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The horror, the horror

Keep reminding yourself that we live in the nation's 5th largest television market.

Then brace yourself for what NBC5 deemed to be the most important local story of the day on Wednesday's 10 p.m. newscast.

Anchor Jane McGarry primed the pump, repeatedly teasing viewers during prime-time commercial breaks with, "Shoppers spooked at Wal-Mart. Why they're mad."

Wow, there must have been a horrific Texas chainsaw massacre there or something. Good ol' Wal-Mart. Always good for a dark, desolate NBC5 live shot.

NBC5 then led its late night newscast with the supposedly gory details after McGarry trilled, "Wal-Mart shoppers angry and disturbed."

Actually it was just a lone mother of three little girls who objected to a semi-scary Halloween display at a Hurst Wal-Mart.

Longtime night ranger Scott Gordon, who looks like he really needs a long rest from all this, told viewers that "what they saw right inside the front door left them with nightmares."

Actually, supposedly traumatized Gracie, 4, mostly giggled or vamped for the camera during Gordon's story. And the 20-month-old girl, nestled in her mother's arms, looked blissfully at ease. But no, this is no laughing matter.

"Now she says her daughters are having nightmares and can't sleep alone," Gordon said of the offended mother.

Wal-Mart officials responded by moving the decorations to the Hurst store's Halloween section. Seemingly prompted by Gordon, the mother said, "I'm happy. Yes, yes, yes, this is good."

No, this is really a very bad use of the public airwaves. But NBC5 lately is on a downhill slide in the ratings, so even its usual low standards for news seem to be getting a further downshift. Really, though, what more can we expect?