Tuesday, June 4, 2013

NBC Nightly News' Nancy Snyderman And Robert Bazell Are Shills

On Tuesday (6/4/13), NBC Nightly News' chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman reported a story about the benefits of sunscreen as a skin protector and anti-aging agent.  The report began with a clip from a Bain de Soleil ad (the familiar jingle "Bain de Soleil for that Saint-Tropez tan").  Later, the camera panned across a studio array of seven bottles of sunscreen, including three bottles of Coppertone--which were prominently placed in front of the others.  Both Bain de Soleil and Coppertone are owned/manufactured by the pharmaceutical giant Merck.  Eight minutes after Snyderman's story aired, Nightly News ran a commercial for Dr. Scholl's P.R.O. arch support inserts.  Dr. Scholl's is also owned by Merck.  This is no coincidence.  NBC Nightly News producers, anchors and correspondents have a history of using "news stories" to plug NBC sponsors' products.  (For a detailed list of NBC Nightly News plugs and product placements, see this blog's 4/8/12 entry: http://nightly-daily.blogspot.com/2012/04/nbc-nightly-news-show-notes-4712.html.)  And this isn't the first time Nancy Snyderman has done a product placement.  On the 1/2/13 Nightly News, Snyderman's story on fructose included ad clips from Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers and the weight-loss drug Alli--which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline--a frequent NBC advertiser and Nightly News in-broadcast sponsor.  It's shameful that any NBC producer, anchor or correspondent would use a news broadcast to plug their network's sponsors, but it's even more shameful when done by a medical correspondent--and a physician, no less.  I don't see how viewers can trust Snyderman to report honestly and objectively when one of her primary goals seems to be promoting NBC sponsors.

But when it comes to NBC News science/medical correspondents, Nancy Snyderman has nothing on Robert Bazell.  For years, Bazell has been acting as a shill for NBC sponsors such as Bayer, General Mills, General Electric, Glaxo and Pfizer.  (In 2011, this blog devoted an entire post to the inimitable Mr. Bazell: http://nightly-daily.blogspot.com/2011/10/robert-bazell-is-scumbag.html.)  Well, Bazell is at it again.  On Saturday's Nightly News (6/1/13), Bazell reported a story titled "Cancer Breakthrough" about the successful treatment of lung cancer and several other types of cancer through a procedure known as immune therapy, which causes white blood cells to attack and destroy cancer cells.  The story focused on research and treatment being done at Yale Cancer Center and featured an interview with the Center's Dr. Roy Herbst.  Anyone watching this story would come away with the impression that Yale is at the forefront of cancer research, which it is.  However, Bazell neglected to disclose one very important fact: Later this summer he will be leaving NBC News because he has accepted a position as an adjunct professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University.  So by doing a Nightly News piece about Yale, Bazell used his current position as a news correspondent to promote his future employer.  That's pretty sleazy.  But for the NBC News health/science/medical team, it's just (funny) business as usual.


  1. Mr Charles, Maybe your perspective is the major problem here. You speak about Dr. Roy Herbst focusing on Research and Treatment at Yale as being the best. Then you agree it is the best. So what's the problem? NBC is a business. Sometimes the fight for getting good medical reporting (or any airtime ) is to get a sponsor who is respectfully competent to support your efforts to create awareness to the public. Would you prefer they let that particular air slot include a product known to be inferior? The audience might infer it as being good since it is aired with the program and they trust the NBC host. The problem here would be "not" getting commercial sponsors who have a great product and support creating awareness. Should NBC air any product just to get the money regardless if they steer the audience correctly according to their best judgement? I think it is brilliant that they are consciously being responsibly for what they are subliminally planting in Americas' minds. If they did it any other way it would be a shame wouldn't it?.

    Karen Y Mayo karenymayo@gmail.com

    1. I don't expect you to understand this. But he fact that you — "... think it is brilliant that they are consciously being responsibly [sic] for what they are subliminally planting in Americas' minds..." — speaks to a deeply WARPED perspective.

      The whole idea of a news division, be it network, cable, etc., as a PROFIT CENTER is fatally flawed. You cannot be beholden to network advertisers, be OWNED by a mega-conglomerate, and report and editorialise the news with anything resembling honesty. It is the very definition of CONFLICT OF INTEREST. The fact that people actually find this acceptable, speaks to the dumbed-down herd mentality that pervades this once great nation. We are an entertainment addicted culture that has been fed a false and limited reality for decades through the "wonders" of TV and its profoundly compromised "news" divisions. Corporate hucksters like Brian Williams, Nancy Snyderman and Robert Bazell are vital cogs in the whole charade.

    2. Mr Osborne, rest assured there are few things you'd have to dumb down for me. In fact I agree wholeheartedly with your perspective. More importantly I too protested news advertisers nearly 25 years ago when it began. I remember when advertising was not an integral part of news reporting. As well it shouldn't be. But obviously neither the dumb downed commenter or the brilliant one (you can be whichever you choose I'll gladly be the other) because neither of our votes made much difference since more than 2 decades have passed and the horse is not only out of the barn he has passed and a new generation with entirely new ideas resides there. The best you and I can do is support innovative ways that assures as broad a perspective of news as possible gets aired. When we buy our own stations we can change the world. Until then we find ourselves bound by those lawmakers, owners and front line players. I was simply supporting ways to ensure the inclusion of those topics that won't necessarily be representated by profit centers. ✌

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