NBC “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams was in Los Angeles this weekend for the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour along with his boss, NBC News president Steve Capus and “Meet the Press” moderator David Gregory.
Capus was asked about whether NBC News practiced checkbook journalism in the wake of the David Goldman story.
“Well, it’s not checkbook journalism,” said Capus. “I mean, my definition of that would be that you’re outright paying for an interview, and we don’t do that. There isn’t a morning that goes by on one of these morning shows where somebody isn’t flown to New York to make an appearance on one of the three network morning shows and that really is — this falls into the same category as that.”
Williams, who was also on the soon to disappear 10pm “Jay Leno Show” Friday night, joked about the new makeup of the network evening news:
QUESTION: Do you think we’ll see a day when more than one of the network news anchors is male?
BRIAN WILLIAMS: I’ve told my son that I hope he sees such a thing in his lifetime.
Williams also talked about the “shift in American culture.”
“A lot of it has to do with the engine of self,” says Williams. “Kind of the empowerment of self, the rise of the allowable narcissism, the rise of the first person in our conversation and our media, and I think that’s been a sea change. I think we’re a more boisterous nation. I think our public communications have become more coarse,”
Gregory was asked about whether the Obama administration has been more or less difficult than the one he covered as chief White House correspondent:
You have to remember that White Houses are doing what’s in their interest, and that doesn’t always mesh with what we’re trying to do. You happen to have in this current administration a conscious decision made for this President to be a lot more ubiquitous than his predecessors have been in terms of his appearances. So we’re all going to compete for that. And I really don’t think there’s a tremendous difference. I think White Houses administrations have varying levels of their inclination toward engaging the media and sort of strategy and it’s protective in a way and in their own interest, and it always creates some tension.