The Truth Is Out There…Just Don’t Go Looking For Brian Williams To Provide It…

CNN’s Brian Stelter writes the following…

The NBC P.R. person now says the network can’t confirm which person piloted Williams’ helicopter. The situation remains murky and many questions remain unanswered. (There is somebody that can clear a lot of this up — and that’s Williams.)

Nope. Williams can no longer clear this up. I’ll get to why in a moment…

There are two and only two possible narratives at play here:

Narrative A: Brian Williams indeed has a foggy memory.

Narrative B: Brian Williams outright lied (or embellished) and knew he was doing so.

That’s it. There is no Narrative C.

If it’s Narrative A, Stelter is out of luck because Williams can’t remember the details accurately. So how are we to believe that any possible future remembrances are accurate when he’s already stated his memory is foggy? We can’t.

If it’s Narrative B, Stelter in all likelihood is still out of luck. If Williams prevaricated and knew he was doing so, doubling back on his previous explanation makes him out to be an even bigger liar than people thought he was. And that’s it. He’s done at NBC.

Boom! NBC’s News Division comes crashing down the same way CBS’ News Division came crashing down at the end of Dan Rather’s career.

Think about it. If it was total BS, a lot of other people (not all of them still in NBC’s employ) get dragged into what is usually a Washington D.C. pastime; “What did they know and when did they know it?” It will almost certainly bring NBC News down. ABC News will take over as the #1 nightly news broadcast and NBC will be spending the next five years trying to right the ship Brian Williams self-torpedoed.

Because of all that, the chances of Narrative B leading to a clearing of the air seem like too high a stakes gamble for Williams to contemplate at this point.

This is why I say to Brian Stelter, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get the clearing of the air you seek from Brian Williams.

The wild card is NBC. Right now, it’s in bunker mode and praying night and day that this blows over. But if it becomes apparent to NBC that it’s not going to blow over, that things are trending south and ratings damage is being done, then de-circling the wagons around Williams becomes an increasingly palatable option. If your news division is in the process of crashing down because of one man, you’re going to look long and hard at removing the cause of the crash to stop the damage infliction. NBC could decide to clear the air itself and pin it all on a shifty Williams.

But the above only applies to Narratve B. If Narrative A is the real deal, NBC has to ride this out and so does Williams.

I still lay odds, based on what we know right now, that Williams stays. If CBS can keep Lara Logan on staff and CNN can keep Fareed Zakaria on staff by making use of some incredibly tortured explanations that don’t stand up to close scrutiny, I see no reason why NBC couldn’t keep Williams via similar means.

21 Responses to “The Truth Is Out There…Just Don’t Go Looking For Brian Williams To Provide It…”

  1. Oh oh, looks like the pilot on CNN yesterday is backing off of the story he told yesterday.

    http://www.stripes.com/news/us/brian-williams-apology-draws-mixed-reviews-from-mission-vets-1.327935

  2. That the Chinook pilots can’t get their stories straight kinda falls in Williams favor as failing memories is the basis of his defense. The other thing that leads me to the conclusion Williams is probably just embellishing a good story and not just telling an outright lie is that the facts of the story (like who was piloting which helicopter) can eventually be determined by good research.

    My latest guess is that Williams will, like Lara Logan, take a leave of absence until the dust settles. If it’s not proven he lied outright or another shoe drops (like the rumors about Katrina), which is unlikely, he could return in a month or so and everyone moves on.

    “If CBS can keep Lara Logan on staff and CNN can keep Fareed Zakaria on staff by making use of some incredibly tortured explanations that don’t stand up to close scrutiny, I see no reason why NBC couldn’t keep Williams via similar means.”

    ^^This scandal is closer to the Zakaria analogy, a personal problem (although a thousand times more serious to the parent network), than the Logan problem; which I think was more like the Dan Rather situation; a problem with a story.

    The other problem for NBC is there is no ready replacement for Williams. Holt can substitute for a period like he’s done before but I don’t see him as a long time solution. Farris gave us a list of possible replacements but none of his serious choices are ready for PT yet.

  3. My latest guess is that Williams will, like Lara Logan, take a leave of absence until the dust settles.

    That could be a reasonable possibility for most news positions except the one he currently has. He’s the top dog. He goes…even for a short sabbatical…it’s a one way trip…

  4. I don’t see any scenario where Williams leaves NBC unless it’s 100% his decision. I don’t see NBC getting rid of him. The people who are most offended by this episode are veterans and those that lean to the right of center.

    The black community, the LGBT community, NOW…none of them care about this. Thus, NBC won’t really care. They can wait it out.

  5. Regarding the two options – there is absolutely zero chance that he truly misremembered. For one, he accurately reported the incident, on TV, shortly after it happened. Two, you would remember getting hit by a freaking RPG.

  6. It seems to me that you just can’t suspend your top news anchor, the face of your news division; that destroys whatever credibility he has left. You have to be 100% behind him at all times.

    If you think his credibility is sufficiently questioned to warrant a suspension then you have to fire him. A suspension won’t make him whole again. He’s not going to recover it by being penalized.

