Review: ‘Dateline Nbc’

Co-anchors; Jane Pauley, Stone Phillips.

Co-anchors; Jane Pauley, Stone Phillips.

“Dateline” obviously has aspirations to be NBC’s answer to CBS’ “60 Minutes,” but judging from this latest episode, it still tends to look a bit like the tabloidish nightly news magazines.

The first story concerns a former Arkansas medical examiner who, “Dateline” suggests, may have aided in a cover-up of a teenage girl’s death to spare Clinton’s mother, who was the anesthetic nurse when the girl died on the operating table. This alleged cover-up happened when Clinton was out of office but, as “Dateline” reports, was expected to win the Arkansas governor’s seat the following year.

To back up its claim, “Dateline” tries to prove that while the examiner’s reputation was called into question about his determination on other cases–including the deaths of two teenage boys–Clinton steadfastly kept the man in office because he owed him.

It’s a lot of extenuating circumstances brought together in a very suggestive manner, pointing blame at Clinton. Yet the story seems far from ready for broadcast, as much of it is so speculative.

The second report involves the incidence of marital rape, looking at the case of a South Carolina couple in which the wife charged rape and a jury acquitted the husband.

The report is told in lurid detail as a police officer, one of the jurors and both husband and wife relate their own accounts, with the piece decidedly pointed toward the husband’s blame. Interesting statistics are cited, such as that 25% of women who are raped are raped by their husbands and that a woman has less legal protection in such an assault if the man is her husband.

A final story concerns drugs called “smart drugs,” a mix of herbal nutrients and prescription drugs that reportedly enhance mental capacity.

Witnesses interviewed who have tried the drugs include a Hollywood screenwriter and an elderly bridge player. The bottom line is that the substances are not available on the U.S. market, nor have they been tested by the FDA.

Overall, program tends to lean toward sensationalistic subjects but doesn’t back them up with the journalistic quality of “60 Minutes.” Anchors Jane Pauley and Stone Phillips make an interesting duo with seemingly little to do except intro each segment.

Dateline Nbc

(Tuesday, 8-9:30 p.m., NBC-TV)


An NBC News production. Exec producer, Jeff Diamond; senior producers, Susan Farkas, David Rummel; supervising producer, Marc Rosenwasser; senior European producer, Joe Alicastro; senior investigative producer, Ira Silverman; director, Guy Pepper; correspondents, Brian Ross, Michele Gillen, Arthur Kent, Deborah Roberts.


With election results peppering the program, "Dateline NBC" jumped into the fray with a speculative lambasting of Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton. While it drew some interesting conclusions, those conclusions were not based on a lot of fact.
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