By Alan Pergament
Over the years, local TV news viewers have learned that stations toss around the word "exclusive" far more easily than Donald Trump congratulates himself.
But Channel 4 made an "exclusive" claim Monday night that deserved a "Saturday Night Live" parody.
On an early newscast, the station proclaimed that it had an "exclusive" interview with Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly about his battle with cancer.
The claim was a head-scratcher since Kelly and his family have been available to all the local stations and any regular viewer of local news had to be aware of the coverage elsewhere.
Channel 2 anchor Scott Levin went to New York City over the weekend to interview Kelly from his hospital room. Channel 7 anchor Keith Radford was there over the weekend to interview Kelly.
Why would Channel 4 make the "exclusive" claim? Did it believe it could because no one else was in the room when reporter Ed Drantch interviewed Kelly as former Bills quarterback Frank Reich visited him over the weekend? (Full disclosure: That line was given to me by a friend).
Drantch's interview with Kelly over the weekend wasn't even the first one carried by Channel 4 since Kelly went to New York City for treatment. Western New York native Jeff Glor did the first interview with Kelly in New York City for "CBS This Morning" a week before Drantch interviewed the Hall of Famer.
The Madison Square Garden Network's Jill Martin also interviewed Kelly on Friday when he was at the New York Knicks game with the Washington Wizards.
The most interesting part of Martin's interview came at the start when she told Kelly how good he looked.
That was my first thought, too, before Kelly explained to Martin that looks can be deceiving when one is battling cancer and he probably shouldn't have been at the game.
Channel 4 was deceiving no one with its "exclusive" claim. It was just embarrassing itself.
Apparently, by the time its late news was ready to go someone over at the station realized that its claim was damaging its reputation.
At 11:45 p.m. -- when Channel 4's late news began after the end of the University of Connecticut's 60-54 victory over Kentucky for the NCAA men's basketball title -- the station droppped the word "exclusive" and said it had "a one-on-one interview" with Kelly.
Wise move. But too little too late from saving itself from embarrassment.
Speaking of the NCAA final, UConn's win had a strong 12.2 preliminary rating Monday night on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate. It peaked with a 15.4 rating at 11 p.m. when some viewers undoubtedly expected to see Channel 4's late news on time. The rating is expected to go up slightly when the lower rating for the post-game show is dropped. However, it is unlikely to match the 13.3 rating that Louisville's win over Michigan and its coach from Western New York, John Beilein, a year ago.
The move of the semifinals from CBS to TBS, TNT and truTV led to lower ratings here from a year ago.
UConn's win over Florida Saturday had a combined rating of 6.1 on all three Turner channels here, down from a 9.5 last year for Louisville's win over Wichita State on Channel 4.
Kentucky's win over Wisconsn Saturday had a combined rating of 8.1 rating, down from a 12.2 rating for Michigan's victory over Syracuse a year ago on Channel 4.
Of course, Syracuse and Michigan were bigger local draws than the teams playing this season.
The combined cable ratings were in the ballpark of Channel 4's ratings for the semifinals in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Finally, the commercial for Amazon Fire that features actor Gary Busey talking to plants and fish, ran again during Monday's championship game. Busey, whose bizarre reputation is legend, makes me laugh every time I see the ad. Busey is beyond embarrassment. I'm not so sure about Channel 4 News.
taggedSports | Sports on TV | Television | TV news