Brian Williams Finally Speaks Out
After several months of suspension from his role at NBC as evening news anchor and managing editor, Brian Williams is poised to return to the air waves. He won’t be returning to his former role, instead, he will unceremoniously assume a role on MSNBC, while Lester Holt steps in and replaces Williams as the most visible representative of NBC news. Williams finally sat down for an interview to explain himself with Matt Lauer on “The Today Show,” he confessed to misleading the American public, but refused to flat out call himself a liar. Williams admitted that he put forth a story where the facts had become messed up in his mind, where eventually the distorted details of the helicopter incident replaced the actual facts. He added that part of the reason for his continuing to misrepresent the truth was his ego.
Of course, Williams shouldn’t have lied and in a perfect world, no one would lie. However, television has become the main source of how the masses receive daily news and this fact has changed the function and definition of the journalism profession. The emphasis placed on attractiveness and charisma seemingly outweigh the requirements of neutrality and experience that once were the hallmarks of network anchors. This begs the question, are anchors expected to be hard core journalists? Entertainers? Equal parts of each? If they are expected to be entertainers, can Williams really be persecuted for exaggerating a story in order to hook the attention he is paid to receive? Williams is not the first person in the spotlight to lie and he undoubtedly won’t be the last, and for months he has endured the condemnation of the public and colleagues and lost the position he worked so hard to achieve. Does this transgression replace all of the valid stories that Williams has presented? The man is human, and in a society that places celebrities on a pedestal and salivates at intense and dangerous stories, is it a surprise that he would exaggerate the truth in an effort to give the public a more exciting story? With all kinds of violence and unbelievable situations playing out live and in living color everyday on television, there is pressure to have a more exclusive and interesting story for viewers than the competing networks have. The saddest part of the entire story is that this entire situation is completely unnecessary. Williams was already respected and liked, he didn’t need to fabricate stories in order to justify himself or enhance his experiences. Brian Williams has maintained his composure through embarrassment, shame, and ridicule and he was stripped of one of the most coveted positions in network news. As Williams prepares to begin the long road of earning back the affection and the trust of the American people, enough is enough, his punishment has been doled out and he has served his suspension. People guilty of far worse have been forgiven, it’s time that Brian Williams is afforded the same courtesy.