Feb. 16, 2015
A journalist must report the news, not make it up.
Apparently, NBC’s leading Nightly News anchor and managing editor Brian Williams forgot this detail when it comes to reporting on overseas wars.
Williams had commented on many outlets and channels that the helicopter he flew in while reporting in Iraq had taken hostile fire and been forced to make a precautionary landing.
But after reports of the actual events began to appear online, Williams was forced to apologize on air and he stated that he “misremembered” the events.
This is a bald-faced lie.
People misremember things like a person’s name, or what they had for breakfast the day before. You do not misremember something as traumatic and extraordinary as your helicopter being shot down in Iraq.
There is nothing more sacred to a journalist than his credibility. Yet with his tale, Williams has called into question not only his own work but the credibility of all anchors who have actually witnessed real combat while reporting in the field and lived to tell about it.
This revelation comes on the tail of several earlier falsified reporting trends from NBC news, including their altering of George Zimmerman’s 911 call.
While NBC has suspended Williams without pay for six months in the face of an investigation regarding the incident, a scandal of this caliber further tarnishes the integrity of a network already on the ropes.
As embarrassing as this story is to NBC, it pales in comparison to the people he has offended the most: the United States military.
How can any service member look upon Williams with anything but contempt and hatred following this report? How can they watch him report on world events without snickering and commenting on his twisted make-believe story of his time in Iraq?
While Williams has been a figurehead for the last 10 years as the anchor of NBC news, he sought out to further advance his career by standing on the shoulders of men much greater than he.
I have served in the military for nearly eight years as a pilot, and seen my fair share of war in Iraq, so I can attest to the severely dangerous mission of flying helicopters in a war torn region such as this.
I have also had the displeasure of seeing men much greater and more courageous than I perish in helicopter crashes, both in and out of combat.
Keeping a helicopter in the air is an incredibly tricky and dangerous job, even without being shot at. And no fewer than 12 of my friends, squad mates and mentors have been killed in their line of duty.
But instead of working to honor the memory of men such as these or recount the struggles that these men faced in war torn nations such as Iraq or Afghanistan, Williams chose to use the tragedies that befell these men to create a story that would propel him into the spotlight.
This action goes beyond merely irresponsible reporting, it is sheer disrespect.
Williams’ related memes and jokes have dominated the web as of late. And while NBC seems to be trying to save their reputation with the suspension of Williams, one can’t help but wonder how much damage has already been done.