NBC Nightly News stood out on Wednesday as the only Big Three morning or evening newscast to notice the 45th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, the mission that landed the first men on the Moon. During his 41-second news brief, Brian Williams paid tribute to Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins as "the living embodiment of the right stuff."
Williams also pointed out that "Apollo 11 was the culmination of the space race – a dead sprint against the Russians for a decade, who, these days, ironically, offer the only ride to space for our American astronauts." However, the anchor did not go into the detail about the decisions by President Obama and his predecessor that led to the U.S. not currently having a manned spaceflight program.
Instead of marking the historical anniversary, CBS Evening News set aside an entire segment to the death of comic book character Archie Andrews, while ABC's World News aired a full report to the allegation that police officers in a Louisiana town were paid extra for writing traffic tickets.
The transcript of Brian Williams's news brief from Wednesday's NBC Nightly News:
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1 (from Apollo 11 launch transmission): Three, two, one, zero – all engine running. Liftoff!
BRIAN WILLIAMS (voice-over): Where were you? That was 45 years ago tonight. Three men lifted off from a Florida launchpad on a mission to the moon that had no guarantee of success or their own survival. They were the living embodiment of the right stuff. Apollo 11 was the culmination of the space race – a dead sprint against the Russians for a decade, who, these days, ironically, offer the only ride to space for our American astronauts. Of the original three Apollo 11 astronauts, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins survive. Neil Armstrong died two years ago this summer.