By Tim Hayes
The first time I heard it, my skin began to crawl. It has yet to get back to normal.
“From NBC News…this is TODAY…with Hoda Kotb…and Kathie Lee Gifford…live, from Studio 1-A in Rockefeller Plaza!”
Then, this past Sunday night, the world was treated to the “Golden Globes Preview Special,” featuring vapid Red Carpet “interviews” with vapid TV and movie stars, those geniuses of economics and global political strategy. And who were conducting these sappy segments of meaningless fluffery?
None other than the hosts of the actual TODAY Show – Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Natalie Morales, and everybody’s favorite socially shunned weatherman, Al Roker. Matt in his tux, the girls in their clingy-spangly-sparkly gowns, and Al, just trying to keep it together, unlike the recently revealed “toot-gone-rogue” faux pas at the White House.
What in the blue blazes are these alleged journalists doing hosting something so eminently stupid and worthless? There’s absolutely nothing newsworthy about a bunch of preening, overpaid, narcissistic actors walking into a ballroom to get showered in even more ego-pumping nonsense.
How in the world can these corporate shills seriously expect anybody to respect them as purveyors of news when they get back to their homebase New York studio? Good Lord! The graves of John Chancellor, Chet Huntley, Tim Russert, and Irving R. Levine must spin more than the machines in an all-night laundromat.
NBC News, what has happened to you? Where is the respect for tradition? For journalistic excellence and objectivity? For your own self-pride?
Of course, the line between objective journalism and entertainment has been slurred and blurred for some time now, and at a lot more places than just NBC News. That still doesn’t make it right, or even something our society should want to see happen.
Call me naïve, but I can’t help but think that the primary purpose of a self-proclaimed journalistic organization would be to, you know, actually practice journalism – without morphing its reporters (or at least the on-air personalities representing your journalistic standards) into trained dancing bears in a circus.
The news should be sacrosanct. Pure. Trustworthy. Free of undue influence. Completely objective, or as close to it as human beings can achieve. At the very least, make it look that way, for Pete’s sake.
When Hoda and Kathie Lee start swilling wine on the air in the middle of the afternoon, or when Gifford feels compelled to compose and sing original songs about especially touching interview guests – all under the banner of NBC News – I want to toss my cookies.
Perhaps it’s an impossible standard I hold for the integrity of journalists and journalism. After all, the Pulitzer Prize, journalism’s highest honor, was named for one of the most corrupt newspaper publishers of all time – a man who virtually invented the mudslinging, character-assassinating practice of “yellow journalism” in the late 1800s, Joseph Pulitzer.
Fewer reporters must cover more stories these days, as the ranks of journalists continue to decline. Journalism is a business, I know, and newspapers and broadcast divisions need to generate enough revenue to stay afloat. I get it.
But gosh, isn’t there a way to do so without totally crossing that line? Without embarrassing yourself so badly? Without selling your integrity, your honor, your soul?
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