We all know that NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams is an egotistic, narcissistic, self-promoter. That's stating the obvious. But on Monday's Nightly News (5/6/13), he outdid even his own lofty narcissistic standards. On that broadcast, he reported that the Medal of Honor Society was posthumously awarding its Citizens Honors Medal to the six educators who were killed in the Newtown massacre. Good choice--I think we all agree that they deserve the award. But what Brian didn't disclose is that he himself sits on the board of directors of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. So in other words, he was using his own newscast to promote an organization on whose board he sits--without disclosing his connection to the organization. The MOH Foundation relies heavily on citizen donations, so by doing a story on the MOH Foundation, Brian was raising awareness for his organization with the specific goal of generating donations. That is deceptive, unethical and downright sleazy.
Later in the broadcast, Brian reported the breaking news story that Bill Clinton almost succeeded in brokering a Led Zeppelin reunion for the 12/12/12 Sandy Relief Concert. Now, first of all, this isn't news and it doesn't belong on a network newscast. It was just another excuse for Brian to show video of Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, two performers that he personally idolizes and who he frequently includes in Nightly News stories. Another expedition into narcissism for Brian Williams. But during this story, Brian also made a point of plugging the Robin Hood Foundation, the concert's organizer. And guess who sits on the board of directors of the Robin Hood Foundation? You guessed it--Brian Williams. And of course the Robin Hood Foundation, like the Medal of Honor Foundation, relies heavily on donations. So he plugged two organizations on whose board he sits--with the specific goal of increasing awareness of those organizations as a way to prompt his viewers to donate. And he never disclosed his connection to either organization. Wow, this guy has some big balls.
Also during Monday's broadcast, Brian reported that Pfizer would begin offering Viagra for sale on the web as a way to offset internet sales of generic and knock-off Viagra drugs. In that story, Brian referred to Pfizer as, "The folks who make the real stuff." Do you know what else Pfizer does? They sponsor NBC Nightly News segments. Since Jan. 1, 2013, Pfizer has sponsored nine different Nightly News "Making A Difference" segments. Of course, that's in addition to the commercials they run for their various products on Nightly News, other NBC shows and the many NBC Universal/Comcast networks. So by promoting Pfizer (and reminding us that they make "the real stuff"), Brian was shamelessly promoting one of his biggest sponsors. Perhaps this was just an opportunity for Brian to say "Thank you" to his pals at Pfizer. But maybe it was something else. Maybe Pfizer actually paid NBC News to have Brian Williams read a faux "news report" about them. That's known as a product placement or branded content. And I certainly wouldn't be surprised to learn that NBC News accepts payment for product placements on Nightly News. After all, paying to have a news report appear on Nightly News would be a great way to let people know that Viagra will now be available on the web. And if Brian Williams himself is selling it, all the better. Because he has such integrity. Does anyone believe that the weasels at NBC News wouldn't do something like this?
So let's recap: On one Nightly News broadcast, Brian Williams promoted two organizations on whose board he sits (both of whom rely heavily on donations) and one mega-huge pharmaceutical conglomerate that sponsors Nightly News segments and advertises on NBC. Brian Williams is a self-promoting, narcissistic scumbag. There's no other way to describe him. A news anchor who uses his broadcast to promote his sponsors and help solicit donations for organizations on whose board he sits should not be allowed on the air. When is the FCC going to demand that NBC dump this guy?