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9/11 Coverage: History Channel Win/NBC Epic Fail

Sunday, 9/11/11, 7:30p PT   (date stamp above is incorrect.)

Two networks stand out so far for their 9/11 coverage:  one for all the right reasons; the other for all the wrong reasons.

On Saturday night, what was perhaps the finest 9/11 coverage could be found in History Channel’s haunting, somber Voices from Inside The TowersVoices tackled a wrenching subject - the words (through audio records) of people inside in the towers of the World Trade Center.  (Many were doomed. Only four people in the South Tower escaped from a floor above the plane’s impact.  In the North Tower, no one above the impact zone escaped.)

I held hands with my husband as we watched, reminded of our mortality, our fragility, how life on a beautiful September day can change in a heartbeat.

History Channel respectfully aired Voices from Inside The Towerswithout commercial interruption.

Kudos to History Channel.

NBC and MSNBC coverage, by contrast, felt exploitative - primarily because it was marred by relentless and inappropriate commercial interruptions.

Take NBC’s Friday night remembrance hosted by Tom Brokaw.  The special was repeatedly interrupted by blaring happy-happy, joy-joy commercials.

NBC relentlessly pushed product, trivializing an epic American tragedy.  (Other networks may have been doing the same, but I was watching NBC exclusively. UPDATE - see remarks below about CBS.)

I counted twelve ads in the space of ten to twelve minutes, all brightly colored and full of superficial humor, including:

Dunkin Donut Coffee, Ziplogic Ziplock bags, a luxurious Jeep SUV, Staples backpacks, Weight Watchers, Hertz at The Airport, Applebees, Advair, and a sale on Macy’s mattresses.

Finally, my exasperated husband snarked: “Terrorists have won if we don’t go shopping.”

Right around 3p PT on Sunday, we started watching MSBNC’s 9/11 - As It Happened, a replay of NBC’s 9/11/01 coverage with Katie Couric.

Many of us living in the Pacific time zone were still sleeping when events started to unfold that day in NYC.  So, the MSNBC replay was likely the first time most left coasters had seen this 9/11/01 broadcast.

Almost as soon as we started watching, MSNBC cut to a whacky, not-really-that-funny commercial for the new NBC comedy Whitney.

This was soon followed by annoying commercial interruption including:  Purina Tidy Cats litter box odor stuff, Fiber One Cereal, Nissan, Citrical Calcium, Zoosk online dating, Sunday Night Football on NBC, Hyundai and…

…..a Pelvic Organ Prolapse legal challenge.

“You need a truck like the Silverado!!!” screamed one Chevy ad, set to loud hard rock.  Viewers were encouraged to gamble and swim with dolphins at Atlantis Resort.

In the middle of all this, MSNBC inserted the following message on the screen: “To honor the victims.  ‘9/11 as it happened.’”

Then, a Volvo S60 commercial featured a wrestling match playing on the car radio.  And Juvederm (a wrinkle filler) promised to “kiss those lines goodbye,” those “parentheses lines.”  Juvederm further claimed it might “change the way you look at everything.”

Um, yeah - something did change the way we look at everything, and it sure wasn’t Juvederm.

Xfinity (Comcast) promised “endless fun.”

Then, just as the first tower of the World Trade Center was about to collapse, MSNBC CUT TO COMMERCIAL in what could have been a ploy to ensure viewers returned after the ads.

We finally gave up on MSNBC and turned off the television.  But seriously - the mind boggles.  Epic fail, epic fail.

Update: 9:24p PT  Oh, CBS, CBS - oh, that’s how you do it!  9/11: 10 Years Later.  No Commercial interruption except this uplifting State Farm ad celebrating New York.  Will embed if I can find it. Found