It seems that news anchor Brian Williams has, over the years, slowly dressed up a story about what happened when he was covering the Iraq war. A helicopter was shot at and forced down. Brian Williams was in another helicopter that was not shot at and was not forced down. But he was near the helicopter that was shot down. Not very near, but somewhat near.
Over the years, his telling of the story has slowly inched toward saying that the helicopter he was in took the fire and was forced down, until he finally jumped the ole’ shark and said exactly that.
Brian Williams has, over time, expanded an incident he was in during the time he was covering the Iraq War into a big windy.
And he got caught.
And then he apologized.
It turns out that his apology wasn’t all that truthful, either.
And now, everybody is piling on.
Oh what tangled webs we weave.
Do I care?
Or at least not much.
So far as I’m concerned, Mr Williams is a good looking guy who reads the news. I never took him all that seriously in the first place.
I know that Mr Williams sits in front of a camera night after night and reads stories to us that we are supposed to believe are the absolute truth of the way things are in the world. But I never believed these things were the absolute truth of the way things are in the world, not even before Mr Williams’ big windy.
I’ve been reported on enough in my life to know that every single news story is, at least in part, fiction. Not, usually, deliberate fiction, but fiction born of deadline pressure, reporters who don’t know all that much about the stories they’re covering and, well, human nature being human nature.
In some instances — not too many of them, but they were memorable — I’ve been part of stories that were reported with deliberate lies and propaganda. The coverage on a bill I did to stop doctors from paying women to have their ovaries harvested for eggs was one of the worst of these. I couldn’t even get one local news anchor to accurately report demonstrable facts. He deliberately and with knowledge of what he was doing ignored the facts and reported untruths when he knew they were untruths.
So, excuse me please when I tell you that I’m not all that lathered up because a news anchor has been telling an I Caught a Fish THIS BIG story about his wartime reporting adventures. When it comes to wartime, it always seems to work that way. Guys who never did the deal brag about what wasn’t and those who actually saw combat won’t say a word about it.
As for Brian Williams and his flapping gums, network news is still, even today, less of a carny show than cable news. But it’s been moving in that direction for a long while. There was a time when a news anchor who did something like this would have been anathema. But now? Not so much.
Which leads to the question: Does anybody really believe the news anymore?
Brian Williams got caught exaggerating his wartime coverage experiences and slowly, over the years, side-stepped himself into a tall tale about how he ended up where nobody in their right mind wants to be in real life: In a helicopter, under such severe fire that it was forced down.
He was in a helicopter. And he was near (sort of) the attack that actually did happen. Helicopters were forced down. And he was nearby.
The rest of the story … drifted … over time.
Make what you want of this. I don’t care.
Has Mr Williams’ credibility as a newscaster been harmed?
Do I want to hate him to death over this?
I’ll let all you folks who never told a lie cast the first stone at him.
If we hold to that standard of rock throwing, I think Mr Williams will be safe.