Whatever happens to Brian Williams, another gut punch has been thrown to the collective body of work known as “journalism.”
The NBC News anchor is now on hiatus from “Nightly News” and has decided against a reprise appearance later this week on the David Letterman show. He’s also slowly twisting in the now-familiar social media wind of online scrutiny, satire and dissection.
The accuracy of Williams’s tales of personal experiences while reporting during combat in Iraq and later, other news events including Hurricane Katrina, have been challenged publicly in recent days. Of particular interest: his oft-repeated claim of being in a helicopter in 2003 that came under enemy fire in Iraq, most elaborately told on the Letterman show in 2013. Williams now says those accounts was mistaken recollections, and NBC itself is now investigating a number of Williams’s stories.
On Saturday, in a memo to NBC News staff, Williams said, “In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions.”
Trust me, Mr. Williams — and I am aware of the irony of those words — anyone who believes in a free press and good journalism shares your pain.
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