Brian, if I may call you that, I have written several messages, into the blind, to TV personalities over the past few years about things they have said or done in the course of their shows. In the news category, they include Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet the Press, followed now by David Gregory, as well as you. One difference between MTP and straight news shows, such as yours, is that MTP is constrained by the problem that if they start embarrassing too many interviewees, no one will appear on the show; but the news shows up no matter what. Therefore, you have no such restrictions on how you present the news; other than some propriety; network or personally enforced.
I think there are two things wrong with news presentation today, especially on MSM networks: one is that too much bad news is reported, numbing the public with that barrage; and the second being that the news is presented in such a way as to lull the viewer into ignoring the severity of the news items. This is not a new issue with the news, and was pointed out in Don Henley’s Dirty Laundry song back in 1982 with lyrics like:
“We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five
She can tell you 'bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye …”
I’m not saying, Brian, that you are a bubble-head, but you definitely soft-soap the news, IMO. Where you should be delivering the news like a guided missile straight to the cerebral cortex, to get people fully engaged, you, instead, deliver the news as if it were a newborn baby, wrapped in a warm blanket. I don’t know if this is the way NBC wants it, or if it is an indication of some sort of reticence, or even some shyness, on your part. But I think you can be much more effective if you put a bit more of yourself into each story.
I remember when you first came on the scene and you were on the Tonight Show. Cher and Jane Fonda were also guests; they were on before you, so they were already seated when you came on. Well, they just became two giggly school girls in your presence, making jokes about your gentlemanly appearance, and especially your manner of dress. You were obviously embarrassed, and you appeared quite uncomfortable with it, as I remember. And that’s all I remember. I can’t recall how it finally stopped, or if it even did; nor can I remember who the host was at the time. The reason I bring this up at all is because, IMO, it showed a certain inability of yours, early on, to handle such stress, even though it was coming from a couple “silly” girls. You could have easily taken control of the situation by saying something like: “Shut your mouths, bitches, before I choke you with my manliness.”
Fast forward back to today, and we have you saying something very much like “And we thought this was over”, after reporting on the London Whale dropping $6B in illicit trading at J.P. Morgan. Well, I “knew” it was not over, and did many others; so, you were not speaking to or for us. What you should have said, IMO, was something like: “Those SOBs did it again! Who, out there, is going to stop them?” I think I fired another feedback message off into the blind after that one.
One message I definitely sent you, Brian, was when Sullenberger landed that commercial airliner on the Hudson River. You were all over him and his “heroism”; and you had also been touting several others around that time as heroes for just doing their job; diluting the true meaning of heroism, IMO *1*. Sullenberger was an exceptional pilot, and demonstrated that in merely doing his job. But, he did save his own life while saving the others; so he probably would have done exactly the same thing if the plane had been empty. And Sullenberger was the first to say that he was not a hero. So, in this case, I would rather you had commended him by saying something like: “God dammit; that guy sure can fly a plane. That ranks right up there with getting Apollo 13 back”.
And also along those lines, you keep using the line: “Thanks as always” to people like Dr. Nancy Snyderman, who helped out and reported from the Philippines recently, and Richard Engle, who is always putting himself in harm’s way. At the end of their reports, Brian, you should be saying things like” Damn, woman, you went way out of your way going there to help out and report in that hell hole”, and “Richard, you are the man, for risking your life to scoop us the real deal from the field.”
And now back to my first listed issue with MSM news: too much bad news is reported, numbing the public with that barrage. You usually have a closing article of spiritual value. We need more of that. One slightly uplifting story after a slew of death and destruction is not any balance at all; even with your lightweight delivery. How about turning it right around, having a slew of good news articles, followed by one bad news article; delivered by the “new” Brian. Leave people angry with the way things are, not only because of the story itself, but also because you took one good story away from them. The way things are now, you provide little to no hope at all, and just turn people numb to the ugliness that is rampant. And, if you cut down on giving the crazies their “15 minutes of fame”, some of them might just stop acting so crazy.
So, Brian, in closing let me say that if you are striving to be a Huntley, Brinkley, or Cronkite, you have much more of a drive ahead of you; and you must drive driven. Be the news; think Howard Beale. And if you got this far, thanks for listening. “Good night and good luck.”
*1* I am using my own definition for hero. A typical one is something like: “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.” I don’t think that a person can be considered a hero if he performs brave and noble acts from which he also benefits, the same way as everyone else.