Friday, August 10, 2012

Brian Williams & NBC Nightly News Show Notes: 8/4/12 Through 8/10/12 (Updated--Full Week)

Obviously, the only thing that matters on Nightly News this week is promoting NBC's Olympic coverage.  Here's how it went down:

Sat. August 4--Wow!  After Brian Williams booted Lester Holt from last weekend's broadcasts in order to allow himself to anchor, Brian let Lester back in the studio to anchor this weekend.  Brian must have some research indicating that Lester's presence doesn't hurt Brian's ratings.  Otherwise, he never would have allowed Lester to anchor.
***Surprise--the broadcast began with four minutes of Olympic coverage.  Which means four minutes of shamelessly promoting the Olympics on NBC.  But this wasn't just any coverage, it was four minutes of fawning, ass-kissing coverage from the idiotic Chris Jansing.  She told us it was a day to remember!  The crowds were huge!  The mood was electric!  Michael Phelps!  Missy Franklin!  Oscar Pistorius!  Usain Bolt!  That's not reporting, it's advertising.  I hope NBC News is insisting that NBC Sports pays Jansing's salary during the Olympics, because her only job has been to act as a shill in getting people to watch NBC's coverage.  And by the way, isn't the lead story on a news broadcast supposed to be the most important story of the day?  Obviously not at Nightly News.  Self-promotion trumps news.
***Next, correspondent Gabe Gutierrez turned a story about Oklahoma wildfires into a story about Jesus.  First, he showed a man telling Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin that his only possession to survive the fire was a cross (followed by a tight zoom-in on the cross).  Then Gutierrez said, "Here and beyond they're praying for rain."  He didn't say "hoping" or "wishing"--he said "praying".  As a matter of policy, Nightly News correspondents always inject their news stories with a heavy dose of Christianity.  There are always plenty of shots of crosses, people praying, people talking about the Lord--and why not?  Nearly 80% of the U.S. population is Christian, so you can't go wrong with repeated references to crosses, prayer and Jesus.  Religious pandering is great for the ratings.
***Lester then spent three-and-a-half minutes profiling Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake in order to drum up interest in Sunday's 100 meter sprint final.  More
shameless Olympics promotion.
***After the commercial break, we were treated to a shot of the moon inside the Tower Bridge's Olympic rings.  For thirty seconds.  The producers could have reported an actual news story in that time.  But of course they didn't.
***Lester then reported some important news stories: 138 skydivers jumped simultaneously in Illinois and a couple in Buffalo, New York remarried after divorcing in 1964.  Because Nightly News is all about hard news.
***The final story was a Michael Phelps story.  Or, more accurately, another Michael Phelps story.  It was reported by the fawning idiot Kevin Tibbles, who is the male version of Chris Jansing.  This was at least the fifth story that Nightly News has done on Phelps since the Olympics began.  But the producers don't care.  They're not concerned with overexposure or repetition.  They're only concerned with one thing: Constantly and relentlessly driving the Olympics into our heads over and over and over so we tune in.  Because when we watch the Olympics, NBC's ratings go up.  And when their ratings go up, NBC can charge higher ad rates.  It's all about money.  What did you think it was about?  Sportsmanship?
***So let's recap.  On this night, Nightly News spent 11:53 promoting the Olympics, and they spent 7:50 on all other news.  And that includes the 138 skydivers, the couple that remarried after 48 years and the moon inside the Olympic rings.  Nightly News isn't a news broadcast, it's a promotional vehicle for NBC's Olympic coverage.  Nightly News is a joke.
Sun. August 5--Well, that didn't last long.  After allowing Lester to anchor Nightly News on Saturday, Brian again booted him out of the anchor's chair for Sunday's broadcast.  I guess the overnight ratings numbers looked pretty bad.  Sorry Lester, take a hike.
***Like the previous night, Gabe Gutierrez's story on the Oklahoma wildfires was a celebration of Christianity.  One woman in the story said, "The Lord doesn't put any more on you than you can bear."  Aside from the fact that that's an idiotic thing to say, it doesn't belong in a news story.  But Brian and his producers desperately want to attract Christian viewers, so this is what we get as news.
