NBC, You Suck …

Dear NBC*:

You have proven yourselves completely unable to handle the responsibility of an Olympic broadcast, and yet it appears you will be doing so again in four years. Let me list just a few of the ways your ineptitude showed through.

1. You refused to run the opening ceremonies live, which caused smart people in the US to find work-arounds.

2. You then decided to run the closing ceremony live, but did not tell anyone.

3. Bob Costas’s snarky, smart-ass remark during the opening ceremonies – “if you’re looking for exciting badminton action, and who isn’t?” – set the tone for the entire broadcast: appeal to the lowest common denominator, and for God’s sake only show American athletes. Do not do human interest clips on Egyptian wrestlers, Peruvian archers, Serbian gymnasts or Ukrainian rowers, no matter how fascinating their stories might be, because American viewers are only interested in American athletes.

4. Your announcers were asked to leave the boxing arena due to their incessant chatter that disturbed broadcasters from other nations. In your tradition of keeping it classy, the announcers said there was nothing going on that would interest American viewers anyway.

5. Bob Costas.

6. Ryan Seacrest.

7. The broadcast of the closing ceremonies was a fucking disaster from start to finish. Here on the West Coast, the show began at 7 PM. The first hour and a half was devoted to studio interviews with American gold medalists and replays of their races, “enhanced” with MTV-like music video effects. After that we were treated to five minute feeds of the athletes with no attempt made to identify them, taking breaks for many, many commercials. There was one shot of what appeared to be a Union Jack but when the camera panned away, it was a young woman’s chest in a t-shirt. Again, keeping it classy.

8. Somehow you managed to delete Ray Davies from the feed here, who was the one person we wanted to see more than anyone else. You also deleted Kate Bush’s wonderful “Running Up That Hill” with a montage of athletes participating in their events. Way to go.

9. At 11 PM, you then announced the closing ceremonies would restart in one hour, giving you a chance to broadcast a premier of a new comedy show starring a chimpanzee, and which began with a cat leaping from the balcony of a multistory building and winding up in the hospital. This is so not funny I can’t even begin to describe it.

10. Apparently those who tuned in at midnight got to see the Who for eight minutes, and Bob Costas for 52 minutes.

Since you are going to be doing this again in four years, here are some tips on how to not completely disgrace the USA.

1. Watch reruns of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” and the ABC broadcasts of the Olympics from the years they covered it. Notice how they feature sports and athletes. Notice how they allow the events to happen with only minimal talking.

2. Watch Jim MacKay. Notice something: he never said anything rude about anyone. He knew sports. He transitioned easily from boxing to water polo to rowing, all the while gently updating viewers on competitions, whether they involved Americans or not. And notice too: there was only one of him. He was Olympics Central.

3. Consider that perhaps Americans have much broader tastes than you think they do. Just because you’re not interested in a Greco-Roman wrestling match between a Pakistani and a Filipino doesn’t mean Americans won’t find it compelling. Talk about the athletes, where they came from, what it means to them to participate. People will respond.

4. Have former Olympians do the commentary. John Nabor, Mark Spitz, or Michael Phelps on swimming. Bart Connor and Mary Lou Retton on gymnastics. Edwin Moses on track. They actually know what they’re talking about.

5. Tape Bob Costas’s mouth shut.

6. Do not allow Ryan Seacrest, or anyone like him, anywhere near a microphone. This is sports, not “American Idol.”

7. For fuck’s sake, shut up.

Sincerely,

A Viewer

P.S. “Medal” is a noun, not a verb. “He is expected to medal” makes no grammatical sense whatsoever.

*For non-US readers, NBC is National Broadcasting Company. ABC is American broadcasting Company.

