Credibility Anchors News Shows

FEB 8 | Reprinted from The Screaming Moderate (

NBC News anchor Brian Williams is on the hot seat for his memory lapses or, better put, his memory enhancements, when it comes to his recollections of his coverage of wars and disasters. Mockery has begun! And that, my friends, is worse.

Brian says a military helicopter he was flying on was shot down. But it wasn’t. That was the chopper a half hour in front of his helicopter, which did not take fire. And, Brian, while in New Orleans covering Katrina said he saw a dead body float by his room in the Ritz Carlton, but the floods were blocks away from the hotel.

I hate to say this but Brian should be fired.

I hate to say that because his news show is the one I would turn to rather than ABC or CBS, as most other Americans did. But, when it comes to being an anchor the first two, and only two, qualities we look for are, first, credibility and, second, someone who is entertaining. If the first were not required, Ryan Seacrest would be doing the anchoring.

NBC has announced it now is doing an internal investigation of these incidents. Why, I’m not sure. Brian has admitted and apologized for the embellishments. He says he “conflated” two different situations in the retelling of the helicopter story. Conflated. Interesting word. The kind of word you search for when crafting a press release announcing your apology. “What should I say? I mis-remembered? I erred? I have it!!! I conflated!!!! Perfect.”

This from the same fellow who puffs himself up by calling a helicopter a “bird,” like the real military guys sometimes do. This from the same guy who, on his nightly news show, promoted and touted his daughter starring in his network’s updated production of Peter Pan. More puffing out that barrel chest. I mean, we’re all used to cross-marketing these days, but really, promoting your own daughter on your news show?

So, we’ll wait for NBC’s investigation. I really don’t know what they’re looking for. More examples of his puffery? No more examples? They can’t do that because someone will find another. Is it an investigation to say, he made those errors but no more so we’re keeping him in his chair? Is it stalling for time while they see if this blows over and the guy they have invested $10 million a year in can keep his job?

Brian looks like a nice guy, and a smart guy. And “mistakes were made.” Unfortunately, you can’t be the one trusted by a nation for honest reporting when you can’t report honestly about your own experiences.

Editor’s Note: B. Jay is a former deputy White House press secretary to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He also headed the communications offices at the Republican National Committee, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Yale University. He is a former reporter and now is deputy managing director of APCO Worldwide’s Washington, D.C., office.