After 9/11, NBC wanted "Cops", got "Predator" instead

by Paul William Tenny

There's an interesting story running from Reuters featuring some unflattering accusations from a former Dateline reporter that NBC rejected his ideas for shows investigating the origins of Islamic fundamentalism and al-Qaeda in favor of fluff pieces that "should instead focus on the firefighters and perhaps ride along with them a la 'Cops.'"

John Hockenberry pitched these ideas after September 11th 2001, and claims he was shot down by Jeff Zucker.
That isn't really surprising at all, a lot of stories Dateline has been doing in recent years have been much less about investigative journalism and more like a light version of network tabloid shows.

Anyone remember the hour-long specials they did about the end of NBC's own franchise TV shows like Friends? I didn't see them myself but just knowing they sunk that low with a formerly award-winning news mag is just sickening.

NBC's response though just made it so much worse, rather than rebutting Hockenberry's claims or even addressing them at all, they chose instead to investigate the depths of the gutters to smear the guy and then refuse to talk about it any further:

"It's unfortunate that John Hockenberry seems to be so far out of touch with reality," an NBC spokesperson said. "The comments are so utterly absurd, we will have no further comment." Another NBC executive said it didn't sound like Zucker, who was promoted out of the news division and was at one time "Today" executive producer.

I really hate to drag politics into this, but these are precisely the same kind of baseless, personal smears the media has been gleefully repeating in print and on TV from Republican's in congress and in the conservative blogosphere for years without challenge.

NBC is anything but a conservative outlet but that doesn't mean they should get a free pass for launching a pathetic ad hominem attack against a respected and well credentialed journalist who is making perfectly valid criticisms against a news mag and network that have been consistently lowering the bar with the disgraceful and utterly redundant Predator series.

Regardless of whether or not those criticisms pan out, NBC ought to be condemned for their reprehensible statements that amount to little more than schoolyard epithets that shame the network and the news magazine that once was respected, but has since redefined itself with trite stories holding no value whatsoever.
in News, Television


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