Barbara Rice is a native Igonian and periodically writes an anewscafe.com column, “A Cheap Broad’s Travel Tips”. Upon discovering the Beatles at age 9, she picked up an atlas and figured out how far England was and how long it would take to get there (5,371 miles, 12 hours). Though gainfully employed, she regards work as a necessary evil to finance vacations. In her spare time she looks up cheap airfares and daydreams about her next trip. She never did meet Sir Paul, but she knows where his office is.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Barbara Rice
Barbara Rice is anewscafe.com's administrative assistant. She grew up in Igo listening to the devil's music, hearing tales of WWII, and reading James Thurber and Mad Magazine while dreaming of traveling to exotic lands. She graduated from the old Igo School, Shasta High School, Shasta College, and San Francisco State University. She's been told she's a bad influence and that makes her very happy. She tweets, travels, and spoils cats. There's a dance in the old dame yet.
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66 Responses

  1. Eleanor says:

    Well said. This was cringe-making, and sad and arrogant at the same time. Oh dear.

    Yes, NBC really tried to trash all that dignity.

    Still can't help being amaaaaazed at the Opening Ceremonies, despite NBC's best (worst) efforts.

  2. Hal Johnson says:

    Funny post about really sad coverage. Dang, I miss Jim McKay.

  3. Gerrine says:

    Yes the coverage with former athletes commenting would be great. I enjoy the personal bios of everyone, including people from other countries. Let's not get too self focused.

  4. Name says:

    Good article – they do suck. But what do you expect from the National Barack Channel?

  5. Gary Welsby says:

    I watched the olympic closing ceremony on nbc with my son and daughter-in-law who were in the U.S. On vacation from England. I have since found out just how much great stuff was cut by nbc and to be honest it is just embarrassing that that was the best nbc could do.

  6. Scott says:

    I've been complaining about the same thing, for many of the same reasons, since Sunday night's fiasco of a hatchet job on the closing ceremonies. Take a break for a new sitcom and local news? Don't warn people who might be recording it ahead of time that they'll need to tape the post-news segment if they want to see The Who? Cut out a Who classic anyway? Other artists along the way? And then fill much of the final half hour with credits? No thanks. I love the Olympics, and next time, I'll be searching for an alternative way to view them…

  7. Ginny says:

    Quit complaining. It was FREE!

    • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

      Not really, when you consider that you either have to pay for a digital converter box or cable/satellite service, and STILL sit through commercials.

    • Name says:

      Not free – I tried to watch online and you have to be a Dish/Direct TV, AT&T Uverse, or cable subscriber. So the people that get regular over the air NBC station from an old-school TV antenna got hosed. They should have it free online in REAL TIME. The ads more than make up for teh costs…

  8. Robb says:

    They lost me at the outset. Costa's snarky comments on "countries that really have no hope of winning a medal," and other "can you believe he's saying this?" In a kinder age, he'd have been sacked.

  9. Magnolia Neighborhoo says:

    I turned the volume off, and still was so disappointed with the NBC Olympic coverage, I stopped watching.

  10. Kat says:

    I am sure that as impassioned as one can become at the ineptitude of network television and all things out of one's control, the F-Bomb can be omitted and the point can still be made. Right? My 11 year old daughter reads aNewsCafe. Help a Mom out here & clean it up next time. Thank you.

  11. Tad says:

    I would add two other suggestions:

    1. Explain to Matt Lauer that the opening ceremony is not about him.

    2. Perhaps less exhaustive coverage of waterpolo might leave more room for other events.

    Considering the tight lid NBC kept on video of the Olympics, the pathetic coverage was truly amazing. If they applied as much effort into the broadcast as they did to protecting their copyrights they might have had a better outcome. Of course, that may have been part of their strategy. If you produce crap, people are much less likely to steal or mimic it.

  12. Brad Maloney says:

    Thank you Barbara for saying it out loud. I second it, shut the fuck up Bob Caustic!

  13. Larry says:

    um…"…because American viewers are only interested in American athletes." NOT TRUE.

  14. Sandye says:

    Well said Barbra!! What ever happened to the way the covered it years ago?

  15. KarenC says:

    The coverage from NBC was awful as was the commentator. However, I do love hearing the bios about folks from other countries. Every athlete who qualifies to compete in the Olympics has a story to tell, many of them sad, tragic even. No matter the story, it is always different than anyone else's.

    Having had three swimmers and one skater in my family (none Olympic quality) the practice hours, patience, and money given by parents is amazing. It boggles my mind to think what the parents of an Olympic athlete must go through.

