Williams Uses NBC News Time to Dismiss Flimsy Charge of Liberal Bias

On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams gave air time to dismissing a flimsy charge of liberal media bias based not on any content, but simply on the planned location of the newscast. From Memphis, Williams noted that “emotions are running so high,” in the Tennessee Senate contest between Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Harold Ford, “that we must tell you, even our choice of cities for this broadcast tonight has become controversial because Memphis is the hometown base of the Democrat in this race.” Williams then read from an e-mail sent by “Butch,” who complained: “There is one reason and one reason only that Briansama is coming to Memphis...for his obvious attempt to promote Ford...This is the liberal media at its very lowest." Williams easily discounted the theory: “The truth is, nothing so sinister. We chose Memphis because it is the largest city in the state and happens to be home to a great NBC television station.”

It would be nice if Williams some night would give air time to a serious charge of liberal media bias based on content analysis, not silly idle speculation about atmospherics.

Setting up an overview of the Corker-Ford race he narrated, Williams delivered this short item on the November 2 NBC Nightly News:
"Now to the Senate race that brings us here to Tennessee tonight. It is such a crucial race and emotions are running so high that we must tell you, even our choice of cities for this broadcast tonight has become controversial because Memphis is the hometown base of the Democrat in this race. We have had several complaining e-mails, but none of them more vehement than this one. A viewer named 'Butch' wrote to us today:"

E-mail text on screen, read aloud by Williams [ellipses on screen]: "There is one reason and one reason only that Briansama is coming to Memphis...for his obvious attempt to promote Ford...This is the liberal media at its very lowest..."

Williams, back on camera: "The truth is, nothing so sinister. We chose Memphis because it is the largest city in the state and happens to be home to a great NBC television station. But that should give you an indication of how hot this race is right now and you're about to see how nasty it has become...."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center