The News Wednesday Night: Reluctant Stars Are Born Nightly Network News Review


What does it take to cure the nightly news of their obsession over any trivial detail related to the Boston Marathon bombing? Another tragic event that will feed the network appetite for pointless information.

ABC World News, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News all led with the Cleveland abduction story. What else do we need to know, other than that the three women were held against their will for ten years and sexually assaulted? According to the networks, we have to know how they were held, how often they were allowed from their dungeon, the brutal way in which the women had miscarriages, and if the child that one of the women gave birth to had ever left the home.

Do we need to know any of this? I mean, you don’t, unless you’re some obsessed pervert who gets their rocks off by hearing lurid details of people being held against their will.

We can’t do a damn thing now about these women being abducted, other than make their assimilation back into regular life as comfortable as possible. In order to make certain that happens, hundreds of people surround their homes as they return, as dozens of television cameras record their every step. As the now freed women hide their faces and heads with blankets and towels, you can tell that all they want is to be on camera and watched by a huge crowd of pathetic voyeurs. Hey, vultures, both in The Media and in the crowd! You wanna show your support for these women? Send them a check and leave them the fuck alone.

ABC anchor Diane Sawyer takes the whole thing a step farther, calling the women ‘heroes.’ How can women who are abducted, then chained up in a basement and sexually assaulted for ten years be heroes? Sawyer explains that they are “changing our minds about human strength and endurance.” So why didn’t Sawyer say the same thing about those tortured at Abu Ghraib? Or about the Guantanamo detainees who were tortured?

ABC correspondent David Muir, who hosts the ‘Made in America’ segment, gives us some breaking news. One of the abductees gave birth to a little girl and the child, at times, accompanied her father to the store! It’s the kind of information that, with two dollars, will get you a ride on the bus. In other words, it’s worthless. When Muir was assigned to the story, I was hoping he would end his coverage with the tag line, ‘Made in America.’ Actually, this story would have fit better into the ABC segment, ‘Hidden America.’

If there is a big picture question we can ask ourselves in the Cleveland abduction story, it’s ‘What can we do as neighbors to make certain this doesn’t happen in our community?’ Does any network ask that? No. However, ABC does talk to a neighbor who admits she saw one of the women in the backyard and on the back porch naked. ABC correspondent Dan Harris then goes on to explain that if we “see something, say something” in a call-back to their Boston bombing coverage. Sadly, in today’s me-first, libertarian, leave-me-alone America, that’s as close as we get to community. Remember, ‘community’ and ‘Communist’ start with the same letters. Of course, so does the word ‘commercials,’ but everyone loves wearing clothing with advertising. Commie bastards!

I’m not sure why, but NBC Nightly News had comfort dogs in their offices today. They’re the same comfort dogs that helped victims of the Sandy Hook shootings. Maybe it’s some sort of comfort dog publicity stunt. Or maybe, after reporting so much pointless news, NBC’s writers, editors and reporters needed some comfort.

ABC anchor Diane Sawyer gets us up-to-date on the guilty verdict of Jodi Arias. Who is Jodi Arias? Sawyer says her crime and trial “became a national obsession.” Yeah, thanks to news outlets like yours, Diane. Next time, make our ‘national obsession’ a story we can do something about. Instead of focusing on criminal trials of hot white women, why not cover something that our actions can actually affect? I’d suggest the Bangladesh garment factory collapse that killed over 800 people, as of last count. While we can’t stop an individual from being a murderer, we can put pressure on greedy apparel makers to change their ways. So why focus on something we can’t do anything about, while ignoring horrific events that we can make certain will never happen again?

NBC anchor Williams gives us some Pope Francis news. The Pope said today that he wants nuns to be “mothers” of the church rather than “spinsters.” I have no idea what that means. Williams seems to be reporting the story simply because the Pope said ‘spinsters.’ Why the Pope calling nuns ‘spinsters’ is reported, while every network ignored Pope Francis calling Bangladesh garment factory workers ‘slave labor,’ is unclear. I take that back: it’s crystal clear. A famous old man using a politically incorrect term is news. That same geezer criticizing capitalism and the market is not.

