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Blurred Lines - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
captainsblog
captainsblog
Blurred Lines
Weird day in the world of television news, where fake is real and real is fake and it's often hard to tell between the two.

Brian Williams completed his fall from grace as NBC announced today that they'd suspended him for six months for the stupidity of his lies. Much as the right is gleefully dancing on his empty anchor chair, I can't say much in defense of him, but I can understand the circumstances of how he got to where he got. For it's not enough to be one of the Holy Trinity of Network News anymore.  Their days of such power and recognition have gone the way of the twelve-click VHF channel dial.

In the 60s and 70s, you knew who your anchors were. Even I did, as a little kid. Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, eventually giving way to Rather, Chancellor and Reasoner. Even their surnames were full of gravitas. Today? The audiences of these networks, while still dwarfing cable and "new media," are vestiges and watched mostly by the vestigal generation.  On the rare occasion we'll watch such a telecast, we're struck by the number of ads for Depends, Poli-Grip and a cabinet full of meds and Metamucil.  As recently as a year ago, I couldn't have told you who'd taken over for Brokaw on NBC or Couric on CBS; I still don't remember whether Diane Sawyer is still holding down the ABC chair.1

And when these anchors were, almost literally, anchors of their news brands, they didn't move around much.2 I never remember Chet or David yucking it up with Johnny Carson, or Uncle Walter making a guest appearance on Captain Kangaroo. The wall between News and Entertainment was just as sacrosanct as the one between Editorial and Business. But now? Got to get the product out there, so the kids will get it. So you get anchors routinely crossing over to entertainment shows (even- horror!- on rival networks, as Williams was scheduled to do on CBS's Late Show two nights from now). There were those 30 Rock appearances of his, adding one more brick tossed at the fourth wall as the managing editor of NBC News participated in a parody of NBC Entertainment's longest-running variety shows.

Worst of all for Brian? You had to make speeches at hockey games.  Whoda thunk that such a god would be brought down by a speech given during an NHL event?  I'm not sure that, after all this brouhaha, anyone at ESPN has even noticed that it happened:)  And what major network is the only one to broadcast NHL games at all? NBC.

I must remember to check back in August to see whether he returns and how it is received.  At least it's not scheduled for a sweeps month.

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As if THAT wasn't enough shock, on the day a real anchor gets the boot for faking stories, America's master of the intentionally fake news broadcast3 announced that he's also leaving us soon.  Jon Stewart's 16-year run behind the Daily Show's anchor desk will be ending sometime later this year.  I'm sad, personally, that I likely will never get to see him live on that set: the show isn't taping next week when we'll be in New York, and doesn't record on Fridays when I'll next be there in March.

Still. He does far more on a nightly basis to challenge status quo's than any of the real anchors he spoofs; his interview segments are as poignant and hard-hitting as anything done in "real news;" and he reaches and educates a generation of viewers who don't have either the "trust us" mindset about 60s network news or the suspicion about the "lamestream media" that has been so much a part of politics and media for the past quarter century.

And leave it to Jon to have nailed one key point about the Brian Williams kerfuffle:

Finally, someone is being held to account for misleading America about the Iraq war. It might not necessarily be the first person you’d want held accountable on that list. But never again will Brian Williams mislead this great nation about being shot at in a war we probably wouldn’t have ended up in if the media had applied this level of scrutiny to the actual fucking war.

I suppose that if all else fails, Brian can get the Daily Show gig.

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1 I just checked. She still is.

2 Much in the way that REAL anchors don't.

Oops. Media maven Scott blew THAT point on me in about ten seconds:


3 As opposed to unintentionally funny, which is what Foxsucker News is for.
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Comments
ellettra From: ellettra Date: February 11th, 2015 08:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have been studiously avoiding the news since the beginning of February, so I am out of the loop. Did he lie on air? I fondly remember watching the nightly news. My whole family sat together and watched (we were Dan Rather fans). I have similarly been struck by the blurring of lines between entertainment and news. It sucks.
captainsblog From: captainsblog Date: February 12th, 2015 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
In further proof that lying always makes it worse, apparently his only on-air transgression was during his apology, in which he repeated the lie or at least didn't walk it back far enough.

The Old Grey Lady did a pretty good retrospective of the whole kerfuffle today:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/12/business/media/frantic-efforts-at-nbc-to-curb-rising-damage-caused-by-brian-williams.html

I remain the most amazed that it all blew out of proportion during a hockey game, life almost imitating the old joke about "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out."
ellettra From: ellettra Date: February 12th, 2015 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ha! I bet that would have been something to see in real time.
greenquotebook From: greenquotebook Date: February 12th, 2015 06:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
What am I going to do for news now???
captainsblog From: captainsblog Date: February 12th, 2015 06:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eleanor and I have both observed that the British press- BBC and the Guardian and Mail, mostly- do a far better, more balanced and less poppy-cultury job of covering US news than any comparable US outlet does.

Plus, cricket references.
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