NBC brings back ‘Fleecing of America’ franchise

NBC News is bringing back one of its classic ongoing series from the 1990s era. 

“The Fleecing of America” ran for years on “NBC Nightly News” through both Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams‘ tenures and also showed up on other NBC properties, including CNBC, and focused on exposing alleged waste of taxpayer money at the hands of government agencies and officials. 

It was most popular in the mid-1990s when Brokaw anchored but continued in the 2000s. Some reports would feature Brokaw himself providing voiceovers and some interviews, while other correspondents contributed as well.

At one point, investigative correspondent Lisa Meyers was frequently featured.

On Monday, March 28, 2022, “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” brought the series back for a second life.

Billed as a cross-network weeklong series focusing on how pandemic relief money was used by fraudsters, the series is scheduled to air on not only “Nightly,” but “Today,” MSNBC, NBC News Now and NBCNews.com.

As it stands, the series appears to be billed as a limited series that’s being brought back for a weeklong run — at least for now.

However, it would stand to reason if it the stories prove popular with viewers.

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For much of the time the series was in its prime, NBC used a condensed serif typeface for every word except “Fleecing,” which was done in a scratching handwritten font. A similarly styled star was often used behind it, with imagery inspired by currency blended in as well.

Tom Brokaw introduces a ‘Fleecing of America’ story in the mid 1990s from in front of the rear projection screen in Studio 3B that was then home to ‘NBC Nightly News.’

The graphic, used in the headline teases, shows the ‘Fleecing of America’ logo in a horizontal layout.

For 2022, the franchise has an updated look that still draws on currency for inspiration.

For on set video wall graphics, however, is a bit more abstract, conveying the connection to greenbacks through the use of texture, such as patterns mirroring the fine engraving lines found on currency that often double as a security feature because they are hard to reproduced using traditional photographic based printing methods.

The graphic also includes a rich green set of engraved lines, also suggestive of marks found on money.

The franchise title is set in a condensed, widely spaces serif, with the words “Fleecing” and “America” reversed out against a darker background, a look that could suggest redaction marks. The typography here is filled with the same textural elements found in the background. 

In promos, however, the background features some of the same elements while adding some additional ones with less of an emphasis on the wavy lines. It also includes typewriter-style typography in black bands.

“Fleecing” was used during a time when “Nightly” also used the non-topic-specific “In Depth” series each night for a story a story that purportedly gave more detail and context (“In Focus” was used on weekends for a period; it was also used as the top story name on “Today” as well).

Other segments that came and went over the years include “Health Watch,” “In Their Own Words,” “NBC News On Line” and others.

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Franchises and special series remain popular in TV news as a way to build brands and reputations around specific categories of reporting.

“Nightly” has been using semi-regular titles such as “Under Pressure” and the related “Kids Under Pressure” along with “Those Who Serve” and “Inspiring America” kickers, which were part of a rotation introduced in 2018.

The broadcast no longer uses the set rotation and some of the names don’t appear regularly as of 2022.

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