The ten million dollar NBC news anchor man, Brian Williams, is toast. Williams announced recently that he has voluntarily taken himself off the air until NBC fully investigates his “misremembering” about his 2003 Iraqi helicopter trip which he claimed came under enemy fire.
Note that this is NBC “damage control speak”, for Williams will be probably terminated and he will never see that NBC new anchor chair again.
We had a similar situation in Canada, where CBC radio personality Jian Ghomeshi, announced that he was voluntarily leaving hosting his popular “Q” radio show, temporarily, for personal reasons. That was the last we heard of Ghomeshi on CBC.
For several years Williams has tried to pump up his public persona, as if he was a modern day Papa Hemmingway (always throwing himself in harm’s way) by claiming in various interviews and even on the Late Night David Letterman show, that his helicopter had been nearly downed by enemy fire.
But as reported by Maureen Dowd of the New York Times:
“A crew member from a Chinook flying ahead of Williams, who was involved in the 2003 firefight, posted, “Sorry dude, I don’t remember you being on my aircraft. I do remember you walking up about an hour after we had landed to ask me what had happened.” Stars and Stripes ran with it, and, by Saturday, Williams announced that he was stepping down for several days.”
These are the true and singular experiences of military veterans, who put their lives on the line for their country and for their country’s values. For Williams to falsify his experience, is to insult the very veterans on whom he claims to report.
Many military veterans report that being shot at, or being under attack, is a traumatic and often life-changing experience. It is not an experience, one treats lightly or takes lightly. It is not an experience one “misremembers”.
No public apology by Williams can wipe away the stain of his mendacity or rectify the damage that he has done to his reputation or to the reputation of the NBC News division, that is now coming under real and serious enemy fire from media critics in the social media.
Apparently, other media reports are emerging of Williams’ potentially falsifying his personal reporting in other trouble spots. During Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Williams reported that from his hotel room window, he saw a dead man’s body float by, implying it was carried by the swirling flood waters beneath his hotel window.
However, actual authoritative experts on scene at that time have questioned the veracity of Williams’ account. Apparently, the part of New Orleans, where Williams’ hotel was located, was dry and not affected by flood waters. So the description of the “dead man floating by” is highly suspect.
More accurately, “Lyin Brian” appears to be a dead man walking.
But NBC News and the whole NBC network have a greater problem on their hands.
Maureen Dowd has reported that other NBC executives and staffers have been aware for over a year that Williams had been inflating his resume. But apparently, there is no evidence that any NBC executive or staffer had the cojones to call Williams to account. Or force Williams to stop embellishing his career at the expense of his integrity and the integrity of the whole news organization.
Chalk it up to NBC’s culture of celebrity. Where no one wants to take on the $10 million dollar media star.
I believe the culture of celebrity has adversely affected the news organizations of all the major media broadcasters: NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN and MSNBC.
No wonder people are increasingly relying on social media- Twitter, Facebook, online news journals, blogs and the like- for timely reporting of the news.