COMMENTS: Silent Night

Christmas is coming so each of the three networks invoked a vaguely season news hook for otherwise non-Yule fare. NBC closed with an Our Planet feature from Mark Potter on energy conservation efforts that convert incandescent light bulbs to solid state LEDs. Downtown Ann Arbor in Michigan may be changing its traffic lights but Potter preferred to focus on the energy-efficient Winter Music Parade in Gatlinburg Tenn while anchor Brian Williams showed us the LEDs on NBC's own Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

By the way, should it not be incumbent on any NBC reporter assigned to a light bulb story to mention what is at the stake for its corporate sibling, the lighting division at General Electric? A slap on the wrist for Potter for his silence on the matter.

The season of charitable giving was the hook for Sharyl Attkisson's coverage on CBS of House hearings into fundraising for disabled veterans. The American Institute of Philanthropy evaluated 27 charities on how much gets spent on doing good--how much on expenses and salaries for organizers. The American Veterans Coalition, for example, has paid $800,000 to fundraisers and "did not give a penny" to veterans in 2003. Attkisson listed other AIP black marks for the Blinded Veterans Association, the Disabled American Vets, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Help Hospitalized Veterans. The AIP gave a thumbs up to Fisher House and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

And both NBC and ABC sent reporters into the cold to cover the first of two winter storms heading for the northeast. ABC's Ron Claiborne was in northern New Jersey; NBC's Rehema Ellis in upstate New York. And yes, Ellis found that all important suburbanite's soundbite: "I think it is going to be a White Christmas."

UPDATE (text link): an NBC viewer has the same quibble about General Electric's lightbulbs, prompting anchor Brian Williams to offer his apology.


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