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Ed Driscoll

The Memory Hole

Scroll down to the bottom for the update to this post, on Jake Tapper’s interview this afternoon with the Stars & Stripes reporter who broke the Brian Williams “chopper whopper” story earlier this week. Even before these new questions emerged, Scott Whitlock of Newsbusters noted that “According to CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter, ‘fear’ is setting in at NBC as the executives and journalists there worry over the widening ‘questions’ being raised about Brian Williams”:

Stelter appeared with Carol Costello, Friday and revealed, “…When I’m speaking to my sources at NBC, I hear more confusion and, frankly, I hear fear in their voices about how this is going to play out because there are even questions about other stories Brian Williams reported in other parts of the world.”

Stelter marveled, “This is a crisis for NBC… This is humiliating at this point for Brian Williams and for his colleagues.” The CNN journalist went on to explain that an Army pilot who appeared to endorse part of Williams’s story has now backtracked. Rich Krell previously stated that the helicopter the anchor was in did take enemy fire (though not a RPG).

Here’s the concluding portion of Whitlock’s transcript of Stelter’s interview with Costello:

STELTER: This is a crisis for NBC. You’re right. You know, look at this morning’s New York Post. [Holds up cover.] I have never seen anything like this. This is a network news anchor with a Pinocchio nose on him –


STELTER: – calling him a nose for news. This is humiliating at this point for Brian Williams and for his colleagues. I can tell you that Tom Brokaw, for example, his predecessor, is furious about what’s going on and there’s lots of people in rank and file at NBC who also have a lot of questions about the murkiness of Brian Williams’ story. The reason why me and other reporters are trying to interview other soldiers and others there is because there is all this lack of clarity about what really happened. Like I said, I’m sensing even a bit of fear at NBC about what to do and how this is going to play out. He has a lot of credibility and he has a wonderful legacy of reporting. But there are serious questions now.

The 29-year-old Stelter has “never seen anything like this”? Gee, wait’ll he discovers RatherGate and what led to Eason Jordan losing his plum gig as CNN’s boss:

The New York Post’s Page Six claims that NBC has set up a “Brian Williams Truth Squad” (which itself sounds like something out a war movie — the truth squad is parachuting in!) to investigate their anchor’s other tall tales. (Shades of CBS’s Thornburgh Report in 2005 which led to Dan Rather’s ouster and the New York Times recanting Jayson Blair’s many fables.) In addition to Williams’ various claims about being shot down over Macho Grande and witnessing the walking dead after Katrina (or something like that), his stories go all the way to rescuing multiple puppies when he was a volunteer fireman. Williams told the Today Show in 2011, “I was wearing a breathing apparatus, conducting a search on my hands and knees, when I felt something warm, squishy and furry on the floor of a closet. I instinctively tucked it in my coat. When I got outside, I saw two small eyes staring up at me, and I returned the 3-week-old (and very scared) puppy to its grateful owners.” In an earlier interview, as spotted by video aggregator Grabien, Williams claimed he found two puppies:

Talking to Esquire in 2005, Williams boasted, “All I ever did as a volunteer fireman was once save two puppies.” Note that he didn’t say “save two puppies,” which could have meant saving an individual puppy on two occasions. He clearly says this happened “once.”

In his latest G-File (emailed to subscribers today, online tomorrow), Jonah Goldberg describes Williams’ tall tales as “really kind of sad and pathetic”:

Does Williams’s lie matter? Of course it does. As Hinderaker notes, Williams is wildly overpaid to do a job that is largely theatrical. In a free market, if that makes sense, so be it. But as Peter Parker learned when he didn’t stop the crook who ultimately killed his Uncle Ben, with great power (and great paychecks) comes great responsibility. Williams is paid millions of dollars to do the following:

1. Look good on camera

2. Read true things from a teleprompter about news stuff

3. Be trustworthy

4. Not spontaneously combust or become some sort of lycanthrope on camera (werewolf, werebasset, Lou Albano, etc.).

I’m sure he does other things. Some news anchors actually work hard at putting together the newscast. But the point is that Williams doesn’t have to do that. He does have to do the things listed above. If he got a face tattoo depicting a biker-gang orgy, he’d lose his job. If he suddenly came down with some strange malady that caused him to read the news in Elvish (which, by the way, is how you say “Elvis” with a mouthful of crackers), he’d lose his job.

As for being trustworthy, the question remains whether this is a big enough of a breach to justify losing his job. That probably depends on what we learn in the days ahead about other statements Williams has made and how he handles himself. Should he lose his job over what we know already? Maybe. I don’t know. On the one hand, if he was really counseled to stop telling the story and kept doing it, then he’s got real problems. On the other hand, I don’t take NBC News seriously, and having damaged goods in the anchor chair might be a good thing.

Rarely am I so torn about an issue that matters so little.

