Dan Gilmore / Jun. 19, 2015

Brian Williams to Return — as Reporter at MSNBC

In July, Brian Williams will return to work at NBC Universal after it was found the man inflated stories about his experiences in the Iraq War. He will work at MSNBC as a breaking news reporter. Well, we now know what the higher ups at NBC Universal think of MSNBC. The decision seemed to be made by a company maximizing its for-profit business, ignoring such petty things like journalistic ethics. Williams is worth millions to the company thanks to a 10-year contract, and it didn’t want to simply part ways with its once-star anchor. Furthermore, MSNBC has been struggling of late, so if Williams boosts ratings, it may be a way for him to get back into the executives’ good graces. Williams is no Tom Brokaw, and it’s because he works in a fragmented media environment where truth only matters if the audience cares about truth. “But what NBC failed to grasp is that today the ‘moral authority’ of the anchor has no more practical value, and quite possibly less, than his or her ‘relatability,’” Jonathan Mahler wrote in the New York Times. “Mr. Williams understood this, which is partly why he spent so much time working on his persona outside the anchor’s chair. Now he won’t be reading the news or riffing off it. He’ll be reporting it.” Williams has his camera, MSNBC has its ratings, NBC has preserved the sanctity of its premium product, and the only thing that suffers is the truth. This just goes to show media consumers need to be as careful as ever when discerning news reports.

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