LOS ANGELES (AP) — NBC News anchor Brian Williams had a quick on-air response after Arsenio Hall needled him for excluding Hall from a video montage of late-night hosts: Oops.
“Arsenio is a late-night veteran and he took us to task on his show and he even urged his audience members to call our newsroom,” Williams said on his “Nightly News” telecast Wednesday from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“So, in apologizing to Arsenio we just wanted to point out: At least you’re in good company here,” Williams continued, noting that the newscast last year left New Hampshire off a map and on Tuesday misspelled Philadelphia on-screen.
Hall’s exclusion came during what he called NBC News’ “Brady Bunch montage” showing clips of virtually every late-night TV host, including David Letterman, Chelsea Handler and Carson Daly.
The video was used on Monday’s “Nightly News” segment on “The Tonight Show” debut of Jimmy Fallon, also on NBC.
On Tuesday’s syndicated “The Arsenio Hall Show,” the host was smiling but clearly irked as he displayed the graphic and called out Williams and journalism in general.
“If you’re doing a story about late-night, all I ask is that you mention me,” Hall said. “You don’t even have to use a photo. I know how journalism is these days. Use Samuel Jackson — it doesn’t even have to be my photo. Use Laurence Fishburne. Just mention me.”
Hall invoked the names of the two actors who were involved in another recent media mishap: A TV reporter interviewing Jackson apparently confused him with Fishburne. Both are black.
The late-night landscape is nearly all white, with a few exceptions including Hall and PBS’ Tavis Smiley.
“There’s nobody even with a tan,” Hall said of the montage shown by NBC News.
Hall, saying he’s the only current late-night host “who competed and survived against Johnny Carson,” said he had no grudge with his other hosts. Hall’s new show debuted in September; his original late-night show aired from 1989 until 1994, when Carson hosted “Tonight.”
Saying he didn’t want to play the “angry black man,” Hall invited a friend on stage to help out so that Williams and others in journalism would “include a brother.”
Marion “Suge” Knight, founder of Death Row Records, suggested that Hall give Williams enough time to respond before making him face the consequences.
“Change it or resign?” Hall responded. “We might just be kidding, Brian. You know, sometimes I take the joke too far. Just mention me, man.”