Just as with George H.W. Bush’s “Read My Lips, No New Taxes,” Bill Clinton’s serial lies about Monica Lewisky and his other umm, adventures, Hillary’s Tuzla sniper lies, and Obama’s “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” Williams is now a known liar in a position of serious authority. Jonah may not take NBC News seriously (and I agree — it’s been an MSNBC-tainted joke known for its serial lies for many years now), but according to Ad Week, Williams draws about nine million viewers a night. That’s down from Tom Brokaw’s last numbers in 2004, which averaged 11 million viewers, and way down from the glory days (read: monopoly) of the Big Three, when Walter Cronkite averaged double those numbers in the 1960s. But that’s still a lot of people whose opinions Williams can shape — and two guesses which direction his politics lean.

Jonah compared Williams’ serial lies to the guy at the bar telling tall tales to his buddies:

Some people embellish stories, lots and lots of people. The fish always gets bigger. The girl at the bar gets hotter. The other guy in the fight gets tougher. At some point the embellishments cover up the original, like layers of graffiti. That’s what Williams did. Don’t get me wrong. He lied and his apology minimized the size and duration of the lie. But the nature of the lie wasn’t nearly as bad as those of countless others who yoked deceit to a partisan agenda or for political gain. He was trying to praise the military and wanted a little more of their glory to rub off on him.

But there’s a big difference — unless you’re being videotaped for American Sportsman or your wife brought her flip cam, no one has a record of you reeling in the big one. Williams’ original reporting of his helicopter exploits is on videotape — you can watch it here. Williams should have known that it’s been archived, just as John Kerry should have known that the lies he told in the 1970s would resurface in 2004. Did Williams not think that somebody would go to the tape and check his stories? (As with Kerry before him, as someone noted on Twitter today, “Apparently Brian Williams & legacy media in general ignore that a lot of bloggers are former military.”)

Why Williams was out in the helicopter in the first place in 2003 is easy to understand; it obviously wasn’t to break news. Just as the now-fossilized evening news format dates back to the very early days of network television in the late 1940s, so to0 does the idea that the anchorman should have some wartime experience on his resume. However daft Walter Cronkite got in his later years, according to his biographer Douglas Brinkley, Cronkite covered the Blitz in London for United Press (now UPI), and flew as a journalist on B-17 bomber missions over Germany. Given the low survival rate of WWII bomber crews, that’s harrowing stuff.

It led, though, to Cronkite making millions largely by sitting behind a brightly-lit desk in front of a Sony video camera on a tripod, reading copy written for him and placed into a Teleprompter, into his clip-on Shure lavalier mic attached to his Paul Stuart tie and Savile Row suit. That’s not quite as adventurous a mission, which is why having the backstory about his World War II exploits helped establish his gravitas.

Similarly, by 2003, the NBC brass must have known Tom Brokaw was nearing retirement in the next year or two, and sent Williams out to establish his anchorman bona fides in a sort of Reader’s Digest condensed version of the Cronkite method.

But once he got the gig, it’s not like Williams has singlehandedly broken major stories by working the phones and his sources ala Redford & Hoffman in All the President’s Men. 

Prior to this week, ultimately, all Williams had was an attractive face, a decent voice, and a reputation relatively untainted by scandal.

Well, as as the legendary existential philosopher Meatloaf once exclaimed, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

Will that be enough to save Williams’ job? That’s up to NBC. And given how awful their reputation is right now, maybe.

Related: “Since the advent of television, no network news anchor has so fervently courted celebrity quite like NBC’s Brian Williams,” a Hollywood Reporter columnist notes:

To be sure, TV news anchors present and past — including Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and many others — were indeed famous, which is to say identifiable to a mass audience almost solely based on the work they did.

Williams can hardly be blamed for wanting to raise his profile. With recognition ideally comes viewers. And as the audience for broadcast television generally, and network evening newscasts in particular, has splintered and eroded beginning almost concurrently with his ascension to NBC Nightly News anchor in 2004, no longer does putting on a solid journalistic broadcast ensure that viewers with watch it. Williams’ Nightly News leads his competitors in the ratings, drawing just under 9 million viewers on average against slightly more than 8 million for ABC and about 7 million for CBS.

Up against 24-hour news networks and an endless stream of information being digitally blasted to an always-on audience, to say nothing of videogames, YouTube videos, messaging apps, and the plethora of other activities fighting for our attention, Williams did what he presumably thought he had to do to generate viewers: He pimped himself out.

Frequently — and sometimes freely, like when he very boldly hosted Saturday Night Live in 2007 or slow jams the news with NBC colleague Jimmy Fallon. And sometimes silently if not willingly, such as when Fallon uses supercuts of Williams’ broadcasts to create viral videos of the tired but still very popular “serious white guy rapping” trope.

NBC helped to invent the persona of the parody news anchor via Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live, a role now best known as being inhabited in more recent years by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Evidently, Williams would rather be Stewart or Colbert, than taken seriously as a real journalist.

He may get his wish yet.

