at Nightly News cares about these things.
***Once again, Brian introduced the night's first Olympics story by saying, "Now to this gathering of the world going on--the Olympic Games here in London." If there was a gold medal awarded for being a pompous ass, Brian would win hands down. Blah, blah, blah--the day's Olympic events, blah, blah, blah--watch the Olympics on NBC, blah, blah, blah. And here are some clips of Will, Kate and Harry. Another idiotic story from the idiotic Chris Jansing. This was just a 3:40 commercial for NBC's coverage. After spending days shamelessly plugging NBC's Olympic coverage, does Jansing really think of herself as a journalist?
***Coming back from the first commercial break, the Clash's "London Calling" played. For some reason, I felt like I just heard that song. Actually, I did. The producers also used it on the 7/25 Nightly News. Even the songs they play are reruns. Pathetic.
***Brian began the next story by saying, "As the world gathers here in London..." He just used that phrase a few minutes ago. He may be the most unoriginal news anchor of all time. He just uses the same idiotic phrases over and over and over again.
***Before the next commercial, here's how Brian teased a story: "Why emergency rooms are busier these days because of something A LOT OF US are doing these days." A lot of us. Of course. The news is always about Brian.
***The broadcast ended with a 4:15 profile of swimmer Ryan Lochte. Obviously, they did this because Lochte would be swimming that night and it's the best way to maximize his promotional value for NBC's Olympic coverage. So on this night, Nightly News spent 7:55 on Olympic stories and 2:22 on Syria. Nice.
Tues. July 31--After stories in which Brian pretended to care about the blackout in India, the war in Syria and Mitt Romney in Poland, he finally got around to the Olympics. On the agenda: Michael Phelps, the U.S. women's gymnastics team, the female Chinese swimmer who swam faster than Ryan Lochte and Zara Phillips (the Queen's granddaughter), who shared a team silver medal in equestrian. Of course, this last story featured clips of Will, Kate and Harry. What a surprise.
***Next, Brian narrated a 3:35 story about London during World War II. This doesn't remotely qualify as news, but remember--Brian gets to do whatever he wants. So not only is Nightly News devoting more than a third of their broadcast to promoting the Olympics, but the remaining two-thirds of the broadcast is being packed with non-news filler.
***Brian took 25 seconds to tell us that Michelle Obama will be given a primetime speaking role at this summer's Democratic National Convention. Brian puts Mrs. Obama on his broadcast as often as possible because people like her, which means she's great for ratings.
***Brian then reported on the millions of Americans who are watching the Olympics at work when they're supposed to be doing other things. The message here is clear: It's okay to watch NBC's Olympic coverage at work because lots of other people are doing it, too. Not very subtle.
***The final story of the night was a fawning 4:15 profile of swimmer Missy Franklin--whose races from that day will be televised later that night in prime time. What a coincidence. Since I used the word "fawning", you probably already know that the story was reported by the idiotic Chris Jansing. Jansing has really carved out a niche for herself doing obsequious ass-kissing stories whose only purpose is to promote NBC's Olympic coverage. Great job, Chris! You should be so proud of yourself.
***Brian signed off by letting us know that we could watch Franklin (and lots of other Olympians) later in prime time. On NBC. Good thing he said this or otherwise we'd never have known.
Wed. August 1--Brian again introduced the broadcast with his hackneyed and overused phrase of the week: "Good evening from this global gathering here in London." Anyone care to place bets on how many times he will use the phrase "global gathering" over this two-week period?
***The idiotic Anne Thompson reported another story about the drought, and it was the same as all her previous drought stories. No new information. Thank goodness for Wikipedia! Her story featured a clip of Steve Fleischli, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Unfortunately, a Nightly News graphic identified him as Steve "Fleichili". That really isn't even close. Thompson and her producers are morons.
***Here's how Brian introduced the next story: "And overseas we continue to follow this fighting in Syria...." Someone needs to tell Brian that from London (where he is), Syria isn't "overseas". In fact, if you use a car ferry or the Chunnel to cross the English Channel, you can drive from London to Syria.
***Brian described Richard Engel as "one of the few western journalists covering the fighting from inside Syria." That's funny--both ABC (Alex Marquardt & Bartley Price) and CBS (Clarissa Ward & Charlie D'Agata) have reporters inside Syria. So 100% of Nightly News's competition is also covering the fighting from inside Syria. Once again, Brian is lying to make his broadcast seem more impressive.
***And now it was time for the first Olympics stories of the night. Kevin Tibbles spent three minutes telling us all kinds of stuff to make us want to tune in to NBC's coverage later that evening. Great work, Kevin.
