Not Exactly An Apology

Brian Williams, the anchor of the NBC Evening News, is an affable guy. He likes to go on the late night shows to prove that he can loosen up and be “funny.” He has also proven to be a fraud. 

Since 2003 — when he was a hot-shot rising star in broadcasting covering the Iraq War — Brian Williams has claimed several times that he was in a U.S. military helicopter shot down by enemy fire.  The military publication Stars & Stripes has learned that Brian Williams wasn’t telling the truth.

On Wednesday night, Williams said on his nightly broadcast that he actually had been in a different helicopter and and “conflated” the two events. Those sound like words a worried lawyer wrote, not of an experienced journalist who is managing editor and anchor of the NBC Nightly News

Veterans and other journalists are calling for Williams to resign or be fired.  Like when Bill Clinton wagged his finger and denied having sexual relations with the intern, Williams’ problems seem to be deepening rather than going away — There’s a Twitter hashtag  called #BrianWilliamsMisremembers.

Worse than that, Williams’ predecessor in the anchor chair Tom Brokaw is denying reports that demanded for Williams to be fired. But Brokaw isn’t doing anything to defend his one-time protege either.

I respect anyone who heads into combat, whether soldier or civilian. Throughout the world, journalists every day risk life and limb to bring people the truth. And I’m enough of a realist to understand that some make choices to make the story compelling. But no one — no one — should ever lie about being under fire. It’s the worst kind of self-aggrandizement.  It’s the greatest form of disrespect to those who were injured, disfigured or killed at war.

What the hapless execs at NBC News will do next? Who knows. Will it take agency media buyers pulling their boner ads from the Nightly News to force Williams out? Probably. But whatever happens, this is shameful and punishable.