Anchors Aweigh

Did Brian Williams embellish to be seen as Indiana Jones, part scholar and part adventurer?

Comments: 198

  1. People have told me that when someone behaves this way, it may be an indication that they are looking to be reined in, that they escalate and push and at some level hope someone stronger will call them on it -- that they will get caught and an end will be put to their gambit. Maybe that's true here, I don't know, but it might explain the seeming lack of sense for a successful public person to engage in trying to burnish a record with refutable information, it might explain why someone goes too far when there seems to be no reason to going to any length in that direction at all. The explanation I was given is that the person feels out of control themselves, does not feel safe establishing their own boundaries, and is looking to feel safer again by forcing others to do it for them and putting an end to their internal chaos and disorder.

  2. Thanks for posting Diana. This helps explain the inexplicable, although I'm still dazed and confused.

  3. Thank you for your liberal diagnosis of innocence.
    Regardless, neither Lyin' Brian Williams nor Deborah Turness deserve to be in a position to present important and perhaps even life saving news to the American public.

    We cannot trust these people.

  4. Progressive : serial liar, sociopathic teller of tales! they will go down in history as a new form of Oedipus complex.

  5. "As the performers — Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Bill Maher — were doing more serious stuff, the supposedly serious guys were doing more performing."

    Brilliant summation, Maureen. You nailed it here with this sentence. Remarkably, the opening 10 minutes of the Daily Show now regularly provide more substantive news than an entire network news broadcast. It is true. Jon Stewart's skewering of Chris Christie a few days ago was revelatory and something Williams, Muir & Co. never would have dared to air.

    Your 1995 column on Brian Williams--an incredible 20 years ago--was brilliant and prescient. A man better suited to succeeding Jay Leno than Tom Brokaw--yes, you were correct to paraphrase what some were already thinking. He seems like a very nice man, and I wish him well. But clearly his desire to be a hybrid entertainer and serious newsman got the best of him.

  6. Hybrid entertainer or not, Williams's exaggerations and untruths seem aimed at making himself appear the "serious newsman,"rather than the pretty face. At some point, he might have started to believe a few of his own lies or not seen a way to step back from them.

    I am not sure I agree with Dowd, if I am reading her correctly, that we can excuse his missteps because the network evening news is more entertainment than journalism. The 9.4 million people who are estimated to watch NBC evening news daily cannot all be tuning in for a full half-hour of fluff. They probably are expecting some serious fare. Regardless, Williams was presenting his experiences as true or something close to it, not fiction. He was setting the bar and he fell below it by his own doing.

  7. This is a sad commentary on the intellectual state of the American public, if Jon Stewart is the "substantive news." Mr. Stewart, clever as he is, is no replacement for serious in-depth news broadcasts in the tradition of BBC 1,2,3 which skips the need for TV adolescent cartoon caricatures of current events and just gets on with the in-depth reporting which seems strangely amiss in American culture. It seems that Americans can only digest current events if it is digested with a cheap joke and a pint of spirits. Remember the days when people actually had the interest to read in-depth news articles like the Times or Economist or even, heaven forbid, the Nation or Harpers? Those days are over friends as social media has replaced serious with the status laden need to keep up with our friend's latest haze on one legged kualas who've jumped the local zoo or the Bruce Jenner's attempts at transgender transformation while retaining his good graces in keeping up with the Kardashians. Let's face it folks, our lesser natures have taken over and we've been so consumed with what celebrities and pop artists are doing that we've allowed our towns and communities to be overrun by the market forces that replaced Mom and Pop stores with big box stores which then lead to the sterilized nano community of Amazon and Alibaba which doesn't bring us together although reunites us through our need to buy merchandise and careless about our local merchants. Wake up America from your frozen slumber!

  8. When TWA Flight 800 crashed over Long Island, Brian Williams was on MSNBC covering the story for several hours straight, the first time I ever saw him. His reporting was excellent and stayed fresh despite the length of continuous air time. That appearance made it readily apparent that he was destined for news stardom. Now it seems that he may be destined for Dan Ratherdom.

  9. Whether Williams is the Jon Lovitz of NBC's news division or it's some sort of false memories syndrome, he needs to go. NBC needs to complete its investigation in short order and then cut the cord cleanly.

    That's Williams. I am fine with criticizing him and his employers for behaviors that should have come under scrutiny some time ago. Let's do it and more on very quickly to the rest of our media. What ails us isn't mere mediocrity across the press. It is far worse, and it is bad in local TV and print (where it still even exists) as well as the national level. What's Fox' excuse for doing far more damage to what used to be a pretty good mainstream media in America?

    Ida B. Wells once said: "The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press."

    Sadly, it no longer is the case...

  10. My blog post on Williams as the scandal was just breaking and new fibs were uncovered:

    "Now, Williams’ every personal statement is being stress-tested for truth and his comments about seeing a body floating in the French Quarter during his coverage of Hurricane Katrina are being called into question."

    http://www.rimaregas.com/2015/02/honesty-the-media-and-the-shrinking-pub...

  11. Yes....that's the ticket.

  12. Rima - it is this whole tabloidization of the news that is so disturbing. Bring back the days of the Cronkite's, the old Dan Rather, the Jennings...

  13. Williams' tale of glory is not exactly an outlier. A person who makes it to the nightly news desk on any of the networks is masquerading as a reporter, something far more dishonest than a phony war story. Part of their job description, after all, is cheerleading American bombing and invasion campaigns, and getting choked up over "the troops". None of them ever served, of course, nor will their children. Their treatment of other subjects is also vetted with advertisers and servile producers.

    A real reporter would never be asked to be part of the news charade- and this now includes the morning shows, Sunday morning celebrity valentines, and even 60 Minutes. They have all become dishonest to the bone, including a few formerly decent ones, such as Lesley Stahl hosting a puff piece on the Canadian Tar Sands.

    Williams' macho fantasy is nothing compared what passes for corporate media produced public education. It's the main reason that we are still building fossil fuel plants, bombs, and toxic food additives and fracking chemicals.

    Americans are now too lobotomized to even realize it, and recovery will be slow. We can start by reversing the Clinton Administration's FCC rulings, which ended up enabling six media companies to control 90% of content, with divisions so scattered and amorphous that there is no accountability. How we accomplish this is a critical challenge for all of us.

  14. I'm reading a bit about Rachel Carson and wonder where the Rachel Carsons of this great land are. Well, they're protesting in Ferguson and other places. They're going overseas, like that poor woman who Isis claims has died. They're certainly not "conflating" their memories like wannabe soldier Brian Williams.

  15. I'm sure there are still plenty of Rachel Carsons around this land; it's just that they, their actions and their views are never reported in the corporate media - unless, that is, they make a commotion like the Code Pink ladies who trod on Senator McCain's lawn the other day in protest against Dr, Strangelove's - sorry, Kissinger's - appearance at a senate hearing.

    That's a problem. Free speech isn't free unless there's a speaker AND an audience. With a handful of corporate owners, the mass media are effectively gatekeepers that decide who gets the audience - which explains, for instance, why the TPP never makes it onto the network news.

  16. Right. Instead we get corporate weather reports by Brian Williams because (not a surprise!) the Weather Channel is part of NBC Universal.

    I like snow news as much as the next person but forecasting belongs on local, not national news. Effects of snow -- yes -- if it is major - can be headline news but it does snow in Chicago and Boston during the winter. The problem is that even a 5 inch snowstorm constitutes major nowadays.

  17. We should all look in the mirror if we want to learn a lesson from the latest embellishment by a national news rock star.

    People claim they are serious actors but they really want to be rock star. Ironically, that makes Kim Kardashian a more authentic individual!

    Go look at some twitter profiles and you will see everyone is an expert this or a passionate that. Obviously, some are jesting and all in good fun; but others are dead serious. They really believe in themselves, even if there is no bearing in reality. Even some people posting here, they like to cite their own blog as if they have unique insight and everyone should listen to them. Perhaps some do. So this is not a slight. But the point is that culturally we are condition to get it out there. Sometimes to the bleeding edge.

    How often you hear articles telling you how you should dress up your LinkedIn profile. Decades ago, I went for a job interview. I actually had no interest in the job but the headhunter kept bugging me to go. So I went thinking maybe it is a good experience - and learn something new. Long story short, when I told one of the interviewers I am not sure about a technical issue (it was an IT job), he took a liking to me and advised me perhaps I should stick to the gun even if I don't know (By the way, I said I am not sure because I was sure he was wrong on the subject!)

    So perhaps this society partially encourages people to be boastful - until they get caught!

  18. "Perhaps?!" American "culture" is first and foremost narcissistic. I am not immune, either. Though I have my reservations about Mother Teresa, she was convincing in terming the US the most impoverished nation she'd visited. Spiritually impoverished. And I'm not speaking of religion here. I don't think she was, either.