You know what else is news? NBC’s Williams tells us that the Miami Marlins are closing the upper deck of their stadium due to lack of ticket sales. In other big news, there are two new studies showing that men who hold — not necessarily play — guitars are more attractive to women.

You know what isn’t news on any of the networks? Let’s see… Attacks across Iraq continue, Afghan cops have allegedly killed protesters, the Dalai Llama wants Buddhists to stop killing Muslims, China has claimed Okinawa and called the US “the real hacking empire,” toxic dumps can make neighbors dumber and deader, rich US students get college paid for at the poor’s expense, and Dr. Doom has predicted a market crash.

Don’t worry. The networks have some other important news to share today. For instance, ABC World News is going to hypothesize what William Shakespeare and Marie Antoinette would wear if they were alive today. I can only imagine that one accessory these centuries-old celebs would be wearing is a colostomy bag.

CBS ends with another one of those feel-good veterans stories correspondent David Martin loves so much. This time, it’s a guy who was hit by an IED in Iraq. As Martin says, “At the peak of health, he was suddenly paralyzed in an avoidable and unnecessary war.” Okay, Martin didn’t say the ‘avoidable and unnecessary’ part. He only celebrates how well the American people treat veterans after their return. He never asks if the people who helped these wounded warriors supported the war lies in the first place.

ABC wraps up with a story on the greatness of the tennis-playing Williams sisters. Why now? Apparently, they have a documentary coming out that nobody will go see.

NBC closes by telling us that Prince Charles was with Queen Elizabeth today when she addressed Parliament. Why should we give a fuck? According to anchor Brian Williams, it’s a signal that the Queen may be passing on her powers to her son. Still, that doesn’t explain why I should give a fuck. Who cares what pomp and circumstance accompanies the fucking monarchy? Oh, right, celebrities do. And being that this is news by celebrities, you can count on it being news for and about celebrity.

If you’re not a celebrity, then the network news will try to make you one. Just ask the Cleveland abduction victims who are hiding their faces from the cameras.




  • Steve Sewall

    Interesting. In the past ten years or so the nightly news people have indeed become the nation’s grief counselors, sent out over our airwaves much as counselors are sent into our schools: to help us deal with (or get used to) the traumatic violence that has always been part of the American experience. I teach at a local college and three of my 40 students this semester suffer from PTSD – and not one is one of million or so returning Irag/Afghanistan veterans who the military says are suffering from PTSD. One student saw his father shoot himself in the head. A second was raped. A third broke his father’s nose after seeing him abuse his mom.

    Yes, these nightly news comfort dog counseling is insipid, but in the long run – say, over the next 20 years or so – it could prove to be an early stage in a nation-wide soul-searching whereby Americans at long last enabled themselves, their communities and their governments to reduce and even dispel the violence that’s so deeply embedded in our culture. And in us all, as perpetrators, victims or witnesses inured to violence or even addicted the spectacle of violence that pervades entertainment media.

    What Americans are now accomplishing with same sex marriage and transgender identity – remarkable, astonishing achievements – we can accomplish with the issue of violence. It’s a matter of choice, of how Americans want to evolve as a society and a people.

    But this time the stakes are higher. Success will entail a restructuring of our media-driven society, including our military and our economy, so that the underlying conditions that produce violence – poverty, inequality, poor parenting, the very impulse to dominate by force – are substantially reduced or no longer exist.

  • stevesewall

    Sorry for the length of the next post. But Chuck’s analyses of today’s newscasts warrant more attention and comments than they get. Some day we will hopefully look back on them as our fullest documentation of the uselessness and irrelevance of early 21st century network newscasts.

  • tadswana


    Most entertaining update so far, if you don’t laugh you cry.

    Interesting to see America’s fixation on this to the exclusion of real news.