As of this Sunday morning (February 8) writing it has been nearly forty-eight hours since NBC talking head Brian Williams apologized, sort of, for lying about being aboard a helicopter that was attacked in Iraq in 2003. Then yesterday, he took what was described as a self-imposed leave of absence.
When the Sunday talk shows end in about five hours, we may have a fair indication of whether mainstream journalists will attempt to save fellow traveler Williams or kick him under the bus.
As with most lying celebrities, Williams’ path to stardom as a liar began with a tall tale that grew taller with each telling.
In March of 2005 Williams told Tim Russert that he was in a helicopter following one that was shot down.
As Williams’ self-heroism grew his story evolved to one which has him being in the helicopter that was attacked, not the one ahead.
He told Russert he saw a tarp pulled back from a pickup truck parked on the road and what he took to be farmers fire an RPG into the helicopter in front of him. Presumably, if his was the helicopter hit, he saw the incoming missile.
Williams has been evasive about whether his helicopter crashed.
Rumor is that, before he was outed by concerned veterans, he was preparing to embellish his story once again.
Reportedly, Williams was about to tell the story that, seeing the helicopter pilot disabled and though receiving shrapnel in the left arm and bleeding profusely, he took over the controls and landed the ‘copter safely.
The betting in the beltway is that Williams will keep his job, and that an NBC PR campaign will elevate him to an even greater height of stardom than at present.
Colleague Al Roker has every right to be riled, if indeed he is.
Roker is the NBC weather presenter on NBC’s Today show, though many people think he is a qualified meteorologist. But, is Roker riled?
Saimer Leapment, based in Outer Walla Walla, Nevada, thinks so. He is a self-described expert on deciphering the emotions of people, especially celebrities, simply by seeing them on television.
Leapment, an in-his-own-mind graduate of Harvard Law School, where Dr. Foz was a classmate, says Roker is fuming when he thinks that Williams won’t be fired, while if he, Roker, a black man, were to make a similar “error” in presenting the weather, would get the axe, or worse, be lynched, even if not in a physical manner.
Leapment has Roker saying: “If I say it’s going to rain and it doesn’t I get dirty looks. Think of what would happen if I told New Yorkers to prepare for a horrific snowstorm and it didn’t happen?”
Or, Roker could have said, with that mischievous grin of his, “What if I exaggerated, lied even, like someone I won’t mention, about what was happening in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina?
Leapment and others know that Williams’ lies are not the first instances of news-related lying.
Among the more famous is the great acting by Dan Rather, reporting from Vietnam day after day, crouched by the same tank, pretending that he was only a few feet behind American troops in hot combat, in a different battle each day.
Then there is the scene where, during the first Persian Gulf War, Rather stood on the flat roof of a building, with a powerful fan behind him, and reported as though he were in a raging desert storm with troops.
Among politicians, lying includes when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told how she came under fire in Afghanistan and narrowly escaped death.
What is likely to persuade progressive journalists to jump gleefully on the dump-Williams train is if NBC promises to replace him with Al Roker.
The move no doubt would bring Democratic Party adviser David Letterman into the dump-Williams camp, never mind that when Williams appeared on his show, Letterman believed Williams and called him a "war hero.”
As for Roker, Leapment has him saying, while grinning, “I won’t run, but I will serve.”
L.E. Brown, Jr. is a columnist based in Magnolia, N.C. Email him at [email protected]
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