  19. Maureen is right on in the sense that TV anchors are no longer the News Gods, they once were. The 6:00p CBS Evening News was my must-watch moment of the day, I almost never missed it. But once they started to stray from had news to soft and I could access the New York Times on the web, the cord was cut and now it's a rarity that I watch any news program.

    Despite this painful lapse, I still see Brian Williams as one of the more civilized and watchable TV news personalities. I wish him the best.

  20. Maureen talks about cat videos on TV but not noting that they're all over the internet as well.

    And what about Maureen's own columns? She doesn't lie but there is an obvious bias against the President but there is not a clear reason why she treats him so badly.

  21. I think Al Jazeera America has stepped up to fill the serious news gap. Can't say I appreciate every program (e.g. African, Asian and European soccer matches, not my passion), but its far more informative than any US "news." Yes, John Stewart is good, but not as wide and deep. Step up, Larry Wilmore. Adios, Stephen Colbert. Maureen wrote a great column here. Especially liked the under-stated reference to Diane Sawyer. Superb for what's unsaid. Thank you, Maureen.

  22. "...not a clear reason why she treats him (President Obama) so badly.

    There's a very clear reason. That's what she is paid to do. She is a pundit not a news reporter. Look at how "badly" she treated President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld; even to the extent of publishing a book about the former, "Bushworld - Enter At Your Own Risk".
    Maureen has consistently hammered the Clintons for glossing over the Monica Levinsky affair for political and personal advantage.

    But take heart. Look at the current field of Republican candidates. They really don't know what they're in for. Scott Walker or Marco Rubio vs Maureen Dowd? Not even close.

  23. It seems as if you are throwing stones in glass houses.

    The Fourth Estate has let us down terribly for some time now. It was in your very paper that false lies were planted by the Bush/Cheney administration to support the invasion of Iraq, with no real reckoning after we learned of how your paper had been played. Why Dick Cheney even had the temerity to go on all the news shows and quote the NY TImes to support his position on invading Iraq, when he knew he had planted those very lies/information in the NY Times.

    I find that to be a far more egregious blunder than Brian Willams confabulating about being under attack, but neither bode week for the press and media in our democracy.

  24. I cannot like this comment enough. Dick Cheney planting a fake story in the NY Times and then going on Meet the Press to state "as even the Ny Times is reporting today" should shame this paper until the end of time, yet they act as if that never happened. It is outrageous.

  25. Ahh, Bush and Cheney. That's the fall back?

  26. Yes, the New York Times gave us Jayson Blair and Judith Miller, among others. Glass houses, indeed.

  27. For NBC, this goes beyond viewers questioning Williams' integrity. What national or international leader, head of major government agency, or prominent scientist or medical person will consent to be interviewed by Williams? This incident will immediately be a distraction from the interviewed person's message and will, by association, either cast doubt on the validity of what's said or open what was said to undermining comments from critics who attack the association with Williams.

    Likewise, if a person of reputation, for example Vice President Joe Biden, was to do an interview with Williams, Biden's critics would attempt to sidetrack Biden's message by clamoring to know why Biden was helping resurrect Williams' career or flood the media with a host of similar questions.

    It's difficult to see any outcome other than Brian Williams and NBC News separating.

  28. I think you overestimate the importance of his character. If Williams keeps his job, and nothing else emerges, then months from now it's not going to be a big distraction or a big negative for interviewees, who are going on his show to publicize themselves or their positions.

  29. Do you mean the same Joe Biden who had to withdraw from the 1988 Presidential race due mainly to plagiarized speeches noted not once but at least twice by Maureen Dowd?

    If you mean that Joe Biden, I agree an interview with Brian Williams is probably not a good idea. Unless Maureen were invited to referee. Wait, add in Doris Kearns Goodwin and you've got an event many of us would fly hours to see.

  30. Lying makes life too complicated. A person has to remember which lie he told to who. Eventually the liar gets caught. William's career is over. Was it worth it to lie?

  31. Excellent point.

  32. When our President told lies, he did not resign, when the mother of all liars Colin Powell lied and caused thousands of lives by his WMD lie, he did not resign, Brian Williams misspoken story did not kill anyone or harm anyone, so why every tom, dick and harry plus Miss Dowd to boot, after him? I guess his salary is what gets your knickers in a twist! Just back off.

  33. I watch Brian Williams regularly yet criticize him frequently on NY Times comments because the Nightly News has become a weather report. As Jon Stewart notes, snow indeed falls in January sometimes. Why this is breaking news is because of ratings. Fear stokes ratings. So show snow, mudslides, wildfires and if that doesn't work, report on the latest war.

    When Obamacare was first introduced, the NBC Nightly News said something about how someone making $60,000 would pay a certain amount (something outlandish) for insurance. It made it sound bad. Someone making that much is probably going to have insurance through their employer. This was totally making Obamacare look bad. Biased reporting.

    And let's not get started regarding NBC's Today Show, which I hardly watch but sat through a horrible show with Sarah Palin in which the anchors repeatedly bent over backwards to call her "Governor" despite her having quit that job.

    As for Bruce Jenner, I just read that he was involved in a car accident. TMZ reports that he is fine but there are questions about whether he was being chased by the paparazzi. A woman DIED in the accident. Shades of Princess Di...

    Back to Brian: Will NBC News be brave enough to put African American Lester Holt in the anchor desk for good if Brian Williams is fired? We have a Black president but will we ever get a Black Nightly News anchor?

  34. There we go again...what in the h__ does color have to do with it. obama was elected because he is black and turned out to be nothing more than a community organizer with no leadership skills or the ability to make decisions. How about williams be replaced on merit! And spreaking of liars, what about
    "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor". Like williams, he knew at the time he was repeating this over and over, he knew it was a lie.

  35. Lester Holt is great.

  36. "...will we ever get a Black Nightly News anchor?"
    Easily. Lester Holt is good people.

  37. There are some self-aggrandizers
    Some lies for whom none are the wisers,
    And then there is Fox,
    Whom nobody knocks,
    Fact telling occasions surprises.

  38. There is Brian Williams, then there is Obama

  39. And yet you believe everything you read in the NYTimes? Oh the irony!

  40. If the truth can't be told
    By someone so bold
    Who sits in front of a camera

    Then how can we trust
    The fairy tale dust
    That comes form the mouth of Obama

  41. I simply can not understand what would lead Williams to embellish his experience like this.
    He had to know it would eventually be exposed. Why would someone in a multimillion dollar job, risk losing it for a simple prevarication?

    NBC Nightly News and the PBS New Hour have been the news hows I watch the most. Our local NBC station news is as about as sterile as it can get, and they are the best round here. When some event does occur that they do not understand, they bring in even more people to talk about it.

    I am sorry to see Williams go, but he has to. Well he is not irreplaceable, the cemeteries are full of irreplaceable people. I am one of those who remember Huntley Brinkley among others,. but the network news has become personality obsessed. Williams did go to where the news was, and his reporting was good, but now he has lost his credibility, it is sad.

    Hopefully, this will be an awakening call to the network.

  42. "I simply can not understand what would lead Williams to embellish his experience like this."....Remember Paul Ryan and his marathon time? Nobody forgets their marathon time - he was only off by more than an hour. I think there is a certain subset of people who are so engaged with their public persona that they are no longer able to distinguish between their own self image and what really happened.

  43. Read Lincoln's Gettsburg Address...Williams wanted to be part of the club that our the brave men, living and dead belonged to. Glory and honor must be earned...there isn't enough money on this planet that can buy what he tried to steal from our troops....

  44. "He had to know it would eventually be exposed."

    Do you think Bernie Madoff thought he wouldn't be exposed? Self-deception can be powerful when you are greedy for money or glory.

  45. In the military, these types of people are called "posers". They go well beyond telling "war stories". They claim to have medals they never were awarded; they claim to have been involved in certain engagements, when, in fact, they weren't. The guys and girls who were actually there have nothing but contempt for these liars.
    It's almost funny. When I returned from RVN many years ago, most of us hid the fact that we had served. We were often asked, "why didn't you get out of it? Everyone did." Now, we live in a time in which many have those "we support our troops " stickers. They've replaced the "Free Tibet" stickers as a sign that the occupants are "with it", "cool" and just generally fine people. What hypocrisy!
    Getting back to Mr. Williams, I wonder why a guy in his shoes would do it. I can only come up with some outsized need to be admired, with an ego that needs constant feeding.
    Some people have said that it's no big deal. Well, maybe. But, he lied. What else has he lied about?

  46. Where were you when Colin Powell lied to the world about WMD in Iraq? He was neither fired nor demoted nor lost his hefty pension.

  47. bout posers. I've seen them in shopping centers with camouflage uniforms on and trying to qualify for military discounts. I know that they're bogus because they do not know proper placements of ribbons, patches for rank, last names and units on their uniforms and caps. I have a sharp eye for uniform codes and can spot them in a minute. They bask in adulation when someone tells them "Patrick-I am a disabled veteran and am in complete agreement with you athank you for your service." They run from me when I closely question them about their units, where they were stationed and when; and if they knew certain officers. Mr. Williams reminds me of these military wannabees.

