Great news — Reince Priebus’ attack on CNN and NBC over the broadcasters’ decisions to air Hillary Clinton films is gaining momentum … at NBC. Yesterday morning, Chuck Todd called it a “total nightmare” for their news division, and Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough described it as the network appearing to crawl up the anatomy of the Clinton organization. Later in the day, Andrea Mitchell and former Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs both called it a bad idea (via The Corner and Newsbusters):
ANDREA MITCHELL: I want to ask you about Reince Priebus, because you’ve been involved in debates, debate prep and debate negotiations. And here you’ve got the Republican chairman, I would say understandably miffed about these Hillary Clinton films, one a documentary and the other an entertainment film which is, you know, all about —
ROBERT GIBBS: A bad idea? A bad idea.
MITCHELL: A lot of news people would say, including NBC news people, including Chuck Todd and all the rest of us, a really bad idea given the timing.
Todd yesterday lamented that the project would obscure the “firewall” that exists between the entertainment and news divisions at NBC. (Does CNN have an “entertainment” division?) At Huffington Post, Jack Mirkinson writes that those supposed firewalls have long since vanished in favor of “corporate synergy,” and the evidence is on display every day … even Today, so to speak:
He called the “firewall” between news and entertainment that the network’s Chuck Todd had brought up earlier a “distinction without a difference.” Host Mika Brzezinski fought back, saying that viewers can easily tell the difference between news and entertainment.
The problem for Brzezinski is that her network is constantly telling viewers that the news side and the entertainment side are all part of one happy corporate family.
That may or may not be so, but it’s also an accepted part of the news industry that a network’s news division will plug upcoming projects that have been developed for its entertainment division. “Today,” for instance, is constantly interviewing stars of upcoming shows on NBC or Bravo or USA, or people from films made by Universal–all of whom reside in the same corporate warehouse.
The same goes for “Good Morning America,” which practically turns itself into an appendage of “Dancing With The Stars” when that show is on, or even for “CBS This Morning,” which always has time for one of that network’s stars.
Then there are the appearances by news anchors on late night shows or sitcoms or even, in Brian Williams’ case, “Saturday Night Live.” Even if there’s no huge ethical quandary, the clear signal is that everyone is employed by the same people, and is part of the same team.
In this case, perhaps the “really bad idea” of the miniseries is that it makes Mirkinson’s point exceedingly clear.