The New York Daily News’ Corky Siemaszko writes about an internal NBC News investigation on Brian Williams…
“NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams is now the target of an internal investigation for lying about dodging danger while reporting in Iraq, sources told The Daily News.
The probe is being led by Richard Esposito, who heads NBC’s investigative unit, they said.
Esposito previously worked as an investigative correspondent at ABC and before that was an editor at The Daily News.
The revelation that Williams is being probed by sleuths at his own network came as his predecessor publicly denied urging NBC bosses to can the anchorman.
And I want to cite from this Deborah Turness memo that TVNewser has posted…
Yesterday, Brian and I spoke to the Nightly News team. And this morning at the Editorial Exchange, we both addressed the wider group. Brian apologized once again, and specifically expressed how sorry he is for the impact this has had on all of you and on this proud organization.
As you would expect, we have a team dedicated to gathering the facts to help us make sense of all that has transpired. We’re working on what the best next steps are – and when we have something to communicate we will of course share it with you.
Add the second part to the first part and you get a good idea of the kind of investigation that will likely be run and its purpose…
For one thing, this won’t be the Thornburgh report where outsiders are hired to dig in to what happened. This will be an internal investigation.
And because this was never officially announced via release, but rather leaked out to select media outlets, we can assume it will be an “unofficially official” investigation…more in line with what CBS did with Lara Logan.
We should not expect to see results published unless a Kryptonite warhead is discovered that forces Williams out of the network.
We should not expect any sort of accounting beyond pithy “We have completed an investigation…blah…blah…blah…while there were some issues…blah…blah…blah…we consider the matter closed.”
Remember, this isn’t an independent external investigation meant to check every nook and cranny of Brian Williams’ life. This is an internal NBC controlled investigation designed to give the appearance of due diligence.
Like the Logan review at CBS and the Zakaria review at CNN. Not at all like the Thornburgh committee investigation.
This is one part investigation and two parts PR move. It does two things. It gives the appearance that NBC is taking it seriously (there’s taking things seriously and then there’s taking things seriously) and it does a very good job of, at least temporarily, freezing the story from advancing on NBC’s doorstep.
Now NBC can hunker down and wait for this to die off and then issue its pithy summary of the findings from its internal investigation which the full version will never see the light of day. That’s what the cynics would say and they would have some justification for saying so.
Consider the way Turness kept including Williams in the timeline of her memo. In Poker this would be considered a tell. The implication is one of family…of being a unified team still. Turness and Williams addressed the news team. Turness and Williams addressed the Editorial Exchange. “we have a team dedicated to gathering the facts to help us make sense of all that has transpired.”
So how do “we” fairly investigate a guy who could have easily spilled the beans, whatever they may be, internally to the news team, to the Editorial Exchange, and be done with it. And why do “we” need to make sense of all that transpired when one of “we” could have spilled the beans, whatever they may be, internally to the news team, to the Editorial Exchange, and be done with it.
There’s something very hinky about all this. The pieces just do not fit together. Either Williams has completely blanked it as far as his memory goes or he’s as pathologically smooth as Lance Armstrong was in parsing out lies, half-truths, and embellishments.
Either way, we can tell from what Turness did today and how she kept Williams part of the process, that she’s currently buying what he’s selling. Otherwise NBC would have launched an independent investigation and Williams’ internal apologies would have come by email instead of team meetings because Turness would have wanted to put some distance between the two of them.
So add up the publicly unanounced internal investigation and the lack of separation between Williams and Turness and you start getting a feel for how NBC wants this to play out. Whether they’ll get the opportunity to play it out that way…that’s another matter.