    At this point it looks like they’re going to ride it out.

  7. Agreed, erich. And, I’m not passing judgement on what they should or shouldn’t do because I really don’t know. And, I don’t watch his broadcast, so in all honesty, I don’t care. But, I just can’t see them getting rid of him.

  8. The people who are most offended by this episode are veterans and those that lean to the right of center.

    The black community, the LGBT community, NOW…none of them care about this. Thus, NBC won’t really care. They can wait it out.

    Do you say this stuff for sport or do you really believe it????

  9. I don’t think this would be a big deal if it wasn’t for the other calamities at NBC News this year — Pete Williams and Jim Miklaszewski having to retract reports and NBC News’ growing credibility problem at the hands of Phil Griffin and MSNBC.

  10. “That could be a reasonable possibility for most news positions except the one he currently has. He’s the top dog. He goes…even for a short sabbatical…it’s a one way trip…”

    ^^If evidence comes out he lied or there’s another incident he’s gone, end of story. For example if the tape LS refers to of Williams reporting the incident accurately on TV at the time exists and I haven’t seen it anywhere; then will be forced out. But if evidence shows his tale is just embellishment of a war story that has grown over the years it’s embarrassing but not fatal.

    The closes analogy I can think of is the Dan Rather dismissal. I think if Rather had admitted his mistake and apologized, at the time, he might have survived. Instead he was stubborn and forced CBS to dump him which, in hindsight, is probably what the network wanted to do in the first place.

    End the end, I still think Williams can survive a suspension.

  11. fritz: the tape has been shown the last couple days. It’s from a dateline episode (i believe). BW focuses more on the sandstorms they endured over the next couple of days as opposed to the helicopter incident. He notes that helicopters ahead of him were fired at with RPGs. I’ve seen it a couple times but Martha McCallum presented a video timeline of Brian William’s himself changing his story over time; each time his experience being represented as being more dangerous than the previous version. It was pretty devastating. I feel bad for the guy. I don’t like seeing this happen to people.

    Andy: the groups I mentioned regularly organize protests and march outside news buildings (or any place of business) they feel has offended them. Neither conservatives nor veterans are going to march outside of NBC headquarters. There isn’t a comparative Al Sharpton for these groups that will demand meetings with NBC brass and/or Brian Williams. So, no, not for sport. The real world exists. You should visit more often.

  12. “That the Chinook pilots can’t get their story straight kinda falls in Williams favor”.

    Except that it is ONE pilot is backing off of his story and the other THREE people have NEVER changed their story. So, no, it doesn’t kinda fall in Williams favor. It is ok to say you wNt him to stay in his job and if people want to believe a liar, than so be it.

    I don’t watch him, just know that the world is better with people like Brian Williams getting his comeuppance.

  13. savefarris Says:

    The black community, the LGBT community, NOW…

    I’m sure you’re referring to the “easily aggrieved crowd”, which also includes union workers, teachers, Occupy, the anti-war crowd and other Left-Leaning organizations that’ll march at the drop of a hat. Race/Gender has nothing to do with it.

    Yes, there are a few groups on the Right that would otherwise qualify (Pro Lifers, Tea Partiers, Gunners), but the MSM tends to ignore them anyway so one more march/protest wouldn’t necessarily get their attention.

  14. The black community, the LGBT community, NOW…none of them care about this. Thus, NBC won’t really care. They can wait it out.

    This rubbish Lonestar. That’s MSNBC you’re talking about, not NBC.

  15. I don’t think this would be a big deal if it wasn’t for the other calamities at NBC News this year — Pete Williams and Jim Miklaszewski having to retract reports and NBC News’ growing credibility problem at the hands of Phil Griffin and MSNBC.

    No linkage whatsoever to this Williams story. Zippo. None. Nada. Nil…

  16. I don’t think NBC will fire Williams over this. A large part of my reasoning is because there won’t be mass protests at NBC headquarters like there would be if the offending party were any number groups similar to the ones I listed. It’s not an NBC vs MSNBC thing.
    If I’m NBC, I wait this thing out. Unless the media keeps it alive, it will die. And, with all that’s going on the world, I imagine the media will lose interest sooner rather than later.

  17. I can understand why some media critics might be more harsh than the general public (if that is the case).

    Baltimore Sun’s TV Critic David Zurawik who is no fan of NBC or MSNBC.
    ABC’s “The View” panel, since ABC competes for the evening news ratings
    Some hosts on CNN and FNC who are also obviously competitors with NBC’s sister channel MSNBC.
    TV news blogs (or websites) with some right-leaning writers like TVNewser, Real Clear Politics, Mediaite, Hollywood Reporter, Variety and The Wrap — all of whom have sharply criticized NBC and/or MSNBC in the past.

    The problem for NBC and Mr. Williams is that he is beginning to take heat from the NY Times, which has now published multiple stories — none of them favorable. This should be concerning to the NBC hierarchy more so than most of the other critics — and it probably is.

  18. […] address this mess. Talking completely, forthrightly, and publicly is the answer (though I already wrote that we can’t trust […]

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: