This past year saw the death of legendary sports broadcaster Jim McKay.McKay made his mark in history when he anchored the round-the-clockcoverage of the killings of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorist group Black September at the 1972 Munich Olympics. At the time no one said, "Why is Jim McKay doing this? He”s a sports guy!" McKay, a man of considerable gravitas, made it all seem seamless. One can only wonder what McKay would think of NBC’s coverage of this year’s games. My "what would McKay think" moment happened not when I was watching the Olympics, but during a recent edition of the NBC Nightly News.
A story appeared about a reporter’s search for a woman who had been"disappeared" by the Chinese police. Her crime was to protest thebulldozing of her home to make way for Olympic facilities. She was oneof as many as two million who saw their homes destroyed. The reportersearched and searched for this woman, and came up empty. They don’t callit "disappearing somebody" for nothing.
If her "crime" in this scenario, was non existent, and the crime of theChinese police is horrifying–then what of the crimes of NBC? Why take astory like this and outsource it to the news department while the sportscommentators present a picture-perfect Western fantasy of Chinese growth and profit potential? This story should have been integrated into the coverage of the Olympics, so the world could know the price paid by the poorest members of Chinese society–a price of course paid through extreme coercion.
Of course we know why NBC sports has been more pliant than the USwrestling team. GE is underwriting the games, telling us incessantly howthey bring good things to life–like the latest in surveillance equipment, which is being put to good use right now in Beijing. That’s GE for you, great with "the things." But people? Not so much.