    IMHO Barbara, your article would have been just as well received without the "F" word. There is still a huge percentage of the population who dislike that word. I doubt the teens or 20 somethings hang out on this site, or do they?

  16. DarbieHenry says:

    Kudos, Barbara! You expressed it well and hit every point. I stopped watching by the third day. Tried to watch the closing ceremonies and realized it was going to be routed around a new show and said to heck with it.

  17. Sherri Batie says:

    Barbara, a great way of summing up what was wrong with the Olympics! I think a lot of people would agree with you!

  18. LovestoEat says:

    i found the opening ceremonies lacking. they hardly showed any of the athletes marching in and smiling at family, friends and viewers like before. there was a quick showing of the flag carriers and that was about it. i enjoy looking at the costumes, dress and different peoples from around the globe. didn't see that this year!

    and furthermore i thought the amount of commercials and ramming products down our throats was rude. can't a network give into national pride or something and do without a commercial break of 5-8 minutes so often?

  19. Rick Goates says:

    Wow….don't hold back there Barb!…..I guess I didn't miss as much as I had thought I did working during most of it!…

  20. Donna Ayres says:

    The cameras spent too much time focusing on the butts of the female beach volleyball players. I thought that it was unnecessary.

  21. mike mathews says:

    I am surprised that so many people share my disgust with NBC and Bob Costas. I really don't need the "f" bomb either.

    How disappointing that they can't interview 2nd, 3rd or even anyone else in a race or event. The last place runner in a sprint event is still world class and, perhaps, 2 tenths off of first. Amazing athletes and no respect shown. Bobo Costas thinks the event is about his lame opinions.

    I don't know how to get around NBC next time but I will try.

  22. kgpoet says:

    "Sucks?" It's hard to read something that trashes NBC coverage, indicating "smart people" like the author didn't like it, when the word "sucks" is in the title, and, well, the other word that rhymes with *sucks* is littered freely. Sorry, Barbara, your own writing defeats your cause. Writing is all about integrity.

  23. Hal Johnson says:

    Concerns about younger family members aside, I find women who use the eff word regularly are usually genuine and trustworthy. However, it can be difficult to prevail in an argument with 'em.

    • Lynda B says:

      Hal, you crack me up.

      • Linda Masterson says:

        I would have to disagree with you. Profanity rarely makes a point that wouldn't be made without it and I was disappointed that the author could not make the point (which I GOT and agreed with) but must we speak in the vernacular of our kids which find this so common today. Is there no other word that convey the same feeling as F*** engenders. Is this not a derogatory word for both genders? I was disappointed to see this. If you have ever been F***** this has a whole different meaning to you.

  24. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    To all the readers concerned about the f-bombs:

    This was originally written for my personal blog, where I do not censor myself to make others happy or comfortable. Read it, don't read it: your choice. When asked for permission to run this in ANC, I was given the option of deleting the offending words. I declined. I'm too old to worry about this kind of thing or what people think of me personally.

    I reject the argument that this would have been as effective without those words. If you don't like it, that's fine, but to say it would have been as good or better just reiterates a dislike of those words without acknowledging their strength. Profane words have an undeniable power of expression that less contentious words simply do not. When two or three words – any words – are used repeatedly without thought, they lose that power and become mere noise pollution. Used sparingly, they strike nerves and fully express depth of emotions. They're strong and unapologetic. There's no substitute.

    As for children reading this: Where do you think I learned those words but at my dear old Mama's (and Papa's) knee? Your children already know those words. If they read them here, it's because A News Cafe is published for a wide audience, some of whom use those words, some of whom don't. Not everything here is child-friendly, nor should it have to be sanitized for their protection.

    I do not write for children or for all audiences. I don't mitigate this harshness. It is not my job to ensure that children – or adults, for that matter – view a profanity-free website. There are all those other places on the world wide web that ensure that security.

    As the great baseball pitcher Bob Gibson said, "Why do I have to be an example for your kid? You be an example for your own kid."

    • Tracey says:

      Great article, great response regarding people who are offended by the "F" word. You should have used "liberal" instead – it seems to be the new "F" word since President Obama took office.

