The video begins — the 17-minute-and-18-second version that’s posted on YouTube, anyway — with a medium close-up of a carnival barker carnival-barking at a group of gawkers outside of a freak show. The tape is blurry but the metaphor is clear to the point of obviousness. And yet Edwin Newman, the unflappable veteran reporter carved out of hickory and tweed who has been dispatched by NBC News to get to the bottom of this evening’s investigation, isn’t afraid to underline it several times. He alludes to P.T. Barnum and the suckers who are born every 60 seconds. He warns against a “vast machinery of hype” threatening to sucker the suckers of today — which in the video is 1977 — into mindless oblivion. Even by the murderously lax standards of the network-news hatchet job, Edwin Newman has dispensed with all subtleties. He is out to bust balls.
Hype is this newsman’s primary concern. Hype is the subject of his special report, helpfully titled Land of Hype & Glory. Suddenly, the setting shifts to a rock concert, and we meet Newman’s Exhibit A. “These four men have been performing for four years. In that time they’ve been responsible for selling records worth $30 million,” he intones grimly. “By some accounts, they are the favorite rock group of American teenagers. Their name, for no reason immediately apparent, is Kiss.”
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