This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's 10 p.m. newscasts (Fri., Nov. 17)
11/20/06 03:56 PM
By ED BARK
Sometimes a generally respectable newscast gives in to its evil twin. Or maybe young CBS11 reporters Joel Thomas and Jack Fink thought they were freelancing for Geraldo At Large on Night 12 of the ongoing November "sweeps."
How else to explain Thomas' Friday night report on the "Lake Worth monster," a half-man, half-goat that supposedly terrorized mere mortals back in the summer of '69? Meanwhile, Fink now has egg on his face after leading the previous night's 10 p.m. newscast with an unidentified mother's allegation that a bottle of Yoo Hoo soft drink had a human appendage in it. She had already hired an attorney, of course.
Thomas dredged up an old, tongue-in-check news story from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which otherwise has an on-air partnership with the more reliably tabloid-ish NBC5. He talked to a couple of locals who played along with the notion that a giant, hairy monster terrorized an earlier generation's beer drinkers and makeout artists.
Congenial Wayne Clark of the Fort Worth Nature Center took the intrepid correspondent on a traipse through the monster's old stomping grounds. Legend has it that goat/man once threw a tire at young revelers from more than 300 feet away. Or as Barbara Walters would say, "Wheely?!"
"Some say it was a surly neighbor tired of the parties," Thomas told viewers. He then wound up his report at the spot "where it all happened." A doubting Thomas he's not. This one probably will resurface as part of the station's Christmas party gag reel.
Earlier in Friday's newscast, CBS11 lamely acknowledged that Fink's "Mystery in a Bottle" story basically had come up empty. The station topped Thursday's show with what anchor Karen Borta teased as a "bizarre case in the town of Pantego." Her running mate, Tracy Rowlett, then warned viewers that some of the images in Fink's story could be "disturbing."
More troubling was CBS11's decision to make this its lead story rather than wait for police to complete their tests on exactly what was floating atop a Yoo Hoo chocolate drink. It was gross, all right, but looked more like a badly decomposed fried egg than a body part.
Fink quoted a Yoo Hoo spokesman who told him mold can form inside a bottle if there's a leak in the cap seal. That wouldn't be much of a big breaking news story. In fact it wouldn't be a story at all. So Fink and CBS11 downplayed that very real possibility. Alas, that's what the "mysterious object" turned out to be, police tests confirmed Friday. So yes, CBS11 was alone in breaking the mold, but that's about it.
Over on NBC5, anchor Mike Snyder initially bumbled his way through another of the station's stolen purse stories. He should have this particular lingo down by now. The station has brought viewers news of purse thievery or just plain "dirty purses" on six of its 12 "sweeps" newscasts so far. But big Mike was still slow on the draw. As in: "Police say a purse thief, or theft. Thief. It is thief, that's right, Mike."
An earlier story also put purses in play. Mistress of the dark Susan Risdon had another of her mean streets tales, this one about crooks who copy down gift card numbers in hopes of using them online.
"Well, Jane," she told anchor Jane McGarry in her preamble, "we always tell you to watch your purses and wallets during this holiday season."
Boy, do they ever. So much so that frustrated citizen Nikki Harris seemed to be reading a script when she lamented, "Watch your wallets, watch your credit cards, and now you have to watch your gift cards. It's getting ridiculous."
NBC5 otherwise has a fixation with Wal-Mart, which has made cameo appearances on eight of the 12 sweeps newscasts. Usually it's a short burst on what the retail giant is doing to save you money. On Friday, anchor McGarry alerted viewers to check out Wal-Mart's Web site on Thanksgiving for some unspecified "great deals." Smacks of product placement, but you make the call.
Nothing particularly good or bad stood out on Fox4 or Belo8 Friday night. Sometimes it can be better that way.