  48. I don't support "the troops", Patrick. I don't not support "the troops." I am indifferent to '"the troops."

    Is that unhypocritical enough for you?

    Also - Save Tibet vs. Combat Wounded Veteran.

    All the same to me.

  49. This goes well beyond Mr. Williams and his self aggrandizement but it is he, ironically, who will have tipped the scale in terms of what viewers believe or now smirk at, if indeed they are watching the abbreviated coverage of "news."

    Given the gravity of the world conditions today with armed conflict, the perpetration of inhumanity by ideological cults, it is an insult to viewers to consider much of what is now included by producers as news, that's "need to know".

    Williams' "misremembering' has also denigrated the work today, of many correspondents in the field, some of whom put their lives on the line to cover the story.

    Perhaps, for a brief period, Brian Williams fabrications,
    fibs or outright lies will have served to enlighten viewers demanding truth ...or will they, the anchors, the producers , still be thinking with the memorable line:
    "You can't handles the truth."

  50. Re: Williams Takes a Hiatus
    “One of the interesting things about this is there is no set date for return,”

    Well that is news. He is toast!

  51. don't bet on it! the msm is nothing more than 30 mins of talking points. true jounalism died out in the 80's, now it's all government controlled and they say what they want you to hear! it started under the clinton crew and has been going on since!

  52. Yes, the "anchor" positions usually do a real disservice to the real reporters in the field. The other evening, I checked out NBC nightly news and felt so terrible for the real reporter reporting from the Syrian region following the introduction of the hairspray introducer. What a contrast. One of them was a faux, a zero and the other a long time expert who has put his life on the line to try to give us real news.

  53. But TV news now is rife with cat, dog and baby videos, weather stories and narcissism.

    **********

    Sorry, but weather actually is legitimate news these days.

  54. Really? Even they get it wrong :-(

  55. Jim Cantore is not far from Williams on the faux action stage

  56. "Sorry, but weather actually is legitimate news these days."

    Yes, if the report is correct. But saying he saw bodies float by when he was in a hotel on dry ground is not appropriate weather reporting.

  57. CNN was actually pre-empting their usual terror and sabre-rattling coverage on Saturday because of LyinBrianGate. Poppy Harlow fumed that it was "too soon" for Maureen Dowd to have exposed Brian Williams as a phony. Poppy hopes he gets his job back, because they're all like family.

    I'm glad Maureen mentioned Walter Cronkite, because the longtime producer of his news program died just last weekend. Sandy Socolow was a trailblazer for TV news. It was largely due to Socolow that the American people learned the awful truth about Vietnam. And thus was the war dealt a mortal blow by the power of independent journalism.

    Brian Williams, on the other hand, bathed himself in jingoistic glory and glamor. The viewers were numbed and awed, and the horror show went on. Those, of course, were the years of the "embed" -- the sneaky way that the Bush cartel controlled reporters by giving them unprecedented access to the battlefield and all the military toys and garb at their disposal. Chelsea Manning, the truly courageous soldier who did expose the war crimes -- including film of helicopter snipers shooting Reuters reporters to death -- languishes in prison while infotainer Williams is raking in the millions for performing the joint function of actor and propagandist.

    There is no anti-war movement because we're not being told the truth about any of the wars. But now that Williams has been exposed as a fraud, let the chips fall where they may, and let all our eyes and minds be opened.

  58. Spot on. Except that I don't think the Bush "cabal" gave reporters "unprecedented access". I think access to the battlefield was carefully controlled. At least the bulk of the new reports that I read seemed to suggest that.

  59. Wasn't Sandy Socolow the guy who spoke of Cronkite as being his ''mouthpiece'' for all the times when he himself really wished the news was a bit more politically driven? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

  60. Very good point about Manning

  61. Williams isn't the only liar on television.

    And I'm not referring to Fox.

    I want to talk about the weather. The other day I was half-watching a weather broadcast on a local station. The map on the screen showed the temperatures going lower and lower -- down to 3. So there was the impression that this meant 3 degrees. Then I saw the sign on top. "Chill." Not "wind chill," as it is usually referred to, but "chill." Well, that is downright misleading and if you are not paying attention and happen to look at the screen while walking through the room, you would think it was going to be 3 degrees one night!

    And what does a "wind chill" or "real feel" really mean? I often feel cold, my partner feels hot. So what would a 40 degree or 3 degree day feel like to each of us? It would vary!

    Television lies every day. Don't even get me started on the commercials that show people my age and older dancing and having fun while someone talks about side effects including death and fine print in which no one can read.

    Bring back Bob Schiefer and I'll turn on CBS. Let's bring back old fashioned gravitas.

  62. Just as long as you schieffer off Face the Nation, he's much more intelligent and truthful when he reads a script

  63. Interesting that you mention weather reporters. Or should I say weather entertainers. NBC Today Show's Al Roker runs around the morning set flapping his arms. Here in Atlanta the local CBS morning news weather lady drones on about "insanely cold temperatures" when they fall below freezing. It's not about the weather anymore, but about getting the most laughs. Each of the entertainers I've mentioned succeed at being clowns rather than respected meteorologists.

  64. Gravitas comes with strength of character and honest reporting. I respect nobody from the traditional news outlets because they have neither.

  65. "wondering why TV news programs only hired pretty white male clones."....Guess Dowd never heard of Katie Couric or Diane Sawyer. As for Brian Williams, maybe he should try politics where self aggrandizement is revered as an art form.

  66. Maureen Dowd should tune in to the PBS News Hour once in a while. I believe it qualifies as a news program. (The best on the air, in my opinion.) She'd see Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff, and Margaret Warner getting ever more air time.

    The internet may have made network news less relevant. But it hasn't made all TV news irrelevant. Committment to the principles of journalism still counts for something.

  67. Also, next in line for Mr. Williams' job would appear to be Lester Holt (a different shade of pretty).

  68. Well, I wouldn't call Holt pretty per se but I doubt that NBC would dare to make that move. They'll do some national search and wind up with another blonde. Maybe a woman this time.

  69. Cronkite risked his career to go on TV and tell the truth about the fact that we were losing the Vietnam War.

    Rather did the same when he told the truth about W going AWOL, and it cost him his.

  70. Walter Cronkite was extremely well-established both professionally and financially when he stated that the US could not win the war in Vietnam (not that we were "losing"). He also likely cleared his comments with the network before presenting them on his broadcast. Therefore, he did not risk his career.

    And Dan Rather was not pushed into retirement (he as not fired) because of his reporting "about W going AWOL." On September 8, 2004, Rather reported on 60 Minutes Wednesday that a series of memos critical of President George W. Bush's Texas Air National Guard service record had been discovered in the personal files of Lt. Bush's former commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian.[28] Once copies of the documents were made available on the internet, their authenticity was quickly called into question. Much of this was based on the fact that the documents were proportionally printed and displayed other modern typographic conventions unavailable on military typewriters of the 1970s. This led to claims that the memos were forgeries.

  71. The media, by and large, sold the Vietnam War in exactly the way war and other policy is now sold. I remember reading Time and other magazines that did just incessantly glorified it. In fact, the reporting led me to be convinced the war was a just one until on a dare I did a research paper on Vietnam and was appalled at what I discovered. The news now seems more like a press release from the White House than it once did, and finding a dissenting voice is very difficult. But it was never easy and always a problem.

  72. Cronkite was wrong. We weren't loosing the war, after the failed Tet Offensive, the enemy was no longer able to effectively field an offensive force. The people quit believing the government though which led to winning the war, but lost the peace.

    Rather was caught up in a lie he knowingly told. Liars gonna lie and never let the truth get in the way of a story. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35531-2004Sep20.html

    Often, the truth is stranger than fiction, but as with OJ, some ego-maniacs are so much in a rush to convict a guilty person, they rely on weak evidence or make up evidence.

    Liars get caught lying, that's all this is about.

  73. He embellished for the same reason all journalists and other story tellers embellish. It made a better story.

  74. He is/was an anchor not a journalist ... he's supposed to read the news, not editorialize.

  75. I get a lot of mileage, when I tell stories about my own life, by telling exactly what happened, which usually involves an embarrassing moment of stupidity. Granted, maybe I embellish my own stupidity. It makes for a better story.

  76. But did it? Is better defined as the back drop and gee whiz look and effects rather than the quality and lucidity of the narrative itself? This is like modern movies with mediocre actors and lousy plots just amping up the explosions and gun fire to bedazzle a teen age minded audience who can ooh and ahh at the effects and not use their brains on the actual story.

  77. I used to watch "The News With Brian Williams" which was broadcast on MSNBC and CNBC at 9:00PM Monday-Friday before he got his "Nightly News" gig. I was a working parent and that was the only time I could catch up on the news.