Update: I had been assuming that Williams’ original report in 2003 was relatively unvarnished, but it slowly became Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen and the “Flight of the Valkyries” scene from Apocalypse Now as Williams continually retold the story on various talk shows. But as Ed Morrissey writes at Hot Air, Jake Tapper of CNN interviewed Travis Tritten of Stars & Stripes today, who says that Williams or the technical boffins who videotaped him in the chopper used the audio from a different mission to play up Williams’ aerial exploits right from the start:

TAPPER: So there is this moment where somebody’s saying our helicopter is taking small arms fire and it’s not taking it now, but they were and we need to find some place for security, over — that’s in the radio. Do you have any idea what that was in reference to?

TRITTEN: I do, actually. I spoke with the flight engineer on Williams’ Chinook, Joseph Miller, and what he told me is that Williams and the NBC crew, actually, they’d been given a headset and they had taken a microphone, and they had put it in the earpiece of the headset so that they could pick up the radio communications between the company that they were in and another company of Chinooks that was flying a separate mission in the opposite direction. So what you’re hearing is that radio chatter from that other company that was coming under fire.

Wow, NBC futzing with audio timeline to distort a story? That’s umpossible!

As Ed Morrissey writes:

If what Tritten and Miller say is true, then not only did Williams tell a false story for 12 years, Williams and his entire NBC crew presented a false report to NBC viewers. They edited in the radio traffic of another mission in order to make it look like their mission came under fire. Some have asked why Williams’ crew didn’t come forward to confirm or deny Williams’ story; well, this would explain why they’d prefer to keep quiet. If Tritten and Miller got this wrong, then we’d better start seeing some denials from everyone involved — and the raw footage and audio from 2003 to confirm it.

This raises the stakes considerably for NBC News. It’s no longer Williams lying in other venues, if Tritten and Miller are correct. It’s that Williams cooked a story and put it on the air. A simple apology won’t cover that kind of journalistic sin.

And note that CNN is quickly smelling blood in the water, unlike 2004 when virtually the entire MSM outside of Fox circled the wagons to protect Dan Rather.

Report: Tom Brokaw Wants Brian Williams Fired

February 5th, 2015 - 9:17 pm

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

It’s all fun and games in the ozone layer of the elite media until the public catches you cooking the books.

“You know you’re in trouble when Tom Brokaw is out for your blood.” The New York Post’s Page Six on the man who coined the phrase “The Greatest Generation” versus his successor, who’s been living out B. G. Burkett’s Stolen Valor meme for the past decade:

NBC’s most revered journalist is furious that Brian Williams is still in the anchor chair after he sheepishly admitted he hadn’t traveled on a helicopter hit by enemy fire.

“Brokaw wants Williams’ head on a platter,” an NBC source said. “He is making a lot of noise at NBC that a lesser journalist or producer would have been immediately fired or suspended for a false report.”

On Wednesday, Williams, 55, acknowledged that he had repeatedly said he was aboard a chopper that had been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during a 2003 reporting trip to Iraq, when he was actually safely traveling in a different aircraft.

Brokaw, 74, was still the “Nightly News” anchor when Williams came back from his Iraq expedition — and an insider said he knew the story Williams later spouted was bunk.

“Tom Brokaw and [former NBC News President] Steve Capus knew this was a false story for a long time and have been extremely uncomfortable with it,” the source said.

NBC News execs had counseled him to stop telling the tale.

Williams still took the anchor’s seat for his “Nightly News” broadcast Thursday evening — and was working at 30 Rock all day despite calls for his dismissal. He didn’t address the issue during the broadcast.

Assuming the Post’s report is accurate, this isn’t the first time that someone who passes for a Wise Old Man of TV news has wanted his (comparatively) younger successor fired after he got caught screwing the pooch. Douglas Brinkley’s often hagiographic 2012 biography of Walter Cronkite contains this damning passage regarding Uncle Walter’s bumbling successor:

Determined to be the new Murrow, a crusader for social justice in the twenty-first century, Rather had inadvertently become the Soupy Sales of TV news gathering. When Mike Wallace bumped into Rather in a CBS bathroom in the 60 Minutes offices, a nasty verbal clash erupted between the men. Wallace called Rather, to his face, a shameless creep, a public disgrace, who instead of manning up for Memogate, allowed the fine talents of Mapes*, Howard, Murphy, and West to suffer humiliation. Was that Rather’s idea of courage? “We know it as the battle of the bathroom,” longtime executive producer of 60 Minutes Jeff Fager explained. “It’s never been reported, but it was bad.”

It was then-NBC president Jeff Zucker who chose Williams to replace Brokaw in 2004 and promoted him as the man with the finger on the pulse of America’s Red States, or “NASCAR Nation” as Zucker dubbed them back then. The book Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV explores how Warren Littlefield replaced Brandon Tartikoff as the head of NBC and missed few beats in the 1990s. But how Zucker, Littlefield’s successor, began to wreck the NBC brand starting in 2000, before moving on to work his “magic” with CNN these days will make for quite a history — one that’s still playing out in real time this week.

