I thought for tonight’s blog post I would just briefly weigh in on the Brian Williams situation. This story has taken on a life of its own, probably rightfully so.
Personally, I find the situation sad. During my childhood I grew up with Brokaw, Jennings, and Rather, three journalists who were evening news giants. Because I was a nerd as a child just like I am a nerd as an adult, I constantly watched their broadcasts, switching between the three. They were the three men in the nation who had absolute authority when they reported on the day’s news, delivered election coverage, and reported breaking stories. I respected them and they held my trust.
After the big three went away, two of the networks have had revolving doors in their main anchor seat. NBC, however, has had stability. Brian Williams came in for my all-time favorite news personality, Tom Brokaw, and served for over ten years in the anchor chair for the top newscast in the world. I liked Williams, I thought he did a good job. I saw him as a worthy successor to Brokaw. He had my trust and he definitely had my viewership over ABC and CBS. Then disaster struck.
His inaccurate account of an incident on a Chinook helicopter during the Iraq invasion has cost him dearly. When his false story surfaced last week his career, his spotless reputation, and, most importantly, his trustworthiness came under direct fire. Up until yesterday I was pulling hard for him. I was hoping that his self-imposed hiatus from the Nightly News broadcast in addition to his solid service over the years would save him. Sadly for Williams, it didn’t. NBC suspended him for six months yesterday. Although six months is not forever and although some people say the punishment is too lenient, in my mind it is a death sentence. How do you come back from a half year suspension in his position? When you are banished from American homes for 183 days because you lied that creates a black cloud that will follow you forever.
I hate to see this. In my mind, it is like the smartest and most well-behaved kid in class getting expelled. Williams always seemed like a straight arrow. It just doesn’t seem right. Only, in the back of my mind, I know it is. Brian Williams lied, perhaps on more than one occasion. For a veteran journalist sitting in the throne of all news jobs, it is not acceptable. I suppose NBC didn’t have much of a choice when it came to leveling a severe punishment.
Some people love seeing careers go down in flames. I don’t. I wish Brian Williams was able to make a triumphant return to the chair this week. With his downfall, the storied legacy and integrity of the NBC Nightly News franchise becomes tarnished. It is a sad time for not just American news but American culture. I wish Brian Williams the best. Don’t Blink.