Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Brian Williams Is A Serial Panderer On NBC Nightly News

On 12/1/14, Brian Williams ended NBC Nightly News with a very important news story.  It was a story about Farmersonly.com--a dating site for farmers.  Here's how Brian introduced the story:

"Finally tonight--how many Americans this Thanksgiving paused right before digging into stuffing to think about where the wheat came from to make the bread to make the stuffing?  Well, the answer is: A farm in America where someone cares about that crop.  Someone turns in at night before dark and gets up the next morning before sunrise to care for that crop--and that's during a good year.  Farming life isn't for everyone and cultivating a meaningful relationship can be tough.  That is where a new website comes in as we hear tonight from bona fide Midwesterner Harry Smith."

Anyone who's watched Nightly News more than a handful of times knows that Brian is a serial panderer.  A fawning, obsequious toady who will ingratiate himself with any demographic that can boost his Nielsen ratings.  On this night, farmers got the nod.  Some of his other favorite targets for pandering include sports fans (especially fans of so-called blue-collar sports like football, hockey and NASCAR), car owners (most often American cars like Chevys, Chryslers and especially the Ford F-150 pickup) and Rust Belt or Midwestern cities (the "good people" or "hardy souls" of Detroit, Buffalo, Chicago and Minnesota are frequently singled out for praise).  Brian loves to pander, but, of course, being Brian, he does so in a narcissistic, self-referential way.  He'll extol your sports team, car or city while craftily painting himself as a clock-punchin', jeans-wearin', beer-drinkin' good ol' boy--albeit one whose annual salary has been estimated at $13 million per year.  He loves to burnish his faux-working-class image by using phrases like, "For those of us who love football...," "For all of us who've ever loved a Mustang" and "Those of who enjoy riding up high [in a Chevy Suburban]."  Yes, Brian is just like you--the middle-American, sports-loving, working-class viewer he's pandering to.  In fact, you and Brian have something else in common--you both love watching Brian every night on the TV news.

Here's what Brian said on the 7/9/13 Nightly News after a map on the previous day's broadcast omitted New Hampshire:

"And this calls for a reminder of great things about New Hampshire: It's got the best motto--'Live Free Or Die'--and it is the home of the first-in-the-nation primary.  Its entire elected delegation is women--Governor, two U.S. Senators and members of Congress.  And while they are all serious people, New Hampshire has also given us Seth Meyers and Sarah Silverman.  And the inventor of Tupperware is from there and paper towels were invented in New Hampshire.  So to the great people of the great state of New Hampshire--from the peaks of the White Mountains to the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee--please accept our apology."  It should be noted that Brian pronounced "Lake Winnipesaukee" with a fake New England accent, because his superior ego just can't resist the urge to mock the people he's pandering to.

Brian probably doesn't have many Canadian viewers, but that didn't prevent him from saying this on the 7/1/14 Nightly News:

"If you've been unable to reach a Canadian friend today, that's because it's Canada Day, celebrated throughout the land by our neighbors to the north in a number of ways--including beverage consumption.  In the hands down best video of the day, which we have put on our website tonight, two brothers from Canada--one of them a national hero--celebrate their nation in song.  Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and his brother Dave composed and recorded a song called 'In Canada'--as you might have gathered.  And it will make you happy because it's as sweet as maple syrup and they embrace their own wholesomeness and corniness and their own unabashed love of country."

And here's how Brian began Nightly News on 11/19/14:

"Good evening.  The people of Buffalo, New York don't scare easily.  President McKinley was assassinated there in 1901 and they moved on.  They have loved their Buffalo Bills from the good years through the bad years and now that they're good again.  They have given the world not only Tim Russert, but also Wolf Blitzer.  And while Buffalo is a tough town, they may have finally met their match.  A relentless snow storm has dropped nearly six feet of snow coming right in off the lake with upwards of two more feet on the way.  Daily life has simply come to a halt for many across a big area and the storm has already cost several lives.  It is officially a state of emergency tonight across a whole region."

Now, if Brian Williams hasn't heaped a proverbial ton of praise on the place where you live, don't feel bad.  It doesn't mean that you're not hardy, tough or nice.  It doesn't mean that you scare easily.  It doesn't mean that you don't live in a great (or iconic) American city or that you and your neighbors aren't good people.  It doesn't mean that you don't love football or Chevys.  It just means that Brian hasn't yet gotten around to pandering to your particular town, city or state.  But he will.  Sooner or later.  Remember Brian's motto:  So many places to pander to, so little time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Brian Williams Reports Breaking News on NBC Nightly News

Here are two breaking news stories that Brian Williams reported on the Nov. 5, 2014 edition of NBC Nightly News:

Story #1:  "The first newly-restored victim of that awful sinkhole in the Corvette museum is all fixed up and now on public display.  It's an '09 ZR1--a rocket ship they call the Blue Devil.  It was the least damaged of all the cars and required six weeks of work to replace the damaged parts."

(I should point out that it is insensitive and inappropriate, to say the least, for Brian Williams to refer to a Corvette as a "rocket ship" a mere five days after a Virgin Galactic test pilot died in the crash of an actual rocket ship.)

Story #2:  "A giant has been sacrificed in Pennsylvania so that it may entertain millions here in New York.  A couple in Bloomsburg, PA [sic] donated the 85-foot Norway Spruce and after a three-hour drive, they'll set it up in our backyard here at 30 Rock and they will light it up on December 3."

It should be noted that on this night, Brian Williams did not report any news from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Ukraine, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea.  In fact, he did not report any news at all from South America, Europe, Eastern (or Southeastern) Asia or Africa.  He did, however, introduce a brief 84-second story about violent clashes in Israel.  This is notable because it is the first foreign news story that had been reported on NBC Nightly News in eight days.  Meanwhile, here are some of the other important news stories that Brian and Lester Holt reported in that time:

➜Crash test dummies are being made larger to represent the increasing girth of the American public. (24 secs)
➜LeBron James played his first game of the season in his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. (14 secs)
➜A Washington University study revealed that scratching an itch can cause a person to want to scratch it even more. (18 secs)
➜John Spinello, who created the board game "Operation", is himself in need of an operation.  Some of his friends who are toy executives and inventors have contributed money to help him pay for the surgery. (2:16)
➜As part of their annual Halloween show, the hosts of The Today Show dressed up as Saturday Night Live characters. (38 secs)
➜Millions of Americans are buying Halloween costumes for their dogs, including correspondent Janet Shamlian, who dressed her yellow lab Bella as a bumblebee. (1:50)
➜Babe Ruth's first Yankee contract is going up for auction. (27 secs)
➜NBC sponsor Walmart is implementing major price rollbacks for the holiday season. (1:52)
➜In Alexandria, VA, there is an exercise gym for dogs. (2:10)
➜We saw a preview of Nik Wallenda's tightrope walk between two Chicago buildings.  (NBC News's Peacock Productions is producing the Wallenda special for The Discovery Channel.) (3:10)
➜This was followed, a day later, by a recap of Wallenda's tightrope walk. (16 secs)
➜Tom Cruise did a daring stunt (clinging to the exterior of a flying plane) for "Mission Impossible 5". (24 secs)
➜Two NASCAR drivers got into a brawl following a race at Texas Motor Speedway. (29 secs)
➜A girl with terminal brain cancer played in a college basketball game and scored several baskets. (2:13)
➜A baby hippo was born in the L.A. Zoo. (31 secs)
➜A Minnesota car dealership gave a job to a 17-year-old mentally challenged young man who loves cars. (2:12)

Altogether, these stories took up 19:24 of news time, which is the length of an entire NBC Nightly News broadcast (when commercials and promotional material are filtered out).  So Nightly News may have gone eight days without reporting any foreign news stories, but at least we got to see dogs working out in a gym and Kathie Lee & Hoda dressed as Wayne & Garth.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What Brian Williams and NBC Nightly News Reported On In July

Without comment or editorial, I present this partial list of stories that Brian Williams and NBC Nightly News reported during July, 2014:

➣Lightning strikes--4 stories (in addition to being included in 4 other stories)
➣Prince George--3 stories
➣The Supermoon--3 stories
➣Dust storms--2 stories
➣Kansas City's Verr├╝ckt water slide--2 stories
➣Manhattanhenge--1 story
➣Swimming babies--1 story
➣Scenic tour of Route 66--1 story
➣Mayfly swarm in Wisconsin--1 story
➣5-year-old girl crying because she doesn't want her baby brother to grow up--1 story