* No, I don’t think he meant that ironically. Brinkley, like the late Mike Wallace, is likely really only sorry that Rather got caught.

Related: “NBC News anchor Brian Williams’ comments about dead bodies, Hurricane Katrina starting to gain attention, draw scrutiny,” the New Orleans Advocate reports today.

As Mickey Kaus noted in 2005, the MSM saw Katrina as a way to (ultimately successfully, given the results in the midterms the following year) pummel President Bush over Iraq without sounding unpatriotic. Considering how insane the MSM’s coverage quickly became, there could well be plenty of invented stories to go around.

Possibly like this one.

Update: And when you’ve lost Arianna — you’ve likely lost a lot of NBC executives who read her site daily:

More: The left-leaning Daily Beast also senses blood in the water at 30 Rock: “Brian Williams’s NBC News Bosses Are ‘Hanging Him Out to Dry,’” screams the headline there tonight. “The countdown begins,” Ace adds.

Brian Williams: A Uniter, Not a Divider!

February 5th, 2015 - 7:03 pm


“Williams Should Not Resign His Job as NBC Narrative Reader,” says Rush Limbaugh, inventing a great description for Williams’ nightly job:

Brian Williams told an abject lie that any number of people at any point the rest of his life could expose — and he didn’t just do it once. He did it two, three times. He did it on Letterman, did it on the NBC Nightly News.  You know I’ve always liked Brian Williams. And, in a personal observation, he’s one of the few in the Drive-By Media who has been fair to me.  But, man, I just don’t understand. I think one thing to keep in mind here… You know, people say, “He ought to have to resign! Brian Williams ought to resign!”

No, no, no, folks. Brian Williams shouldn’t have to resign.

Brian Williams… There isn’t journalism anymore.  These people are not journalists. They’re not reporters.  They’re not even news readers! I have a new name for television info anchors: Narrative readers.  They really are there just to read the script of the daily soap opera that is Washington.  Whoever determines it, whoever writes it, they are there to advance it.  Brian Williams’ job every day is to sell a narrative, to get away with whatever he can to move his and the Democrat Party’s agenda forward.

This is really not an assault or an insult to journalism, because there really isn’t too much journalism going on. But clearly there isn’t any journalism at NBC News.  We know this.  They doctored 911 calls in the case of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, any number of examples like this. [QED -- Ed.]

On the PJM homepage this afternoon, Tom Blumer concurs. “Please Stay On, Brian Williams: Only you can more quickly hasten the establishment press’s demise:”

The indispensable Kristinn Taylor at Gateway Pundit has found that “speech promotional bios touted Williams’ bravery in returning to Iraq after he claimed being under fire.” The exhibit at his post touts the anchor’s commencement speech at Fordham University in 2011. Shortly after Taylor’s post, Fordham revised the related web page, adding a note that “on Feb. 4, 2015, Brian Williams issued an on-air retraction regarding the helicopter flight.” Quite a few people at other sites will be similarly busy scrubbing their web pages in the coming days.

In his daily email on Thursday, Jim Geraghty explained Williams’ likely motivation:

Before telling Letterman the helicopter story, Williams makes the caveat that he’s not much of a war correspondent. He cites NBC News foreign correspondent Richard Engel as the kind of reporter who calls a day where he’s shot at “Tuesday.” There’s your motive, for anyone trying to understand why he would do this. He’s an anchor, sitting behind a desk most nights in New York City. It is embarrassing for a man to not have any good war stories or stories of bravery. So Williams took the story of how he was about an hour away from life-and-death drama and changed it. Unfortunately for him, that’s also called “lying.”

Also, in early 2003, though he had been chosen to succeed Tom Brokaw, Williams was not yet perched in the Nightly News anchor chair. There were barely concealed concerns that Williams, whose primary previous duties were at CNBC and MSNBC when the latter at least pretended to be objective, would not prove to be a strong enough presence. The 2003 incident, as embellished even then, surely boosted Williams’ perceived testosterone level at an arguably important time.

That description of Williams’ salad days at NBC dovetails quite well with Tom Wolfe’s 1980 description of how the world has worked inside the network news cocoon since Walter Cronkite donned his first flak jacket:

Within the television news operations there’s such a premium put on not being a reporter. Everyone aspires to the man who never has to leave the building, the anchor man, who is a performer. The reporters are called researchers and are usually young women, and the correspondent on television is a substar, a supporting actor who prides himself on the fact that he doesn’t have to prepare the story. You talk to these guys and they’ll say, “Well, they sent me from Beirut to Teheran, and I had forty-five minutes to get briefed on the situation.” What they should say is, “I read the AP copy.” The idea is that as a performer you can pull together this news operation anywhere you go and the whole status structure is set up in such a way that you’re not going to get good reporters. Just try to think of the last major scoop, to use that old term, that was broken on television. I’m sure there have been some. But what story during Watergate? During Watergate there were new stories coming out every day. None were on television, except when television simply broadcast the hearings. The can do a set event. And that’s what television is actually best at. In fact, it’d be a service to the country if television news operations were shut down totally and they only broadcast hearings, press conferences and hockey games. That would be television news. At least the public would not have the false impression that it’s getting news coverage.

