NBC “Today” show choice more troubling than Williams flap

The NBC television network and its news department are under scrutiny after Brian Williams, anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” recanted a story he has told for years about being on a helicopter in Iraq that was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. As his credibility came under question, last Saturday Williams announced he was taking himself off the air. NBC launched an inquiry, and then announced Williams would be off the air for six months.

However the Williams situation is eventually resolved, there was another decision by NBC that troubles us on a deeper level.

Last week their morning show, “Today,” turned into a promotional vehicle for the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Teasers throughout each day’s program — which airs as families are getting ready to head out for work and school — promised a new, never-before-seen clip from the steamy movie. It all led up to some “Today” staffers attending and reporting from the movie’s New York premiere last Friday.

Here’s what two Catholic bishops have to say about the movie, set for general release on Valentine’s Day weekend.

Bishop Richard J. Malone, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, says that while the book and film “are marketed as a romantic story,” it is really nothing more than a “graphic portrayal of a young woman agreeing to be abused and degraded in a sexual relationship.”

Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Cincinnati has joined with the Religious Alliance Against Pornography in condemning the movie. “The story line is presented as a romance, however, the underlying theme is that bondage, domination, and sadomasochism [BDSM] are normal and pleasurable.”

The bad judgment of an individual may cost Brian Williams his anchor job. But the bad judgment of the many involved in the “Today” programming should cause loyal Catholic followers of the beloved morning show to weigh their morning choice, and perhaps cost the network some viewers. — Thomas J. Dermody

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