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All in the Family In WCBS Newscast

Nice event at the Waldorf last night for Hearst’s long running CEO–and the Paley Center’s 20-year chairman–Frank Bennack. One of those offering up bon mots to Bennack was new NBC chief Steve Burke, who said Bennack was one of the first people he reached out to after Comcast’s deal to acquire NBC closed. “We’re all here to honor somebody who’s a role model for all of us,” said Burke.

Being out at the event gave me the opportunity to watch the 11 p.m. news when I got home, something I haven’t done much of since my wife started having children. A trio of bits on WCBS starting at 11:08 caught my eye, as all seemed to promote, if not intentionally, properties of parent CBS. First, anchor Maurice Dubois talked up the “stunning secrets revealed” on an upcoming 60 Minutes interview with Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.

“You can watch Sen. Brown’s entire interview this Sunday on 60 Minutes,” said Dubois.

Then WCBS went into a string of pre-break teasers. The first showed Lara Logan being harrassed in Cairo. The graphic said “Attack Fallout”, as the WCBS anchors spoke of the “chilling remarks about the CBS correspondent who was brutally attacked in Egypt.”

Logan is, of course, a star correspondent at CBS News, and spent time reporting from the front lines in Cairo.

Next in line in the teaser queue was a bit on Charlie Sheen defending Lindsay Lohan’s (dubious) honor on a radio program.

Sheen of course stars in the CBS hit comedy Two and a Half Men.

Subsequent teases had nothing to do with CBS Corp., and played to WCBS’ strengths on health coverage-a segment on zinc supplements and another on thirdhand smoke (yes, thirdhand–the smoke that clings to hotel furniture and the carpets and walls of the apartment you’re renting).

The CBS owned stations, which reported a 28% boost in fourth quarter revenue yesterday, got some negative coverage by various TV pundits, including B&C’s own Ben Grossman, in the fall after multiple O&Os worked CBS rookie program Hawaii 5-0 into their news coverage. Some questioned what was effective corporate synergy, and what was taking the concept too far.

I spoke with David Friend, WCBS News Director and the CBS Owned Stations’ senior VP of news, about the Hawaii 5-0 reports late last year. “It’s a remake of a very, very popular TV show,” he said. “Nothing was forced upon us by corporate.”

We assume the same holds true for last night’s news. Granted, Scott Brown’s stories of abuse as a child are newsworthy, but I don’t know how much interest there is in New York about a Massachusetts legislator. (A spokesperson from the CBS stations countered that Brown is a politician of national importance.)

The Lara Logan story certainly had a local angle, as an NYU professor, Nir Rosen, resigned over insensitive tweets about Logan’s treatment in Cairo.

The Charlie Sheen/LiLo report, on the other hand, has minimal connection to the New York market, though Hollywood misdeeds are of course “newsworthy” everywhere.

If the three WCBS bits hadn’t been in succession, I probably never would’ve noticed that all had ties to CBS. But they were, and I did.