After Dan Rather imploded, TV writer Burt Prelutsky wrote in 2005

You can go back to Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, John Chancellor and Walter Cronkite. We treated them all with a deference that was totally out of proportion to the work they did. Essentially, the job description requires that they read the captions to the news footage we’re watching and to introduce the on-site reporters. Do you really think that constitutes the mental equivalent of heavy lifting? For doing what your uncle Sid could do — and with a lot more pazazz — they’re paid enormous amounts of money. On top of all the dough, they are constantly the honorees at testimonial dinners, but that’s fine, so long as I don’t have to attend. But the trouble is, they’re regarded as important people by way too many of us, and that’s not good. Why? Because it makes us all look like a bunch of saps — what H.L. Mencken called the boobus americanus and what P.T. Barnum simply labeled suckers.

Because these anchors get to spend their entire careers talking about important events and important people, they naturally come to regard themselves as important. Self-delusion is a form of insanity and we should not encourage it by fawning over them.

When they finally sign off for the last time, you notice that the testimonials inevitably mention how many political conventions they covered, how many space missions, how many inaugurations, assassinations, uprisings and wars, as if they had had a hand in any of these earth-shaking events. It wasn’t their hands that were involved, it was their behinds, as they sat year after year at those desks, declaiming in those store-bought voices what we were seeing with our own eyes — all thanks to the journalistic peons who actually went places and did things and took risks so that we could sit home and watch it

Now, I’m not saying we should kill the messengers. I’m just suggesting it’s time we stopped canonizing them.

Indeed. And as Tom Blumer writes today, “Brian Williams’ continued presence in the Nightly News anchor chair would henceforth make him the press’s poster child. He would become the starting point in any discussion of media bias with those who still believe that the press is fair and balanced — and readers can rest assured that Williams’ track record is a heavily documented, target-rich environment.”

Related: Kyle Drennen of NewsBusters charts the roster of “The Incredibles: NBC’s Growing List of Irresponsible Journalists,” from Williams to Ebola quarantine-breaker Nancy Snyderman to Al Sharpton.” And at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey spots “Variety’s buried lede: ‘Senior’ NBC News execs ‘counseled’ Williams to stop telling helicopter story.”

Asking the Important Questions

February 5th, 2015 - 5:02 pm

“Testify, brother,” Jim Treacher tweets, linking to this 2012 NBC Nightly News segment from Brian Williams:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And on the PJM homepage, “Please Stay On, Brian Williams,” begs Tom Blumer. “Only you can more quickly hasten the establishment press’s demise.”

Tom’s article has an exclusive look at the new advertising campaign NBC is experimenting with to promote Williams’ show. Personally, I think it’s a winner:

“Williams will no longer be managing editor and anchor of the evening newscast by the end of the day Friday,” David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun writes, prefacing his forecast with the words, “If credibility means anything to NBC News.” Ahh, but there’s the rub — credibility means little to NBC News, based on their corporate history since 2008, as their history of employing deceptive edited stories to advance a partisan narrative illustrate. But as Zurawik asks:

How could you expect anyone who served in the military to ever see this guy onscreen again and not feel contempt? How could you expect anyone to believe he or the broadcast he leads has any credibility?

I wonder how the newsroom Williams is supposed to be leading will look at him tomorrow morning when he arrives for work.

Zurawik also notes, “if this was 10 or 15 years ago, an anchor at any network would be gone by Friday after an admission of such deception — especially when it is placed alongside the sacrifices made and pains suffered by military personnel and their families.”

Really? Flashback to 11 years ago, in October of 2004, when Dan Rather was in the thick of Rathergate, and the presidential election polling numbers were still relatively close. The late Peter Jennings of ABC and Williams’ predecessor Tom Brokaw were eager to join up to publicly defend Rather from, “What I think is highly inappropriate is what’s going on across the Internet, a kind of political jihad against Dan Rather and CBS News that is quite outrageous,” as Brokaw told the crowd at a New Yorker-sponsored event.

Near the end of the presidential election in 2008, when Barack Obama’s leftwing ideology and radical chic leanings were obvious for all to see, Brokaw was more than happy to feign the same level of amnesia about Obama in an interview with Charlie Rose as Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker pretended to suffer last night when dissembling on Twitter in effort to provide damage control for Williams, his fellow member of the MSM guild.

