WaPo: NBC Whitewashing Olympics For Primetime

NBC has pushed controversies "to the margins"

NBC is sacrificing journalistic integrity for higher viewership according to an article in the Washington Post Friday. The network, already criticized for its airing of tape delayed events during the prime time telecasts, has also refused to air other stories at a time when viewership is the highest:

NBC hasn’t entirely ignored the non-athletic events and issues surrounding these controversial Olympics, from the widely reported concerns about terrorism to cost overruns, corruption, worker exploitation, shabby hotels, problematic weather, suppression of political dissent and other bummer topics. But it has pushed them to the margins, usually out of prime-time and into late-night hours, where the audience is smaller and the downer talk doesn’t distract from the glossy main event.

When NBC has allowed geopolitical topics to be discussed, the article finds that the themes have been particularly flattering to the host country, Russia:

The most hard-nosed analysis that NBC has offered may have come the night before the Opening Ceremony. In a conversation with host Bob Costas, New Yorker magazine editor David Remnick, hired as an analyst by NBC, opined that the Games represented an opportunity for Russian President Vladi­mir Putin to “reassert Russia on the world’s stage.”

He added, “Remember, he’s an autocrat; he’s no democrat. He has no interest in LGBT issues or human rights, all the things that are being discussed. And he doesn’t care that you care that much.”

Fellow analyst Vladimir Pozner, a former Soviet propagandist, noted in the same interview that Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law would have “zero, no effect at all” on visitors, athletes or the conduct of the games. But Pozner also said, “This is a very homophobic country. I would guess that 85 percent of the population are really, really anti-gay. I mean it can be physical. [Gay Russians] are in a very difficult situation.”

And while NBC presents its Russian infomercial, others back home have taken notice, and been highly critical:

Costas’s set-up piece for that discussion — in which he noted Putin’s role in averting a U.S. military strike against Syria last year and in nudging Iran toward negotiations over its nuclear intentions — was blasted by conservatives as overly friendly. “Bob Costas ought to stick to sports,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told Fox News, “because he obviously didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.”...

Since then, not much. NBC, which paid $775 million to the International Olympic Committee for the U.S. rights to the games, has steered clear of controversy by largely avoiding potentially touchy subjects.