NBC's Brian Williams learned a valuable lesson in the past week — one he was probably told growing up. He probably just "misremembered" it.
Williams publicly said last week that he didn't correctly recall the events that happened to him while covering the Iraq war. He previously had told a tale of being in a helicopter that was shot down. However, turns out his new version of the story says he was in an aircraft that was following the helicopter that was eventually shot down.
"I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire. I was instead in a following aircraft. We all landed after the groundfire incident and spent two harrowing nights in a sand storm in the Iraq desert," Williams said in his apology. "This was a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran and by extension our brave military men and women veterans everywhere — those who have served while I did not. I hope they know they have my greatest respect and also now my apology."
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As the anchor of NBC's Nightly News, Williams earns $10 million per year to inform the public of the day's news. Williams is one of the best-known faces in television and also has the chief task of maintaining the public's trust. While Williams now does limited reporting, his lie cost the reporters at NBC some of their cache to the public.
In the news business, we work in a field where many people don't like us. Many people distrust the media or find ways to blame issues on "the media." Situations like this don't help us.
But we — everybody — can learn something simple from Williams: Tell the truth.
The truth may never have been told had Williams not come forward last week from an event that happened in 2003. But look at what has happened to Williams in the past few days. He has been under a constant barrage from other media members and viewers. His integrity has been questioned. His own company has its lead investigative reporter investigating Williams, according to the New York Daily News.
The Daily News additionally reported that ABC put together a task force to investigate Williams. ABC denied this claim, however.
The longtime anchor even took himself off the air for a few days to let the dust settle. Now, NBC has decided to suspend Williams without pay for six months.
It can be argued that Williams was attempting to take some of the glory from the very soldiers he covered while in Iraq. That he was attempting to make himself a part of the story rather than just report on the events that occur.
Had he just remembered the simple lesson he was taught in his youth, he probably would be at peace in his cushy high-paying job at the top of his field.
Was it really worth it?
Ryan Gillespie is the Editor-in-Chief at the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @rgillespiecff or email him at RyanG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.