Thursday, February 24, 2011

K"Nightly News": Objectivity on NBC?

This week we turn our attention to NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.  On the whole, this program does a good job keeping objective, but I find fault in some areas.

                This story focuses on the current rebellion in Libya, President Muammar Gaddafi and the military’s reaction to the chaos.  Anchor Brian Williams begins the piece by describing how Libya has fallen into a state of civil war.  He then details a speech given by Gaddafi on Tuesday.  Williams says that the speech, “sounded as bizarre as it looked,” referring to the bombed out residence at which the address took place.  Before sending the report over to Richard Engel, Williams pointed out that the situation is “violently slipping away” from Gaddafi.
                As far as Williams’ part goes, it seems as if he is playing into the mystique of Gaddafi, a leader known to be a bit bombastic.  The media likes to dismiss him, but now may be the time to listen to what the leader is saying, as his words can drastically and quickly alter the lives of the Libyan people.  Williams does a good job of making the situation in Libya seem dire.  This is not the revolution that happened in Egypt, nor should it be treated as such.  Whereas Egypt’s protests were peaceful (for the most part), Libya is bleeding.  NBC makes this clear.
                The danger of the revolt is solidified by Richard Engel’s report via video-phone.  Engel starts by reiterating the idea that Gaddafi’s control of the country is “tenuous.”  Reporting from eastern Libya, Engel details his journey from the Egyptian border to Tobruk, Libya.  He describes how no one, not even the military, is supporting Gaddafi.  Engel visits a military barracks and watches the soldiers distribute heavy weaponry to the citizens.  The army refuses to “fire on their brothers and sisters,” and believes that they are one with the citizenry.  Engel also speaks of how there is an idea that Gaddafi has brought in foreign mercenaries to commit atrocities on the citizens.  He is quick to note that these claims are unproven.  Engel ends his report by noting that 30 percent of all Libya is rebelling and not following Gaddafi now.
                Engel provides a good look at the situation in eastern Libya.  His use of video interspersed in the package punctuates the point about the military and the citizens fighting together.  It was quite scary, actually, to see the military just handing out grenade launchers.  If that is how they plan to win freedom, it will be a long road.  Engel also is smart to point out that this is no Egypt.  The people are militant. However, it is clear, once again, that NBC is siding with the citizens.  Whether this is because a rebelling nation makes a good story or whether NBC has a vested interest in whether or not the rebellion succeeds cannot be known.  There is that bias, though.

                This feature is about the proposed legislation in Wisconsin to cut union benefits and the effect it is having within the state and across the nation.   Williams opens the package by stating that the legislation will “strip workers of their collective bargaining rights.”  This seems like too harsh of language for the opening line of a news story.  He could have worded it better, as to not stir the fires of controversy so early in the piece. 
The report then goes to correspondent Mike Taibbi.  He describes the scene at the state senate where once again no vote was made on the bill.   The sponsor of the act is Governor Scott Walker, R-Wis.  Walker appeared on MSNBC earlier this week and stated that “Wisconsin is broke.”  Tiabbi shows video of hundreds of protestors within the state capitol, chanting and demanding their benefits stay intact.  He also discusses other protests around the country.  Tiabbi talks about how the idea to cut union benefits is a common one and is being considered by many states.  These other states’ senators have used the same tactic employed in Wisconsin: they leave the capitol in order not to vote and extend debate.  The report ends with Tiabbi citing Walker as saying that if the legislation does not go through, layoffs will happen next week.
                I take issue with the fact that NBC never considers the benefit of making the union cuts.  Walker says that the cuts are needed in order to bring Wisconsin out from under a financial rock, but his comments are taken out of context.  NBC makes Walker look like a bad man for wanting to take away benefits for some in order to help the whole.  The objectivity of the network declines by doing this.  As far as good things, Tiabbi’s use of the video of the protestors is stunning.  There were tons of people in the capitol.  That video serves as a stirring image of American democracy.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, the union agreed to all the cuts BEFORE this bill was ever introduced. The bill was introduced SOLELY to end union power, and that's what the people are demonstrating about. As such, NBC and most of the media have failed miserably in explaining this. They've let Walker control the message, and this is very unfortunate and EXTREMELY biased and unfair. Long may they demonstrate until the word is correctly out.