At first read, the dramatic Gawker headline was downright laughable: “NBC News to Axe Chuck Scarborough and Paul Moyer?” Uh… Sure. Just go ahead and kill the last shred of respectability at WNBC in the name of saving Chuck’s reported three million beans a year. The very idea that “content center” suits would make such an astonishingly stupid move seemed simply beyond the realm of believability.
Right? I mean, we’re talking NBC here.
For the record, WNBC shot down the Gawker post this way: “It is not true. He is not being bought out. Chuck is a big part of our station.” And he is. He IS the station. Watching WNBC on a recent JetBlue flight, I thought to myself, my God, without Chuck this would be absolutely unwatchable. Suave Chuck with his unflappable delivery and that oh so familiar, comforting voice somehow performs magic every day for Channel 4: he makes it seem like the same old WNBC.
Take Chuck out of the equation and what’s left?
Could NBC even float that in the wildest of brainstorming sessions?
And then I realized sure they could. Of course they could. Why wouldn’t they?
This is the same station that, in the name of cost-cutting and creating a new kind of multiplatform content delivery machine killed off just about every name reporter they had; it was like the Yankees, in a fit of cost-cutting to pay for their new stadium, had gone into the dugout and started firing their best players…suddenly fielding a team of up-from-the-minors nobodys. The Yankees hoping to fill seats on the familiar name, the pinstripes, and Derek Jeter. And yet that’s been the blueprint at WNBC.
But fire Jeter? Chuck is Derek Jeter at WNBC. Gawker reports: “It used to be that, in local news at least, the anchor meant everything and was worth outsize salaries some of them have commanded in major markets. If Scarborough and Moyer, both of whom are giants in the business, get axed, it means that ‘NBC is essentially getting out of the local news business,’ one NBC source says.”
If only the managers at NBC were as reliable and focused on truly fielding a winning team as the Yankees. Because you know there’s really no chance anybody’s been brainstorming about saving a few bucks by offloading Derek Jeter. But then again, the Yankees still perform. They still sell out at home. And, most important, they have money.
Lots and lots of money.