In Chicago, WBBM Anchors Deliver Fiction and Fact

CBS’ show The Good Wife often takes advantage of being set in Chicago. Last night, the CBS station in Chicago, WBBM-TV, promoted the fact that its anchor team will be reporting fictional election returns during tonight’s episode of the show.

“It’s Super Tuesday on The Good Wife,” the promo announces. “CBS2’s Rob [Johnson] and Kate [Sullivan] are calling the one Chicago race you won’t see anywhere else.” The promo shows the anchors reading real-sounding election results for Chicago-area townships and musing on air about repeating unsubstantiated reports.

The promo is very unusual, almost shocking,  because always been questionable from a journalism point of view whether news personnel should appear in entertainment shows. It’s one thing when a Brian Williams tells jokes on Saturday Night Live, but it’s another thing when news people, even TV anchors, lend their credibility to real looking newscasts covering events that are the figment of a screenwriter’s imagination.

In its promo, the WBBM anchors’ appearance is played as a lark, just another highlight in a successful primetime show.

The spot teases: “Will Peter Win? Will Alicia Stay? Tuesday night on The Good Wife, Will Rob Get more face time than Kate?” Is this really a concern around the newsroom? Did either of them get to have lunch with Julianna Margulies or Peter Noth? Enquiring minds want to know.

Wrapping up, the promo makes it clear that this primetime appearance is really a good reason to trust Rob and Kate to deliver the news. “Tuesday don’t miss Rob Johnson and Kate Sullivan’s special appearance on The Good Wife at 9 then stay tuned for their leading roles on CBS 2 news at 10,” it says.  That will be an especially tough trick for viewers who DVR the drama to do.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.