Sunday, February 22, 2015
Brian Williams Controversy: News, Lies and Entertainment
By Jenna Hutchins
Everyone lies for entertainment. Less than 25% of statements made on Fox News are true or mostly true and only about 60% of what is reported on CNN is accurate, according to Politifact.com, a website ran by the Tampa Bay Times. That’s why, in some ways, it’s surprising that Brian Williams is being torn apart in the media over his rampant puffery.
Williams is being investigated by NBC for his tales about his experiences in the Iraq War. He claimed that while covering the war in Iraq in 2003, his helicopter was struck by an enemy grenade. This was complete fabrication. Williams’ helicopter was nowhere near the helicopter actually hit--he was about an hour behind it--and several witnesses on board denied Williams’ claims. Over the years, his story evolved from witnessing the helicopter in front of his being almost taken out by “seemingly happy” civilians to his helicopter being struck itself. Several members of the NBC crew on board advised Williams against embellishment, and later became sources against him when the news of his dishonesty broke.
Williams’ coverage of the devastation in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina has also been called into question. The news anchor reported that he witnessed a dead body floating by from his hotel window. Williams was staying in the French Quarter, where local New Orleans stations reported hardly any water from the storm in that area. This seriously called into question whether or not his claim was true. Another potential falsehood stems from Williams claiming he contracted dysentery. Local stations were again quick to counter that there were no confirmed reports of dysentery following the storm.
NBC has been quick to take action, suspending Williams for six months without pay. The network is still conducting an investigation, and he will most likely be removed from his position as a board member for the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. It’s safe to assume that NBC will no longer be calling Brian Williams “one of the most trusted journalists of our time.”