When is it too soon to announce a science special on a natural disaster? How about only several hours after impact?
That's what appears to have happened late last Friday when Discovery Communications announced "Anatomy of a Disaster" chronicling the tragedy in Japan, a horrible event that had only taken place that very morning.
"On the strength of our institutional reach and relationships, Discovery Channel and Science Channel will offer a one-of-a-kind look into today's epic natural tragedy," said Clark Bunting, president and GM of Discovery Channel, in a statement. "'Anatomy of a Disaster' will depict a race against time, from the first wave to hit Sendai, to acts of incredible heroism still yet to occur."
This is the kind of PR spin you might expect months or even a year out from something so uniquely devastating — not hours. The water hadn't even started receding in some parts and Discovery was already talking up its one-hour special.
Mind you, the network wasn't alone in announcing special coverage of the disaster. ABC also sent out a press release. But what's different is that ABC special included immediate coverage and reports, whereas Discovery's special reeked of advantageous programming.
Does this remind anyone else of a certain "30 Rock" episode from a few weeks ago? You know, the one where Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) pre-records a natural disaster celebrity telethon to capitalize on future high ratings?
Maybe Discovery has the same people writing their press releases.
"Anatomy of a Disaster" is expected to air in early April.