As with CBS in the fall of 2004, I’m sure NBC is in bunker mode right now, and it’s quite possible that the network is monitoring Williams’ reputation with low-information voters who rely solely on TV news, avoiding the big scary Internet, hoping this will all blow over if they ride it out long enough. (As with Rather, whom the Gods Destroy, they first make to suffer Nixon comparisons.) But Zurawik’s basic thesis is sound: Williams’ fables provide further damage to NBC’s already bottom-feeding reputation. And at the Washington Post, Erik Wemple concurs that the Williams debacle is an NBC News-wide scandal:

Why did it take pushback from ‘some brave men and women in the air crews,’ however? Do these folks have to fight our wars and fact-check NBC News? A production crew accompanied Williams on the helicopter outing. The Erik Wemple Blog has asked NBC News who and how many people were on that crew. But where have they been as Williams has gone about misremembering the episode in media appearances in recent years?

As Glenn Reynolds responds, “Williams is a bigfoot. A mere crew person who told the truth about him would never work again in TV news.” I don’t recall a lot of CBS employees coming forward in the fall of 2004 confirming Slate’s judgement of “Dan Rather: The anchor as madman.”

And to bring this post full-circle, look who’s endorsing Williams today: “When Dan Rather tells you that something is trustworthy, you can take that shizz to the bank,” as Allahpundit jokes.

Related: “Video: When Brian Williams and NBC Nightly News covered Hillary’s ‘Tuzla Dash,’” from Ed Morrissey. Yes, NBC was quite harsh when it came to exposing Hillary’s wartime fables. But in early 2008, the MSM as a whole were united in finding any excuse to toss her out of the race to clear a path for The Anointed One.

And the Media Research Center spots a further irony: “Brian Williams Sits on Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation Board.”

‘Cause he’s all about the troops, man, when he’s not personally stealing their valor.

Update: Well so much for maintaining the firewall around low information voters, when USA Today is running a headline titled “Brian Williams’ Unmitigated Disaster.”

Williams can always rely on BuzzFeed though, to BenSmith his fables away.

More: This Photoshop sums up the current pitiful state of NBC:

And from Ace complete with trademark flaming skull icon, “Variety Source: NBC Execs Told Williams Years Ago To Stop Telling Chopper Whopper.” As Ace writes, if what showbiz bible Variety is reporting is true, “we are closer to the end than to the beginning.”

Last night on Twitter, someone suggested some sort of rehab-style excuse for Williams to buy time. This is also a possible modified limited hangout for NBC:

“Are Brian Williams’ fellow left leaning journalists circling the wagons around him? Well at least The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza is trying,” as spotted by Twitchy:


Ahh, the old “I can’t understand why…” trope, which is an oft-spoken left wing euphemism for “I know perfectly well why, but I’m afraid to admit, either to myself or to you, or both.” Gee, according to Ryan Lizza’s Wikipedia profile, “Since joining The New Yorker in 2007, he has written profiles of Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Barack Obama, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel, Peter Orszag, Darrell Issa, Michele Bachmann, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, and Rand Paul.” And he’s only 41 years old; awfully young for Alzheimer’s to be developing, which makes his inability to understand Williams’ repeated fabulisms all the more peculiar. Whatever could be causing his amnesia? (Apologies for the salty language in this tweet):

Or as contributor Rick Wilson tweets, “Here come the Brian Williams Truthers.”

They’ve got their work cut out for them; here’s yet another example of Williams hearing “Flight of the Valkyries” in his head while appearing on a talk show:

Here’s how it all went down back then, right Brian?

Quote of the Day

February 4th, 2015 - 8:26 pm

Here, I think, may be the difference: while the soldiers whom Williams got to know in Iraq work for peanuts, relatively speaking, Williams makes enormous amounts of money. How much, I have no idea, but the numbers are no doubt available on the web. Hundreds of millions of dollars, I assume. In some sense, Williams is paid far more than he deserves. His modest skills as a glib speaker with a patrician mien and a midwestern accent have been, by any normal standard, massively over-rewarded.

I have no problem with that; no doubt Williams worked hard to get where he is. No one stumbles into success. Still, the kind of wealth that has been heaped upon Brian Williams gives rise to a phenomenon that has played much too large a part in our national life: liberal guilt. Again, this is pure speculation, but I suspect that Williams’s emotional need to portray himself (in his own mind, not just to outsiders) as someone who braved dangers, was shot at and nearly killed, was part of how he assuaged the guilt that came packaged with the hundreds of millions of dollars he has earned for doing, really, not much. (Note, too, how similar Williams’s story is to Hillary Clinton’s lie about “landing under sniper fire” in Bosnia.)

“Do Brian Williams’s Lies Matter?”, John Hinderaker, Power Line.

“Over a Decade, a Reporter’s War Story Grew Ever More Dramatic,” Ad Week reports:

In Williams’ original telling of the story, his helicopter lands without drama–or danger. “Suddenly, without knowing why, we learn we’ve been ordered to land in the desert,” Williams says. “On the ground, we learn the Chinook ahead of us was almost blown out of the sky.” The crew aboard that helicopter, Williams reported, were took shaken to talk about the incident on camera.

