Let me set this straight: Brian Williams’ “misremembered” account of the helicopter attack in Iraq in 2003 is entirely inexcusable. Although it was a flagrant mistake, the mass media’s response is nearly as ineffective.
By pointing the finger at Williams’ mistake, outside sources can in essence say, “Come to our network, we’re more pure and holy than the wretched clowns at NBC.”
When in actuality, there is a high possibility of skeletons in every news source’s closet.
As one of the highest rated news anchors of the last decade, Williams seemingly forgot what his job title, television journalist, entailed. Regardless of ratings and entertainment value, Williams’ job as a reporter was to deliver the truth. Failing to do that has put him in the ranks of Dan Rather and others who have never fully recovered for their mistakes.
The general public’s outrage toward the situation is perfectly justified. As a consumer, one would trust that hard news is synonymous with factual news — especially from a source as seemingly upstanding and forthright as NBC.
What isn’t justified is the popular news media’s usage of Williams’ apology. Ever so subtly, major media sources of all types have taken to the Brian Williams “#ConflateGate” in order to bolster ratings, viewers and feelings of credibility in their favor.
By drawing attention to the negativity surrounding Williams, opposing media outlets can place blame strictly on Nightly News for tarnishing the credibility of news overall – when really, it was a team effort.
Scandals like the Bush administration bribing columnists to produce slanted content to support their policies, to Janet Cooke at the Washington Post fabricating the “Jimmy’s World” story, reveal an underlying layer of scheming that rarely sees public scrutiny.
But just as general media culture operates, the flaws within the opposing networks and newspapers do not have the focus of news-consuming members of society; Williams and his misrepresentation of the RPG attack stole the limelight.
But again, let me reiterate. Brian Williams deserves the scrutiny; NBC Nightly News deserves the drop in viewers. Williams’ career deserves to risk banishment to cable networks. “Misremembering” truths behind helicopters and grenade fire is not only disrespectful to the American public but especially to current and former veterans who truthfully put their lives in danger for their country.
Be cognitive, and remember to evaluate the outside sources bashing Williams, as they may be just as sleazy as him.