RUSH: The latest on the Brian Williams situation is that Savannah Guthrie now is at the top of the replacement list. Savannah Guthrie from the Today Show. You know, Savannah Guthrie as recently as three years ago was on the 9 a.m. show on MSNBC with F. Chuck Todd, basically with nobody watching her.
You know what NBC does? I happen to know if from an impeccable source. It’s not true now. Back when MSNBC was striving to be a mainstream network, whenever they would hire female infobabes and anchors, they lured them in by promising them a good shot at Katie Couric’s job on the Today Show, and that’s what they all wanted. They’d accept an offer from MSNBC because they’re being told it could lead…
They were never promised, but told it could lead to the prime spot on the Today Show. That’s how they lured a number of the female hires in. So Savannah Guthrie goes to the Today Show to replace Ann Curry who was unceremoniously — uh, maybe ceremoniously — dumped, and she’s now at the top of the list. It used to be Lester Holt, and then… Oh, and then also on that list was Matt Lauer.
But the problem with putting Matt Lauer in there was if you take Matt Lauer off of the Today Show and put him on the NBC Nightly News, you might impact ratings negatively and cause it to lose some money. The Today Show pays for a lot of the other NBC shows that don’t make any money. The NBC Nightly News, what’s left of it all, was the highest-rated evening newscast with Brian Williams.
We had a caller yesterday who said, “I don’t understand how Brian Williams is still even in the conversation.” It’s a grade-point. How is Brian Williams even still in the conversation? To return to the anchor chair when everybody knows what they know about him? The jokes, the snark, the disrespect on Twitter alone is enough for anybody to know that Brian Williams, whether deservedly or not, is never gonna be anything other than sitting joke if he returns to the narrative anchor chair on NBC Nightly News.
But it was the highest rated and therefore it had money coming in commensurately with that. The two female execs, it is said, fear the loss of their… Get this, now. They fear losing their jobs if Brian Williams is fired. If that’s not 180 degrees out of phase! Deborah Turness, the Brit import who hired him (and her female boss are trying), it is reported now — and again, this could be all wet. It’s the Drive-By Media.
But it’s reported they’re trying to hold on to him because the number one ratings that he got mean they get to keep their jobs because they’re the ones that put him in the chair or whatever. They’re his immediate superior so they get the credit for it being number one, and if he loses the gig, if they take it away from him, they fear they could lose their jobs. Now, think about your job in your mind. If this report’s true, think your job being saved is dependent on making sure a guy who makes it up remains your anchor on the NBC Nightly News.
If that’s not screwed up, I don’t know what is.
RUSH: And then there’s this from Mediaite: “More details about Brian WilliamsÂ‘s dramatic misremembering of Katrina have emerged, with the manager of the hotel he stayed at directly contradicting his narrative.” You know how often that word’s now appearing out there? It’s all over the place now, “the narrative.” It’s everywhere. I’m telling you, the fact that there was a narrative or a template, this was one of the most closely held secrets in the world of journalism. This was an inside baseball term. It was an inside baseball concept, and the news consumer was to never know of the narrative. The news consumer was never to know of the template.
The news consumer was to believe the myth that the news was the news, not the result of a narrative or an agenda being followed to its completion. Now the word “narrative” is everywhere in relationship to journalism.
RUSH: Now, this business on the narrative. It’s just something that I learned. I’m like everybody else. I was naive about, well, practically everything. Everybody’s naive about things growing up until they learn the truth of things. My understanding of journalism was that it was biased. I knew that it was biased in favor of the Democrat Party growing up and then of liberalism as I got older. I knew that they tried to make a point of convincing everybody they were objective, and then when the lid got blown on that, and they would admit, “Okay, objectivity, that’s kind of hard for any human being to be.” Then they said, “No, no, no, we’re fair.”
Now, I’ve always thought that being objective in any business as an adult is a really difficult thing to do, if you are informed. If you are informed, and if you care about things, if you’re a caring person, and if you have an interest in the outcome of events, like we all do, then objectivity is a really, really tough thing, because what it really means is, you must act totally divorced from whatever it is as a journalist that you’re talking about. And I’ve always thought that was impossible. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. I have too much interest in the outcome of events.
I’ll tell you a little story. I left the baseball team, Kansas City Royals, back 1983 and decided to go back into radio because that’s what I loved, and it’s also what I thought I did best, so I therefore thought that’s what would make me the happiest. I decided also to go back to radio in spoken word formats rather than as a deejay playing music, ’cause I wanted to find out once and for all if I could be the reason people would listen to the radio, not the music and not promotions and contests and whatever else. The only way to do that was in spoken word.