***Here's how Brian began the next story: "Turning to news overseas, we continue our reporting on the civil war in Syria."  News flash for Brian--from London (where he is currently anchoring), Syria is not overseas.  Other than a few rivers, England and Syria are separated only by the English Channel and the Bosporus Strait.  Those aren't seas.  If you can drive from England to Syria, then it's not "overseas".
***Enough bullshit--time for the Olympics.  Mega-idiot Chris Jansing reported all the day's important Olympic news in this 4:30 plug for NBC's Olympic coverage that would be airing later that night.  "The excitement level here in London is absolutely off the charts," she told us.  What a brilliant piece of reporting.
***Breaking News!  Brian showed us a close-up of Kate Middleton's Olympic credential.  And to begin the story--because he has the biggest fucking ego on television--he showed us HIS Olympic credential.  "Look!  Look at me!  Look at my Olympic credential!  See how important I am!"  Remember, the news is always about Brian.  I couldn't fully make out the name on Brian's credential, but it seemed to say "Asshole".  Obviously, this "news story" was just an excuse to show more photos and video of Kate Middleton.  Mission accomplished.
***The final story was a profile of American Olympic weightlifter Sarah Robles.  It was presented by Anne Thompson, who along with Chris Jansing and Kevin Tibbles, represent the Nightly News Axis of Idiocy.  Nightly News--where fawning, obsequious promotional puff pieces pass as news.
***I've got to give Brian and his producers credit.  On this night, Nightly News actually spent more time on non-Olympic stories (11:22) than on Olympic stories (8:34).  I guess you'd call that progress.
Mon. August 6--The lead story was about the shooting in the Sikh temple near Milwaukee.  More specifically, it was about (as Brian put it), "Heroic acts of ordinary citizens."  This is what Nightly News reports on every time there's a shooting, a flood, a tornado, a hurricane--it's their stock story for any disaster.  Instead of reporting the facts of the situation, they use mushy, sentimental drivel to appeal to our emotions because these types of stories cause viewers to be engaged much more so than factual stories.  And that translates to higher ratings, which is what matters most to Brian and his producers.  So at Nightly News, everyone's a hero.
***Even when the Olympics aren't the lead story, they still show up in the broadcast's first segment--a segment traditionally reserved for actual news.  Brian told us that it was "another action-packed day" at the Olympics as he breathlessly described the U.S. women's soccer team's thrilling come-from-behind win over Canada.  And you know it must be true because he wouldn't just say something like that as a way to drive up NBC's prime time Olympic ratings.
***Then, Kevin Tibbles spent 2:40 recapping Usain Bolt's victory in the 100 meter dash the previous night.  Keep in mind that Bolt was already profiled on Saturday's Nightly News.  And let's also not forget that Bolt would still be running the 200 on Thursday, so this was really just a way to keep viewers interested in an upcoming event.  During the story, Tibbles made a point of showing us his own version of Bolt's famous archer's pose.  It was painful to watch.  This is what passes for news at Nightly News.
***Next, Brian spent two-and-a-half minutes on a story about the Mars Rover landing.  Fair enough--it's a legitimate story.  But after that, he spent another 40 seconds talking about NASA flight director Bobak Ferdowsi's mohawk hair style.  Unfortunately, Brian referred to him as Bobak "Fredowski".  Since Brian never misses the opportunity to brag about what a space flight geek he is, you'd think he could take the time to pronounce Ferdowsi's name correctly.  But Brian doesn't care much about proper pronunciation.  On July 24, he repeatedly pronounced Sherman Hemsley's name as "Helmsley".
***Brian spent 20 seconds showing photos of Hillary Clinton visiting Nelson Mandela in South Africa.  While this wouldn't be a big deal for most newscasts, it is extraordinary for NBC because Nightly News rarely reports on sub-Saharan Africa.  Usually, they only report on Africa when Bono or George Clooney visits there on a humanitarian mission.  I guess you can't blame Brian--reporting on Africa doesn't do much to boost his ratings, so why bother?
***Here's an important news story: At the Olympics, they're using a remote-controlled miniature version of a Mini Cooper car to retrieve discuses, pole vaults, shot puts and hammers for the athletes.  Obviously this is important because any Olympic-related story is a way to keep attention focused on NBC's prime time coverage.
