Lyin’ Brian Williams is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week—and his very public career implosion continues. During the broadcast of NBC’s Nightly News on February 4, Williams apologized for his reporting of an experience in the Iraq War, stating he “made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago.”
By “made a mistake in recalling” Williams really means “massively embellished to make it more interesting.” In case you’re unaware, Brian Williams had stated that he was aboard a helicopter that was hit by RPG fire, a claim that had been frequently called into question by veterans. As it turns out, their accusations of exaggeration were spot-on, and Williams was forced to take the news desk, tail-between-legs, and let America know the same. A few days later he announced he was “taking himself off the air for a few days.”
That was only the beginning. The problem with lying is—once caught—people begin to scan through their mental rolodexes of your other incredible claims. During the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, Williams claimed he had “seen a dead body floating by his hotel” in the French Quarter. The problem? The French Quarter did not flood during that hurricane. You see where this is going.
It’s now open season on Williams’ accounts throughout his career, and it’s safe to say that many in the media are obliged to take birdshot to what remains of his journalistic integrity. Lying, stretching the truth, fibbing—call it what you want, but it’s unacceptable in any profession, but even more so in journalism. Once caught in a lie, your entire career—past and future—comes into question, and rightfully so. If your audience cannot trust your reporting of facts, you are not an appropriate medium for delivering them.
I believe we have seen the last of Brian Williams behind a news desk. With NBC experiencing a steady decline in ratings over the last year, and a sharp drop once the news of the Williams debacle broke, he is simply too much of a liability to captain their flagship news show. The exaggerations may have spiced up his stories throughout his career, but now they have effectively ended it.