    • CoachBob says:

      I enjoyed your take on the Olympics. Also, I agree with the Bob Gibson quote. That said, I wrote a response to an article some time ago using the word "tort whore" and got reamed by the boss of this website. I was "told" it was a family site. Hmmm? Well, maybe not? Or is it just a double standard? Don't know, just has me curious.

      Of course, you're taking NBC to task and I was taking to task a very dear friend of you-know-who. So, I guess I struck a nerve. Anyway, I'm still upset that they omitted womens softball and baseball from the Olympics. That bothers me, especially when I see some of the "events" that not only are "in" the Olympics but given air time as well.

      • Bob, I can't recall ever calling anewscafe.com a "family" site, though I do tout it as a civilized site. (I might be wrong. I haven't looked it up. If I am incorrect, I owe you an apology.)

        I confess that my tolerance for the "eff" word is fairly high, especially when it's an adjective, and for very special circumstancs. If memory serves, I think this is only the second time in five years a writer has used that word in a column. I felt this word fit the context of this column, given that Barbara's frustration and examples of NBC had reach a Lewis-Black-like level.

        As an aside, what offends me most are personal attacks and name-calling, which might be why I removed "tort whore" …

        But as always, I'm so glad that you and others are here, and that you feel comfortable enough to weigh in and share thoughts and opinions in a civilized way – even using your real names.

        I'm so proud that anewscafe.com remains a place where, like a colorful family, we can truly agree to disagree sometimes, and still respect one another in the morning.

        • CoachBob says:

          I could be wrong about the "family site" thingie….no apology is necessary. Civilized may have been the word. Also, you didn't "remove" the phrase "tort whore", you merely came to the defense of the individual you and I both know (you much better than I), and that's the reason for my remark. Didn't think defending the biggest (no pun) lawyer in the county was needed…he IS a lawyer! And most capable of defending himself.

          I love the "F" word! Make no mistake. It's been part of my "construction vernacular" for over 40 years lolol. That said, I'd never use it in a blog of this type for the very reasons the other bloggers have posted…..it offends too damned many people, right or wrong. Not necessary for effect in my opinion. And, it took away from her entire point about NBC, which is a shame, because I think she's right on point.

          Do consider, though, that while you don't appreciate " personal attacks and name-calling",

          • CoachBob says:

            (Oops, pressed the wrong button…)…" personal attacks and name-calling", the article in question was nothing BUT a personal attack and "name-calling", mostly toward Bob Costas. I don't see the difference. Except you don't know Bob Costas personally. Both are public figures in my opinion.

            Thanks for your response.

            CoachBob

  25. Joanne Lobeski Snyde says:

    Barbara, this was a great article. I think the key here is that at one time TV covered events. Now the media is more concerned about people talking about events. Someone in the industry believes that everything that is seen must be wrapped in a "package" of music, film and commentary. In the olden days, you watched an event and that was enough. Watching Flo Jo run was incredible. Nadia Comaneci's performance was out of this world. Alone. Being able to witness these events without superfluous commentary was part of the package.

  26. All Knowing says:

    Hey Peeps, guess what? Disconnect and you can bet your granny's cane they will go to Free to air like it used to be in a heartbeat. We still have the power but we let them have it, sad.

  27. sharon chesnut says:

    Thanks Barbara for the article – I enjoyed every word – yes, every word. Looking forward to the next article. Sharon

  28. kgpoet says:

    I simply think that if you don't know how to use the language, you should not write. Any fourth grader can say, "You suck." It's not a good basis for argument, and it's not funny. This is not to say that I think anything at all about you personally. It's your writing that I despise, so much so that I am actually commenting. I'm not concerned about children reading this. I am a liberal nonetheless. I do think attention to language is a writer's job, and you didn't do it.

  29. Doni has a classy website. Your low class, gutter language is not appropriate or appreciated.

    Your not impressing anyone with your use of the F word. Grow up.

    Carolyn Aguiar

    • Tracey says:

      Learn how to spell if you're going to criticize her, Carolyn. It's YOU'RE – not your. Doesn't give much credence to your argument.

