Diss and Dat*

Dec 4, 2006  •  Post A Comment

*Was the Week Dat Was Fraught With Contradictions, Questions and Complaints

NBC News set off a pontifical tsunami by announcing it will call what’s going on in Iraq a “civil war.” But no alarms were set off when, in a taped piece on the same “Today” show, the word “goddamn” was uttered by a woman being profiled.

The Insider is known widely (literally and figuratively) as a coarse old salt and was not offended by the utterance, which was discussed internally before it was allowed to make air. It seemed suited to the mood and outlook of the woman, a colorful artist who paints portraits of soldiers she doesn’t know who are killed in Iraq and sends the art to their parents.

Still, it was a surprise to hear a word that still reeks of taboo spoken on TV. But a “Today” spokesperson said there were no complaints lodged.

As for the humma-humma set off by “civil war,” The Insider-not that even her most faithful readers care-agrees with NBC News’ decision. But she understands the political ramifications of the new label, and thinks NBC News’ profession of surprise at the reaction is just a wee bit coy. Ditto the surprise when asked why flagship anchor Brian Williams was not the one who enunciated the policy change. The Insider thinks the world of Matt Lauer, who explained the decision to “Today” viewers near the top of the Nov. 20 show, but he’s not the NBC News flag bearer. If the explanation had to be given while Monday morning was still coming down for many viewers, why not let Mr. Williams do it in a casual discussion segment on “Today”?

By the way: The official word is that NBC Universal Chairman and CEO Bob Wright was informed only after the decision was made by a network group that topped out with NBC Universal Television Group CEO Jeff Zucker and that Mr. Wright was very “supportive” of the decision. So if you were among those who heard the rumor that Mr. W. was upset at being excluded from the process or the rumor that Mr. W. himself made the decision (counterintuitive, to say the least, in light of his conservative bent), now you know that neither rumor was right.

New Yorkers know there’s a full gridlock alert for the day the Christmas tree is lighted at Rockefeller Plaza. New Yorkers go underground to subways to escape the traffic jams and the crowded sidewalks. So how did “Good Morning America” kick off the nightmare of a traffic day last Wednesday? By blocking half of the lanes in Times Square to park and rev and jump in and out of NASCAR vehicles, that’s how, and bringing peak morning rush traffic in and round the “crossroads of the world” to a complete !#$%^& standstill, that’s how.

And now for something completely different and thoroughly unappetizing: If there’s anything more annoying than commercials in which people talk with their mouths full, or crunch their cereal loudly, it’s food commercials that summon up the most unsavory images with their theme music. Yes, The Insider’s talking about Sara Lee’s fall campaign for “The Joy of Eating,” which features “Happy Happy Joy Joy,” the best-known song from the “Ren & Stimpy” cartoons. Many bloggers have whined about the commercial selling-out of “R&S.” But doesn’t anybody remember the many ways in which Stimpy the uncouth cat-not that Ren the Chihuahua was any prize to take home to anyone’s mother-demonstrated his fondness for kitty litter? The Insider will never be able to look at a Sara Lee product without thinking about Stimpy munching litter off-stage and tossing litter clumps at Ren. No. Thank. You.