Brian the finale.

If for some reason you have not received any of the earlier eight parts of this maxi-series – which appears to be going on as long as the case of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce in Dickens’ “Bleak House”-- blame it on the Chinese. Experts say the problem may be a case of disturbed denial of service attack (DDos) from overseas computers. “There’s no way to confirm that the Chinese military are doing the attacks,” one expert says. “It was just theorized by some of web analysis folks.” The nuisance traffic comes from “bots” all around the globe and is untraceable, if you know what they mean. The good news is “Brian the Mediocre” is always available 24/7 in its entirety at, the Chinese willing.

AND NOW … The end of Season 1

The Rise & Decline of Brian the Mediocre, Part IX

Good night, Chet
Good night, David
Good Night, Brian

Okay, let’s cut to the chase, as Charles Dickens used to say never.


Only 123 days left until Brian Williams’ six-month suspension without pay ends!

I don’t know how to tell you this, but Brian Williams will not be coming back to “NBC Nightly News” at the end of six months, or never. Which ever comes first?

It’s a no-brainer.

As you may recall, back in February, Brian’s veracity was questioned. His alleged crime, or crimes, was described in ye olden times, before the digital age, by Jimmy Cannon, the sports columnist, as “piping it in,” a loose translation meaning making it up as though you were there, a creative function in fictional non-fiction, fueled by a performance-enhancing substance like opium or ego.

And here’s why it’s here’s your hat, what’s your hurry, Brian?

Bringing Lyin’ Brian back to the “Nightly News” from the penalty box, or the sin bin, as they say in hockey, would open the can of worms the network tried to bury by contractually sealing his mouth. You can imagine the joy the print media will have regurgitating and rubbing NBC’s face in the mess. The ink-stained wretches of the press like nothing better than kicking a TV network or news division when it’s down— and the network evening news itself these days is in the terminal stage of dancing with the dinosaurs.

If the premise of the exercise was to make the Williams story seem something to wrap fish in, it was not that successful.

What’s the reason for keeping Brian in the sin bin, waiting for the punch line that only news junkies would care about, anyway?

NBC, they say, was waiting for the results of the Esposito Commission internal investigation, amassing evidence of alleged pipings.

After all, there were 11 years of newscasts to deconstruct.

What difference, you might well ask, does it make if there are two, six, 11 or 22 allegations of possible exaggeration, embellishment, lying, and other ways of not telling it like it is?

NBC News’ credibility was threatened, it was believed at 30 Rock.

At what point does the credibility factor kick in at the opium den that NBC News may have become under managing editor and star anchor Brian Williams? Are you allowed a certain number of embellishments before you are benched?

The real reason the final decision on Brian is being delayed, in my opinion, is because of the man the NBC brainiacs brought in to solve the Williams crisis.

Andy Lack, the new Chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, should know the problem. He is the one who handpicked Brian as the successor to the Tom Brokaw Chair of Nightly News at NBC.


In my years as the TV critic at Newsday, I had always been awed by Lack’s record of achievement in non-fiction news. His biggest hit as a producer at CBS News was a revolutionary magazine series called “West 57th” (1985-1989), hailed by CBS flacks as the most important contribution to civilization since sliced bread. It failed the first season. Under Lack’s command, it failed a second and third time. What I remember most about it was the credit crawl at the show’s end, enhanced by a shot of Lack reclining on a chaise longue, as in early Truman Capote book jacket cover photos.

Fast forward to Lack in 1996 when as the President and COO of NBC News and MSNBC he tackled the train wrecks at its cable networks. One of his bright ideas was the epiphany of making Brian anchor of the MSNBC prime time newscast. Brian turned out to be the Invisible Man of the Year.

Lack’s forte as an executive was discovering talent. His biggest coup at MSNBC was the awarding of a news talk show to Jesse Ventura. His credentials: he had been ex-governor of Minnesota and had appeared on WWF. What was he going to do, I wondered, wrestle Phil Donahue?

Lack left NBC blameless because his other specialty as an executive was blaming others, and next thing I knew he had emerged as the CEO and Chairman of Sony Music Entertainment.

As far as I was able to ascertain, Andy was not known to have ever bought a CD, although I was sure he had walked past Tower Records store on his way into NBC headquarters at 30 Rock. He also could hum.

Andy had arrived in the music business at a time when the hottest idea in management thinking was hiring chief executives who knew nothing about the business. Lack was more than qualified.


For amusement, from time to time, I had been following Lack’s meteoric rise from the newsroom at CBS in 1976 until he rejoined NBC in April as Chairman of NBC News and MSNBC. Still, I must say I was astonished at the latest turn in his career.

It certainly seemed ironic that the suits at NBC should turn to the man who knocked the legs off the table to put humpty dumpty together again.

At last report, Lack the Infallible is said to be wrestling with the problem of what to do with his protégé while restoring NBC News to its grandeur.


Okay, Mister Smart Guy media critic, if you were the Chairman of NBC News, what would you do now?

Lester Holt is a nice guy, and admired by his colleagues for his ability to stay at the news desk during crisis’s for the longest time without needing a bathroom break. He is beloved by his fans, as limited as they might be. Ratings are gradually eroding as “NBC Nightly News” fans gradually become aware that Brian is not “On Assignment.”

What I would do in this critical time in NBC News history is bring back Tom Brokaw.

A seventy something, Tom is still as young and vigorous as ever. He has been travelling the world as a famous author, always available to pontificate on national and world affairs on NBC‘s news programs.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch in Montana, he is finding schadenfreude only goes so far. He is gnashing his teeth at the troubles that never would have befallen the network if he were still on duty.

Would Tom come back after the way they humiliated him in 2003 by benching their ace in his prime? There is a maxim in broadcasting: throwing enough money at it can solve any problem.

As a member of the greatest generation, Tom, I’m sure, believes it was manifest destiny to finish his stint at the network of Huntley, Brinkley, Chancellor and others in the pantheon of “NBC Nightly News.” To paraphrase his hero, Gen. MacArthur, “Old anchors don’t die, they just fade away to black.”

As for Andy Lack, should he make a mistake following my advice, or of his own, not to worry. There are always higher mountains to climb—before you fall off.



Marvin Kitman
Executive Producer
The Marvin Kitman Show
May 4, 2015

Marvin Kitman is the author of “The Coward’s Almanac, or the Yellow Pages” [Doubleday & Co., 1975].