      • I intended to take the higher road and not respond to

        "Tracey", but it has been bothering me so I will respond.

        I do know the difference between your and your're, I just got caught up in the moment and made a mistake. Looks like you made a mistake by forgetting to include your last name. Interesting.

        I raised six children, when they reached 18, I went back to college, began my second career as a nurse, then became a Cardiology Technologist. I am not ignorant. Guess you are Scotty, the grammar watch dog. Thank you for pointing out my mistake. Now, go back to sleep and wait for the next mistake, get up and bark at them.

        Speaking of children, I am surprised to see one or two people implying that children don't count. "Take care of your own" and "I am not responsible for your children" What ever happened to the concept of it takes a village to raise a child? We should all do what we can to help a Mother or Father show that others in the community care about them, teaching them the higher road, by example, instead of using gutter language, yes we all know the words to all of the cuss words and I am sure we have all used at one time, just not in public. We did not have to have our children teach them to us.

        Tracey, be sure to let me know if I have made another mistake so it can be corrected.

        Thank you so much for your for your concern.

        Carolyn Aguiar

        • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

          This has been bothering me too, so I will respond for Tracey, who is sleeping in this morning.

          between your and your're, I just got caught up Please insert a semi-colon between you're and I.

          I raised six children, when they reached 18, I went back to college, began my second career as a nurse, then became a Cardiology Technologist. This is a run-on sentence and should be broken down into two sentences. Cardiology Technologist should not be capitalized.

          Now, go back to sleep and wait for the next mistake, get up and bark at them. Please rewrite this sentence. Them is plural and does not agree with mistake, which is singular.

          for your children" What ever happened Insert a period after children. Whatever is one word, not two.

          We should all do what we can to help a Mother or Father show that others in the community care about them, teaching them the higher road, by example, instead of using gutter language, yes we all know the words to all of the cuss words and I am sure we have all used at one time, just not in public. Again, this is a run-on sentence and should be completely rewritten. Mother and Father should not be capitalized. we all know the words to all of the cuss words This is redundancy within a sentence.

          You're welcome.

        • Tracey says:

          Carolyn, I choose (yes – that's present tense)not to use my last name because my employer is very well known and I don't want my own personal opinions to reflect badly on said employer. As for the rest of your comments, I couldn't care less about your education, your thoughts on raising children, or your holier than thou tone. What all that crap has to do with the subject at hand is beyond me. So much for your "high road". Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back.

    • Name says:

      Nobody is forcing you to click on or read the article – Grow Up…

      • Hal Johnson says:

        I think the author's use of the eff word was justified. It set the tone well, and it added to the humorous tilt. But, I also think folks should feel free to express their objections to certain words, even if I disagree. Telling someone to "grow up" is dismissive, and doesn't add an effing thing to the discussion.

      • Herringbone says:

        Good gawd Maude! This piece has lured the snarly, snarky commenters from redding.com to our civilized news café! I'll be happy when it finally slithers off the front page.

  30. Herringbone says:

    My mother always said, “People use profanity because they’re lazy or not smart enough to think of a more appropriate word.”

    As annoying as this message was to my teenage self, it did leave a lasting impression on me. I’ve never shied away from a well-placed “cuss word” in my private life, but I do censor myself in public. Prudish I’m not, but the use of f-bombs or adolescent slang is just plain distracting on a website known for its commitment to high journalistic standards.

  31. pmarshall says:

    Thank you, Carolyn. I don't think it is necessary to use the "f" word to make your points. Frankly it just isn't classy. You may be right about the Olympics coverage, but I couldn't comment on it because we just watch baseball at our house. Oh, well, I am neither liberal or conservative. Somewhere in between suits me. Let's keep the F word out of it.

  32. Barbara N. says:

    I thought the p.s. was funnier than, well, you know what.

  33. KarenC says:

    "My mother always said, “People use profanity because they’re lazy or not smart enough to think of a more appropriate word.”

    As annoying as this message was to my teenage self, it did leave a lasting impression on me. I’ve never shied away from a well-placed “cuss word” in my private life, but I do censor myself in public. Prudish I’m not, but the use of f-bombs or adolescent slang is just plain distracting on a website known for its commitment to high journalistic standards."