➣Whales--2 stories
➣Bear cub with its head stuck in a cookie jar--1 story
➣Panda cub--1 story
➣Wolf pups--1 story
➣Surfing dog--1 story

Movies and TV Shows:
➣The Emmys (to air on NBC Aug. 25)--1 story
➣"Jaws" (released by NBC/Universal in 1975)--1 story
➣"50 Shades of Grey" (to be released next Feb. by NBC/Universal's Focus Features)--1 story
➣"When Harry Met Sally"--1 story
➣"Sharknado 2" (which aired on the NBC-owned SyFy Channel)--1 story
➣"Peter Pan" (to air on NBC Dec. 4 and starring Brian Williams' daughter Allison)--1 story
➣"A Hard Day's Night"--1 story
➣"Seinfeld"--1 story
➣"Boyhood"--1 story

Celebrities & Athletes:
➣Tracy Morgan--2 stories
➣George Clooney--1 story
➣Robert Redford--1 story
➣Adele--1 story
➣Jimmy Fallon/Halle Berry--1 story
➣LeBron James--2 stories
➣Derek Jeter--2 stories
➣George Harrison--1 story

The total time for all these stories combined was 47 minutes 38 seconds, which is the equivalent of more than two entire Nightly News broadcasts. However, in July, Nightly News did not report a single story on:

➢South Sudan
➢South Africa

On the NBC News Twitter feed (@NBCNews), the moderators describe it as, "A leading source of global news and information for more than 75 years." The NBC Nightly News Twitter feed (@NBCNightlyNews) makes no such claim--the moderators simply refer to the broadcast as, "America's most-watched evening news broadcast."

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Brian Williams Insults Jews, African Americans And Latinos On NBC Nightly News

On NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams often reports stories about inappropriate action or speech directed at religious, ethnic and racial groups.  He has already reported on Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling's racist comments, and we can expect Brian to continue reporting this story in the coming weeks.  Not only will he report it, but he will do so with outrage and derision.  Because Brian Williams is a fair and just man with no biases or prejudices against any group.  Or so he would have us believe.  As we watch Brian report on Donald Sterling's comments, we should take a moment to remember some of Brian's own inappropriate comments.

On January 26, 2009, Brian wrote one of his Daily Nightly blog posts titled "Old man river at Obama's inauguration".  (http://dailynightly.nbcnews.com/_news/2009/01/26/4373517-old-man-river-at-obamas-inauguration?lite.)  (The blog's title referred to Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, who was a guest at President Obama's first inauguration.)  A brief history lesson for Brian: The lyrics for the song "Old Man River" (also known as "Ol' Man River") were written by Oscar Hammerstein II for the 1927 play "Showboat".  And although the song was later sanitized, the original lyrics were extremely racist and even included the vile "n" word to describe African Americans.  It hardly seems appropriate for America's most trusted news anchor to reference a once-racist song title in a blog post about the inauguration of our nation's first African American president.

Later that year, speaking at the 2009 Nantucket Film Festival (as reported by the 6/22/09 bostonherald.com website [http://business.highbeam.com/3972/article-1G1-202214900/nbc-newsguy-steals-show-nantucket]), Brian told his audience, "Welcome to the Nantucket Film Festival--where Jews come to be honored.  Nantucket is actually a Yiddish word meaning where the WASPS live."  Isn't he hilarious?  That Brian--such a badchen!

And on May 29, 2013, Brian reported an NBC Nightly News story about President Obama having lipstick on his collar during a public appearance.  (Let's ignore the fact that this didn't remotely qualify as a news story and it didn't belong on a national newscast.  Obviously, Brian Williams makes a living reporting frivolous stories with no news value.)  During his introduction to the story, Brian said, "The President of the United States had a bit of splainin' to do last night...."  The reference was familiar to "I Love Lucy" fans--Desi Arnaz's Ricky would often tell Lucille Ball's character that she had some "splainin'" to do.  (Senator Tom Coburn had also used "splainin'" while questioning Sonia Sotomayor during Ms. Sotomayor's 2009 Senate confirmation hearing.  Coburn's use of that word set off a firestorm of criticism that the word was insulting to Ms. Sotomayor's Latina heritage.)  I don't think there's any question that this word is derogatory and insulting to Latinos and Latinas.  It's no different than affecting an exaggerated Chinese or Italian accent to mock a person from China or Italy.  It's surprising--not to mention disappointing--that Brian actually had the nerve to use this offensive word on a network newscast.

