Our eagle-eyed archivists at MRC who record live network coverage thought it was curious that ABC and CBS weren't joining in as NBC offered live coverage of today's memorial service for the dead and wounded at Fort Hood. As The Wall Street Journal reported:
Camouflage-clad soldiers snapped to a salute as the national anthem played, and many murmured along when Gen. George Casey uttered the words of the warrior ethos: "I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat."
A chaplain also spoke. But ABC and CBS were still running their soaps. When did they start live coverage? Just before President Obama spoke. When did they end? CBS jumped back out shortly after Obama finished. ABC held on for a few bars of "Amazing Grace."
These networks apparently had no concept of how this might look to the people who truly mourned the lost at Fort Hood. No prayers, no hymns, no national anthem, no chaplains, no generals. It's Obama and out.
This is hardly the way ABC and CBS covered the gaudy and overextended Michael Jackson memorial service in July. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported:
Tuesday's live coverage of Michael Jackson's memorial service was watched by an average audience of more than 30.9 million people over the course of about three hours, reports Nielsen, which counted viewing on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, Telefutura, Telemundo, Univision, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, Headline News, BET, E!, MTV, VH1, VH1 Classic, TV Guide Network, TV One and MUN2.
The pattern -- that dead and freakish celebrities are much more newsworthy than American soldiers -- continues. As Brent Bozell noted this summer: "On the night of July 6, ABC, CBS, and NBC, paid twenty times more attention to Jackson (more than a week after his death) than to the deaths of seven brave soldiers in Afghanistan."