So there happened to be an all-news station that I was lucky enough to be hired at, or by, and I was working in the afternoons supposedly doing the news. And, you know, I would throw in little comments. I just couldn’t help it. I’d throw in little comments. Not local news, that was somebody else. And they’d call me in and say, “You can’t do that. As a reporter, you must keep your opinions out of the news.”
I said, “Why? Peter Jennings puts his in every night.”
And the program director, “No, he doesn’t.”
“Yes, he does! Have you ever seen him raise an eyebrow? What do you think that is? Have you ever seen him put a scowl on his face when he was talking about any Republican? What do you think that is but opinionated journalism.”
“Well, I don’t care if Peter Jennings did it, you can’t do it.”
I say, “I’ll try, but it’s hard not to.” And it really was hard not to. So anyway, I couldn’t, so they gave me a commentary. They took me off the news and gave me a 90-second commentary that would run throughout the day that I would write and record, and I loved that. I really, really got into that. I ended up being fired because of it. It was too controversial, and the controversy was my opinion. It wasn’t controversial because of what the opinion was. It was just that I had one. This is 1983 and they were very uncomfortable, a long time ago in these terms.
But the point is I didn’t know anything about narratives. I didn’t know about how journalism was actually taught in journalism school. I knew there were J-Schools, but I thought most people wanted to be journalists because of Woodward and Bernstein or because of 60 Minutes. And at that time most of them did, and maybe still do in some sense.
It was only later that, when we blew the lid off the fact that there is no objectivity, I don’t care the pretense, the Drive-By Media has always been liberal. It’s just back in the day of their monopoly there wasn’t anything else, and so the liberalism really didn’t stand out. The only reason it was liberal is if you happened to not be one. If as a citizen, as a person you were conservative Republican, you knew the news was slanted to the left. But there wasn’t any right-wing news. There wasn’t any conservative news to bounce off of, and so when journalists in that era were accused of bias, they tried first to hide behind the cloak of objectivity. When that got blown up and they admitted that was not possible, then they would say, “But we’re fair, we’re fair.”
And I said, “Well, then you are admitting that you’re flavoring the news and that you have to employ fairness in order to get it balanced, right? What does being ‘fair’ mean? It means you’ll equally criticize people?” And that was just smoke as well. Because they are who they are. It was only later — and it was not until this show started. It was not until the early nineties that I first learned of the existence, as a teachable factoid, teachable aspect of journalism, of the narrative in a story, or the template in a story.
It used to be a very closely guarded secret among journalists, much like baseline budgeting used to be a very closely guarded secret on Capitol Hill. They didn’t really want you to know how the federal budget got put together. Baseline budgeting, you had to learn that and ferret that out yourself, which, once I had that explained to me — it was Larry Kudlow that explained it to me — the lights went off and my view of the federal budget has never been the same.
Now I know exactly how it’s done and the tricks that are employed in the verbiage used to sell it. Well, consequently the narrative of a story is the agenda, is the reason they’re doing the story. The narrative is why certain stories are ignored and certain stories are very, very — journalists get very excited about them. Journalism is not some guy standing around where you aren’t and telling you what happened there. Journalism is a series of narratives. I now refer to it as the daily soap opera. It’s a series of narratives or templates, and if anything in that story doesn’t advance the narrative, it doesn’t get reported.
So if your story, if your narrative is that Republicans are starving kids with the school lunch program, then there is nothing that you can learn that disproves it that will be included in the story, because the narrative is Republicans are starving kids. Republicans are cutting the school lunch program. You could tell the journalist doing that story, you could cite 15 different things to disprove what she or he believes, and they would disregard them all because they don’t advance the narrative. And the narrative, and there are many definitions, but this is pretty much close to encompassing all of them. The narrative is the agenda. The narrative is the desired end result. Sorry, there’s no objectivity in that. And for the people we’re talking about, there’s no conservatism in the desired end result.
All that is desired about conservatism in the narrative is that it be defeated, or that it be seen to be extreme or racist or what have you, in every story. And anything that would come to light that would counter the narrative is ignored because it doesn’t fit the narrative. And that’s how the journalist will tell you that what you think about something doesn’t matter. “Well, it doesn’t fit the narrative.”
“What do you mean, the narrative?”
“Well, the narrative here is that we’re trying to establish beyond any doubt that Republicans are trying to cut the school lunch program, which is gonna make kids hungry.”
“Yeah, but they’re not.”