So as we watch Brian Williams reporting on Donald Sterling's racist remarks this week, let us not forget some of Brian's own words.  Of course, his comments raise a larger question: If these are the types of things Brian is saying in public, what exactly is he saying in private?

Friday, April 18, 2014

NBC Nightly News's Dr. Nancy Snyderman Is A Shill For Merck

On Thursday, April 17, 2014, NBC News Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman reported a story about allergies for NBC Nightly News.  During this story, she informed us that allergy shots could alleviate allergy symptoms.  Then she added this: "But now there are alternatives to injections.  Two new prescription pills just approved by the FDA treat certain grass pollen allergies.  Both melt under the tongue.  Grastek is for ages 5 years to 65, Oralair for ages 10 to 65.  Another, Ragwitek is approved for ragweed pollen."  During Snyderman's narration, three animated prescription pads appeared on the screen, each prominently containing the name and logo of the drugs she had just described.  Two of these drugs--Grastek and Ragwitek--are manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Merck (Oralair is manufactured by Stallergenes and distributed in the U.S. by Greer Laboratories).

Exactly one minute after Snyderman's story concluded, Nightly News aired a commercial for Shinglesinfo.com--a pseudo-informational website sponsored by Merck that contains a link to another site for the shingles vaccine drug Zostavax, which is (not surprisingly) manufactured by Merck.  Five minutes after the shingles ad, Nightly News aired a commercial for Dr. Scholl's P.R.O. Pain Relief Orthotics--another Merck product.  There was a precedent for Snyderman's dubious behavior: She had previously plugged Merck's Grastek in an allergy story that aired on the 12/11/13 Nightly News, a broadcast that also carried a commercial for Merck's Oxytrol.

It seems pretty obvious what's happening here.  At the very least, Snyderman made a point of plugging one of NBC's big sponsors in her allergy stories.  But I suspect a much less innocuous situation.  I believe that both of these allergy stories were concocted by the NBC Advertising and Marketing Department for the sole purpose of plugging newly-approved Merck drugs.  They may have even been part of a package deal.  NBC could have offered Merck a certain number of weekly or monthly ads on Nightly News--plus one or more in-story promotional plugs--for a special rate.  Certainly a plug from NBC News's Chief Medical Editor offers gravitas--a tremendous benefit for a pharmaceutical company whose products are fighting for attention alongside all the other products that are crammed into a 2½ minute commercial break.  And many (if not most) viewers ignore or zip through commercials, so an in-story product placement virtually guarantees that people will be watching.

Even before these allergy stories, Snyderman had already shilled for Merck.  On 6/4/13, she reported a Nightly News story about the benefits of sunscreen as a skin protector and anti-aging agent.  That report began with a clip from a Bain de Soleil ad (including the familiar jingle "Bain de Soleil for that Saint-Tropez tan").  Later in the story, the camera panned across a well-placed studio array of seven bottles of sunscreen, including three bottles of Coppertone--which were prominently positioned in front of the other sunscreens.  Both Bain de Soleil and Coppertone were, at the time, manufactured by Merck [Note: As of July, 2014, Coppertone was acquired by Bayer].  Eight minutes after Snyderman's story aired, Nightly News ran a commercial for the aforementioned Dr. Scholl's P.R.O. Pain Relief Orthotics--which are (as previously noted) also a Merck product.  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 6/12/13 entry: "Brian Williams Uses Product Placements In NBC Nightly News Stories" or click on this link: http://nightly-daily.blogspot.com/2013/06/brian-williams-and-his-producers.html.)

But please don't get the idea that Merck is the only company that Snyderman shills for.  On 1/2/13, Nightly News aired Snyderman's story on fructose.  It included ad clips for 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.  A 7/15/13 Snyderman story on high blood pressure included a plug for Fritos (ironic, to say the least).  Her 8/2/13 story on gluten-free food options prominently featured gluten-free products like Ian's, Amy's, Glutino, Tastykake and Mi-Del.  On 8/10/13, Snyderman's story on new health insurance choices included 30 seconds of interior and exterior shots of a Starbucks.  Her 9/3/13 story on Diana Nyad featured a Dairy Queen plug.  On 1/15/14, Snyderman reported an alarmist story about how acetaminophen (most frequently sold in the U.S. as Tylenol) can damage the liver.  This story was clearly meant to hurt Tylenol and help its competitor Aleve--a pain-relief product manufactured by regular Nightly News sponsor Bayer.  On 2/27/14, she again railed about the dangers of acetaminophen.