    Thank you, I agree…and I still stand by my post that Barbara's article would have been just as well received without the "F" word. By the way, my wise mom told me the same thing!

  34. Steve H says:

    I'm constantly amazed at how tightly wound up people will become over the use of language.

    I was born 56 years ago. I knew that word by the time I was 5. I had heard it used carelessly, I had heard it used sparingly, I had heard it used by sweet little old church ladies in Montana and by cowboys and by truck drivers.

    I was taught that it was not a word for children to use. I later learned not to use it as an interjection, once I was no longer a child, because it made it meaningless if it was overused.

    I remember the 1960s, the "Age of Aquarius" and the Yippies and the foul-mouthed young man who used that word in Berkeley and got on the news (censored) and fought for the freedom of speech of students and non-students. Whether or not you might agree with him or his views (I agreed with some, disagreed with others) he was only one voice breaking the code of hypocritical niceness.

    Not everyone who is polite or nice or gently spoken at all times is necessarily hypocritical.

    But I've known Barbara for quite a while, and I can tell you that she does not curse like a sailor, does not use vulgarity casually, and in this case, was so moved with disgust that she felt the use of a common vulgarity was appropriate, and I kind of agree with her.

    If I had been near the man, I would have said the same thing to him. Out loud. In front of the world. I'm sure it would've been beeped though.

    Right now, Comcast owns 51% of NBC while General Electric owns 49%.

    Note, a cable company owns and controls a broadcasting company which provides content and owns outright a number of television and radio broadcasting stations.

    Now, do you wonder why they limited the live access to their cable feeds?

    This is the sort of thing that happens when people just say "Oh, it's BUSINESS" as if that justified anti-competitive, antisocial, anti-community, and downright venal behavior on the part of these corporations. It's NOT "Business" folks. It's monopoly and power-grab at your expense.

    The Olympics were something that were brought back to life by people, not corporations, not business. Yes, there were some wealthy people involved, because they wanted to give back to the world and to everyone in it.

    Currently, the ideal of the Olympics is nearly as far from the reality as is the ideal of our Congress as the representatives of ALL the people rather than of the very few powerful.

    NBC's abysmal, foolish, and downright rude coverage is one of the symptoms.

    It won't get better unless we make it get better. Complaining because someone said a word you don't like is really missing the point.

  35. Name says:

    The use of certain words was necessary to portray the big steamy pile that NBC served up. I say GOOD ARTICLE, do not let people dictate your choice of language. If they do not like it, then they don;t have to read it.

    As for kids possibly seeing these words – get a life – this is nothing compared to the other stuff they view online or on tv, and text/email/tweet/FB amongst their friends. If you do not believe this, then please remove your head from the sand (or wherever else it may be stuck).

  36. Me says:

    Well said! The atheletes & folks watching deserve better.

  37. CoachBob says:

    NOTE to Doni: On a different note (lol) I enjoy the way we can "reply" to a comment and it appears directly below the remark being commented on! Makes sense. Wish the RS would do the same thing with comments on their articles. Most recent post get shoved to the very bottom, then everything is out of context.

    Offer your services (or that of your web-master), and get some $$'s for fixing this problem.

    Good job.

    CoachBob

  38. Hal Johnson says:

    One suggestion: If you're concerned that Barbara may again resort to using the eff word in a future post, you might just consider not reading it. I thought, given her level of disgust with Olympic coverage, that the sprinkling of eff words was effective and appropriate.

    Sure, overuse of profanity can drag down speech or writing. I'm reminded of graffiti I read while standing at a urinal in 1982 in Austin, Texas: "Profanity is the crutch of an inarticulate motherfucker."

  39. Michelle Murrell says:

    Bravo Barb. Witty and well written. You rock.

  40. Amanda says:

    While we are at it, can we add one more tip?

    -Just stop with the athlete interviews IMMEDIATELY post event. They always make me cringe. The olympic games are dramatic enough without adding the air of "reality tv" to them. Give these poor people a freaking minute to catch their breath and compose themselves.

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