Mainstream Media Mediocrity: A Profile of NBC Nightly News No bureau in Paris? Or Caracas? Or God knows where else? Part I

Tens of millions of Americans exclusively depend on network television news in how they view the world. And, given the superficial, biased nature of much of NBC News, that is too bad. That’s because many of these mainstream media news operations—NBC, ABC, CNN and CBS—aren’t very good.

Reporting is often based on rewrites of print media—usually the liberal heavyweight New York Times and Washington Post—and reporters are often chosen the way good models are selected: They are employed not because of any expertise but because they “look good” on camera. Another drawback is these reporters, along with their producers, is they often have a ludicrous left wing bias (Much of American talk radio has a ludicrous right-wing bias. But one can argue that there is a sea of difference between what is supposed to be straight news and opinion).

Before I go much further I should disclose my own bias, although veteran readers of GregoryBreisger.com won’t be surprised. I am neither left nor right. I count myself as radical—a radical lover of liberty, limited government and non-interventionist foreign policy. I neither like most of the mainstream news media nor the often-right-wing radio hosts. I endorsed, with a few reservations, the libertarian candidate in the last president election, Gary Johnson. With all his limitations, I believed in his basic principles of limited government. Apparently, a lot of Americans, disgusted with the two major parties, agreed. He received 4.5 million votes in the election.

That was an astounding performance for a minor party candidate competing in a system rigged against third or new parties. It meant that, in a few states, Johnson actually held the balance of power between the two major candidates. However, one would never know that from the election night coverage of the reports and anchors of NBC News. They pretended the third party’s candidates didn’t exist. This is not surprising since most of NBC News personnel on election night seemed too busy crying in their beer as they had to relate the troubling news that their favorite, the monumentally flawed Hillary Clinton, had been defeated by an ill-educated fourth-rate Babbitt, Donald Trump.

Owing to hard work and some luck, he pulled off one of the greatest political upsets in history, astonishing people like NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, whose prejudice was apparent—she seemed on the verge of tears—and Richard Engel. He seemed angry and ready to fight as though he was going to go into his best Ernest Hemmingway “who wants to fight” imitation.

Today, and in the next segment, I am going to focus on “NBC Nightly News.” It has been the number one television news operation—in terms of viewership—for years and it has been the one that I have generally watched over the last decade or so, not necessarily because I think it is good. It is not.

Luckily, I have not exclusively depended on it since doing it is a kind of intellectual junk food. Doing so is tantamount to depending on McDonalds food for your meals. And neither should you depend on television news, no matter how you view it.

Indeed, here’s why.

Superficial Part I

Recently, in the latest attack in Paris, NBC News reported the story and the reporter who was pictured on camera was shown reporting from “NBC News London.”

London?

Valgame Dios, senor! Doesn’t the august NBC News have a Paris bureau?

In this case, apparently, it didn’t or maybe it does but the bureau members were out for croissants. It is shocking to see an important city and country not get the coverage it deserves. Love it or not, France deserves major coverage. It is an important country that has been targeted by terrorists.

But so, then, is Latin America. Venezuela, at this writing, seems on the verge of revolution. This has major implications for Central America, especially for neighbor Colombia, which has a history of clashing with its neighbor. Recently, in its limited coverage of a major anti-government demonstration against the oppressive Maduro government, NBC News obviously wasn’t there. If it has a Caracas bureau, or even some significant coverage of Latin America, it is anything but obvious. The reporter in the story above only signed off his name and “NBC News.”

However, NBC News likes to wow the viewers at the beginning of the show by saying “from the worldwide headquarters….” Oh, what a big deal, NBC seems to saying to us, the benighted boobs of the American heartland who need to be enlightened by their wisdom from the heart of the great metropolis. Then the camera pans to a shot of Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan and presumably we are all supposed to be impressed.
I’ve watched NBC Nightly News for years. I’m not impressed.

Superficial, Part II

Only watch half of the newscast and you will hardly miss anything. NBC Nightly News begins at 6:30 and ends at 7:00 in my market, the New York City area. But, sans commercials, you are only going to get roughly twenty-four minutes of news. Even the news pros admit, this is woefully inadequate to do anything but the briefest of coverage. That means every minute is precious. Most of the first 15 minutes of the show are devoted to filmed stories—-reporters in the field providing coverage of breaking stories—with a few “tell’ stories, stories read by the anchor, Lester Holt. These are often taken off the wires and may be accompanied by a piece of video.

At 6:45, the program takes its first break for commercials. But actually, the bulk of the newscast is over and perceptive viewers know that. Indeed, for the last two or three segments of the show, each time you come back from break, you will get one or two stories and then—guess what? —it’s time for another break. The anchor knows that these frequent breaks can lead to viewers going elsewhere. So, at the end of the first segment at 6:45, he’ll, in effect, beg you not to go away by turning dramatic and dishonest just before sending the viewer to pitches for laxatives, gummy balls and drugs that can supposedly restore your sexual vitality. He’ll say, “we’ve got much more news coming up.”

No, you don’t, Lester. Most of the newscast is over.

But the nonsense of NBC Nightly News isn’t. There are still the issues of the lying NBC News anchor and Clinton relatives on the payroll. And now I won’t make you listen to lot of idiotic commercials. I’ll discuss these issues in our next segment.

About The Author

Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent business journalist from Queens, New York. His Personal Finance articles have appeared in publications such as The New York Post & Financial Advisor Magazine. He is the author of the eBooks “Personal Finance For People Who Hate Personal Finance” and “MoneySense”.