***The broadcast ended with Mary Carillo's profile of Oscar Pistorius, who was born without legs and competes in the 400 meter run on carbon-fiber blades.  Now, unlike Chris Jansing or Kevin Tibbles, Carillo is a legitimate journalist.  She's intelligent, witty and compelling.  Her stories are much more than just shameless, bald-faced Olympics promotional pieces.  This story was well-done, but it was actually rehashed from a longer piece that Carillo had already done for NBC's Olympics coverage.  So the Nightly News producers can't take any credit for it.  I guess that's why it was so interesting.
Tues. August 7--Brian, who was still anchoring from London, introduced Richard Engel's report from Syria by saying, "Now to the big story overseas...."  This is the third time in the past week that Brian has mistakenly said that Syria is "overseas" from England.  I think it's about time that Brian got an atlas.  Or a competent producer.
***Brian's obituary for Marvin Hamlisch was really just an excuse to show film clips from "The Sting", "The Way We Were" and "The Spy Who Loved Me".  Brian always shows lots of movie clips on Nightly News because the viewers love to see them.  Entertainment gets much higher ratings than news.  He also showed a clip from "Saturday Night Live" because the death of a famous composer is a great opportunity to plug an NBC entertainment show.  Real classy move, Brian.  I'm surprised he didn't figure out a way to work an Olympics plug into Hamlisch's obit.  Maybe if he had a little more time....
***Brian then took more than a minute to read obits for art critic Robert Hughes and film critic Judith Crist.  No offense to these fine people, but they don't exactly deserve obits on a network newscast.  But Brian likes to report the deaths of critics because it makes him seem smart.  I guess we're supposed to believe that he reads art and film criticism.  Well, at least the Crist obit allowed Brian to slip in a clip from "The Sound of Music".
***We almost made it through an entire broadcast without hearing the idiotic Chris Jansing do one of her fawning, obsequious, ass-kissing Olympics stories.  Almost.  She ended the broadcast with a 3:15 "news report" about how these Olympics represent "The Year of the Woman".  Yeah--we already know that because Nightly News aired a "Year of the Woman" Olympics report on July 24.  So this was just another Nightly news rerun.  Brian and his producers always make a big effort to pander to women in order to boost the broadcast's ratings among the female demographic.  Hence, all the stories about women in the workplace, women in the military, women in the Olympics.  It seems pretty demeaning, if you ask me.  Brian even went so far as to tell us that, "We learned viewership among teenage girls has skyrocketed 55% since the last Summer Games."  Obviously, NBC has devised a strategy to attract female Olympics viewers, and that strategy includes lots of Nightly News stories about female athletes and "The Year of the Woman".  This story included a brief piece on female archery participants, so naturally it featured a clip from "The Hunger Games".  Did you expect otherwise?
***This Nightly News broadcast featured clips from "The Sting", "The Way We Were", "The Spy Who Loved Me", "The Sound of Music" and "The Hunger Games".  When your goal is to pander to viewers (and boost your ratings) by showing movie clips, I'd say that's a successful broadcast.
Wed. August 8--The lead story was the hot weather, because apparently at NBC Nightly News, hot weather in August is important news.  Over at CBS Evening News, they had the nerve to begin the broadcast with election news.  The nerve of them--starting the broadcast with real news.  What were they thinking?
***The next story was about gas prices.  Neither of the two lead stories could be considered anything close to breaking news, but then again, Brian's priority isn't to present breaking news.  His priority is to present stories that will hold an audience and keep them tuned in.  At Nightly News, ratings matter much more than news.
***Soon it was time for the first Olympics story of the day.  Beach volleyball!  Allyson Felix wins gold!  Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells dissed their 100 meter hurdles teammate Lolo Jones because they were jealous of all the attention Jones was receiving!  Then Jones offered a tearful response!  Meow--an Olympic catfight!  German's discus gold medalist Robert Harting celebrated his medal by leaping over hurdles!  Which prompted Kevin Tibbles to say something really stupid: "But I suggest he doesn't want to go up against Usain Bolt."  Why would he?  Bolt doesn't run hurdles.  It seems that Tibbles doesn't know this.  But why would he--Nightly News correspondents like Tibbles and Chris Jansing aren't paid because of their knowledge, they're paid to promote, promote, promote NBC's Olympics coverage.  To that point--job well done.
