“Was it just me, or did the team of anchors seem to find some sort of insult or negative fact/statistic for every country that came through the parade, except for the USA? Seemed kind of low…although there is quite a bit of negative news for a lot of these countries, I think they should have focused on the positives of their Olympic teams, not their political/economical turmoil.” said The Verge reader jpeterman0004 in response to NBC’s broadcast of the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony in this article.
That seems to be the sentiment across the board for many viewers who were either fortunate enough to watch the BBC’s Live and unedited online stream earlier Friday afternoon or those who simply took notice of the nature of the comments from NBC’s Matt Lauer, Bob Costas and Meredith Vieyra during the U.S. retransmission later that evening.
There was so much history and significance behind the Brit’s interpretation of the opening ceremonies, that NBC failed to properly interpret this for its American viewers. Instead we heard comments like: “Quite frankly, none of these children look really sick to me.” from Meredith Vieyra. Did someone not tell her that the nurses in that performance were real nurses but that the children were actors and volunteers?
And inane comments to the tune of: “I don’t know whether that’s cute or creepy” from Matt Lauer, referring to the big baby going to sleep during the children’s literature segment, which featured the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).
At this point, the twitter universe began to circulate a “Shut up Matt Lauer” campaign. April Thompson tweeted, “The Olympics does bring people together! America is united in the opinion that Matt Lauer and Meredith Veiyra should shut up.”
To make matters worse, Meredith Vieyra said “One more thing I don’t understand…” of another performance during the opening ceremony. NBC should have done their homework and hired commentators that were actually knowledgeable about what was being presented, like the BBC did.
If any fellow American was lucky enough to have seen the BBC One’s coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony online, then you saw a spectacular event! The show was majestic in every way imaginable. Not only was the spectacle explained minimally, it was clear and concise and just enough to take in the magic and appreciate that which was being presented to the world.
During NBC’s delayed broadcast, their editing did not do it justice. Many of the comments from the anchors were unintelligent, ignorant and in bad taste. And to top it all off, the greatest segments of the event were omitted.
The Parade of Nations was narrowed to “highlights” due to time constraints which was understandable to a certain extent. But the commentary by NBC’s anchors were vicious and downright offensive.
During the parade of nations, Bob Costas insulted the now deceased “Dear Leader” of North Korea, Kim Jong Il, by stating “The clown nose must have been particularly difficult.” Referring to Kim Jong Il’s claim that he had scored 11 holes in one on his first golf game. And then dismissing the country altogether by stating “Not a country I would be visiting anytime soon.” Seriously, was that type of commentary really necessary? It did not have anything to do with the Olympics, so why insult a now deceased leader and its country?
Similar comments were made about Pakistan, Iran and a discussion regarding the Falkland Islands ongoing dispute between Great Britain and Argentina and the speculation behind Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s absence during the ceremony.
Twitter user, Imani, tweeted in disgust: “Oh good. Now they’re blaming Pakistani athletes for the a**holery of their government. KEEP IT CLASSY, NBC. #London2012”
In addition to that, the Memorial that paid tribute to the Victims of Terrorism was completely edited out of NBC’s broadcast, which you can watch here. It paid tribute to the 52 victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London, one day after the announcement that the city was to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.
This was disgraceful and shameful. We as Americans, who have also experienced the impact and sorrow of terrorist attacks, can identify with the grief and suffering that the British people experienced on that horrible day. So, what was NBC’s purpose in shielding its American viewers from watching the tribute?
Eileen tweeted: “The memorial edited out of the US (and canadian?) broadcast. Also, Emeli Sandé is amazing.”
Many viewers, who had watched the BBC Live broadcast feed earlier, were disgusted at the botchery that NBC presented its viewers. Deadspin.com reader racefortheprize commented on NBC’s broadcast:
“I did the same (my girlfriend’s parents hadn’t watched the BBC stream so I ended watching NBC too) and I couldn’t believe how bad they butchered it. The ambient noise of the crowd, the music and the live performances made what the BBC aired engrossing. NBC with Costas and Lauer so concerned about talking every moment to death ruined it. It was the height of condescension at times. Like when they talked over a song to give us facts about the performance and tell us how good it sounded, but wouldn’t actually let us listen ourselves.”
And The Verge reader, sideshowscott says: “The BBC stream was so much better than the NBC one. I didn’t have to listen to inane commentary throughout it.”
In an era of on-demand online streaming, did NBC seriously think they could get away with it? The significance of the Olympics is about comradeship and not about tearing the reputation of each country apart, which is exactly what NBC commentators did.