CNBC's Schacknow: Subprime Deja Vu?

Subprime Subplot
A story crossed the Breaking News desk today that prompted this learned comment from yours truly: “What?”

Reuters reported that in an effort to boost April sales numbers at month’s end, General Motors would offer lower-interest financing through this weekend to customers with weaker credit ratings.

Far be it for me to comment on sales strategy, but the story struck me as fascinating, especially given the recent attention to the idea that too many customers with too-weak credit were given mortgage loans during the past few years.

Of course, given the April sales picture, one might understand why GM is taking this step. For insight, look no further than rival Ford Motor, which proclaimed Friday that April sales were “terrible,” and “not even close” to what it had originally forecast.

These two stories, of course, went together perfectly -- something producers like to call “flow," as in the frequent lament, “This show has no flow at all!” They made up the bulk of our 1:00 p.m. headlines segment.

Broadcast News, 2007 Version
Many people of a certain age remember the classic 1987 movie, "Broadcast News." In one scene, a producer literally crosses hill and dale (and leaps over a few file cabinets) to get a taped report into a player while the anchor is introducing it. Of course, it arrives in the tape machine about a nanosecond before the intro is finished.

We had a "Broadcast News"-like occurrence today, which reminded me both of how much things have changed, and how much they remain the same.

Reporter Bertha Coombs did several reports from the Breaking News desk on Saudi Arabia’s arrest of militants who had planned to attack Saudi oil fields. Included in her last one was a sound bite from NBC terrorism expert Rick Francona, which our video department was still cutting as Bertha’s report hit the air.

Unlike the "Broadcast News" incident, this production job involved a computer screen and some occasionally balky software. Here at the desk, all we could do was stare at the line in the rundown where the sound bite would arrive -- by “virtual” means of course. About five seconds before Bertha introduced it, it suddenly appeared. No cross-newsroom dash, no broken limbs, no file cabinets to serve as high hurdles.

On the other hand, the stress was exactly the same as it would have been 20 years ago!