“I don’t care. That’s not the narrative. The narrative is that they are. And that’s all that matters.”
Well, my point is the narrative is now starting to show up everywhere. Journalists are talking about it; non-journalists are talking about. The narrative in a news story, it’s now common knowledge. This is a big, big secret. They used to hold this really close to the vest, the idea that there really was a narrative or a template that was being followed. Now they openly talk about the narrative. It’s a dramatic, dramatic change. And the narrative in the Brian Williams story, depending on who’s doing the reporting, it could vary, but they’re trying to establish a bunch of different narratives here. They haven’t settled on one, which is why all the confusion.
This whole business of news and media bias, that’s why I say it isn’t news anymore. And that’s why I’ve started calling these people narrative readers rather than news readers and presenters, because journalism is nothing like what people have been led to believe that it is. But that doesn’t mean people don’t fall for it anymore. Millions and millions of people do each and every day. And they’re totally unaware of the existence of any narrative or template. They really do believe the news is the news.
One of the first giveaways for me, when I actually started studying, it didn’t matter what I watched. It was all the same. NBC, CBS, ABC, same stories, in almost the same order, every night. Didn’t matter. Then we had that brilliant montage where we must have had 35 different journalists using the same word “gravitas” to explain George Bush choosing Dick Cheney to be his vice president. So there’s a single-mindedness born of all of these people in that business thinking alike, living similar lives and so forth. It’s no trick to hire them. There’s no questionnaire. You either know somebody is a liberal or they’re not if you’re in the business of hiring them.
That then takes us to, okay, saving Brian Williams or not. And like a caller said the other day, I’m sitting here, it is indicative of significant change that there’s even a chance he could be kept in the nightly news anchor chair. The fact that that remains a possibility indicates just how dramatic the whole concept of news has changed and its place in our culture, because, after all, the nightly news anchor has to be able to sell things better than anybody else.
You wonder about the qualifications for nightly news anchor. It has nothing to do with where they’ve traveled and worn the trench coat. It has nothing to do with the suffering they’ve seen. It has nothing to do with the stories they’ve covered for the 30 previous years. It has nothing to do with seeing war-torn strife, nothing to do with seeing poverty. That’s all part of the smoke and mirrors myth that creates the larger-than-life image of the anchor.
All that matters is can they effect proper facial expression with the proper tone and voice given what it is that’s being reported or narrated, as it were. You either have that talent or you don’t. It can’t be taught. Well, I suppose it can, but the investment would be expensive and timely. There are people that have this ability naturally. That’s why they earn the big bucks. It’s not because of any journalistic history they have or resume. The requirements of the job don’t depend on that. That’s just a myth. And so here we are, the highest rated evening newscast we have learned recently, has been hosted by a guy who’s been making it up, and he still has a chance to hold on to the job.
That should tell you everything you need to know about what these newscasts really are, and newscasts they aren’t. There is the selling of the agenda. There is the selling of the narrative. There is the required ability to cast the opposition in negative terms effectively and with very little verbiage being used. It’s basically reading and getting the words on a prompter right with the proper facial expressions. I’m not diminishing this at all.
Now, the latest out of New Orleans — you know, Brian Williams said a number of things. He stayed at the Ritz-Carlton down there, and one of the things he said was that he couldn’t find a room, so he had to sleep on a mattress in the fifth floor stairwell with any number of people he didn’t know. That story was told in order to affect the image of roughing it. And then the story that, hey, we didn’t have any specified food and water drops. No, no, no. If the population was starving, so were we. If the population couldn’t get fresh water, neither could we. If nobody had air-conditioning to sleep at night, neither did we.
It’s all part of the image creation of suffering, of roughing it, which is supposed to enhance the credibility and qualifications. One of the things that Brian said as he looked out the window of his hotel room, we thought he didn’t have one, he was in the stairwell. So out the window of the stairwell, I guess, and he sees a dead body floating face down, down a street, flooded street in the French Quarter. Well, the French Quarter is the one area that didn’t flood. It was not possible for somebody to be floating in water face down in the French Quarter. Maybe other liquid substances, but not water.
Myra DeGersdorff, then the manager of the French Quarter Ritz-Carlton, says, “I can tell you that at no time did any of my people report any sightings of any bodies.” It’s in the Washington Post. “Brian Williams may have simply misremembered, but I can tell you no one broke out in the hotel with dysentery. We didn’t have anybody that got dysentery.” DeGersdorff now lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. She was so well prepared for Hurricane Katrina, she won an award from the Ritz-Carlton corporate headquarters.