Garth Brooks was greeted by fans dressed in cowgirl hats and cowgirl boots and repeatedly told how wonderful he is Thursday at First Niagara Center.
And that was in the afternoon before he even sang a note to the paying customers.
In one of the local news media’s funniest and most embarrassing moments of the year, two female anchor-reporters, Channel 4’s Nalina Shapiro and Channel 7’s Katie Morse, wore cowboy or cowgirl hats during their interviews with Brooks.
I’m wondering if the third female anchor -- Channel 2’s Maryalice Demler -- who was wowed by Brooks’ charm offensive wasn’t wearing a cowgirl hat because she couldn’t find one. They might have sold out in Western New York.
Quite honestly, I was stunned by the local news lovefest after Brooks’ press conference before the six concerts he is doing here.
I was so stunned that I immediately tweeted: “OK. I like Garth Brooks. But boy watching the lovefest from Nalina and Maryalice on local news seems to be something out of ‘Saturday Night Live.’ ”
That tweet was sent out before Morse did her interview on Channel 7, which led to a second almost apologetic tweet.
“I guess I should have included Katie Morse in my last tweet. She has a cowboy hat on too. I am sure (she) will tell us Garth is “a regular guy.”
My prediction quickly proved to be wrong and I owned up to it.
“OK I was wrong. Katie just said Garth is a 'genuinely down-to-earth guy.’ At least Maryalice didn’t say he was a 'sweetheart of a guy.'”
Shapiro said pretty much the same thing as Morse.
“Garth Brooks is the most down-to-earth country legend I’ve ever met,” said Shapiro.
This begs the question: How many has she met?
I was wondering how my tweets about local television hero worship would go over because I am not generally known as a sweetheart of a guy by local media members or some of my readers who aren't as concerned about journalism as much as I am.
But several people seemed to agree with the critical tweets, which had a higher number of “retweets” than normal and were “favorited” more than usual as well.
The local media coverage was embarrassing, both to those who were doing the reporting and those watching it. The coverage should have been done by a feature reporter, not someone who usually anchors or reports on the news.
The sad thing is the reporters who apparently were auditioning for “Entertainment Tonight” didn’t seem to realize how much they were overdoing it.
Shapiro actually sent out a tweet with Brooks with the words “this guy is awesome” and another one that said “Garth holding my phone, taking our #selfie.”
The shot of Brooks taking a selfie with Shapiro actually made Channel 4’s coverage.
I’m not trying to make this a gender issue. Maybe it's more of an experience issue. It is hard to imagine Channel 2’s Scott Levin, Channel 4’s Don Postles or Channel 7’s Keith Radford sending out a selfie with Faith Hill or some other famous down-to-earth female country singer who might come to town. I also can’t imagine Channel 4’s veteran anchor Jacquie Walker or Channel 7’s veteran anchor Joanna Pasceri would be willing to embarrass themselves by fawning over Brooks.
I could be wrong to think more highly of the veteran male and female anchors. But I hope not.
“What a day you’ve had Nalina,” said Postles before her 6 p.m. report.
I wish I knew what he was really thinking.
Shapiro was wearing her cowgirl hat, cowgirl boots and a wide smile that indicated that she would have paid to get this assignment.
“I’m a little bit of a country girl,” explained Shapiro. “I wanted to get into the spirit with the cowgirl hat.”
“It is obvious you are in the spirit,” said Postles.
Not to be outdone, Channel 7’s Morse praised Brooks for keeping his ticket prices low.
“I go to a lot of country concerts and these ticket (prices) are not that bad,” praised Morse.
Demler also asked Brooks questions with the same basic premise – Why are you so wonderful? (Those are my words, not hers).
It was clearly a mistake to assign fans masquerading as reporters to cover the Brooks press conference and allow them to talk about their love of country music. Journalists are supposed to act like professionals, not like fawning fans. Sending a fan to cover Brooks was bound to lead to embarrassment.
As I tweeted, I like Brooks. I even remember buying one of his albums back in the 1990s when people actually bought albums.
It would have been nice if the reporters asked Brooks what he planned to perform during the concerts since 100,000 people are expected to go to them.
I’m not questioning whether Brooks is as nice a guy as his image. I am questioning whether any media member would be able to discover that in an interview that takes a few minutes when you are slobbering all over him and having him take a selfie with you.
If it isn’t obvious, I was not caught up in the spirit of watching this embarrassing lovefest.