The News Thursday Night: Of Myths and Martyrs Nightly Network News Review


ABC wants us to know right away, and they have the cool car crash video to prove it. The other networks lead with Americans murdering one another at an alarming rate. I don’t think it’s because of the cold. I think killing each other is simply something us Americans do. NBC anchor Brian Williams backs that up by telling us that, as he speaks, 203 people have been shot in the United States today. CBS even gets gloomier, reporting how a Kaufman (Texas) County prosecutor was murdered. I figured because Americans who are involved in crimes may have a propensity toward guns that many a prosecutor must have been murdered in the US of A. Apparently, this is very unique. Only seven prosecutors were murdered between 1967 and 2004, reports CBS. CBS then goes to reporter Dean Reynolds in Chicago, who finds Mayor Rahm Emanuel pissed that a girl who performed at President Obama’s inauguration was killed near the President’s Chicago home.

CBS skillfully segues from the shooting epidemic to Dr. Joh LaPook and a report on schizophrenia. When it comes to mental illness and Americans shooting each other, it’s as if CBS is saying, ‘I’m not saying’, I’m just sayin’.’

ABC has moved from telling us it’s cold to reinforcing all sorts of American media myths. Reporter Jonathan Karl shows is covering the Secretary of Defense nomination proceedings for former US Senator Chuck Hagel, Karl shows an angry Senator John McCain asking Hagel if he opposed the Iraq surge, implying that if Hagel did, history has proved him wrong, if not unpatriotic. Reporter Karl tells us that later in the afternoon, Hagel would indeed admit that he did not support the surge when he was a Senator. McCain, of course, is backing the surge myth that goes like this: the Iraq war wasn’t going well. Then, this genius general — I can’t remember his name anymore, but he lost his job by cheating on his wife — this genius general sends over tons of US troops and that ‘surge’ immediately led to a huge decrease in the number of US casualties in Iraq. That decrease is proof it was a success and the turning point of the war, the myth goes. Problem is, if you look at any timeline, it will clearly show that prior to the surge, the casualties began to drop. So what happened that led to the original drop in casualties? Muqtada al-Sadr told his Mehdi Army to stand down and wait until the US pulls out. Karl’s not going to make that distinction. Nobody does. It’s like the myths of the huge economic expansions during the Reagan and Clinton eras that enshrine these mythic heroes into our policies.

But ABC reporter Karl wasn’t done. Hagel, as Karl explains, “must have been confused, because he called Iran an elected, legitimate government.” Well, I’m no fan of the Iranian regime and possibly less of a fan of Chuck Hagel, but I gotta stick up for both here. Okay, I don’t have to. Wikipedia can, under the topic “Elections in Iran,” which may give you a clue as to how the Iranian leadership is chosen:

“Iran elects on national level a head of state and head of government (the president), a legislature (the Majlis), and an ‘Assembly of Experts’ (which elects the Supreme Leader). Also City and Village Council elections are held every four years throughout the country. The president is elected for a four-year term by the people. The Parliament or Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis-e Shura-ye Eslami) has 290 members, elected for a four-year term in multi- and single-seat constituencies. Elections for the Assembly of Experts are held every six years. Mayors will be elected by popular vote for the first time in 2013. All candidates have to be approved by the Guardian Council. See Politics of Iran for more details.
Until January 2007, when it was raised to 18, the voting age was 15 years, the lowest globally at the time.
The next presidential election and the next city and village councils elections will be held on 14 June 2013, simultaneously for the first time.”

Sounds as elected and legitimate as plenty of western democracies that come to mind.

With reporter Karl having done nothing to stop the perpetuation of the surge myth, and having made a misleading dig at Iran — look, Iran’s an easy target and there’s plenty of better ways you can take a shot at that rights-abusing regime than making shit up — ABC moves to the ‘Beyoncé Responsé’ (registered trademark). How does ABC anchor Diane Sawyer go from a singer telling us she can sing to Chicago’s murders? Like this: “and a change of topic now … ” I was hoping for “and now for something completely different.”

ABC’s ‘Instant Index’ nightly nausea of nonsense supposedly submitted by the viewers is next. I have a sneaking suspicion that when ABC blames ‘Instant Index’ on the viewers, it’s kinda like when you blame a fart on a dog. Tonight, Sawyer shows us a video of a 16-foot Great White Shark off the coast of New Jersey. Sawyer then thanks the viewers for sending her a video of a dog taking a letter from a mail carrier and delivering it to its owner. Finally, Sawyer wants us to know that Oprah got such a huge floral bouquet from director Tyler Perry that she hurt her back. To sum up … SHARKS!!! … a man yet again not biting a dog, so as any first-year journalism student knows, no news here … and Oprah is still the world’s richest martyr.

Don’t worry, Diane Sawyer. I’ve got the word out to all my contacts in Mali. They’ll let everyone there know the condition of Oprah’s back. Hey, does anyone know if they’ll be opening upon of those Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academies for Girls in Mali any time soon? I know she’s got one in wealthy South Africa and it was real expensive. But I bet Oprah — of all people — can figure out how to do it on the cheap in war-torn Mali.

Sawyer ends ‘Instant Index’ tonight by saying viewers should send anything they “see, hear or love.” Well, I would love to not have to see or hear Diane Sawyer do the news ever again. Does that count?

While NBC wasted time by promoting the final episode of ’30 Rock,’ ABC closed with an in-depth report on Super Bowl ads, past and present. It’s bad enough when the nightly news shows promote their other news programming (‘Nightline,’ ’60 Minutes,’ ‘Rock Center’), and it’s even worse when they plug other unrelated shows, but hyping advertising? Isn’t there a law against that? Aren’t these the public’s airwaves? Isn’t this like pissing in public — or more accurately on it — while being paid by some creepy pervert?

NBC closes with the ‘Beyoncé Responsé’ (registered trademark). No seriously, did anyone know Beyoncé could sing? This really is the first time I’m hearing of it. Well, the second time, because ABC was the first earlier tonight.

CBS closes with a history of New York’s Grand Central Station. Like the station’s architecture, the story is stunning and worth stopping to appreciate. However, like many a New Yorker who passes through Grand Central Station every day, I want to get through this story as fast as possible so I can go home, get drunk and forget another day’s work.