Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Too-Early Show?

Even on the Dawn Patrol, It's All About the Details

Lots of little hiccups can add up to a big headache, especially on national TV. To wit, the Saturday version of "The Early Show" on CBS (a former employer of mine).

Suffice to say, not their best edition this morning. At the beginning of the 8 a.m. hour, co-anchor Russ Mitchell (who appears underwhelmed being back on the program he helped originate in 1997), threw to a live report from Tripoli and correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, an excellent reporter who may be getting worked a little too hard. Twice she called Mitchell "Jeff," Jeff being Jeff Glor the newsreader on the weekday "Early Show."

At the end, Mitchell simply had to say "I'll take it, thanks, Elizabeth." While reading the headlines a few minutes later, Betty Nguyen had an item about an earthquake in Chile. However, a graphic popped up with the country spelled "Chili." Must have been a spicy temblor.

About 20 minutes later, Mitchell, whose work I normally admire, was interviewing Bob and Suzanne Wright about Autism Speaks, a day after 1,000 buildings around the world were bathed in blue to mark World Autism Awareness Day. The Wrights have been prominent spokespersons for the cause since their 6-year-old grandson was diagnosed as autistic.

What Mitchell left out of the intro--presumably under strict orders--was any mention of the fact that Wright was the longtime chairman of NBC/Universal, a grievous oversight that Suzanne--a real force of nature--corrected in about three seconds to an abashed Mitchell. That wasn't what the segment was about, but it's still a part of the story.

Wright was able to use his stature in the media business as a way to elevate autism awareness and end what The New York Times called "internecine warfare" in autism research. He would not have been on the couch this morning were it not for that. It couldn't be ignored. Suzanne Wright knew better. So should CBS.

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