It's shameful that any NBC producer, anchor or correspondent would use a news broadcast to plug a network sponsor, but it's even more shameful when done by a medical correspondent--and a physician, no less.  Of course, if NBC is, in fact, getting paid for these in-story product placements, that elevates the situation from shameful to unethical, and perhaps even to the point of illegality.  I don't see how viewers can possibly trust Nancy Snyderman to report honestly and objectively when one of her primary goals seems to be promoting the products of NBC sponsors.

UPDATE 10/13/14: Since this post was originally published, Nancy Snyderman has continued to plug pharmaceutical companies and other NBC advertisers in her NBC Nightly News stories.

5/30/14: Snyderman reported a story that plugged the hormone therapy drug Zoladex. Zoladex is manufactured by AstraZeneca, maker of Crestor, Prilosec, Nexium and Symbicort--all of which currently advertise or did advertise on Nightly News and other NBC-owned networks.

7/1/14: A Snyderman story on allergies included a plug for Xolair, made by Novartis/Genentech.  Novartis also makes Theraflu, Excedrin, Benefiber and Prevacid--products that advertise on NBC.

7/15/14: A Snyderman story about dosage mistakes included a 13-second product placement for Tamiflu--manufactured by Genentech/Roche.

7/29/14: Snyderman's story about skin cancer featured a product placement for Coppertone sunscreen, which Bayer had acquired from Merck earlier that month.  Snyderman didn't waste any time shilling for Bayer--which is Nightly News's biggest sponsor.

8/29/14: During her report on walk-in medical clinics, Snyderman spent 40 seconds specifically plugging Walmart's walk-in medical clinics.  Walmart is a big NBC advertiser.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Brian Williams & NBC Nightly News Plug, Plug, Plug The Sochi Olympics

Anyone who watches NBC Nightly News on a semi-regular basis knows that one of the main goals of Brian Williams and his producers is to use their broadcast to promote NBC sports, entertainment and news shows, as well as cable shows that appear on the many NBC/Universal networks such as USA, Bravo, SyFy, E! and The Weather Channel.  For example, on Monday, Feb. 17, Nightly News featured Brian's four-minute short-form documentary about Jimmy Fallon's new gig as host of The Tonight Show.  Obviously, this "news report" was meant to increase viewership for Fallon's premiere show later that night.  While some Nightly News promotions are blatant, some are not so obvious.  Last June 23 & 24, Lester Holt (Sunday) and Brian Williams  (Monday) spent a combined 4:35 promoting Nik Wallenda's tightrope walk across the Little Colorado River Gorge (adjacent to the Grand Canyon) which was also being aired as a Discovery Channel special.  Since Discovery Channel is not owned by NBC/Universal, these may have seemed like just another couple of stories that fell under the category of entertainment news.  However, neither Lester nor Brian (nor reporters Ben Fogle or Anne Thompson) disclosed that the Discovery Skywalk special was produced by Peacock Productions--a company owned by NBC/Universal.  So in actuality, this was a sleazy and deceptive way for Nightly News to drum up interest in a show that NBC would profit from--without any disclosure about the relationship between NBC and Discovery.  This is business as usual for Brian Williams and his Nightly News producers.  (Sidenote: In his June 23 story, Lester Holt announced that Wallenda would be walking across "the Grand Canyon".  That was an intentional lie--the Little Colorado River Gorge is not part of the Grand Canyon.  But Lester and his producers knew that invoking the Grand Canyon would be better for Discovery's Skywalk ratings.)  Another example: Nightly News occasionally does stories about the popularity of PBS's "Downton Abbey", but Brian and his correspondents often "forget" to disclose that "Downton Abbey" is produced by Carnival Films--which is owned by NBC/Universal.  These omissions are, of course, intentionally meant to fool viewers by promoting the show while masking the relationship between NBC and its subsidiary production companies.

