Brian Williams, the Managing Editor of NBC Nightly, and it’s Anchor since December of 2004 has admitted he was not actually aboard a helicopter forced down by enemy fire during the Iraq invasion of 2003. He claims to have misremembered and is sorry.
I believe Brian is telling his truth here. This being human is a tricky business. One Thanksgiving gathering of my tribe, the turkey was bigger than the pan, dripped in the oven, smoke came out of the oven, and set the smoke detector off for about a thirty seconds. If you question the individual family members about the event you will hear stories that range from no memory of the incident, to versions of Thanksgiving with the fire department, flames engulfing everything, and barely saved lives. The two most detailed accounts came from members who weren’t present. Imagine if we had a Celebrity Journalist among our ranks!
Let’s face it. Brian could never be Walter Cronkite. Walter reported in a time-frame where there were very clear definitions and lines between when we were watching TV to be entertained and watching TV to find out the news. News could be more factual because the bulk of advertising income that underwrote the programming came from the entertainment shows. Walter was expected to focus on reporting news from reliable sources.
Brian was a celebrity journalist who had one eye on the teleprompter and the other on his ratings. His Brand and Marketability were huge motivations for his perception and recounting of events, even his personal experiences.
Much of our reported news is one part events, with equal parts Celebrity, Entertainment and Native Advertising. Brian created a celebrity journalist persona, with matching biography for his role. Being under enemy fire in war time works well with that storyline.
Pete’s Alaska wrote a great and creative post in his blog about the Brian Williams issue. I encourage you to stop over and take a look at his site.
Where do you get your news from? Any suggestions on some reliable news reporting outlets? This is a global community. It would be interesting to hear about how and what sources you receive your news from.
I found this article in Aeon on what we want and need in news coverage to be interesting.
Have a great Saturday.