***Brian then introduced a report on the opposition to and support for Chick-fil-A after the company's president took a stand against gay marriage. During his intro, Brian said this: "Chick-fil-A makes a good product and they do chicken well." Another on-air endorsement from Brian Williams. Just like all the other ones he's recently done on behalf of McDonald's, Kraft, Wal-Mart, Chrysler, Starbucks, Cheerios, Bayer, Frito-Lay, Heinz , Nabisco and others (for more specific details about Brian's product endorsements, see the 7/6/12 Nightly Daily blog post). I guess this message of support also lets us know where Brian stands on gay marriage.
***Next, Brian took 25 seconds to show us a full moon and tell us that since there will be two full moons in August, the second will be a blue moon. He also made sure to tell us that a blue moon isn't really blue. Thanks for the clarification. And thanks for wasting our time with yet another story that has no news value.
***An obit for Gore Vidal was, of course, just an excuse to show a photo of John F. Kennedy and a clip from "Ben-Hur". And it also gave Brian an opportunity to use the word "polemicist" so everyone can realize just how smart he is.
***The broadcast ended with the idiotic Chris Jansing's fawning, obsequious "news story" about Olympic gymnast John Orozco. No one kisses ass more shamelessly than Jansing. I wonder why they would run this particular story on this night. You don't suppose it has anything to do with the fact that Orozco would be competing later on NBC, do you? Nah--the Nightly News producers would never use their broadcast to shamelessly promote NBC's Olympic coverage. Would they?
Thurs. Aug. 2--Brian introduced the broadcast's lead story by telling us that it had been "one of the most momentous days of these Summer Games--big news tonight in two signature sports--swimming and gymnastics." Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the lead story on a network evening newscast supposed to be the most important news event of the day? Not at Nightly News. At Nightly News, the lead story is, whenever possible, something self-promotional, like one of Brian's interviews or the Olympics. In other words, it's the most important news event of the day that took place on NBC. So Gabby Douglas and Michael Phelps winning gold medals was the lead story, as opposed to something the producers feel is much less important--like Syria or the economy. And as far as Brian using the word "momentous"--well, that's obviously just another shameless attempt to generate interest in NBC's prime time Olympics coverage in order to drive up the ratings. That is completely unethical behavior for a news anchor, but it's hardly surprising, as it's common practice for Brian and his producers.
***Brian loves to scare people, because scary headlines are good for ratings. So the next story was given the huge on-screen title "AIR SCARE". A couple of departing planes at Reagan National Airport came within a mile of each other. Close, but not OMG-we're-all-gonna-die close. At CBS Evening News, this story was mentioned briefly near the end of the broadcast, which seems appropriate. But Brian has a fixation on air travel, so on his broadcast, this is the second most important story of the day (obviously, if it weren't for the Olympics, the Air Scare story would have been the lead). Irresponsible to say the least. But by far my favorite part of the story was how correspondent Pete Williams again refused to return Brian's treacly "Good evening, Pete" greeting with an equally treacly "Good evening, Brian". As usual, Pete ignored Brian's attempt to friend him on-air and just launched right into his story. You go, Pete! Unfortunately, Pete seems to be the only Nightly News correspondent with the balls to ignore Brian's syrupy come-ons. Every other correspondent responds to Brian with a hearty "Good evening, Brian", or, in the case of extreme ass-kissers like Peter Alexander and Kristen Welker, "Good evening to you, Brian". Brian just loves to show viewers how much the correspondents like him. They really, really like him!
***Finally, at the broadcast's ten-minute mark, Brian got around to mentioning Syria. This was the lead story on CBS's newscast, but it's unfair to make that comparison because CBS Evening News is a legitimate news broadcast, while NBC Nightly News is a promotional vehicle for NBC's sports and entertainment programs. During this story, an interview with NBC News security analyst Michael Leiter was taped at NBC's Olympics studio, because even a story on Syria should be used to promote the Olympics. The story also featured a clip of British Prime Minister David Cameron talking with Matt Lauer on "Today" (with the London Olympics logo clearly visible in the background). If you're going to promote the Olympics during a story on Syria, why not promote the Games twice? And why not also promote "Today"?
***After the second commercial break, Brian spent 20 seconds showing us photos of Fire Rainbows. According to Brian, "They are iridescent cloud tops that give out color wavelengths in the sky--and they are beautiful." And apparently they are also newsworthy, even on a day in which Brian spent nine minutes of his broadcast promoting the Olympics. Well done, Brian.
***After Brian's enthusiastic on-air endorsement of Chick-fil-A on the previous day's broadcast, he took some more time to report that, "That Chick-fil-A appreciation day yesterday was a huge success...." I guess that's just in case we somehow were not aware of his avid support for the chain.
***Here's an important story Brian reported: "Still more evidence that folks really are watching these Summer Olympic Games at addiction levels." Apparently, the city of Los Angeles insisted that city employees stop watching the Olympics at work. And Netflix's business is down 25% because people are too busy watching the Olympics to order movies! Still more evidence that Brian Williams is a shameless shill whose only goal for two weeks is to promote NBC's Olympic coverage.