***Speaking of idiotic reporters--the next story was Anne Thompson's "inspiring story" of U.S. Olympic wrestler Elena Pirozhkova.  Look--she's crying!  How emotional!  Newscasts aren't supposed to inspire us, they're supposed to inform us.  But remember--ratings are what matters at NBC, not news.  Just for comparison purposes, this story was given three minutes of news time while Richard Engel's report on Syria was given half that time.  Priorities.
***Brian then spent fifty seconds reporting on Hillary Clinton's dirty dancing in South Africa.  Let's be clear--Brian rarely reports on Africa.  He doesn't care about Africa because it doesn't generate ratings for him.  But when Hillary does some dirty dancing--all of a sudden that's big news.  Just like Germany.  Brian goes months without mentioning Germany (which has Europe's largest economy), but he made sure to report that a waiter spilled beer on Chancellor Angela Merkel (2/28/12 Nightly News).  Brian Williams is a joke.
***Since we already heard from two-thirds of the Nightly News axis of idiocy (Kevin Tibbles and Anne Thompson), it makes sense that we would hear from the remaining one-third: Chris Jansing.  Jansing told us about some "astounding acts of sportsmanship" at the Olympics.  A soccer player consoles her losing rival.  Jordyn Wieber roots for Gabby Douglas after Wieber failed to qualify for the gymnastics all-around competition.  Fans cheer for a rower from Niger who came in dead last.  Liu Xiang is helped to the finish line after injuring his foot in the 110 meter hurdles.  Eventual gold medalist Kirani James exchanges name bibs with Oscar Pistorius after a semi-final heat of the 400 meter run.  Usain Bolt pauses during a TV interview while the U.S. national anthem plays for a medal ceremony.  Naturally, this entire 3:08 story was just another excuse to show hackneyed Olympic reruns and promote NBC's Olympic coverage.  Here's how Jansing ended her story: "It's about the promise in the Olympic oath--pledging competition for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams."  Where does she get this idiotic crap--from the back of a Wheaties box?  Jansing is the biggest hack on TV news.
***While Nightly News was spending 8:45 promoting the Olympics, here are two stories they didn't cover: Egyptian President Morsi ordered an air attack on Sinai terrorists, killing 20; and torrential rain and flooding in the Philippines killed 15, forced 250,000 to flee their homes, and submerged half of Manila.  But let's face it--these stories don't matter compared to plugging Olympic coverage on NBC.
Thurs. August 9--Brian decided not to bother wasting time with unimportant bullshit, so he lead with the Olympics.  The idiotic Chris Jansing, sounding like a broken record, again proclaimed the 2012 Olympics to represent the year of the woman.  Maybe if someone smacked her in the head, the phonograph needle in her brain would become unstuck and stop repeating the same thing over and over and over again.  Proving again that she has not an original thought in her, Jansing called Usain Bolt's victory in the 200 meter sprint "a race for the ages".  That doesn't really even mean anything.  The U.S. women's soccer team won the gold medal.  Claressa Shields won a boxing gold medal.  Manteo Mitchell ran his 4x400 lap on an injured leg, which was "an inspirational act of bravery".  Another bit on Oscar Pistorius.  She ended with this gem: "The Olympic spirit--and the excitement--is alive and well at these Games."  Wow, is Jansing an idiot.
***Speaking of idiots, Brian again introduced a story on Syria by calling it "overseas".  This is the fourth time since August 1 that Brian has called Syria "overseas" from England.  Really, it's not.  I'm not kidding.  Look it up.
***Just in case we weren't paying attention to the opening segment about the U.S. women's soccer team, we were treated to a 3:20 story on midfielder Megan Rapinoe.  Thanks.
***After that, Brian spent nearly two minutes on space and aviation-related stories: The Mars Rover, the Morpheus spacecraft, the Shuttle Endeavor, the best on-time performance for airlines.  Brian likes aviation and space stuff, so he gets to report on it as much as he likes.  Who's gonna tell him he can't?
