Williams’ Suspension: Context…

New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman accidentally provides some context to the events that led up to Brian Williams suspension…

NBC News execs are currently deciding the fate of Brian Williams: The Nightly News anchor and his agent met with NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke in the last 24 hours, and were presented with a dossier of Williams’s apparent lies, according to sources. One can only imagine that Williams wishes his anchor escape plan had worked out and that he were the host of The Tonight Show right now.


23 Responses to “Williams’ Suspension: Context…”

  1. The most salient point in this story is in the last paragraph.

    “In Dec. 2014 NBC signed him (Williams) to a reported five year $50 million deal. But such contracts usually give networks a possible out, and NBC might negotiate an exit if its most valuable asset is at risk; trust.”

    The thing is, Williams didn’t commit a crime or bring NBC into real disrepute. He embarrassed himself, his friends and family by embellishing stories of his adventures as a reporter.

    If he had had an affair, got caught in a DUI or verbally bullied his coworkers, he would have had to apologize and maybe take a short period off the air. This offense is in that class. The only person really harmed is Williams himself. Yet NBC is treating it as if he was found to be a p*dophile or something similar.

    I get that NBC will have to dump Williams because he has lost the ‘trust’ of his viewers. But they will also have to pay him a large part of his contracted money because, in the end, his only wrongdoing was embellishing facts about things that have happened in his life. It’s sleazy but not something all of us haven’t done ourselves at some point, if not many points, in our lives.

  2. savefarris Says:

    They announce Williams’s suspension on the same day Jon Stewart announces he’s leaving the Daily Show.

    …. Hmmmmm …..

  3. savefarris Says:

    “You’d think that if they’re going to talk to anybody about this, we might reasonably get a leg up on getting interviews with any NBC News executives to explain this decision if only because we’re right down the hall.” — Rachel Maddow

    You’d think if you were worth 2 cents as a newshound, you might have reasonably gotten a leg up on investigating this yourselves. If only because you’re right down the hall.

  4. This offence is in that class.

    No it isn’t. He embellished the facts of his NBC news story multiple times and most recently on a nationalised television programme where I assume he was introduced as the “anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News.” It appears he did the same while reporting from New Orleans during the aftermath of Katrina. His actions undermine the credibility of the entire NBC News Division.

    The “without pay” is NBC’s position that he violated his contract and, thus, is owed nothing. His agent was negotiating as long of a deal as possible and, for NBC, the six months keeps him on contract so that they can compel him to keep his mouth shut. Sometime between now and July, in exchange for a little bit of that $50M, Mr. Williams will announce his permanent retirement and NBC will announce his successor. He’s done.

  5. “No it isn’t.”

    ^^The offense is only news because of who it is and where he works.
    NBC is only harmed by association here. They hired a serial fabricator but that’s on them. They didn’t do a proper investigation of Williams before they hired him.

    I agree he has to go, and have said so all along, but I think NBC deserves part of the blame here as it appears Williams tendency to exaggerate was known by the network and tolerated – even as they hired him for $50 million and five years. I think he will get a large part of the money owed him as NBC will be only to willing to buy his silence.

    Williams career as a journalist is probably over but I can see him hired as a late night talk show host.

  6. Everybody knows people who are serial exaggerators. It’s always painfully obvious. There’s no way the people at 30 Rock didn’t know BW was prone to exaggerations/lying.

    Anyway, it’s been a bad run for NBC. Brian Williams, Martin Bashir, Alec Baldwin, the David Gregory kerfuffle, multiple tape editing scandals. Those are what I could come up with off the top of my head in a few seconds. I’m sure I’m leaving out plenty.

  7. NBC will surely have had in Williams contract, since it was so large, all kinds of language they can use to get out of the contract. Williams is toast because as Anderson Cooper said last night:(paraphrasing) How do you confront anyone, a politician, etc about exaggerating, lying, etc.when you gave done so much of it yourself?

    And yes, he did a BIG “crime” in anchor world. He has damaged the TRUST viewers have in your whole news organization. Even idiots know that lots of people knew about his exaggerating and did NOTHING! How many crew, camera guys, producers, were in the helicopter, or in New Orleans, or in Israel who knew his reporting and then follow-up stories elsewhere were FOS!