    I stopped watching during the run up to the war in Iraq. Al Gore had given a speech that day against a US invasion in Iraq. In his run up to his lede on the speech, Williams acted like Gore was an insignificant politician who had the gall to disagree with the Bush/Cheney propaganda machine's meme that the US needed to rush to war with Iraq. He wondered aloud what Rush Limbaugh would think of Gore's overreach. As far as Williams was concerned, Limbaugh was the statesman and Gore was the nut job. It was instantly clear to me Williams was the worst kind of journalist, one who embraced popular opinion, not a search for the truth.

    I never watched that show again. I've never watched "NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams," either. I would be happy to see him go.

  78. Wow, I had no idea but this doesn't surprise me. I recently read an article in New York Magazine - it would have been published sometime last summer or fall -- in which it was said that a number of liberal journalists saw an opportunity to -- as some commenter said here -- jump on the bandwagon for the Iraq War.

    The denigration of Al Gore was horrendous and it took place here in Maureen Dowd's columns, too. All that being said, it's amazing that Gore actually did win the election. Are you listening, Supreme Court?

  79. I don't remember the exact moment that I knew Williams was a fraud. It may have been the incident Mary related or another. At any rate it was obvious to me that the man was not only a mental lightweight but a man of inferior ethical standards.

    I stopped watching TV years ago and now only get it via internet or NPR so I was amazed when I realized that TV anchors were paid such money and accorded such acclaim. Uikes! I grew up with Huntley-Brinkley when journalists were just that...not the mega-stars that they have become. Even Tom Brokaw who seems to be a decent fellow, fell into the trap of believing that he was some authority of some kind, just because of his position. Why people accord these news anchors with so much acclaim is beyond me. Their main qualifications are good cheekbones and good hair. The trouble really begins when they start to believe they are what the networks say they are.

    I recommend that all TV news anchors be required to watch William Hurt in "Broadcast News" before daring to appear on camera. Or perhaps they cold hire Hurt to replace Williams! I'd watch that!

  80. Well, its starting to look like NBC will stick a fork in him, as he is done. Yes, his stories may have been over the top exaggerations and embellishments. But it was an era for that. At least he never told us that he saw depots of Weapons of Mass Destruction, mobile Anthrax factories, or Al Qaeda training camps, as a certain other tall tale tellers of that era did.

  81. Right - it's all about moral relativism. That really gets us far along the way.

  82. I guess you missed the very real expose in the Washington Post this past year about the WMDs our military have found in Iraq and gotten sick from, every year since we went there.

  83. Lying is lying. Period.

  84. To quote Bill Maher if Brian Williams loses his NBC job he should have no trouble moving on to FOX where his ability to tell the same lie with a straight face over a period of years would no doubt put him in very good stead.

  85. Some examples might be offered when proffering such pronouncements. Your opinion that a fact isn't a fact doesn't make it not one.

  86. Nice shift. Have any Fox employees stolen war glory?
    Or, we can stay with the current story. NBC's big star did.

  87. Yes, as opposed to a good progressive network like MSNBC whose sense of integrity and truth shows in hiring Al Sharpton of Tawana Brawley fame for a daily evening program. At least Brian Williams didn't slander anyone out of whole cloth in a giant race-mongering hoax, or incite rioting that resulted in the death of a visiting rabbinical scholar by a frenzied mob.

  88. "TV news now is rife with cat, dog and baby videos, weather stories and narcissism."

    The MSM would rather present fluff pieces instead of covering climate change. There is virtually no coverage of the TPP. This trade deal is modeled on past agreements, i.e., they are designed to benefit corporate America at the expense of workers, consumers, public health and safety, the environment, and U.S. sovereignty.

    The MSM has not covered the poison pill passed by Congress in 2006 to privatize the Post Office by mandating that the agency prefund health care for 75 years in a ten-year period, something no other public or private entity is required to do.

    The MSM does not discuss that the U.S. is the only developed country that does not provide health care to all its people. And that we spend twice as much per capita as other countries while tens of millions of people are uninsured and underinsured and hundreds of thousands become bankrupt each year due to medical expenses.

    The MSM media goes along with the elites' meme that Social Security is going broke and that the program is a main driver of the deficit. The facts are that Social Security has $2.7 trillion in its trust fund, it can pay every benefit for the next 18 years, it is funded by the payroll tax, and it has not added one penny to the deficit.

    While I have a problem with what Brian Williams did, where are the discussions about the serious problems facing the country?

  89. I do not seem to remember Dowd being so exervcised when
    GW Bush disappeared from the face of the earth for 18 months
    when he was supposed to be in the TANG.

    Williams misremembered. It happens all the time. The human mind
    is fallible instrument. This is a whole lotta nothing

  90. If I was in a helicopter that was shot down. I would remember that, if for nothing else, than the thought I might die. Sorry, you don't misremember something like that. You just want to weave a good story.

  91. Great stuff. You might criticize Ms. Down for her style or other things, but there is an honesty in her assessments.

  92. I think Ms. Dowd is correct to place the NBC Nightly News anchor's very, very bad week in the larger context of network news losing what once made it so important to our country. The fact that talented performers on cable shows have given us so much substance through humor, however, does not make up for what we have lost and not just because their audiences are much smaller and largely already conditioned to embrace their messages. Active news reporters and anchors should never court celebrity, but for particularly talented individuals such as Mr. Williams the temptation is rather great. Brian Williams made the mistake of mischaracterizing his closeness to enemy fire, but he is very much a product of his time and our time. It's very difficult to see how a network anchor can focus solely on hard news anymore, given that since at least the rise of "60 Minutes" several decades ago news is expected to turn a profit. John Oliver in particular is doing amazing work, and some of it echoes what was visible on network news, three or four decades ago.

  93. Brian Williams would NEVER wear a Hermes necktie.
    He is a Brooks Bros. man all the way.
    Although, I noticed on Friday he didn't wear his usual rep stripe tie.
    Americans visiting the U.K. after the war also learned not to wear them; most of the stripe/color combinations derive from British army regimental colors (hence the "rep" in rep stripe), and one could get into an awkward situation at closing time.
    But, Maureen, I think the Vatican approves spanking the anchor now.So many topics; so few columns...

  94. And what about Deborah Turness, the head of NBC News? With most of her experience in England, is she aware that these guys she's overseeing are losing face because of their faces? Williams is a charmer and so was David Gregory from what I hear. Luke Russert is as cute as a pair of knitted booties if you watch him with the sound muted. That leaves us with Chuck Todd, the man with only a high school diploma who gets to be a wise guy "sitting down" with the President of the United States. Oh, and there's Andrea Mitchell. Yes. Not much for Ms. Turness to work with.

  95. In the spot-on 1987 film "Broadcast News," the producer tells her ethically challenged but cosmetically appealing Brian Williams-like anchor, "You totally crossed the line."

    To which he responds, "It's hard not to cross it. They keep moving the little sucker -- don't they!?!"

    Actually, they don't. At least when it comes to the most important journalistic line of all -- be it electronic or print: The Line of Truth. It's the threshold where fact blurs into fiction, integrity gets sacrificed, and trust is lost.

    Mr. Williams, who enthusiastically embraces entertainment values more than any other TV news personality, even to the point of late-night slow-jamming with Jimmy Fallon, has shown himself to be a self-aggrandizing fabulist. He has betrayed his audience and lost his credibility.

    So when it comes to occupying a network anchor chair proudly defined over the decades by the likes of Walter Cronkite, John Chancellor and Peter Jennings, there's only one word left to describe him: unworthy.

  96. Cross-media ownership has degraded reporting. TV news, presented as entertainment by polished, attractive celebrity-anchors, with little relation to journalism—but plenty of promotion for parent company conglomerate-owned businesses. It's no wonder their anchor's personal stories don't align with the truth. Major network 'news' is a far cry from Edward R. Murrow journalism—it's about as 'real' as 'reality TV.' I'm ever thankful for PBS.

  97. Network news has been entertainment, not serious journalism, long before Attkisson was "let go" by CBS for fear of offending the Administration. Brian Williams' special flavor was to dramatize the news by making himself its hero. This may sound ridiculous, but obviously NBC found it was a successful marketing strategy to promote the soaps, psychotropics, and erection aids that kept them in business. Williams never gave us objective facts or serious analysis--who would go to the networks, any of them, for that?--but rather subjective experiences that we could savor. We experienced the news through him; we became vicarious heroes too. This pattern inevitably leads to a loss of the sense of reality, and indeed its most effective practitioner can;t have a very strong sense of reality to begin with. That "deficiency" is what made Williams so valuable to NBC.

