I, like millions of others watched in awe at the absolutely amazing opening ceremony of the London Olympics this past friday night. I am will freely admit am not a great writer but this wonderful piece caught my eye and I think is only worthy of saying what we all want to say – By John Robb at louderthanwar.com
However, as a Brit transplanted into the US we watched the coverage on NBC – nothing special there really – at least there shouldn’t have been. It was only later that this came to light – that NBC had decided an interview with Michael Phelps was ‘more of interest’ than a tribute to the people who were murdered on 7/7 by Al Qaeda in London – see the Daily Mail their piece on this (apologies for that particular source but theirs is the most populous article on this).
Sorry let me just repeat that – A dull interview with one of their competitors was far more of interest to US audiences than a moving tribute to the 52 people killed in multiple terrorist attacks in London in 2005. 52 innocent people who died due to an act of terrorism don’t make good airtime. Unless of course they were Americans in which case I am sure NBC would greatly analyze a 2 minute segment with further commentary and specials – perhaps rightly in the interest of their main audience – but not at this time.
I don’t mean to mock any tribute to victims of such awful atrocities – no matter what their nationality. I stood silently in tribute when so many people lost their lives on that horrible day in September 2011 as did millions all around the world. We continue to remember that day not just every year, but daily – especially now living in NY we are constantly (and rightly) reminded of the terrible crime that was committed that day that changed all of our lives. The United Kingdom were first to stand up and support the US’s often controversial military actions after that day. We didn’t question anything – our armed forces reacted and stood alongside the US troops. Further to that many ordinary citizens around the world donated money to the support funds to help out where they could. The world stood by the USA on that day and continue to mark that day as you do.
After that other atrocities in the name of terrorism continued – Madrid’s train bombing, attacks in Istanbul, Egypt, The Philippines, Algiers, Denmark as well as countless continuing attacks in Iraq all at the hands of Al Qaeda. And of course the attacks to a city I know and love – London. I remember that day in 2005 – the first reports of possible explosions in tube stations I used so regularly – the initial lack of panic as it was thought to be something trivial. Then the second report of an incident and the escalation. Then the bus exploding – the pictures of the blood all over that building. The realization and the panic that London was now on that horrible list. And the pictures of the victims everywhere – the injured, the dead – it all brought it back from just 4 years before.
I know full well that America rallied behind the UK that day just as we did – arms across the ocean, best of friends and so on. And I know that the majority of America if they knew NBC’s decision would be as outraged as I am. This is an absolute insult – if the games had been in the US and a tribute a part of any such ceremony – no matter where that was in the world no one would ever consider such an atrocious act of insensitivity, ignorance and disregard for the memory or feelings of the people of that country. It is beyond appalling that they should even treat their response so glibly with Greg Hughes – the spokesman for NBC – stating so nonchalantly “our programming is tailored for the U.S. audience. It’s a tribute to (opening ceremony producer) Danny Boyle that it required so little editing.”.
And as if proof be needed of their dedication to the US audience, the subsequent coverage has been so grossly in favour of Team USA that it is laughable. Don’t get me wrong – a national broadcaster should have a bias for their target audience – but in a country with so many people of foreign nationalities and ancestry living here I would have thought some deviation from the All-American team be available – however all team sports broadcast are only including Team USA and Individual events again have a heavy bias on home efforts. Gold winning brilliance if not by the USA is given a fleeting glance whilst silver medal results are exalted and covered like they were world record winning performances the likes of which we have never seen before. Do NBC not realize this is a global competition?
Did I also mention their coverage of the athlete’s arrivals? I swear the commentators were armed only by a copy of the CIA handbook for guidance on the countries as they came out onto the track. I’m sure it’s far more important to hear about the political land disputes certain islands have had than their sporting achievements. And let us not forget Bob Costas’ controversial personal agenda against the IOC. And incidentally, would it not kill NBC if they must have commentators to at least learn to pronounce countries names properly? ‘Eurogway’ is not to my knowledge how you pronounce that proud South American nation participating.
If NBC need to edit for advertisements and interviews (and remember this was not live but a 3 and a half hour delay after the event – which brings me to why not live?) they should at least have the common courtesy to be sensitive to their countries allies. They should remember this is a world event and not a chance to blanket cover every moment the US participates like it is of complete global importance. And they should forget that the ‘N’ in NBC stands for ‘National’ – if that is your total agenda then the IOC need to immediately revoke your broadcast rights to this wonderful competition.
The Olympics has always been a chance for the world to compete together in peace and harmony – a chance for sport and competition where politics are firmly left at the door. It is not for NBC to use as yet another excuse to show America as being so great and the rest of the world so apparently inferior – including those supposedly of your nearest and dearest. I appreciate the need for US interest in their home team but honestly at the expense of the memory of those who were killed ? That is beyond disgusting – words fail me of how low you sank. For shame, NBC – for shame.