***Going into the final commercial, we heard Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London".  Brian and his producers frequently play pop music because it keeps viewers tuned in and helps the ratings.
***The final story was a four-and-a-half minute unfocused behemoth from Tom Brokaw.  It featured multiple clips of the Royal Family (Will, Kate, Harry, the Queen).  It also featured clips of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, photos of Cary Grant, Judi Dench, Michael Caine and Helen Mirren.  And clips from "Downton Abbey", "The King's Speech", and "Shakespeare In Love".  With lots of commentary from Tracey Ullman.  I guess the purpose of this story was to show the viewers lots of fun British stuff that they really like so they won't change the channel.  Well done.
***This broadcast devoted 11:15 to Olympic-related stories and 8:49 to all other news.  Is that really a newscast? 
Fri. August 10--The lead story about Mitt Romney showed a Democratic PAC ad featuring a man who claims his wife died because his health insurance ran out.  Then we saw a Romney ad which responded by saying, "What does it say about a President's character when his campaign tries to use the tragedy of a woman's death for political gain?"  Here's another question: "What does it say about a news anchor's character when his broadcast tries to use the tragedy of a woman's death (or a child's death) for ratings gain?"  Because Brian Williams does that all the time.  He specializes in exploiting people with cancer (especially children) to boost his broadcast's ratings.  Brian has no problem with this because he has no ethics or moral compass.  Anything that will increase his ratings is fair game.  And stories about little children suffering from cancer and other hideous diseases are great for his ratings.  Viewers become emotionally involved with these stories, and that leads to high ratings.  By the way, here's how Brian introduced the lead Romney story: "In a matter of days when the Olympic flame in the stadium behind us here is put out and the non-stop television coverage signs off and the American summer of 2012 continues and thoughts turn to politics--in a matter of days we will know Mitt Romney's choice for a running mate."  Unbelievable.  Even a story about politics is refracted through the prism of the Olympics in order to promote NBC's coverage.  Brian is a shameless huckster.
***A story on the drought included this comment from a Kansas cattle rancher: "We rely on pond water and to get pond water we rely on the man upstairs."  This quote is irrelevant to the story, but Brian and his producers never miss an opportunity to inject Christianity into a news story because pandering to America's Christian majority helps boost the ratings.
***In order to generate interest in the men's and women's relay races being broadcast later on NBC, we were shown a 2:45 story about fumbled baton passes.  By suggesting that a baton may be dropped, the producers are enticing us to watch in the hope that a SNAFU like this may actually happen later.
***Brian spent 30 seconds showing us video of an army blimp--"a rare sight in the skies over the Jersey Shore".  Obviously there is zero news value to this idiotic story, but since it features the army and the Jersey Shore, it's important to Brian.  And that's what really matters--how important a story is to Brian.
***Here's some breaking news: Neil Diamond got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Brian reported this as if it was real news.  I guess that makes sense because on Nightly News, entertainment news is real news.
***For the final four-and-a-half minutes of the broadcast, Brian answered "frequently asked questions" about the Olympics.  Why doesn't sand stick to beach volleyball players?  Why do athletes kiss their medals?  What percentage of gold medalists cry?  What percentage of gold medalists sing along with their national anthem?  And he also offered up some Olympic factual oddities: Bronze medalists may be more satisfied than silver medalists with their medals.  Ireland has a female gold medalist in boxing.  Some medalists are older than 50.  The pace bike at the London velodrome.  BMX bike accidents.  A German diver does a backflop.  The man sitting behind Aly Raisman's parents at the gymnastics competition.  And the most important story of all: Gabby Douglas and her family paid a visit to the Nightly News set and posed with Brian.  Obviously, this wasn't really a story about Douglas--it was a story about Brian.  Because Brian's number one favorite subject to report on is himself.  The news is always about Brian.  By the way, this idiotic "news story" took up a full 20% of the broadcast.  Clearly, Nightly News is about hard news.  No wait, that's not right--Nightly News is about promoting the Olympics.  And promoting Brian Williams.

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