But years later, Williams told a far more dramatic version of the story to David Letterman. “Two of our four helicopters were hit by ground fire, including the one that I was in,” Williams said. “RPG and AK-47.” Letterman asks Williams “what happens the minute everyone realizes you’ve been hit,” and Williams–whose grasp of detail despite a decade having passed includes the elevation and airspeed of the Chinook–describes a nervy emergency landing in the desert. “We landed very quickly, and hard…We got hit, we set down, everyone was okay. Our captain took a Purple Heart injury to his ear in the cockpit.”

It was that harrowing version of the story that led some veterans to post comments to the “Nightly News” Facebook page, openly–and pointedly–questioning Williams. “Sorry dude, I don’t remember you being on my aircraft. I do remember you walking up about an hour after we had landed to ask me what had happened. Then I remember you guys taking back off in a different flight of Chinooks from another unit and heading to Kuwait to report your ‘war story’ to the Nightly News.”

The Hollywood Reporter adds another telling of the story:

Fox News also points out that Williams penned an account of the false story on the Nightly News blog back in 2008: “We came under fire by what appeared to be Iraqi farmers with RPG’s and AK-47′s. The Chinook helicopter flying in front of ours (from the 101st Airborne) took an RPG to the rear rotor, as all four of our low-flying Chinooks took fire.”

Both links via John Nolte of Big Journalism, who adds that Williams’ lies didn’t happen in a corporate vacuum:

Williams’ 12 year lie is a disaster for the anchor and for the network that made him the face of its news division. Obviously no one at NBC News bothered to check a story that was just too good to check. Worse, this will only compound the credibility and ratings issues that have damaged the NBC News brand for a few years now.

Just a few months ago, NBC News Chief Medical Correspondent Nancy Snyderman was caught violating her Ebola quarantine. During the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman uproar NBC News was caught editing a 9-1-1 call to make Zimmerman look racist. During the 2012 presidential election Andrea Mitchell was caught fabricating a Mitt Romney gaffe.

For the last few years, NBC News has perpetrated one fraud after another on the American people.

If CNN media reporter Brian Stelter, who has a huge credibility issue of his own, is any indication of how the left-wing intelligentsia will react to Williams’ 12 year lie, the wagons are already being circled:

To follow-up on our initial post about Williams, would Stelter write anything similar if a GOP congressman or Fox News anchor had been caught lying, particularly about a wartime attack? But then, Stelter works for a network whose former CEO Eason Jordan was also a serial Iraq War fabulist, resigning in 2005 after being caught at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland claiming that “he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by U.S. troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted.” The previous year, the London Guardian quoted Jordan as saying, “The reality is that at least 10 journalists have been killed by the U.S. military, and according to reports I believe to be true journalists have been arrested and tortured by U.S. forces.”

After quoting Stelter and a Politico journalist both immediately circling the wagons to protect Williams (ala Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings defending Dan Rather a month after Rathergate broke in 2004), “Democrats sure got it good,” Nolte adds. “But if you think about it, it makes sense for NBC to keep a serial stolen valor liar like Brian Williams as the face of its dishonest, fraudulent news division. Perfect sense.”

Exit quotes:

And speaking of NBC’s corporate culture, these links further place Williams into context:



“And now, NBC Nighty News with your hosts, Brian Williams and Baron Munchausen,” John Hayward quips on Twitter. “Williams admitted Wednesday he was not aboard a helicopter hit and forced down by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a false claim that has been repeated by the network for years,” Stars & Stripes reports today:

Williams repeated the claim Friday during NBC’s coverage of a public tribute at a New York Rangers hockey game for a retired soldier that had provided ground security for the grounded helicopters, a game to which Williams accompanied him. In an interview with Stars and Stripes, he said he had misremembered the events and was sorry.

The admission came after crew members on the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook that was hit by two rockets and small arms fire told Stars and Stripes that the NBC anchor was nowhere near that aircraft or two other Chinooks flying in the formation that took fire. Williams arrived in the area about an hour later on another helicopter after the other three had made an emergency landing, the crew members said.

“I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams said. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”

Williams made the claim while presenting NBC coverage of the tribute to the retired command sergeant major at the Rangers game, and the fans giving the soldier a standing ovation.

No word yet if Sinbad, Sheryl Crow and Hillary Clinton were also onboard when the attack didn’t occur:

When Williams replaced Tom Brokaw on the NBC Nightly News, he was sold to the American public in 2004 by his then boss, Jeff Zucker (now in charge at CNN) with a lie: “No one understands this NASCAR nation more than Brian,” Zucker told USA Today, despite knowing that Williams was a cast-in-the-mold reactionary “liberal.” The following year, Williams compared America’s Founding Fathers to terrorists; in 2010 he would have a severe case of the vapors over the Tea Party while praising “the Clinton economy.”