  98. When will someone with a voice of authority say the obvious in plain English? The man has to go!
    Here is how Comcast does it. Release a statement that the news anchor is on a 30 day leave.
    In the meantime grant him his severance as they inform him he is done. He won't sue because his severance will be huge and he can't alter the fact he lied.
    Three weeks into the leave Williams announces his retirement with an announcement that he intends to produce independent news chronicles. No one will care and in three weeks no one will even notice the statement.
    Done deal.

  99. And of course, there will be a book deal, which everyone will read.

    And perhaps a moment with Oprah.

  100. Thank you, Ms. Dowd, for putting a link to the story by Stars and Stripes reporter Travis Tritten, who broke this story wide open. He should be nominated for a Pulitzer at the very least.

    As people search the internet to fact check Mr. Williams' other stories, it has come to light that an NBC producer who was with Williams on the helicopter, told a story that they were shot down, a year later after the War. I am sure there will be more stories like this to surface. Also, I am also confused as to how Sgt. Terpak- the veteran Mr. Williams honored in a segment a week ago who he says saved his life after his heliopter was shot down- could keep a straight face and why he didn't set the record straight.

    More than anything, the men who were on the Chinook that was shot at were in very real danger. At no time was Mr. Williams in danger. The fact that he told a lie to make him part of the hero's club is very disturbing, and an insult to the military.

    -- From a sister of a reporter who was embedded during the Iraq war but who never made anything up.

  101. Put a fork in all the anchors. After Maureen's [much deserved] takedown of them, they're done. Ouch.

  102. While it's true that network news is not nearly as important/revered as it was once was, the same could be said for print journalism. For anyone under 40, the notion that you would pay for the honor of having a piece of news available to you, is anathema to them. Digital subscriptions are not the answer - again, people are now used to getting their news for free and will not be paying for it.

  103. In my youth I was more tolerant at accepting, "Tall Tales" but, I was raised to tell the truth always regardless of the consequences! Now, that I am older and wiser I find this behavior in adults appalling.

    What is more disturbing is all the important people that are defending Brian William's "Tall Tale". Today, our society and the press really stretch the boundaries on this, "tall tale" topic ie, Hillary .... "because of sniper fire, we had to duck and run to the vehicles"

    But, history should note the biggest one in this century that was knowingly repeated over, and over, and over, and over and claimed to be a "PROMISE"!

    June 15, 2009: "I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage — they like their plan and, most importantly, they value their relationship with their doctor. They trust you. And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what."

  104. That claim by President Obama was based on naively thinking that insurance companies would act in good faith. He was wrong about that, as he was wrong thinking that Republicans in Congress would have to govern, no matter how much they disliked him personally.

  105. "Walter Cronkite, because he risked his career to go on TV and tell the truth about the fact that we were losing the Vietnam War." He wasn't telling the truth when he said that statement. However, Cronkite, making himself the news helped lose the war by destroying support for the effort. The Tet offensive was a decisive defeat for the NVA and the VC and it took them until 1972 to recover. If we had followed through, at least the South Vietnamese wouldn't had had to suffer under communism for the last 40 years.

  106. Normally this sort of revisionism isn't worth acknowledging. However, because people may believe this, fail to learn from history, and repeat the same mistakes yet again (Iraq being the first again), a reply is necessary.

    We lost the war in Vietnam. To "win" we would have had to nuke and destroy Vietnam, as Barry Goldwater once suggested, or go on a full war footing and destroy Vietnam conventionally as we did Germany in WWII. Fortunately, we were not stupid or barbaric enough to do either. By the time Cronkite came out against the war, I clearly remember that this country was violently split between the war's defenders and opponents and would never unite to commit to either of those alternatives, or even to continuing supporting 500,000 troops indefinitely holding the line. We and the Vietnamese lost far too many for the mistake as it is; more would have been an even greater abomination.

  107. Almost 30 years ago William Hurt's character in "Broadcast News" faked his tears while interviewing a rape victim. And then he went on to a cushy network anchor job. As ever, art imitates life imitating art imitating life.

    In short, Brian Williams should've known better.

  108. Remember that cringe-inducing George W. Bush landing on the aircraft carrier in a military uniform to deliver his "Mission Accomplished" speech very shortly after the Iraq invasion? To borrow some wording from Maureen Dowd, why did the Commander in Chief feel that he needed Hemingwayesque, bullets-whizzing-by flourishes to puff himself up, to the point where it humiliated our entire nation in the eyes of the world?

  109. I see in the breaking news space above that Mr. Williams will not be doing the news for the next several days at least. Maureen Dowd piling on bodes badly for him.

  110. There is no way he comes back. After being exposed as a liar, he has quickly become a laughing stock. He's toast.


  111. Well, it's not like disastrous Commander in Chief, Eureka College guy cheerleader, WW II dodger Reagan, didn't lie about being on site, filming the liberation of a concentration camp.
    When he never got closer to combat than a film set in Culver City.
    Just like most disastrous Commander in Chief, Phillips Andover prep guy cheerleader, Viet Nam dodger Boy George's closest brush with combat was in the skies over Texas.

  112. In retrospect, maybe the biggest mistake that NBC made was letting Will Ferrell slip through its fingers rather than making him an offer he couldn't refuse to become Tom Brokaw's successor. There certainly would have been less confusion about whether what the anchor was giving us was news or entertainment.

  113. Maureen questions the role of an anchor in this day and age of baby and puppy videos that are so prevalent.

    Watch Bret Baier's newscast on Fox News if you want to see a newscast done the old school way. You may not agree with every 'fact' provided, but that's why they report and you decide. Read the Times for another perspective. Seriously.

  114. "You may not agree with every 'fact' provided,"

    The thing about facts is that they're not up to agreement or disagreement. They just are...

  115. My first reaction was, “Et tu, Williams! Then fall, evening news.” The broadcast networks’ evening news programs are simply not what they used to be and this very disconcerting behavior by one of its most trusted anchors, pretty much sounds the death knell for the genre.

    I was more disappointed with his convoluted apology that, to borrow Mr. Williams’ word, “conflated” regret with bombast. It masked the embarrassment of having been exposed with sort of assuming that his audience would let this slide. Even if they do, his competitors and their audiences won’t.

    Personally, I was a long time Brokaw fan and gave up on Brian Williams’ newscast after trying it for five years. Then tried ABC’s Diane Sawyer before switching to Scott Pelley of CBS. Pelley might not be Cronkite, but somehow he conveys more gravitas than either Williams or ABC’s David Muir.

    After the Williams let down, it’s hard to imagine an evening news anchor causing a future American president to lament, something akin to, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost America!”

    Like I said before, “Et tu, Williams! Then fall, evening news.”

  116. Brian Williams has a tendency to insert himself into the story. He's not really a journalist, more like a newscaster celebrity. Brian Williams always seems to want to be the guy that is the center of attention at the party. He's not the only one that's ego centric, but when your desire for attention gets in the way of the truth, you don't belong on the news.

  117. Walter Cronkite never told the truth about Vietnam. He made up the losing part to give Bobby Kennedy a boost over Johnson. The war was not lost; Democrats simply forced us out. In the process American credibility was inexorably damaged. No foreign country considers that our word is our bond, knowing that liberal politicians aided by a toadying media will pull the plug whenever it suits.

  118. Williams’s lies weren't about his job.
    They were about his low self-esteem. He was a “want-to-be”. He has a basic flawed character – his lies prove it and his underlying attitude supports it.
    He needs to be on a shrinks couch not on TV.
    And his handlers – very poor judges of character, and these are the people we trust to tell us what is going on. They are playing a game, a game of lies and half-truths. Just like to snake oil salesman of old – say anting to make a buck.

    What a shame. And the bigger shame are all the millennials and low information liberals who believe them.

    Watch their faces and hear their words – in this case Williams and Rivera (Fox) are want-a bes – always getting their picture taken with real men.

    Verify everything you can. Cross check with other news sources. And apply common sense -

  119. NBC big-shots warned a year ago that Brian Williams was constantly inflating his biography? As a woman named McBride has said already, "This is big!" Or taking the words you use seriously -- pathological. indefensible -- or your metaphor about gnawing on his bones, you imply that he's finished now, maybe at last because of the way this came out. Three cheers for our veterans & the courage of Stars & Stripes!

  120. Even before I read this column I sent NBC News an email saying my days of watching their Nightly News are over. All the commercials interrupted by weather stories and people magazine fluff was enough. Now with Brian Willaims making stuff up, I'm done.

  121. Unless you're a Nielson family, your watching or not won't making any difference to the network's bottom line.

  122. To paraphrase the Simon and Garfunckle song "where have you gone Edward R Murrow the public (and the media) longs for you".

  123. Too in love with celebrity. Overwhelmed with confidence that comes from little education and an abundance of money. power and celebrity. "journalists" are not supposed to be bought, or celebrated as power stars- joking on late night or whatever. It was once a position of trust. He was annoying because he was holier than thou and would rip everyone he could apart in a pompous way. Finally someone bothered to look at his resume? Guess that should have been done day one before they created the multimedia empty suit. Now hes just another overpaid super rich liar. Sad part is they will probably take him back and give him another 40 million dollar raise because lack of integrity is obviously a qualification.