***The final segment of the broadcast began with some photos of Will & Kate enjoying various Olympic sports. Brian shows Will & Kate every night because he has a raging Royals obsession, specifically for Kate Middleton. (I've heard some rumors about Kate-like things Brian asks his wife to do in bed, but it would be undignified to mention them here.) Also, Will & Kate are popular and they help his ratings. Which is important. That led right into the final segment about Gabby Douglas, who would be competing for the women's all-around gymnastics medal later that night. Obviously, they aired this segment because she had already won the gold medal (NBC's coverage was on tape delay). If Aly Raisman (the other American woman in the all-around final) had won the gold, they would have aired a segment about her. They will air whichever segment is best able to promote NBC's coverage. As usual, this was another one of Chris Jansing's obsequious ass-kissing Olympic profiles which was completely devoid of any actual news content. She is truly sickening and I really wonder how she can look at herself in the mirror without feeling a deep sense of shame over what she does.
***Final tally for the night: 9:00 spent on the Olympics, 10:48 spent on all other news. Is this a professional news broadcast?
Fri. Aug 3--The broadcast began with a story about jobs and the economy reported by the vapid Anne Thompson. I don't know what qualifies her to report on this topic, but then again, I don't know what qualifies her to report on any topic. This story featured commentary from CNBC's Steve Liesman, but unfortunately Liesman was never identified. Maybe the Nightly News producers think Liesman is such a rock star that everyone knows who he is. Or maybe they're just really sloppy and don't care about stuff like that.
***As Brian introduced a story on Syria, the "NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt" logo appeared in a box over his left shoulder. I think this must have been Lester's revenge against Brian for being unceremoniously booted off the broadcast during the first weekend of the Olympics.
***Speaking of which, it was a "spectacular" day at the London Olympics. How do we know this? Because Brian said so. And he wouldn't make up something like that, would he?
***After Brian and Kevin Tibbles spent 2:20 recapping the day's Olympic events, the idiotic Chris Jansing took another 3:20 to tell us that this Olympics represents the year of the woman. To close the segment, Brian said, "As the parent of a daughter, especially that point about the next generation back home watching all of this as they come up is so crucially important." Once again, for no reason (other than egotism), Brian has injected his daughter into a news story. As always, the news is about Brian and his family. I can assure Brian that no one watching Nightly News gives a shit about his daughter. Then he said something even stupider: "Chris, great piece of reporting." I don't know how this garbage can be considered reporting at all, much less "great". Jansing showed clips of the Olympics and added a voice-over. That's not reporting, it's rehashing. And by the way, Nightly News just did a story about female Olympians on July 24, so this was also a rerun. Shameful.
***Brian then spent 42 seconds telling us about the death of British military historian John Keegan. Obviously, this is not an obit that belongs on a network newscast, but because Brian has a fawning obsession with the military, he chose to include it. I think he wants people to believe that he's well-read.
***After that, he took another 45 seconds to report that a Vermont man got angry after being arrested for marijuana possession, so he got in his tractor and crushed the town's eight police cars. Apparently, Brian understands that amusing stories generate ratings, even if they have no real news value.
***And here's how Brian began the next story: "This is a big weekend for US space lovers and interplanetary aficionados" because the Mars Rover is set to land. Us. Once again, the news is about Brian and what HE likes. Can you say "raging narcissism"?
***Here's some breaking news: Queen Elizabeth didn't tell her grandsons Will or Harry that she was going to be appearing in a James Bond-themed sketch during the Olympics opening ceremony. Or, as Brian called it, "that opening ceremony SPECTACULAR short film." That's the second time on the broadcast that Brian used the word "spectacular" to promote the Olympics. Not only is he an idiot, but his vocabulary is extremely limited.
***Brian ended the broadcast with--surprise--another 2:55 on the Olympics. He answered some very important questions about things like athletic tape, fingernail designs, Michael Phelps, the Nigerian rower and the trampoline. I'm awfully glad he cleared those things up.
***Elsewhere in the world, Hillary Clinton called for Sudan and South Sudan to settle their differences over oil and the French government seized the Paris mansion of the son of the President of Equatorial Guinea as part of an investigation into money laundering. It goes without saying that Nightly News didn't report these stories. For one thing, Brian and his producers don't report stories about Africa because they don't care about that continent. Stories about Africa don't help their ratings, so they ignore them. And for another thing, Brian spent nine minutes shamelessly plugging NBC's Olympic coverage, so there was no time to report actual news stories. But at least we got to hear about John Keegan, the man who crushed eight police cars and the Queen's acting secrets. Brian has his priorities, after all.