    Also, a big thing not being played up big, is that Tom Brokaw interviewed Williams and Williams lied to Tom Brokaw. Seems as if Brokaw is still very admired in NBC and probably had conversations with higher ups in the news organization. Way too many strikes against Williams to have him stay.

    Too bad he didn’t get the Tonight Show gig he really wanted.

  8. “I’m sure I’m leaving out plenty.”

    ^^I’m sure you are. But you could also make a similar list for every other network on TV; including your beloved FNC. In this era of 24/7 fact checking no discretion, no matter how small, gets a pass.

    Williams had the misfortune to be in one of the two careers (anchor on a big three evening news show or a Sunday morning political talk show) where embellishing a war story can cost you your career. The other career where this could be fatal is politician.

    If Williams was a host on a cable net show or late night talk show (barring other mitigating circumstances) he would get a suspension and little else. It’s the ‘viewer trust’ factor, that Sherman refers to in his article, that makes this a fatal mistake for Williams.

  9. savefarris Says:

    The other career where [embellishing a war story] could be fatal is politician.

    You would think…


  10. “You would think…”

    ^^LOL! Good one farris. Shows how resilient the Clintons are to scandals; real and imagined. And it wasn’t like those on the right didn’t try to take her down using this story.

  11. savefarris Says:

    Shows how resilient the Clintons are to scandals

    Or … it could show how in-the-bag the MSM are for the Clintons.

    Eye of the Beholder, I guess…

  12. “Williams had the misfortune to be in one of the two careers (anchor on a big three evening news show or a Sunday morning political talk show) where embellishing a war story can cost you your career. The other career where this could be fatal is politician.”

    The liberal voters had no problem electing Blumenthal as a Senator because lying about your service to your country isn’t a big deal to liberals.


  13. “it could show how in-the-bag the MSM are for the Clintons.”

    ^^There was lots of MSM coverage at the time and the right wing media was going apesh*t as usual. The story just never took off for whatever reason.

  14. The story just never took off for whatever reason.

    The reason was because the confirmation that she lied came in late March 2008, when the primary was essentially over. (It wasn’t clinched mathematically, but we all saw the writing on the wall.)

    Once she resumes her campaign (can she wait until 11/7/16?), it should/will be an issue again.

  15. “Once she resumes her campaign (can she wait until 11/7/16?), it should/will be an issue again.”

    ^^I doubt it. If so the serious POTUS wannabes in the Repub Party will receive the same treatment and if your someone like Rand Paul who have a library full of videoed crazy libertarian rants out there in the vast interwebs (made when he was working with his father) it could get very messy.

  16. savefarris Says:

    If so the serious POTUS wannabes in the Repub Party will receive the same treatment

    What makes you think they won’t regardless?

    Less than 2 months ago, Howard Fineman tried to singlehandedly revive AquaBuddha.

    And Monday night, Chris Hayes got in 3 separate “greatest hits” slams on Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney.

  17. “What makes you think they won’t regardless?”

    ^^Sorry I worded that badly. I fully expect they will. It would be malpractice not to. I just don’t think Hillary miss-speaking years ago will play a huge role in the election; but who knows.

  18. Hey, our biggest newspaper in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel did an article on Scott Walker’s bald spot. I am waiting for the NY Times and/or Washington Post to do a big story on that.

  19. who cares about Walker’s bald spot? I’d like to see what they wrote. With no context, I’d say that’s what is wrong with political coverage. I’ve seen too much about veneers, hair plugs and hairstyle changes.

  20. My point exactly! Would they EVER do that with a Democrat candidate? He** NO!

    John MCCain had an affair according to the front page of the NY Times. (Liar, liar, pants on fire!) but as long as you can find something to smear a Republican it will get printed and then the Republican has to refute it which makes it a story that will be covered for days and the Republican will not be able to address the real issues and then the media will in the next story say “Let’s hear what so and so Democrat has to say about jobs.” If you can’t see through that media game you aren’t wanting to!

    Play a game with yourself. Every time the media points out a “personal issue” with a Republican candidate see what story about the Democrat candidate that same day is being covered. Write it down, watch the trend.

  21. Thanks for the link. There are some Democratic candidates who have had to put up with some really silly reporting about their physical appearance, but either way it is ridiculous.

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