  124. Brian is now very unhappy he invented the internet.

  125. I am glad to see this come apart because the country is suffering under horrible leadership from both parties and this joy riding instead of the hard and important work of journalism getting done it is all about these knuckleheads like "Whoppers Williams"

  126. Does it matter why, ... now, that he lied? (Or rather, embellished, which is the politically correct term that politicians like Hillary use).

    Remember Hillary and her experience in Bosnia saying she took ground fire when all she did was shake the hand of a politician on the tarmac? Must have been a hot earth-shattering handshake.

    Mr Williams lied and got caught. And he got caught big time.
    Viz the Katrina report he gave also, he reported his watching bogus bodies float when there was not enough water in the streets to have a cup of tea from in the French Quarter.

    I suppose he will be required to retire now to Peter Pan's ship with his daughter Allison at the wheel.

    Maybe he can become the permanent host of SNL.

  127. But, gosh-darn it, when he smiles that smile of his and his eyes crinkle at the corners, well you just gotta forgive him!

  128. When I watch the news I do not want to have to wonder, "Is it real or is it Lyin Brian misremembering?"

    Adios, NBC.

  129. This is the result of trying to appear larger than life while residing inside a small box: for the last 15 years or so the nightly news casts have been a race to the bottom filled with caricatures of real news men.

    Don Henley had it right in Dirty Laundry:

    "I used to be an actor,
    But I wound up here.
    I only have to look good,
    I don't have to be clear."

  130. Wasn't bothered by the fake rocket attack having known an actual military pilot who remembered bailing of his plane...a story he told for 30 years, (fully believing it) that it turns out, happened to another guy in his squadron.
    (I guess after 25 years, stuff can run together.)

    Which is why the police are quick to remind us, "eye witness testimony can be shakey."

    However, as much as I like Brian, I admit his using my news hour - in which so precious little news is reported anyway, to "feature" his daughter's Broadway debut, bothered me. That's when, somewhat jarred, I fully realized I really wasn't comfortable with Brian's increasing amount of "slow news jams" and guest appearances on late night TV.

    Night news is slowly morphing into the type of "happy family chatter" that passes for morning news, these days. Am really glad everyone is hap hap happy working together, but I really do miss hard news. Why is the news all but a by-gone area?

  131. Brian Williams will still try to rationalize his way out of this mess while deflecting hearers and readers from the truth -- that he is a man who lied extensively in order to further his own reputation. He didn't get "confused." He didn't mis-remember. He wasn't suffering from the "fog of war." He lied...embellished...fabricated...and told half-truths in the effort to make him look like he in risk of life and limb in his quest to "report the news." In reality, he actually reported half-truths and lies.

    Other than members of the clergy, medical profession or legal profession, no one's honesty is as important to the hearers than someone working in the news business. Unfortunately for Williams, his credibility is shot.

    Of course, NBC might claim that he was born this way and any critics are suffering from "mythophobia."

  132. Maureen Dowd has hit all the right buttons here--from the years of degradation of real news from the major networks, to the ability to do the foolish and unnecessary shenanigans top "anchors" involve themselves in, to the only real news coming from Stewart, Colbert, Oliver and Maher.

  133. Do not try to tell me that Deborah Turness, the President of NBC News just learned of this pattern of embellishment.

    Personalities like Lyin' Brian Willaims do not go out into the field. on their own. There are literally dozens and dozens of NBC support personnel involved and many people in upper management who hear the stories and rumors.

    Williams' and the lies he spewed have been well known to NBC News for years now.
    This is not restricted to Williams alone. It is an absolute systemic problem and Deborah Turness is responsible for restoring integrity to her news service.

    When people like Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric and Moureen ODowd say he has to go, that is about all she wrote.

    Nothing less than Williams' expulsion from the anchor seat of NBC News will be necessary to restore any sense of journalistic responsibility.

  134. Maureen,

    As a combat vet in Iraq, thank you for taking a stand against what Brian WIlliams did. And standing up for facts and truth.

  135. She didn't, she went back & forth in the whole article

  136. Seriously, if I'm his publicist, I tell Brian to go on SNL or Colbert, say, "Look, I'm a guy. I did it to get chicks," then, bust into the Harlem Shake. It'll go viral, everybody'll get a laugh, and all will be forgiven. I absolutely kid you not.

  137. So William's excursions into entertainment are evidence of his moral and ethical failings? Good to know.

  138. Brian Williams I once almost revered, but, as more Americans awakened to his place as little more than a placeholder, or so-called "pretty face" in the giant "News" distributors' game of crony-capitalism/crony government agents, most everyone I know has quietly reviled his White liberal aristocrisy games of deceptive and faked flamboyance.

  139. Yes, Williams may have courted celebrity off-camera but he reported the news with integrity. Surely the higher ups at NBC were also pushing for the silly "cat video" stories in the face of the increasingly irrelevancy of the nightly network news broadcast.

    The real story here the viciousness of the sharks that circle once there is blood in the water: the perpetually aggrieved veterans groups; the pundits on the left and the right with axes to grind; and the internet trolls who lust for any kind of media kill.

    It's too bad, as we lost a good man and a good reporter...

  140. I had to laugh at "hair apparent". These guys do have nice hair, don't they?

    The flogging of Brian Williams smacks of unconscious hypocrisy to me. Not that I think it is okay he lied or exaggerates his experience or has a fantastic ego. But the whole appeal to objectivity and trust is fanciful. Do people really think there are not deeply embedded falsifications, exaggerations, obfuscations, propaganda and outright lies projected through numerous "anchors of objectivity" via corporate news programs just about every broadcast minute? Unrealities which, by the way, are more significant than whether or not a journalist was in a helicopter under fire during an illegitimate war. If Williams loses his job, does that mean everything is all right with the world when we get a "trustworthy" replacement?

  141. I'm not a spoil-sport or a party pooper but Williams, who was my go to anchor on weeknights, made me uncomfortable with some of his show biz spectacles, as on SNL or Fallon. One cannot picture Walter Cronkite playing for laughs or Ed Murrow tooting the piccolo. Major newscasters should be dignified.

  142. The only thing I can think of saying (to BW) is 'go away'. I've heard military types object that somehow he is offending them, but that concern is trivial in comparison to the betrayal of trust to the American people. He may take a sabbatical in the hope that this will blow over, but that hope is simply the last refuge of a egotist. It's over, dude.

  143. His is just being consistent with the agenda of the major networks. Lie whenever possible.
    Doubt it? Look at the unemployment numbers that are reported and then judt do the math

  144. social media taught me to disregard maureen dowd for her naivety to pot.
    but gosh darn this was one of the best things i've read in a long long time.

  145. Nice Zoolander reference with the "Blue Steel".

  146. As a veteran of combat, I'm most insulted by the fact the he tried to "Steal Valor" it only goes to show just what kind of human being he truly is. A Liar. As a 'News' reporter all credibility in everything he says is lost and the lies are obviously going to be more glaring exposed with the age of social media... I have read that a couple of the veterans that were there that day for years were trying to call him out on his lie and NO ONE LISTENED... If NBC Knew that he was a Blowhard they had a responsibility to their audience to stop him...

  147. You nailed it Moe. Williams is nothing but a $10MM a year wannabe who yearns to have his audience believe he is a serious and courageous newsman always ready to risk life and limb to bring them the truth. If he had wanted to demonstrate genuine gratitude to the retired veteran at the Rangers game, he would have done it quietly by simply taking the guy out to dinner and to the game. Instead, Williams inserted himself (in a falsely valorous light) into that soldier's honorable service by staging a spotlighted announcement at the game that could be replayed on his Nightly News broadcast. This and other revelations about Williams' braggadocio must have Huntley and Brinkley rolling in their graves.

  148. Reminds of George W. Bush in his flight suit after his fighter jet lands on an aircraft carrier in 2003. In both cases, ego is served over substance.

  149. "...Muir acted out the facial expressions he uses during his broadcast: “the listening face,” the “really listening” face, and the “really concerned” face."

    Right now he's in front of the mirror practicing the "contrite yet fundamentally virtuous and high minded" face for his return--should there be one.

  150. Everyone wants to be Paul Harvey. It's the business model and they all need to stop the madness. Look at the fools running for Prez. For Gods' sake, they are mostly reality "stars" and talk show hosts. God save us all!

  151. I had a dismal day at work this past Friday, but the Williams story makes my work-based nuisances seem very trivial.

    So I for one am forever grateful to Brian Williams.