But the Olympics are an entirely different animal.  No subterfuge is needed or even attempted in NBC's blatant and aggressive promotion of the Olympics every other year.  Since NBC paid dearly for the privilege of carrying the Olympics (their most recent deal, which began with the 2014 Olympics and runs through the 2020 Olympics, cost NBC $4.38 billion), they make sure to promote the Games through all NBC/Universal platforms.  And, of course, NBC Nightly News is a big part of that promotion.  A promotional story about the Olympics that airs on a news broadcast carries a lot more gravitas with the viewers than a similar story shown on an entertainment show.

Nightly News began promoting the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Feb. 5, 2013--more than a year before the opening ceremony was scheduled to begin.  That night's broadcast featured a 2:15 story on Lindsey Vonn's knee injury, and also included her then-rumored (and now public) romance with Tiger Woods.  Over the next 11 months, Nightly News aired 8 more Vonn stories totaling more than 14 minutes.  But those stories ended abruptly with a Jan. 7 story reporting that Vonn's knee injury had finally forced her to withdraw from the Olympics.  While this injury was devastating to Vonn, I suspect that it was even more devastating to NBC.  Up to that point, Vonn had been NBC's poster person for the Olympics.  And Nightly News had reported on every aspect of Vonn's life from her skiing to her romance with Woods to her "pretty" looks and "blonde hair".  After Vonn's knee injury, Nightly News's Vonn stories became a running will-she-or-won't-she soap opera about whether she would actually compete in Sochi.  When she finally announced that she would not compete, Nightly News dropped Vonn like a not-so-hot potato and instead began focusing on other Olympic stars like Gracie Gold, Lolo Jones and the Jamaican Bobsled Team.

So how much time did NBC Nightly News actually spend promoting the 2014 Olympics?  Beginning with that 2/5/13 Lindsey Vonn story, NBC Nightly News spent a total of 225 minutes--3 hours 45 minutes--promoting the Sochi Games.  Before the Sochi Opening Ceremony took place on Feb. 7, Nightly News had already spent 101 minutes promoting the Olympics.  And over the 17 days of competition, Nightly News spent another 124 minutes on stories meant to insure that viewers would tune in.  Permit me to state the obvious: The more people that watch the Olympics, the higher NBC's ratings will be.  And higher ratings translates to more ad revenue--either for these games or for subsequent Games.  So--no surprise--Nightly News's extensive promotion of the Olympics was really just a way to generate revenue for NBC.  Let's put this in perspective.  Nightly News isn't a 30-minute broadcast.  It isn't even a 24-minute broadcast.  After filtering out the commercials, the opening tease, the incessant promotions (for The Today Show, The Tonight Show, Meet the Press, Dateline, etc.) and Brian Williams's overlong sign off, a Nightly News broadcast usually contains somewhere between 18½ and 19½ minutes of news (the word "news" is really a misnomer, since a Nightly News broadcast often includes many minutes of non-news stories.  But for these purposes, we can generously consider all Nightly News stories to be actual news).  Occasionally (though rarely), a broadcast will run a few seconds over 20 minutes.  So even assuming a 20-minute run time for a broadcast, the 225 minutes that Nightly News spent promoting the Olympics is equivalent to more than 11 entire Nightly News broadcasts.  That raises a disturbing question: What stories didn't Nightly News cover in order to spend 225 minutes promoting the Olympics over the course of an entire year?  In 2013 and early 2014, there were elections in Kenya, Cambodia, Mali, Pakistan. Zimbabwe, Australia, Norway, Germany, Austria, Chile, Bangladesh and Thailand.  Nightly News did not report a single story on any of these elections.  But we sure learned an awful lot about Lindsey Vonn's knee.

So how did the 3 hours 45 minutes Nightly News devoted to promoting the 2014 Olympics stack up against past Olympics?  Before and during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Nightly News spent a meager 2 hours 40 minutes on Olympic promotional stories.  And Nightly News aired 3 hours 9 minutes of promotional stories for the 2012 Summer Games in London.  But the 3 hours 45 minutes Nightly News spent promoting the Sochi Olympics represents a new Olympic record.  Well done!  Brian Williams, his producers and everyone at NBC Nightly News deserve a gold medal for their efforts.  (Although sadly, despite the combined efforts of everyone at NBC, ratings for the Sochi Games were down an estimated 12% from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.)  And I think it's a safe bet that for the 2016 Rio Games, Nightly News's promotional story total will easily eclipse the 4-hour mark.  Now there's something to look forward to.  Starting, no doubt, in the summer of 2015.