NBC's Williams Succumbs to His Inner Frat Boy

The news media are fascinated by sex, but one of the industry's leading lights apparently lacks the maturity to cover the topic.

NBC anchor Brian Williams couldn't help revealing his disbelief that people above the age of 50 could possibly enjoy sex. 

A new study released today about the sex lives of older Americans indicates people don't stop having sex just because they're aging.  The story made the front pages of USA Today and The Washington Post, and “everyone else mentions” it, according to Slate.   

NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News both featured segments about this study during their August 22 broadcasts, with sharply differing tones. 

Rather than having a mature, thoughtful discussion of the study and how, as phrased by USA Today, it “counter[s] …the stereotypes of older people as either asexual or 'dirty old men,'” NBC anchor Brian Williams chose to channel his inner frat boy.

Sprinkled throughout NBC's segment were comments such as “Get ready for this one,” as if the idea of seniors having sex belongs in Ripley's Believe It or Not, and “the results of this survey may give new meaning to the term 'the greatest generation.'”  Williams ended the segment by saying, “even better reason to call ahead before dropping in on the grandparents.” 

In contrast to NBC's coverage, which better belonged on Saturday Night Live's “Weekend Update,” CBS Evening News used the study to focus on the love life of Bill and Evelyn, a couple who has been married for 63 years. 

CBS Medical Correspondent Jon LaPook asked the couple questions about their love life, which revealed, among other details, that they “still turn each other on.”  And while the questions were intimate, they weren't used as a source of humor.  They informed viewers what older couples, in particular couples who have been together for decades, may have to do to enjoy a vibrant love life.

 LaPook ended the segment with “Evelyn and Bill know they're lucky to have each other and they'll keep banking on a strong love life and a song in their heart,” before showing Bill sweetly singing a line from a love song to his bride of 63 years. 

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the MediaResearchCenter.