Vox’s Issue With NBC’s Olympics Coverage? Too Pro-American, Too Many White Athletes

Posted on Tue 08/16/2016 by


CurtisHouckpicture-358-1467145240By Curtis Houck ~

On Friday, the far-left site Vox was on display in trying to ruin the Olympics viewing experience as writer Todd VanDerWerff ruined his otherwise reasonable complaints about NBC’s tape-delayed coverage with short, pathetic riffs about the country’s Olympic broadcaster focusing too much on Team USA, no foreign journalist on the broadcast team for the opening ceremony, and claims that black athletes like Gabby Douglas have been ignored.

rio_2016_nbc_logoVanDerWerff began by appropriately blasting gymnastics announcer Al Trautwig for his tone deafness in claiming that gold medalist Simone Biles’s parents were not actually her parents because they’re not her biological ones (since she was adopted by her biological grandparents).

Somehow, VanDerWerff used this as a springboard (pun intended) to claim that “it’s a minor symptom of a much, much larger offense” by NBC in how it covers the Olympic Games with slews of tape-delayed action and fluffy interviews ranging from the Opening Ceremonies to gymnastics in order to maximize commercials and make it a social event instead of a sporting one.

He continued with solid points about tape-delays being an insult to viewers in the social media age, but the rails soon flew off with complaints about too much focus on, you know, the country that NBC has the rights to show the Olympics in and the falsehood that it’s too white-centric:

NBC continues to value American success stories over almost anything else (to the degree that not a second of the men’s gymnastics team finals aired in primetime, since the US didn’t medal). Frequently, the only non-Americans we see compete in events like gymnastics are those who have direct bearing on NBC’s US-centric narrative.

And the network continues, above all else, to suggest that the Olympic stories that matter most are the ones that offer up a wholesome, usually white face of Middle America — even when reality gets in the way.

The checkboxes of liberal grievances continued as VanDerWerff ignored the well-earned coverage given to African-American athletes like Allyson Felix, Simone Manuel, or Gabby Douglas when he claimed that Douglas was essentially ignored by NBC in favor of Jordyn Wieber (even though she was legitimately considered a gold medal favorite):

Perhaps the best example of NBC’s narrow and stale approach to Olympic storytelling is what happened in 2012, when NBC clearly bet everything it had on gymnast Jordyn Wieber. Wieber was a Michigan native, and the kind of spunky white teenager American audiences had warmed to in the past. Heading into the games, she was considered the favorite for an all-around gold medal.

But when Wieber narrowly missed qualifying for the all-around finals and the gold medal was eventually awarded to one of her teammates, Gabby Douglas — the first black woman to win the all-around gold — NBC didn’t pivot. Its narrative continued to focus on Wieber far more than Douglas, as if the network had already produced a huge number of Wieber-related packages that it still felt obligated to air.

He completely missed the point here as well considering the fact that it was Douglas (not Wieber) who fetched cereal box covers, books, droves of endorsements, and even a TV movie about her life.

Even if this Vox writer was somewhat correct, the idea to continue focusing on Wieber into the team event mattered from a sports perspective because she had a chance to redeem herself by helping the team to gold.

With country, gender, and race already fretted over, VanDerWerff concluded by wallowing over the lack of what he felt was media bias on the part of NBC not having “one of the network’s foreign affairs correspondents” provide “balance” in the opening ceremonies broadcast alongside Today’s Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira , and Hoda Kotb.

“Instead, the three chattered inanely about the various countries’ delegations, made jokes about Djibouti, and breathlessly hyped the arrival of Team USA. Sure, harmless nationalism is a big part of watching the games, but NBC sometimes seems to think it’s the only part..But the whole enterprise has all the homey, forced folksiness of a Ronald Reagan campaign ad — except Reagan actually believed in what he was selling,” he bemoaned.

Curtis Houck is  the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center.

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