  152. and now you know why I don't watch mainstream news including Fox. Everyone is fake, the news is distorted

  153. He surely has to resign!

  154. His disorder is called progressivism. Progressives live in a world almost entirely based on lies or distortions that allows them to feel good about themselves as a sort of confession. Hence we have the war on women, climate change, income inequality, wealthy not paying taxes, corporate greed, most gay issues, most race issues etc etc. All the while the progressives when not preaching are busy lining their pockets with money from special deals, using every trick in the book to avoid taxes, using influence to get their kids into Harvard and Yale , and flying
    nonstop in private jets. In truth Brian Williams is no different from Obama, Hillary, or Krugman. They tell so many lies that it's no wonder they can't keep things straight. What is more ironic than the current epitome of progressivism Elizabeth Warren lying about being an Indian to get ahead and making tens of million of dollars from flipping distressed houses all the while leading the charge against income inequality. It's like a comedy and a Greek Tragedy all rolled into one.

  155. Maureen, you are the best. As always. But, you missed the obvious. We need to put the Williams story in the bud. Enough of that. Why? It will affect the Hillary R. Clinton White House campaign. Press will connect Bosnia and sniper adventure. So, let us take Williams saga off. That way, no one will talk about the issue when the campaign starts.

  156. Let's not overlook the overrated Tom Brokaw, who was no David Brinkley and paved the way for a lightweight like Brian Williams. NBC permitted Brokaw to insert himself into World War II fame with his Greatest Generation book and even received greater prominence at the dedication of the World War II Memorial than some of the heroic living vets of that horrible war.

  157. NBC is getting it's clock cleaned by Williams-Gate. If it wishes to have even a shred of credibility left after the smoke clears-they will remove Williams from his spot.

    Circling the wagons on this one is a death-wish. Cut and regroup.

  158. "One anchor exerted moral authority once and that was Walter Cronkite, because he risked his career to go on TV and tell the truth about the fact that we were losing the Vietnam War."

    At no time was the United States losing the Vietnam war. Vietnam was not then, and is not now, capable of defeating the United States in war. The United States lost the war because of Walter Cronkite's opinion, expressed on air, and believed by a public less sophisticated in their consumption of news than today's public. Cronkite was partly responsible for turning public opinion in the U.S. against the war. I do not consider Cronkite a man with moral authority, or any authority of any kind. He was a liberal reporter before the public realized that all MSM reporters are liberal.

    It's my fault—I mean I came here and I read the article. I got what I deserved. The view of the world as seen through the eyes of a peevish high school diva.

    Doug Santo
    Pasadena, CA

  159. The mindless marketeers have for years preached that people do not want to see or hear bad news, unless of course some melodrama is incorporated .
    Add to that the appeal to a detached adolescent audience where social garbage has become part of breaking headlines.
    There are very few examples of coherent journalism and the authors mention of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Bill Maher as what might be considered the brightest lights in the darkest realms of stupidity.
    Of course the oligarchs who run this plutocracy could not be happier.

  160. ... And HILLARY ................

  161. I'm sure everyone has told some tall tales about themselves during their life.Usually these tall tales stop after college.When you make mega millions just for reading a nightly teleprompter,you need to rein yourself in and stop any appearances of impropriety.Brian needs to be fired or reassigned to stacking bbs in the corner of his office.

  162. This column is one of Ms. Dowd's best.
    Launching several threads, she ties them together so that I am left thinking about 50 years of journalism history and trends. Were I a J-school professor, I'd be teaching this Monday morning. This is evokes several case studies artfully wrapped into one profound "wow, I get it".

  163. It has been a long time coming. This tremendous hubris on the part of the network anchor goes all the way back to a spectacled Cronkite, made leading-man handsome in Jennings and then poured into what Dowd suggests is nothing but a haircut. Williams tried to find his way back to being a real reporter, rather than an actor, but got lost along the way. He was right when he once said information is not knowledge, but wasn't humble enough to accept his role as an actor reading someone else's story.

  164. Let us put the Williams saga under the mat. Please. We have to make sure that our dear leader, Hillary Clinton gets to be the next POTUS. We do not want Press to compare her Bosnia story with Williams's story about Iraq. So, let us bury Williams now, so we can save Hillary for us in 2016. Come on, people, let us think about our future and not our present.

  165. "One anchor exerted moral authority once and that was Walter Cronkite, because he risked his career to go on TV and tell the truth about the fact that we were losing the Vietnam War."

    Network Anchors aren't the only extraneous interpreters we can live without. NYT's pundits aren't far behind. Cronkite wanted us to lose and that was the narrative he pushed. Some are still trying to cement it into place despite the overwhelming evidence that Communism is a repressive system that has nowhere, absolutely nowhere, elevated mankind. Leftism is a dead-end, Maureen. Quit trying to shore up the narrative.

  166. I'm ready for Lester Holt, a man of intellect and substance. What a welcome relief he would be.

  167. We all make mistakes. Some that hurt themselves, some that hurt others. Mother of liars Colin Powell still carries his rank and pension, and has no shame to boot. Our Presidents misspoke, still the cloud blew over. Then why the esteemed newspaper, the New York Times is fanning the error of Brian by putting this silly mistake on the front pages for three days in a row, beats me. Brian made a silly error that did not hurt anyone but himself. Give him a break. We are Americans.

  168. I think I agree…..

    Why bother trying to run Mr. Williams out of his chair.

    He simply READS the script. It isn't even news by the time he reads it to the viewing audience.

    Let him keep his job and his punishment if one is due……will be that he will always wonder how many of the "folks" on the other side of the camera he is talking at are right now at this moment believing what he is reading.

    That doubt will weigh on his psyche day over day.

    Drip Drip Drip or somesuch comes to mind.

    Anyway, let him keep his job. One day he will tell another whopper and we will all have another laugh.

    And, the added bonus is that NBC doesn't have to go through the brain damage of what to do and why to do it and how to spin it.

    By the way, if his ratings plummet over the next 6 months well then. The market spoke and NBC knows what to do

    EOS

  169. I'm not sure what is worse...Brian Williams's serious errors of judgment or the lip-smacking schadenfreude among the media, typified by this column. (And don't get me started about Dylan Byers on Politico or Brian Stetler on CNN...both with an evident axe to grind about NBC News.) Not surprising to see Maureen Down piling on.

    "Anchors as performers" are not a new phenomenon, and the Times just celebrated Fox's star performer (Megyn Kelly) mostly for being less mendacious than anybody else on her network. The Times has been just as guilty in its gossipy coverage of the behind-the-scenes drama at The Today Show, as if it's more important than the news being reported.

  170. If this was as well-known as you seem to suggest at the top of this piece, how come you did not do a column earlier? Or the New York Times in general?

    When I saw that piece about the hockey game, I said to myself, I don't remember that happening at the time or any report about it; and I think I would have remembered that.

  171. Yes, let's criticize another reporter's credibility by using anonymous sources and sweeping generalizations.

  172. Television news organizations at all levels constantly tell you they are "on your side", bringing you "the news you need to know". Perhaps some people believe that, enough at least that networks continue to roll out celebrity anchors. But it misses the point of television journalism, which is immediacy. If I want to you understand some aspect of what's topical I know the New York Times will lay out the details needed. But if there is a terrorist event underway in France, a plane crash in Taiwan, or an earthquake in the Pacific rim TV still works. The idea we need a Brian Williams "explaining" the news to us by way of putting himself in harms way isn't just comical, it's a bit insulting. It is telling that many anchors immediately demand the title of "managing editor" to add to their sense of gravitas. The truth is you could get an actor to sit in front of a camera and deliver the news just as effectively as the network anchors do. Now it seems, anchors who are not actors become just that to justify their image.

  173. Like so many before him, Williams turned away from resigning. He might have collected some regard for acknowledging the truth, apologizing and leaving NBC. And he certainly didn't say he was going to stay; instead, he will take a couple days off. Too cute. I guess news anchors and politicians can never deal directly with the truth. Hiding is easier. Maybe long ago, he could have hid but my internet connection is slowed to a crawl; he is being Twittered away. Lets hope he doesn't decide to become a politician when he leaves.

  174. This shouldn't be a major surprise really. Mr. Williams, as the front man for a major news program, has to have a certain amount of narcissism. For anyone to strive to get that kind of position in the first place, and to succeed in a crowded field of like-minded self-loving people, they have to be extremely enamored of themselves.

    People who are really narcissistic always exaggerate stories that have themselves as the protagonist, to make themselves seem even better to the listener. The exaggerations grow as the story gets repeated, to the limits of believability, and the teller gradually begins to believe them.

    Probably when this event happened, Mr. Williams first was struck by how close he'd came to getting shot down, then wondered what it would have been like to be in that chopper instead, then fantasized about it having happened to him. Then casually started telling people it did, then half-believing it did, then adding to the tale until he looked precisely like Rambo in action.

    I like Mr. Williams, from what I see of him; narcissists can be very easy to like, as they work at it. I think he got just too caught up in himself and his internal fantasies, and he'd have done better to love himself for what he actually is, which is a rather impressive person. He's intelligent, charming, great looking, diligent, and all of that would have sufficed.

