NBC’s coverage of yesterday’s London 2012 Olympics was so bad Twitter gave it its own hashtag: #ShutUpMattLauer. Actually, two: #NBCFail was the other. The Matt Lauer – Meredith Viera tag team commentary was worse than their Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade performances. Apparently, NBC thinks American audiences are both stupid and so USA-centric we wouldn’t have been interested to watch Danny Boyle’s special tribute to the victims of the 2005 London Bombing, known as 7/7.
So, here is what NBC cut and in its place ran an interview with Olympian Michael Phelps. Don’t blame Phelps — blame NBC for reinvigorating the meme of “ugly American.”
Deadspin calls Boyle’s tribute “a downtempo performance of adoptive sporting anthem ‘Abide With Me’ by Scottish singer Emeli Sandé. The song and accompanying dance were a tribute to the victims of the 7/7 terror attacks in London that claimed 52 victims days after the 2012 Summer Olympic hosts were named.”
The U.K.’s Guardian notes:
“Tim Berners-Lee? Who’s that? Madagascar? Oh, like the kids movie! If you’re going to make us wait hours to watch the ceremony live, NBC, the least you could have done is keep quiet.”
As the Olympic torch was lit in London at the end of a three-and-a-half-hour ceremony live blogged and tweeted across the globe, NBC finally began to broadcast the show – to Americans on the east coast (west coast viewers had to wait another three hours for their turn).
Commentators Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira reunited for the cameras as if it was Beijing 2008 – or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or just a regular morning in 2011.
Theirs was the job of interpreting, explaining and trampling all over Danny Boyle’s fast-paced, high-def presentation of Great Britain from the time of maypoles and hay bales to the current day.
Meanwhile the arrival of Saudi Arabia’s first female athletes never made it onto American television nor did a memorial package displayed in the stadium on big screens.
Instead, as a taste of what we can expect in the days and weeks to come, NBC interrupted exciting and emotional television for a static Ryan Seacrest studio interview with Michael Phelps.
By the end of the night three and a half hours of live action had become four and a half hours of tedium and #nbcfail was trending on Twitter. It was an award rightly earned.
The Huffington Post notes that NBC “was heavily criticized for not airing the extravaganza live on Friday afternoon and instead waiting until primetime. Thousands took to Twitter and other online platforms to express their displeasure.”
But NBC’s Olympic-sized headache didn’t end there. The network’s tape-delayed broadcast of the London opener was criticized for being insensitive, heavy-handed and just plain annoying.
There was also a particularly cringe-worthy moment when Lauer and Viera blew off a tribute to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man widely considered to be the inventor of the world wide web.
“If you haven’t heard of him, we haven’t either,” Viera said.
“Google him,” Matt added moments later.
Jillian C. York, Director of International Freedom of Expression, put together a great Storify story, which for some technical reason is refusing to display above in some browsers. You can see it here.
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