The Brian Williams scandal is what happens when the news is show business…

A primary problem pointed out in the NBC News anchor Brian Williams flap involving his false war story, in which he claimed to be on a helicopter that was forced down by enemy fire in Iraq, is that since the coming of age of broadcast journalism the so-called news people have become the news. And news has become nothing more than entertainment (not that there has not always been some of that). Williams is reportedly paid something to the tune of $10 million per year (could he do a story on overpaid CEOs?).

Time after time on major stories of our time I have seen news people (primarily electronic media) interviewing each other. Such nonsense.

If Williams had any self-respect left or any respect for journalism he would resign. If the NBC brass have any care about journalism, they should terminate Williams. They are conducting an investigation of some of his past reporting, including that on hurricane Katrina, that has now come into question, it has been reported, as well as the Iraq incident.

It seems to me that Williams has lost all credibility (he certainly has with me).

I have nothing against the TV news in general, except FOX, which is a blatant ultra right-wing propaganda machine (not so much to push a political agenda, I would think, but more for profit, aimed at the ignorant, who are many), but for the past 20 years and the past ten in particular, I have watched it little due to my on-the-road lifestyle as a long-haul driver. But I grew up on TV News — Walter Cronkite, Huntley-Brinkley, Howard K. Smith.

I remember when newscasters or correspondents were not all good looking (men or women). I don’t mean to say they were ugly — but they were not necessarily pretty boys and girls performing in a show in which the look and the production was more important than the content.

But even in print journalism, in which I once worked (albeit the small time), I too often saw where style (page layout) was emphasized over substance.

I resent the non-apology, apology and the non-retraction, retraction (s) Williams has presented on the helicopter incident. He has only owned up to making a “mistake”. No what he did was lie. It may have been a mistake to lie, but the act itself was a lie.

Now it is well known that most of us have told stories that may not have been totally accurate either due to faulty memory or just enthusiasm for an entertaining story. War stories from soldiers that may have been embellished are legendary. There are of course the wild stories told by fishermen — the one that got away, and such.

But the evidence is that Williams, who is a representative of the journalism establishment (many just call the “media”), even if his skill may be more in performance and reading than in actual investigation and reporting, over the course of a decade has told and retold a war story in which he portrays himself in heroic terms, and it just was not true. And it was an insult to those who actually do put themselves in harm’s way and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

I’m not sure the public deserves it, but it needs better people reporting the news to them.

Give me an ugly guy or gal anytime who knows what they are talking about — maybe I’ll just listen to them on radio.

I suggest NPR — and I don’t mean they are ugly (I never see them). Now NPR does sometimes seem a little to the left of the political spectrum to me, but it may be more of a perception. And it’s hard to filter out all bias. And without getting too deep into something else here, I think Arianna Huffington has a point when she says sometimes you just have to tell things like they are rather than going through the phony practice of balancing things, like when you say or report something that is obviously bogus just to be fair to both sides. Okay, maybe she would say that is not what she said, but that is what I took her to mean, and as a former journalist I know what that is.

Yeah, but anyway, if you want a more objective source where content seems to play the lead role, try on NPR, that is National Public Radio.

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So, keeping in mind here that apparently Williams was not in a helicopter that took enemy fire, here he is nonetheless telling his “war story” on David Letterman. And notice his enthusiasm when he tells of what “we” were doing…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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