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Doctor recommended for optimal cerebral hygiene 

Farewell, Tom!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Tonight, I watched network news on a weeknight for the first time in so long it may be the first time this millennium. Network news seems obsolete to me. But tonight NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw signed off for the last time. I decided to watch. Here's a blow-by-blow report with commentary.

First off, Brokaw made it through without choking up, and where he started to, he brushed it off rather quickly. From some other NBC show to promo tonight's show, he didn't make it through as well.

The lead story was Iraq. Nothing new reported. Next was the UN scandal with Sen. Coleman (R-MN) calling for the resignation of Kofi Annan, of which nothing more was reported than what wasn’t shared in a 10-second soundbyte of an earlier promo on MSNBC. Using Colin Powell as a segue, another non-news story reported gunshots fired in Port-au-Prince, Haiti but were unsure whether the shots were fired at the Capitol or near. No segue. Bush was in Halifax, Nova Scotia today spewing some drivel about how Canada was early to sound off on the Hitler challenge and kept Germany off our shores back then. Not sure what the President's point was (well, I am but, um, Hitler was on the march, Saddam was not) nor the import of the story. Tom said something in two lines about Ukraine voting that was entirely non-consequential like the show thus far.

During the commercial break, I switched over to an NRA satire piece on The Simpsons and was late back to NBC. I recall that Tom started a "Fleecing America" feature, so this may have been another one of those stories. Today, Americans have been given the legal means to check their credit once per year with each of the three credit reporting companies. (For those living West of the Rockies, visit annualcreditreport.com. Others will have to wait three to nine months.) Following was a Census Bureau factoid, 1/3 men and 1/4 women aged 30-34 are single, up four times since the 1970s.

During the commercial break, I switched over to the Simpsons again. More laughs. But then the Simpsons went to commercial so I made it back to NBC to catch the commercials: Lipitor (a drug), Bayer (a drug), Stouffers ("food"), and an NBC Today promo.

The first story after the break was one that had been pimped prior to the previous two commercial breaks. Not bad, ESPN usually teases no less than 20 times before airing the one-line story.

More on Iraq... not about the 1252 killed but about some of the over 9500 injured. This was a piece put together by Brokaw's replacement, Brian Williams, who I only now noticed has a rather crooked face. His nose goes one way, his chin the other. Kudos to NBC for going with quirky good looks rather than straight up good looks. Anyway, Williams closed his story about Ward 57, Walter Reed (Center?) on amputees with a personal nod to Tom, "Back to you Tom one last time." Tom bobbled the exchange the way the South Dakota football team fumbled... Ah, I'll stop, does South Dakota even have a state university system?

One last commercial break: Procrit (a drug), One A Day (a vitamin), USPS (the spot with the catchy cover of the Guthrie "Mail Myself to You" song, free download from Amazon), Nexium (a drug), LL Bean (old people clothing), and a King 5 News (Seattle) promo.

Drugs, drugs, drugs. No wonder I don't watch network news anymore. It is obviously geared for people over fifty given the advertising. I've not seen recent studies but a battle between me and my advertising and media professors was often over how TV commercials could also break viewership of a show and not just the quality of content. They felt advertising should be about the product and its own content had no impact upon its audience or the show's audience. I differed. My argument: Think of how many non-football people will watch the Super Bowl. Think of how many people will not watch shows that carry questionable taste in advertising. Think of how many people aligned their views with or against Benetton when they started their multi-racial/AIDs campaigns.

Back to the news, Tom closed up the show thanking his viewers for their forbearance when he erred, giving props to all the people behind the scenes, and sharing his enduring lessons from his years at NBC, which included the biggest pimping of the Greatest Generation (without saying the GG phrase) this side of Pluto (not a planet, huh?!). The show closed with a photo montage of Brokaw from then to now set to a piano bit by either Bob Hope or the red, white and blue clothes wearing guy from D.C. whose shows air on PBS every now and again. (I forget his name, but it's not "Tim Russert" who has a name whence he came to prominence I have since always confused with piano guy's.)

Well, I am not sure there was a single worthwhile story that conveyed info that most of the general public did not already know. I didn't learn a single thing except the Census Bureau factoid. Oh, I forgot to mention, after the worthless Ukraine voting "report", Tom gave the Wall Street report which thankfully seems to have been toned down since I last watched network news.

All in all, I liked Tom Brokaw. He was my second favorite anchor and was my first until Peter Jennings came into his own. Dan Rather? Ha! He was "old" back when I started watching network news. I've rarely watched CBS network news since. Last time I think I turned to CBS for any news was during the Connie Chung era. Say, wasn't she being groomed to replace Rather? My, how times change. Haven't heard word one from any feminist group about NBC choosing a man, but then I have heard CBS may turn to -- um, I forget her name, too, but she was an ABC... -- oh, CBS may turn to Diane Sawyer as their network news figurehead. This I say in comparison to the uproar in college football about the recent firing of a black coach.

What was I saying? Oh, yeah, network news, who needs ya unless world events are making history before our eyes?!

P.S. Say, Blogger? You killed off my links! Don't do that. You have new competition to ponder.

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