“Where were you,” future generations will ask, “when NBC’s Today lost its ever-lovin’ mind?”
At 8:46am on September 11 (in midtown Manhattan, no less) NBC’s long-time morning talk leader Today took a very avant garde approach to a nationwide moment of silence honoring lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001. No silence. Just a moment…with Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner.
Insult to injury? Jenner discussed her breast implants.
Let’s dissect the decision to air a Kris Jenner interview-turned-almost-PSA-why-do-I-care-about-your-boobs. Did NBC assume most affiliates would cut away from Jenner to the coverage? Maybe.
Did NBC News ignore the September 11 milestone? No. Might some suggest that the length or showiness of your grieving ritual is, um, not the point? Sure. BUT there is no universe in which this was a smart move by NBC or Today, which is struggling in the ratings for the first time in nearly two decades.
And that is why I choose September 12 to hatch a brand new conspiracy theory: this wasn’t a smart move, but it couldn’t have been an accidental one. You don’t stay on or near the top of the Morning Show Ratings Universe by being blithering idiots.
NBC did this on purpose: they’ve slid in the ratings, sure…at NBC, proper. But Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which airs on the NBC/Universal-owned E! network, is doing pretty well. It’s Sunday night outing bested even the realest of Housewives. And I’d bet NBC/Universal wants to keep it that way. The E! brand is so steeped in Kris Jenner and her children, it is one Kardashian away from being declared an Armenian provence.
So why drop Kris Jenner into the center of one more PR firestorm, this one attached to something more emotional and volatile than short marriages or sex tapes or returned wedding gifts? Because the entire Kardashian empire survives on loathing. People watch them because we love to hate them. And NBC–with Kris Jenner’s consent or without it (because what detail-obsessed mom-ager *wouldn’t* overlook a plan to air her boob interview on September 11th)–put a big bullseye of national disgust on the Kardashians’ collective backs. It scored the K clan attention and guaranteed that the tagline, “star of several E! reality shows” will be attached to the most covered event of the day in the western world.
Psssssssst! NBC and E! suits: I think this is one of those things people will never forget.