Brian Williams is one of the best people in news today. He’s a good anchor, and a good journalist. It’s become extremely, ridiculously, overly known that he recently embellished a story about fieldwork he did in 2003.
I am furious. Not at Brian Williams for exaggerating a story of his. But at ALL THE MEDIA for throwing up on him. Williams shouldn’t have done what he did, but by goodness, he’s now been suspended from work for 6 months.
Let me tell you why this is a problem.
First, ALL PEOPLE embellish their own stories. We like to sound cool. He was telling a story that was more than 10 years old (saying that a helicopter he was in got shot at, when it actually was the helicopter in front of him. There’s barely even a difference, but there’s a difference nonetheless).
Second, NO ONE in mass media today ever answers for things like this. Brian Williams is one of the greatest journalists of this age, yet we punish him for exaggerating a story? What about CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News? Those are networks that CONSTANTLY embellish stories, regularly to the point where facts are stretched so wretchedly that they lose their truthfulness. We have seen awful, moronic “journalists” get away with spouting false truths for years and years and years. Very few journalists ever answer for their absurd overreach of the facts, so Brian Williams is the LAST person who should ever get punished when there are terrible people pretending to do what he actually does, and ruining the nation in the process.
I feel so strongly about this. It’s just so frequently that I see news networks severely overstating the facts and ruining the very stories they are trying to tell, and now one of the few good men in journalism today is the one to suffer after being caught doing it once.
But here’s why Brian Williams was made the victim: because he’s the best. Every other media outlet hyped up his mistake because they saw an opening for attack. They are all jealous of his integrity and hard work, and how he has reached the highest peak of broadcast success. The other, crappy, news networks successfully took a cheap shot at him by exaggerating the news… as they usually do. And now those other news networks, which, to my shame, are highly influential, have actually convinced the nation that Williams did some terrible thing.
Brian Williams is being punished for doing the very thing that other news media are currently doing to him: exaggerating the story. Yet no one cares how ironic it is that those other people are so belligerently stretching out the story.
This isn’t a Lance Armstrong drug scandal, or a Tiger Woods cheating scandal, or a Michael Jackson pedophilia scandal. This is a Brian Williams mild embellishment scandal. It feels gross and exaggerated to even refer to the situation as a scandal. It’s not worthy of the title.
And isn’t embellishing a story basically to be expected for a journalist… or are we to assume that Truman Capote‘s lengthy feature stories are 100% factual, without any embellishment at all?
Did Brian Williams make a mistake? Yes. But he is being made to answer for it in a way that is…. extremely exaggerated. How disgustingly appropriate.