Williams Has Lost His Credibility
I’ve got a question for you. Will you be able to watch Brian Williams again as a major news anchor — and believe him?
I know I can’t. The man should be fired. Sure, he’s been suspended for six months without pay, and that’s quite a punishment. But how does he come back?
I don’t think he can.
I find it fascinating and irritating that almost immediately after it became known that Williams had inflated his now-infamous helicopter ride, social media began the “what about all the other lies everyone else has told?” defense.
Rubbish. We’re not talking about who misled us into the Iraq war, or who covered up Wall Street shenanigans, or who’s lying about Obamacare, or who says what on Fox News.
We’re talking about a man who was supposed to be above all that. Who was supposed to tell us the truth about all that — or at least to try.
Williams held the integrity of a network in his hands. As the face and, supposedly, the standard bearer of a major news organization, he should epitomize the ethics and ideals of the impartial journalist — disseminator of facts and teller of truth.
What a fail. What a disappointment.
I have to say I never really considered myself a fan of Williams and his ubiquitous, celebrity-seeking presence on prime time. I thought he was too slick and markedly inferior to his predecessor, Tom Brokaw.
But this debacle did surprise me. And it made me sad. Why would a person at the top of the mountain dangle stupidly at the edge, risking his own reputation and that of his entire organization?
An NBC senior producer is investigating whether Williams embellished or outright lied about other stories he’s been part of or reported. I hope this is the end of it, but I’m not expecting that, to be honest.
And back to my original question: Can you accept him as anchor if he comes back?
NBC executives say he deserves a second chance, something that has outraged many of his colleagues in the newsroom. Gabriel Sherman at New York magazine spoke to some of the people at NBC News. One longtime staffer asked him, “How does he ever sit down with Rand Paul or Chris Christie and say, ‘You did this two years ago, and you said this last week.'”
For that matter, how does he do that with Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?
He doesn’t. He can’t.
He should take a lesson from the Japanese, who, when they fall from grace, do three things:
Take responsibility, apologize without excuses and resign.