If you can disentangle Lester Holt’s intro to a recent story on NBC’s “Nightly News,” you’ll see that he regards the “Bermuda Triangle” as a real area that gobbles up ships and planes.
Really. Here’s what he said about the “Triangle”—an imaginary area stretching from Miami to Puerto Rico to Bermuda—on that intro of May 16:
“We turn now to a missing plane mystery in the Bermuda Triangle in the air and on the water, searching for four Americans, including two children, vanish [he might have said vanished; I couldn’t tell] since their aircraft disappeared now more than 24 hours ago.”
You could call Holt’s intro “176 characters in search of a writer.”
Disappeared “now more than 24 hours ago”?
And now twice in one sentence?
Besides, what Holt said doesn’t sound or read like English.
Yet, that’s what the man said, word for word. “In the air and on the water”? What happened in the air and on the water? And who was doing the searching that Holt mentioned?
Despite what Holt seemed to think, the Bermuda Triangle—like ghouls, goblins, and Bigfoot—is not a mystery; it’s a myth. Wouldn’t you expect a network anchor to treat it with disdain—or not treat it at all?
The NBC correspondent on the story, Kerry Sanders, knows that the Bermuda Triangle is a lot of hooey—and he said so. After Holt introduced the story, Sanders said at the end of his presentation: “The search falls [the search falls?] in the area of the fabled Bermuda Triangle, now discounted as myth. It was long believed in the Bermuda Triangle navigational instruments would not engage properly, leading to crashes and sinkings.” (Clearer: “It was long believed navigational instruments in the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ would not engage properly, leading to crashes and sinkings.”)
On May 2, I posted an article about the Bermuda Triangle, quoting Holt’s narration of a special about the Bermuda Triangle that was not at all special. In that broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy) in 2005, Holt said: “I believe this power that’s in the Triangle is just as evolutionary as electricity. Once we learn how to harness this energy, we’ll be able to travel to different stars….” The nearest star from Earth (aside from the sun) is 5.9 trillion miles away. Chances are, he’ll get no farther than Starbucks.
My May 2 article about the Bermuda Triangle can be found here.
The day after Lester Holt’s newscast last month, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” also ran a story about the plane missing in the so-called Bermuda Triangle. The program’s co-anchor, Robin Roberts, said a plane with four people aboard had disappeared in the ‘Triangle’. Then a correspondent, Gio Benitez, said, “This morning, a mystery over the Bermuda Triangle.…the plane vanishes [the word needed here is the past tense vanished] right over the infamous Bermuda Triangle.” Then he said, “Mysterious occurrences in the Bermuda Triangle, the subject of a 2009 documentary showing [showed] that 75 planes and hundreds of yachts have disappeared there without a trace.” I couldn’t find any such documentary, maybe because I’m not adept at searching the Internet. In any case, how could it be a documentary if it treats the so-called Triangle as real?
Next on the ABC story, someone described as a “Bermuda Triangle expert” said, “That is the mystery of the Triangle. Where do they all go?” A cynic might be tempted to reply, “They all go to network newsrooms.”
© Mervin Block 2017
Mervin Block is the author of Writing Broadcast News Shorter, Sharper, Stronger: A Professional Handbook.
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