Monday, March 9, 2015

'True War Stories' At NBC News Unveiled

'New York' Graphic
Before he was busted for inventing war stories, “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams had pitched NBC and CBS about making him the next Jay Leno or David Letterman.

David Hinckley at the NY Daily News reports  that bizarre minidrama is only the tip of the dysfunctional iceberg called NBC News, according to an investigative report by Gabriel Sherman in this week’s New York magazine.

Sherman paints a picture of a news division unsure of how to recover lost ratings ground, torn by internal rivalries and hobbled by a celebrity journalism culture in which highly paid stars like Williams and “Today Show” co-anchor Matt Lauer wield veto power over executive decisions on news content and personnel.

Among Sherman’s findings:
  • Before Williams reupped for five years as “Nightly News” anchor, he had asked NBC about replacing Leno, which led only to the low-rated and subsequently canceled “Rock Center.” He then futilely pitched CBS CEO Les Moonves about succeeding David Letterman, according to Sherman’s sources.
  • After a long negotiating stalemate, Williams impulsively agreed to that new five-year anchor deal at a dinner where NBC News president Deborah Turness presented him with Edward R. Murrow’s old writing desk.
  • NBC reporters chafed at Williams’ reluctance to run hard-hitting stories on “Nightly News,” saying he didn’t want anything “divisive.”
  • Turness’ ideas for revitalizing “Meet the Press” included booking celebrities like Angelina Jolie and taping in front of a live audience.
  • Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie vetoed NBC Universal News Group Patricia Fili-Krushel’s plan to bring in three female producers for “Today” last summer. Lauer reportedly dismissed it as “Lilith Fair,” an all-female pop music festival.

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