Brian Williams has stepped down from his position as nightly news anchor at NBC, and that’s a good thing. He won’t be missed. After all, there are plenty remaining at NBC and most of them—like Williams—have only a passing acquaintance with the truth. This said, Brian Williams is not the only person at NBC, ABC, and CBS who should be shown the door for playing fast and loose with the facts. All three networks do the same thing on a regular basis. In fact, lying—omission, commission, or biased reporting—is a commonplace practice throughout the mainstream media.
To Brian Williams I say, good bye, adios, adieu, and good riddance. But in Williams’ defense (sort of), those of us who were never fans of his in the first place may be missing an important point. That point is simply this: It is not just Brian Williams who knowingly lied about the controversial story that finally caught up with him. It is also his production crew and NBC News. Further, Williams’ was not asked to step aside because he lied. There is a culture of lying in the mainstream media. It is a widely-accepted practice. Rather, Brian Williams was asked to step aside because he got caught. Frankly, if Williams’ actions had not undermined the “credibility” of NBC News—meaning if he had not undercut ratings—he would still be in the broadcast seat. In the mainstream media, you can lie and get away with it even if caught as long as you don’t hurt the ratings.
A few words about William’s ever-changing story concerning his combat experience are in order. Having served in the Marine Corps and having spent my entire life in a military community, I have known a lot of combat veterans, many of them decorated heroes. A common trait among combat veterans that has always impressed me is their humility. Those who have experienced the ugliness of combat on an up-close-and-personal basis are typically reluctant to talk about their experiences, except with other veterans who have had the same or similar experiences. Even then combat veterans tend to downplay their involvement. In fact, the response combat veterans most often give to those who compliment them on their valor is this: “I was just doing my job.” Consequently, for Brian Williams—a liberal reporter whose combat experience is limited to office politics—to lie about being in combat is an insult to veterans everywhere.
Although disgusted by Williams’ erstwhile imitation of Walter Mitty, I was hardly surprised. After all, being a liberal reporter for a liberal network, he did what liberals reporters do and what their networks condone: lie. Where Brian Williams miscalculated is that it is liberal networks such as his that provide cover for leftwing distortion artists such as him, usually by refusing to report their self-inflicted gaffes or, at the very least, downplaying them. For example, review NBC’s coverage of Obamacare over the past two years and you will hear precious little about the president’s infamous lies about keeping your doctor, retaining your current insurance policy, or insurance premiums that were supposed to decrease. Lying by omission or biased reporting is still lying.
Failing to properly expose these lies by the president is lying by omission. Downplaying the president’s lies in news reports on Obamacare is lying by commission. I suspect NBC and Williams have done both. But when Williams lied on the air about his supposed brush with combat, there was no way for his liberal network to provide cover for him. Where there is guilt, both Williams and NBC are equally at fault, but only Williams will take the fall. NBC will chug right along, self-righteously but hypocritically acting like the offended party.
With cover provided by the mainstream media, liberals have become so accustomed to getting away with their fabrications, distortions, and exaggerations that they have become complacent and, perhaps, a little over-confident. In the case of Brian Williams, one might add incautious. Consequently, they have lost sight of an important fact: the truth is a persistent, stubborn phenomenon. One way or another it usually finds its way to the surface, no matter how deeply it might be buried by self-interested distortion artists. Liberal networks will certainly continue to downplay the nefarious fabrications of the left, but they no longer have the luxury of enjoying a monopoly on the news. Thanks to Fox News and the Internet, those who know the truth now have opportunities to get it out in spite of the best (or worst) efforts of network news officials.
Outed by veterans who were present during the incident in question, the egg-on-his-face news anchor was forced to issue a public apology. But what about the members of the news crew who were with Williams during the incident in question? They knew he was lying. Why didn’t they speak up? Were they pressured to remain silent or is it just that NBC has so effectively nurtured a culture of lying that they saw no reason to speak up? Was William’s indulging in a flight of self-serving fantasy or was he just doing what they do at NBC? Apparently there will be an investigation into the situation by NBC. Big whoop. That’s like asking Hillary to investigate what happened in Benghazi. The NBC investigation will probably look no farther than these two questions: 1) Did Brain Williams hurt our ratings, and 2) If he returns to the air will our ratings suffer permanently? We already know the answer ot the first question is “yes.” If the answer to the second question is “yes,” Williams is toast.
Williams delivered his apology during a recent broadcast of NBC’s nightly news, but stopped short of accepting full responsibility or simply coming clean and saying mea culpa. Rather, he applied the only tactic liberals really understand: When caught in a lie dissemble, distort, misdirect, and rationalize. Williams tried to claim that the facts had simply become mixed up in his mind over the years and that he was just trying honor the brave warriors who were with him during the incident. In a classic example of liberal misdirection, Williams tried to rationalize his lie by claiming the incident occurred so long ago that he should be forgiven for getting the facts wrong, and that even if he did stretch the truth he was just trying to honor America’s brave military personnel. Of course, this rationalization did not wash with anyone who has completed sixth grade.
Then Williams did what comes naturally to liberals. He lied again. This time he tried to cover his first lie by telling a new one. His new lie was that he was in a helicopter that was flying right behind the one that was hit by an RPG. He tried to make it sound as if he was so close to the noise and confusion of battle that he understandably got it wrong. Oops! With this weak attempt at artful dodging Williams won another Pinocchio award. One would think the man would learn that those who know the truth are listening. Hearing Williams latest fabrication, David Duke—a retired soldier who was present during the incident in question—told Stars and Stripes, he thinks it is misleading for Williams to claim that he was in the following helicopter when, in fact, his helicopter was flying in a different direction and only learned by radio of the RPG attack on the other chopper. Again I say, the NBC production crew accompanying Williams had this same information. Why didn’t they report it?
Consider Williams pathetic explanation of why he claimed to be on a helicopter that was shot down in Iraq in 2003 when he was actually on another helicopter flying in a different direction and only heard about the incident over the radio: “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.” Oh really. I can tell you, Brian. What screwed up in your mind was your over-sized ego, an ego either so large or so needy that you were willing to fabricate a story to make yourself look like a hero. Being shot down in a helicopter is not something one “conflates” with not being shot down.
Claiming he wanted to honor the real warriors he was accompanying on the mission in question just makes Williams’ explanation even less credible. I wonder how he supposed that lying about the incident would in any way honor those who were really shot down. The tongue-in-cheek definition of a good story teller is someone who can remember things that never really happened. By this definition Brian Williams is certainly a good story teller. But it is not embellished stories the public expects from network news anchors, it is facts. Williams wasn’t recounting fishing stories in which the one that got away grows in size with every re-telling of the story. He was supposedly relating facts about a combat mission he and his production crew covered for their network. If he really wanted—as he claimed—to honor the brave men who flew that mission, the best way to do so would have been to simply tell the truth. The actions of real warriors in combat require no embellishment. Yes, Williams should go. But so should others at NBC who knowingly air stories that contain fabrications, distortions, and leftwing political propaganda.