Sunday, February 15, 2015

Should Brian Williams return?


The tale of Brian Williams is a Shakespearean tragedy.  His hubris, his pride, and his sense of self-importance have brought Brian Williams down from his lofty position as the most trusted name in news.  As the saying goes, "the higher they are, the harder they fall."  This most definitely describes Brian Williams.

How did this happen?  Some embellishments and exaggerations in his reporting in the middle east wars became to be out and out falsehoods about his time embedded with the military.  And, the military wanted to set the record straight, which they did.  Brian Williams and his helicopter were never in direct fire and never took any hits from RGP's.  In fact, his helicopter was an hour behind those that were hit by enemy fire.

Why did Brian Willliams, the leading anchor in evening news, feel he had to embellish or exaggerate anything?  We all saw him as brave for being embedded with U.S. soldiers to begin with.  We saw and knew he was as close to the fighting as a newsman could get.  We believed and found accurate his reporting - what was the need to puff up his part in all this?

While Brian Williams was the most watched of the evening anchors, my preference to watch was ABC's Diane Sawyer or PBS Newshour with Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff.   Is it because I am a woman?  I'll admit that might be part of it, but mostly I find these three women to be the most accurate, trusted, and believable news anchors on television.  I was sad when Diane Sawyer left ABC.  

I had watched Brian Williams at times deliver the news, but he always came across to me as slick and a bit smug.  Therefore, I was not surprised when he was called out  for his embellished reporting of the middle east wars and his Hurricane Katrina reporting.  

To be honest, I have not been keen on NBC News for a while.  There always seems to be too much drama in its news department going all the way back to Jane Pauley.  I was quite disturbed at how NBC handled her departure from the Today show and the entrance of Deborah Norville to replace her.  

There is a ruthlessness at NBC News that I don't see on the other networks.  I was unhappy with how Anne Curry was treated and her departure from the Today show.  In fact, with Curry's departure I have not viewed the Today show since then.  I do not care for Samantha Guthrie at all, and I feel that Anne Curry was the best reporter on the Today show - yes even better than Matt Lauer.  Perhaps that is why he eagerly helped in Curry's departure.

I am also sad to see David Gregory dumped from "Meet the Press."  I thought he was an intelligent, thoughtful, and assertive reporter and moderator on this show.  Again, I do not care for Chris Todd, who replaced Gregory on "Meet the Press."  Will there ever be a moderator like Tim Russert?.  No, he was unique - perhaps his son can fill his shoes someday. 

And now Brian Williams.  NBC News is a mess and has been ever since Tom Brokaw retired from the anchor's chair.   

Can Brian Williams redeem himself?  I don't know.  All a news anchor / reporter has is his or her credibility and sterling, accurate reporting.  Without those two qualities an anchor / reporter is not worth his or her salt.  

For the next six months, I urge Brian Williams to look within himself for the answers.  He is the only one who can fix his credibility issue.  Perhaps he can do some grunt reporting and/or write a book without embellishments and exaggerations.  Perhaps he can tone down the slick and smug image that come across in his reporting.  Perhaps he can go back to where he began to find himself again.  

I do not wish anyone ill and I do believe everyone deserves a second chance.  Should Brian Williams return to NBC News?  I don't know.  Will Brian Williams return to NBC News? Again, I don't know.   Only Brian Williams can answer these questions.