    But now he should retire, he's old enough and well-off enough, because his credibility is gone.

  175. Is Williams really an impressive person, this story aside? He's a news reader on TV. He hosts a nightly show that presents a particular, corporate-driven take on a few items in the news.

    George Patton was an impressive person. Albert Schweitzer was an impressive person. Madame Curie was an impressive person. Brian Williams is a human Potemkin Village.

  176. Who on earth watches this stuff? It has been 15 years for me. What they tell me in 22 minutes, I can read in 90 seconds. Then I do investigative journalism on my own through the Internet.

  177. Why, why the waste of ink and space about this? And how many years after the fact did this surface? And who cares? This is not about journalism. Journalism died when the reality of the independent newspaper or news program did. This is more about personalities and who gets to ride on the 'chopper and who doesn't than it is about "news". Is this what we have come to? Fake hysteria over news readers? No one, no one, today would even come close to qualifying to be one of Morrow's Boys. The high dudgeon over nothing while promoting one's own blog or airing one's perceived slights only makes this whole incident even more ridiculous.

  178. Kudos to Maureen for telling it like it is. I had no idea that the Williams' exaggeration Olympics had been longstanding, and also mocked by other NBC news staff. I had no idea that NBC brass was so cynical that they gave him a free pass as long as the ratings were up.

    But I did know (who couldn't?) that meaningful nightly news was a thing of the past. I mean, animal videos? The weather every single night? Ordinary acts of human kindness because.. well, just because. Maybe there hasn't been enough of it.

    Like so many here, I get my news from online sources and occasional reports on TV, as well as the "alternative" cable news station MSNBC, of course an affiliate of NBC as well as the progressive version of CNN. At the very least, or so it seems, the regular show hosts have their own bias, their own research departments, and original slants on important stories. And while yes, it's still entertainment, it is still well-researched entertainment and I'd like to believe that mideast correspondent Richard Engelman is the real deal.

    I hope NBC opts to make Brian's "temporary" hiatus from Nightly News permanent--sooner rather than later. But the funny thing is, I wonder if anything will be learned from this? Given William's uncontrite explanation of his exaggerations, I rather doubt it.

    Unfortunately he became a creature of the times he was supposed to report on. Talk about getting a piece of the action, one way or the other.

  179. Thank you Ms. Dowd. Following years of your work, I find myself very rarely in total agreement with your point(s) of view. Today I stand fully with you and for your stance. I'm a decorated VietNam vet yet rarely discuss wartime circumstances. I categorize those who do as lacking certain internal controls. Maybe Mr. Williams needs to council with professionals who have studied similar behaviors. I rarely take pity on celebrities for self-inflicted wounds but Mr. Williams is an exception. He really needs help and I don't envision a good ending to this story.

  180. I haven't watched network news in years because the Internet gives me total control over the news I consume, and by the time I get home in the evening from work, I'm all news'ed out from having checked my favorite news websites throughout the day.

    Having said that, I wish Mr. Williams luck as he regroups because I know I've misremembered things in my life, and I don't think he and I are the only people who have experienced this.

  181. Maureen's first paragraph signals the end of Williams' career:

    "THIS was a bomb that had been ticking for a while.

    NBC executives were warned a year ago that Brian Williams was constantly inflating his biography. They were flummoxed over why the leading network anchor felt that he needed Hemingwayesque, bullets-whizzing-by flourishes to puff himself up, sometimes to the point where it was a joke in the news division."

    This introduction tells me that 1) someone at NBC News is already leaking stories to the NYT; and 2) the Chinook fabrication was NOT an isolated incident - it was part of a pattern.

    I took exactly one psychology course, but I have to think that someone like Williams, who gets paid millions for reading words feels like he has to "earn it" somehow.

  182. Wiliam's gaffe(s) should come as no surprise. The daily craze for instant gratification is like a disco ball fascinating and showering notoriety on each person who dances it's tune.. In America the spin is what's for diner.

    ...And' it's not real.

  183. I'm glad Lester Holt is taking over. Hope it's permanent.

  184. Brian, is one of too many, including Nixon, both Clinton's. Rather, Blumenthal, Warren, Weiner and Obama. who prove the bible adage, ' what does it gain a man to gain the whole world and lose your soul". This passage should be taken literally ( spiritually) and earthly figuratively. Anyone of quality should rather have the most " menial" of work, that to reach a career " pinnacle" and be so miserable inside that you feel compelled to be a liar. Telling the truth is something we all should demand, if not we will continue to get more of this.

  185. It does, however, seem a little bit surreal that Williams is castigated (correctly) for this but Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al who lied about the entire Iraq situation (which is what took Williams to Iraq in the first place) are still not shunned politically and socially.

  186. Interesting piece. I only regret you didn't include a comment on the irony of one of the Fox News guys moaning about Brian Williams' lack of accuracy and integrity in reporting the news.

  187. Who knows how conflation happens. I mis-remembered taking over legal responsibility of my grand father in law. In actual fact my husband was the legal guardian. I set it up and did most of the legwork and was the more outgoing partner in the marriage. After about ten years I forgot the details. For some reason I had to contact the attorney again and he set the facts straight. But I didn't have to share my experiences with the world so my error meant little. I have sympathy for most people who end up in these circumstances. Every night we sleep and dream. And dreams rehash what we experience and conflate it with what did not happen. It can be hard to tell what is real in our history after a few years. One reason we may only "remember" the broadest outline of our history.

  188. I agree with laughingdragon. I conflated my own husband with a neighbor once, and a lot of messiness ensued. I think that you have to not think about your husband right before you go to sleep, so the conflation mechanism doesn't turn him into somebody else, like a wounded helicopter, or David Letterman.

  189. Oedipus punished himself for his hubris. What will Mr. Williams do to make amends?

  190. Brian Williams is about to enter early retirement. He's been collecting a $10 million annual salary, so I don't feel too bad for him.

  191. I don't disagree about the growing irrelevance about the news anchor. In fact, it also applies the syndicated newspaper opinion writer since everyone and his mother-in-law can have a blog now. Those people aren't restrained by editorial or legal departments which sanitize the news or under-report it - like not linking to a Jordanian pilot being immolated by ISIL - in the alleged interests of civility. Such sentiments would have mattered in the past, but it's that lack of bringing realism home that 1) lead to public support of bad policy and 2) is leading to the decline of the established news journalists. The real relevant and respected opinion pieces are part of the new wave of raw journalism that threatens both NBC and the New York Times.

  192. Many of our celebrities and heroes have feet of clay. So do the rest of us, Maureen.

  193. A lesser news anchor might weather this, but Williams is too big. Like Rather, he is toast. Can't feel too sorry for him tho, he likely has enough geetus for a comfortable retirement

  194. The old, hard news pretended to give objectivity and facts, but did not question official reality. It took years of anguish for Walter Cronkite to admit to himself and to us that the Emperor was naked.

    The problem with official reality was not so much that it was false as that it contradicted itself. We were a land where all men were created equal, but we had segregation. We were a land that valued democracy but opposed and subverted democratic movements we did not like. These contradictions should have been worked out on the nightly news. Now they should be being worked out on the Internet. But official reality (or realities, for we now have two of them) block this.

  195. Dowd is correct. I was cringing 3 weeks ago watching Williams' promos on demand. And wondering why he seems to be in Page Six nearly every week often at the newest restaurant. I think there are still Cronkited and Brinkleys out there and I would not give up on the evening news. Lastly Maureen you need some introspection on the mix of media and celebrity.

  196. I read the news of Brian Williams in the NYT on line! It is telling.

    David Brinkley and Peter Jennings are the only two guy guys I could ever stand. George Stephanopoulos is great, too. The Sunday program on ABC is the only news I watch on TV. I get news non stop during the day on my computer and I don't watch the news on TV anymore. In the old days I never care for CBS and especially NBC.

  197. Glenn Greenwald's been on Williams' case forever, showing over and over again why these characters are no more than mouthpieces for their "sources," aka the US Gov't. That BW would do something like this is hardly surprising. In fact it's called the Stockholm syndrome. And it's their sense of entitlement that allows them for the most part to get away with it. (Not that Mo herself has been exempt from GG's broadsides against the establishment press.)

  198. People are acting as if this is some monumental fall from grace for both Williams and NBC News. People, he LED the show two weeks ago with a "deflategate" story!!! I've seen his exhaustive coverage of missing pretty girls, celebrity x-in-trouble, irrelevant social controversy of the day, and so on. As Ms. Dowd points out, this isn't news, it's entertainment. Fool me twice ... you can't get fooled again!

    And like her, I get much of my news from Twitter and can't wait for the John Oliver premiere Sunday. Oliver has built on Stewart's legacy, but rather than simply - and hilariously - skewing the preposterous Fox News, he's doing biting, aggressive, thought-provoking investigative journalism. Love it.