The News Friday Night: The Stupid Bowl Nightly Network News Review


All the nightly national TV network news shows — ABC World News, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News — led with the economy, although you wouldn’t know they were reporting on the same story. ABC reporter David Muir is almost giddy with anchor Diane Sawyer saying things like, “Is a boom underway?” and that the economic downturn is “finally over.” His evidence? The Dow Jones went over 14,000 for the first time in five years. How does ABC know that’s news? As Sawyer explained, it “was every word on the cable channels” today. Muir says this 14,000 number will affect the “modern American family,” which he defines as “baby boomers who are getting ready for retirement,” and young parents with kids. To Muir, if you’re not old enough to consider retiring or young enough to raise kids, this economic “surge” is not for you. The “surge” is also not for anyone other than those who own stock in 30 largely traded US companies, as those are the ONLY ones included in the Dow index.

While Muir is all bubbly about the country’s largest public corporations doing really well, CBS and NBC are wondering exactly who the economy is helping. NBC quotes economist Peter Morici saying that 7.9% unemployment is “not good enough,” and tjat there are not enough jobs coming. However, he does point out that it is different on Wall Street. CBS is also concerned about unemployment long term, although they do report that the average time spent by an American without a job is dropping. When it comes to genuflecting at the feet of the Dow, ABC’s Muir is still stuck in the Reagan la-la land of trickle-down. Meanwhile, NBC and CBS thankfully note who is being trickled upon — and by whom.

ABC goes to the suicide bombing at the US embassy in Ankara, Turkey, but I’m really confused. ABC has correspondent Nick Shiffrin on the ground in Ankara, reporting from the scene. But instead, reporter Martha Raddatz does the story, from a live shot somewhere else. ABC actually has a reporter on the ground at an international news story — finally — and they still ask Martha Raddatz to report it, even though she’s not there. I’m really confused. Is it in her contract that she must appear in every international news story? Personally, I would have rather heard more from the reporter who’s there than the person who isn’t.

Hillary Clinton stepped down as Secretary of State today. That’s all you really need to know. However, the networks are part of The Media and The Media loves state functions. The Media revels in the American royal court of celebrity. The Media is enamored with the spectacle us taxpayers fund. And the government knows The Media finds their canapés unquestionably delicious, and easy to digest. So who better to send to this incestuous media-government event than Mrs. Allan Greenspan, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell? Mitchell, however, tells us that during the event “some women shouted 2016,” in reference to Hillary possibly running for president in 2016. CBS anchor Scott Pelley meanwhile doesn’t note that the shouters were ‘women,’ saying only that “some shouted.” Why did Mitchell feel compelled to tell us they were women? And why didn’t Pelley? Discuss among yourselves, or comment at the bottom of this post.

NBC anchor Brian Williams tells us that Mark Sullivan, the 30-year head of the United States Secret Service, is stepping down. Williams reminds us that the retiring chief was running the Secret Service during the recent prostitution scandal. I’m sure Sullivan is delighted Williams has summed up his 30 years of public service into one scandal. If the former Secret Service head is watching and still has his service revolver, I’m betting there’s one less TV in the Sullivan household.

As CBS is airing the Super Bowl this year, the rest of their broadcast will be all New Orleans. First, they give a glowing review of New Orleans charter school system. What do I mean by glowing? At no point does anchor Pelley, who is reporting this piece, have any criticism of the new school system. Let me see how hard it is to find criticism online. I put the words ‘New Orleans Charters Failing’ in Google and in less then three seconds I have plenty of analysis showing New Orleans schools have serious problems. Here’s a quote from Dr. Kristen Buras, Professor at Georgia State University, who wrote a 2011 Harvard Education called “Review Race, Charter Schools and Conscious Capitalism: On the Spatial Politics of Whiteness as Property (and the Unconscionable Assault on Black New Orleans)”:

“New Orleans charters are less about responding to the needs of racially oppressed communities and more about reconstruction of the new newly governed South – one in which white entrepreneurs (with black allies) capitalize on black schools and neighborhoods by obtaining public monies to build and manage charter schools.”

