The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Brian Williams "TO BE OR NOT TO BE."

“Sorry dude, I don’t remember you being on my aircraft. I do remember you walking up about an hour after we had landed to ask me what had happened."  Lance Reynolds, flight engineer on the Iraq War helicopter of Williams's "mistake."

I have no ax to grind with Brian Williams. In fact, as I consider the 5:30 CST network news text readers, Williams was one I could watch for longer than 10 minutes. He was (is) palatable. Yet, it seems there is a fathom Williams, who lives in a world wrought with machismo and love of heroic characters who recant stories of war survival. We fail to look-up to our real war heroes, yet we seek to adulate those who return from war with stories that make us feel good. Only rarely do we serenade the real heroes who give or gave their lives for the nation. We seem to levitate towards people who claim unseen victories or who claim (false) tallies of kills to appeal to the American affinity for life as if it were "reality" TV.

We need to seek no better example than the Chris. Kyle mythology that has engulfed the nation. Kyle's lies about shooting 33 Alleged looters in post-Katrina New Orleans, shooting carjackers in Dallas, Texas, and "decking" Jesse Ventura. According to a lengthy Snopes piece, Kyles's hero status after Iraq is over the top filled with unsubstantiated personal claims.

(Note:  Retired General Russell Honore`, retired Army General and commander of National Guard Force that patrolled New Orleans post Katrina has stated such the killing of 33 looters without his knowledge is impossible.)

War zone heroes for many Americans garner accolades almost to the point of the ridiculous. The dynamic is so pervasive we frequently find ;former military enlistees who lie about war zone inquiries and heroes who are later revealed liars. Apparently, the dynamic reaches beyond the military enlistee to some who seek accolades or seek perceptions of machismo related to short-term excursions into war zones.

Brain Williams is the irrefutable example. Imagine the level of self-perception requisite in telling David Letterman and others about being shot down in a helicopter in a war zone.

One memory professor indicated an initial reaction that seemed to support Williams's claim of a "memory mistake." The New School psychology professor William Hirst responds in a Think Progress phone interview that memory can distort perception of past reality. 
His initial reaction upon hearing Williams’ story was to “view it as one of those mishaps that is often typical to memory,” he said by phone.

“There’s a large amount of evidence [that shows] that we confuse things that we imagine — the thoughts that go through our heads — and in many cases we begin to think that they actually happened.”
I find it impossible to move beyond the "lie," even with consideration of the Think Progress piece with the Hirst's delineation of possibility regarding Williams's claim of a "mistake."

Mediaite offers a piece that more coincides with my perception of the Williams "lie." 


My Assessment of Brian Williams: How One Past Incident Forever Shapes My Point of View

When I wrote about why the “Voice of God” still matters five years ago, I went into some detail about what separates the really good anchors from the middle of the road anchors. One part is directly pertinent to this story…
In truth, no anchor truly has a complete mastery or command of the story in all details. But then that’s the whole point. That voice of God lulls you into thinking they do, or at the very least convinces you they have more than a superficial knowledge of the subject at hand. And those with that talent are self-aware of their limitations. They won’t put themselves in a position where they’re caught flat footed or out of their depth. If they don’t know something, they’ll admit as much up front, rather than allow the viewer to discover that on their own, thus destroying the connection between viewer and anchor. Better to admit your shortcomings and maintain the relationship as an honest broker than try to skate by and hope the viewer doesn’t catch on that you really don’t know much about what you’re talking about.
In a single utterance, Dresden destroyed Brian Williams’ credibility with me. I never looked at him the same way again. I now looked at him as one who needed to be managed, to be controlled, because if you let him riff on his own he could get himself into trouble. And if you look at the way NBC has handled Williams since he became NBC News anchor you see a pattern that seems to underscore that. Very rarely do you see him in an uncontrolled environment.
Sure there was Katrina which put him on the map so to speak (though apparently parts of that are now part of this mess). There was Tahrir Square which was about as uncontrolled as it gets. But they were the once in a while exceptions. I never got the feeling NBC let him run loose the way CNN could let Anderson Cooper run loose and not have to worry or the way CBS uses Scott Pelley, FNC uses Shepard Smith, or ABC David Muir.
And that’s when I started thinking about Broadcast News and William Hurt. A lot of people think the Hurt character is an in over his head lightweight who doesn’t know jack. There is some truth to that but the Hurt character was a lot more than a self-aware dim bulb. I’m going to quote what Andrew Tyndall wrote here about this…
The depiction of the New Age anchor replacement for Jack Nicholson (Dan Rather?) in Broadcast News was more subtle than the fact that he was superficial, glib and out of his depth.
Those were the attributes that the movie appears to consign to him, because we are led to look at the network news operation through the eyes of Albert Brooks (Aaron Brown?).
But the Hurt character trips us up — and Brooks and Hunter too — with a couple of insights.
First, he understands that Old Media news was too male oriented. He covers a story on date rape and intuitively understands that there is an entire range of topics that were hitherto taboo that can make a female audience feel its agenda is being attended to. The personal is political, as it were.
Second, he is able to project a sense of calm and proportion and intelligence in a breaking news crisis — without having a flop sweat. Brooks says the words into a telephone, they travel into an earpiece, and come out of the anchor’s mouth. Cool under fire.
So skills that seemed superficial and glib to the old school journalist turned out to be insights of the new school.
My vote is for Brian Williams.
I’m in agreement with Tyndall.
I never felt that Williams was an idiot and you don’t get to be White House correspondent by being a lightweight either. He has that ability to directly connect with the viewer on a 1:1 level without looking like he’s reading a script or being overbearing and preachy. That’s not something you can teach anchors easily, it’s mostly instinctive.
But at the same time the observable evidence (read: what happens on TV) seems to suggest that Williams, despite being Managing Editor of his newscast, needs to himself be managed because if he starts riffing he could get into trouble. He did on Dresden. And he appears to have with however you want to characterize his missteps in this chopper fire story. Maybe Katrina too.
I can’t blindly trust someone like that. I have to leave my radar on, especially when it’s not a structured news cast scenario. I still believe he’s capable of busting out another Dresden at a moment’s notice.
[image via Screengrab]
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All said, Williams has placed his career on the chopping block for no reason beyond his obvious need for accolades, and an unchecked ego. NBC can ill afford to leave Williams in his role of managing editor anchor (news text reader) of NBC Nightly News.

While Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Tenet, Powell (begrudgingly and manipulated) avoid any investigation regarding their Iraq War lies, the dark shadows of Iraq war lies continues to haunt the nation.


Suspensions and possible removal from the Nightly News is one thing and devastating enough. Imagine being used by Sarah Palin as a branding strategy and used as a tool for Palin victim-whining.

If you have not read enough on this topic and are in a mood for some pure ridiculousness and self-serving bull, visit the Palin Facebook page link.

If you visit the link you will also notice another Palin trick. After the extremely criticism of (possible) staging her son standing on the family dog, we should have expected a cover photo session to somehow rationalize the Palin way of life (as phoney as it gets).

When a highly compensated network news professional becomes the target of Sarah Palin, the news guy has to know his days are numbered.

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