Every Olympics has the potential for major news away from the actual competitions, and Russia is no exception.
Authorities have been confronted with terrorist attack threats, the country’s policies on gay rights have stirred controversy around the globe and arriving journalists have complained about substandard housing.
How will NBC deal with news that impacts the Games?
“NBC News will be there in full force with all of their journalists and all of their shows to cover news,” said Mark Lazarus, NBC Sports Group chairman, during a media briefing last month before leaving for Russia.
Added “Today” show host Matt Lauer, “They’re being hosted at a time and a place where there are a lot of groups who would like to take the opportunity of the Olympics to make a point, whether it’s a positive or a negative point . . . It has our full attention.”
Studio host Bob Costas noted how much has changed since 1972, when ABC’s Jim McKay was left to report on the massacre of Israeli athletes without the presence of a full network news operation.
“Jim McKay and a handful of colleagues were all the world had, and he rose to that occasion,” Costas said. “No one again will find himself in the position that Jim was in in Munich.”
During the briefing Costas sought to clarify a comment he made to The Associated Press in which he said he was more interested in talking to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the country’s laws against pro-gay “propaganda” than he was in commenting on the subject himself.
“If Putin doesn’t drag his butt into the studio, then we’ll talk about it without him,” Costas said. “But if he shows up we’d rather talk to him. Wouldn’t you rather hear it from the horse’s mouth? I would.”