billy bush lochte

I know everybody in America is mad at Ryan Lochte. Rightly so. He’s a fool and solely responsible for the lies that spewed from his lips.

But I’m also annoyed by NBC’s coverage of the Rio Olympics.

You know the lines between journalism and entertainment are blurred when Billy Bush — a cousin to George W. Bush and a journalist one step above Mario Lopez — is, mouth agape, interviewing a visibly drunk Olympic athlete on live television and not probing on critical issues related to the story.

Like:

You know, Ryan Lochte, I hear you. You’ve been victimized. But it seems like you’re pretty hammered, right now. You sure you got this right?

Wait, a gun was pointed at your forehead? Can you tell me this story again from the beginning? What happened?

Hold on. Maybe we should turn the cameras off and get you some water. Clearly, you’re in no shape to be on TV, right now. You smell like urine and an alleyway. Also, this story makes no fudging sense. Can we get an intern on this?

But to expect Bill Bush to do journalism is to expect NBC to have standards on what they air on The Today Show, which we know is a joke.

We live in a weird era of broadcast news where an event happens, and television executives use their editorial discretion to let “newsworthy” people tell their stories without any fact-checking or corroboration. The cycle goes like this:

Publish. Review. Edit. Redact.

That’s a flow formerly reserved for bloggers, but which now applies to major newspapers and media outlets. It’s old news to report that being the first to break a false story is better than being the last to report a fair and accurate account of boring events; however, newsrooms are now allegedly run like corporations. NBC didn’t have to give Lochte a platform for his story. That was a judgment call, which is why I think Bill Bush and his cadre of producers bear some responsibility for opening the door to this mess.

And what’s worse is the sanctimonious way in which Matt Lauer and Al Roker have worked overtime to shame Lochte. I didn’t see one substantive report from NBC during the Olympics on how the Rio where the government continues to be in shambles, women and tourists are not always safe, and the beaches continue to be polluted with toxic viruses and waste. But Lochte? Oh my god, this is breaking news.

When NBC stops chasing ratings and starts chasing the truth between 7-9 AM ET, I’ll listen to Lauer and Roker wax poetic about the privilege and trustworthiness baked into our society. Until then, someone ought to put that whole Rio reporting team on a 90-day performance improvement plan.

So for all of you future journalists and storytellers out there, I’m appealing to the better angels of your nature. Just because you have a microphone or a camera doesn’t mean you have to use it when a random story drops in your lap like a gift from God. Just because someone famous says something doesn’t mean you need to cover it. And when a random story comes out of nowhere, you have permission to use your education and senses to seek out the truth.

You have a college degree and tens of thousands of dollars in debt. You might as well use your skills. As Trump says — what the hell do you have to lose?

4 Responses to Billy Bush & NBC Are to Blame for Lochte and His Lies
  1. Lisa

    Later Billy Bush used the word “embellished instead of lie” will never watch anything Billy Bush report as he has the white conspiracy theory with him. Down with billy bush….no caps…no respect.

  2. Vadim

    This blog post effectively encapsulates much of what this 14-page NY Mag articles said:

    nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/07/case-against-media.html

  3. Nathan

    This train wreck of an “interview” is the equivalent of of a local news affiliate going to a rural area after a tornado and shoving a mike in the face of the most redneck looking person they can find… hardly Pullitzer material. NBC continued to push this story at the expense of the competition, and was really par for the course given how embarrassing bad their coverage was starting with the Opening Ceremony, and even Costas facile interview of Raisman and Biles.

  4. Brian A. McDonald

    I agree with you that NBC just wants ratings as that’s the core of their business model. Ratings lead to ad sales. This story makes me mad on 2 counts. First as an American citizen I’m embarrassed at how he behaved. Not only in the poor judgement, lying but also leaving the country before he dealt with the Brazilian authorities.

    Secondly I’m angry as a former resident of Rio de Janeiro. I’ve seen first hand the poverty, crime and beauty of the city. With all the negative press leading up to the games, Rio and Brazil did a fantastic job hosting the Olympics. Lochte used the problems in Rio as an excuse to put the blame on the locals. Yes, there is crime in Rio, but there’s a boatload of crime in the US. Look at the murder rate in Chicago this year alone!

    Behavior like this reinforces the negative stereotypes on Americans as well as Brazilians. We don’t need that.