Then there’s this from Dr. Raynard Sanders, who, according to the site Research on Reforms, “has over thirty years of experience in teaching, education administration, and economic and community development. As a principal of a New Orleans high school, he was recognized by the Louisiana State Department of Education for guiding his high school through four consecutive years of improvement on the state graduate exit exam”:

“The education reforms in New Orleans have boldly reestablished the Separate and Unequal school system, which ironically is defined as a good school system. However, the Louisiana Department of Education cannot seem to understand, or it refuses to understand, that good school systems provide an equal opportunity for all children to learn in an optimum learning environment. Good school systems do not put five and six year old children on school buses for a three to four hour bus ride to and from school while passing up dozens of charter schools that they cannot enter because they do not meet their admission requirements.”

It took me all of three seconds to find that paper and then another thirty to select those quotes, so it’s not surprising Pelley had no criticism at all of New Orleans public schools. Who has time for research? Even more sad than the lack of reporting is that the US national nightly TV news shows have been running an uncritical propaganda campaign promoting taxpayer-funded privatized for-profit schools that drastically cut education workers’ pay and rights.

The next story on the nightly news critical of charters will be the first. This explains why the vast majority of Americans are warming up to the idea of charters. When that story critical of charters finally does happen, you can bet there will be ‘balance,’ unlike in tonight’s report pro-charter report from Pelley.

I was wondering how ABC would get cool traffic accident video into tonight’s news. While traffic accidents are down, accidents with big trucks are up twenty percent. The reasons are an improved economy means more trucks and higher speed limits. Instead of delving into those numbers and finding a correlation between increased speeds and accident, ABC says we’d all be safer with better braking systems on trucks. If we’re going to ignore the reason you just gave for the increase in accidents, why not talk about more protection on cars, too?

NBC anchor Brian Williams tells us of the latest scandal to hit the Church. The cardinal of Los Angeles was “rebuked” and lost his standing due to covering up allegations of child sex abuse. Williams reminds us that, “this is another huge embarrassment for the church. He’s right. It is. But why do we only hear of the embarrassment of child abuse suspects when they are affiliated with the Church? Why not report how all allegations of child sex abuse are embarrassing? Here’s why not: because it’s fucking insensitive to the victims!

Back on CBS, one of their sports broadcasters, James Brown, reports on the NFL commissioner’s statements today on football’s violence. Brown shows anchor Pelley how the commissioner wants players to tackle in order to avoid harming athletes’ brains. Did I mention that the Super Bowl is on CBS?

Every week, CBS ends their Friday broadcast with ‘On The Road’ with a Charles Kuralt-possessed shell of a human named Steve Hartman. He’s in New Orleans, too. Hartman tells the story of some Canadian who canoed to New Orleans. Hartman is shocked to find out that when the canoeist left his Saskatchewan home two years ago, he didn’t even know that the Super Bowl would be in New Orleans this year! Why come, then, if not for the Super Bowl? It seems this guy’s late uncle loved New Orleans so much that the nephew wanted to bring his ashes here. But dude … the Super Bowl …

In what may be the worst ending to all three network shows in a very long time, Hartman gets us lost from the news ‘On the Road,’ ABC closes with a profile of the Budweiser Clydesdales, and NBC wraps up with the Puppy Bowl.

With the Super Bowl in New Orleans this year, not one network news show took the time to discuss the ongoing effects of the BP oil spill. They all did show BP ads, however.

I’m sure there’s no connection.




  • Jim Smith

    “The Media” gives rave reviews of charter schools, grovels at the feet of royalty, praises the almighty DOW, obsesses with celebrity, ignores injustices perpetrated by corporations and promotes shameless unquestioning patriotism all for the same reason: oligarchy… Global oligarchy. Why did Pelly not mention women? Maybe he’s just not a woman(or it wasn’t in the script)? Maybe his real name is Buster Friendly?

  • Chuck Mertz

    Exceptional points all, Jim. Thanks for commenting and keep it up. I’m loving your posts.