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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Brian Williams and his Faulty Memory: A PR Nightmare

One bright spot over the last several years for Comcast-Universal's network NBC has been its strength in news.  Brian Williams, who took over from Tom Brokaw in 2004, is the current anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News.  Last week reports came out questioning stories he has told over the past ten years of his helicopter taking RPG and AK47 fire while reporting in Iraq during the invasion in 2003.  He issued an apology on the broadcast on February 4, 2015 stating he “made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago.” He also offered his respect and apology to the "brave men and women in the air crews who were also in the desert." 

This apology only opened the door wider in examining Mr. Williams' reporting over the years.  His reporting in New Orleans is under doubt, especially his claim that he saw a body, face down, floating by his hotel's balcony.  Recent reports now question his report of being under fire by rockets in Israel.  Finally, reports a PageSix report casting doubt his claim that he was mugged selling Christmas trees in the 1970's.

This weekend Williams released a statement:

In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions.

As Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days, and Lester Holt has kindly agreed to sit in for me to allow us to adequately deal with this issue. Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.

Not much of an apology.  So far, if all of these allegations are true, then his career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in (him) us should be considered a failure.  I always found his self-promotion, whether he be a guest on The Tonight Show or on Letterman's show, or playing himself on 30 Rock to name a few non-news appearances a bit disconcerting.  The anchor of any network must follow the model of the greats: Cronkite and Brinkley. 

The news in 2015, especially the reporting at the national and international level, needs to be free from the celebrity filled drivel commonly found on the local broadcasts throughout the country.  The public airwaves demand that Mr. Williams report the news in a credible manner.  This can be done without him having to become part of all the high profile stories he reports.  This viewer finds that quality lacking and I believe he needs more than "several days" to sort this all out instead of hoping to let the heat die down which came across to me as something he wants to do in his statement. 

We'll see how this sorts out. 

The Lie

After the Lie

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