So it’s not surprising that Williams himself is fabulist; it comes with the territory at NBC, its subsidiary networks, and the politicians they fawn over nightly.

Update: “‘Even lying in his apology’: Brian Williams slammed after recanting personal story about RPG attack in Iraq,” Twitchy reports:

Williams tells Stars & Stripes, “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.” Blogger Ace of Spades assists the befuddled anchorman in understanding what happened:

Let me help you out here, Brian. You conflated one aircraft — one you were in — with another aircraft — one you were not in — not due to a “mistake” but due to an age-old reportorial practice called lying to advance an agenda.

The agenda here was dressing up a soft, delicate little boy into a the sort of iron-stubbled man who looks like he belongs on a battlefield.

So you lied. You claimed you were on one of the helicopters that took fire; no human being could ever confuse “Me” or “Not Me.”

Steven Wright makes just that joke — “The other day I was — wait, no, that was someone else.”

See, Brian, it’s funny because we know that confusion about “Me” versus “Not Me” is not possible, except in the insane.

So you lied, and over the years you’ve lied and lied again.

Trust us, they lied.

I was curious if there were any photos of Williams on the battlefield, Dan Rather-style, so I typed in the words Brian Williams and Helmet into Google Images. Look what came up near the top:


That’s from Time magazine’s ten questions for ”Newsman Brian Williams” piece from 2010, which appears to no longer be online, except for the above photo. But it seems like Williams was evidently still playing on his helicopter adventures seven years after they didn’t occur, and Time-Warner-CNN-HBO was more than happy to play along, much like Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings helped Dan Rather keep up the charade.

Update: In 2007 at a Newsweek forum, Williams sounded like the second coming of Lee Ermey when asked about his adventures in Iraq:

And here’s video of Williams lying about the helicopter attack with David Letterman in 2013.

Mediaite has the video of Williams “apologizing” tonight on his NBC news program about his repeatedly-told lie – and his apology itself contains a lie; Williams acts as if he was following directly behind the helicopter hit by an RPG, when Star & Stripes reports “Williams arrived in the area about an hour later on another helicopter after the other three had made an emergency landing, the crew members said.”

As Mediaite notes, Williams described his serial fabulism as a “bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran,” a variation on the “botched joke” get out of jail free card that the left have employed for years. But as at least one person asked on Twitter tonight, how would Williams react if a politician attempted this same defense?

A Republican politician*, that is. (“Or a Fox anchor,” Noah Pollak of Commentary adds.)

By the way, a reminder from Iowahawk that Williams is far from the worst serial fabulist that NBC has on their payroll. Given MSNBC’s ratings woes, perhaps the two could swap channels:

* When confronted by a fellow Democrat fabulist, Williams merely bows in his exulted presence.

How Does It Feel?

January 31st, 2015 - 5:28 pm

After discovering a cache of heretofore long-thought lost Bob Dylan acetate recordings from the dawn of his recording career, Jeff Gold of a Website called Record Mecca discovers Michael Crichton’s “Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect” for himself. Gold writes:

I assumed this would be a big story in the Dylan collecting community, but was astounded at the overwhelming reaction from the mainstream media.  Before writing about the acetates here, I spent a few months documenting and transferring the music with the help of two friends.  When I finally wrote about the discovery in June, I was incredulous when the very next day it showed up on the front page of  Even more surprising is that the Rolling Stone writer hadn’t reached out to me, but instead simply paraphrased my blog post.  I know some of the writers there, and it would have been extremely easy for them to have contacted me.  In the past, at the very least Rolling Stone would have a fact checker call to verify all the information.  But in today’s instant media age, they just went with it.  Everybody wants to be the first on a story.

* * * * * * *

A few weeks after the media frenzy died down, it dawned on me–I could have made this whole thing up, and nobody would have been the wiser.  Of course I didn’t; the whole thing is true.  But probably 100 newspapers, websites and magazines for the most part just went with a story on a blog that sounded true.  It does go to show, you can’t believe everything you read on the internet–or in a newspaper.  (Happily, though, you can believe everything you read here.)

As the late Michael Crichton wrote:

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

Wait’ll Gold discovers the kind of stuff that Rolling Stone really just makes up, assuming nobody will be the wiser.

(Via Small Dead Animals.)

Correction of the Day

January 30th, 2015 - 4:53 pm


Somehow, I doubt the Gray Lady regrets the error.

“From the Jewish point of view, European anti-Semitism is a sideshow,” Charles Krauthammer writes today. “The story of European Jewry is over. It died at Auschwitz. Europe’s place as the center and fulcrum of the Jewish world has been inherited by Israel. Not only is it the first independent Jewish commonwealth in 2,000 years. It is, also for the first time in 2,000 years, the largest Jewish community on the planet.”

“The threat to the Jewish future lies not in Europe but in the Muslim Middle East, today the heart of global anti-Semitism, a veritable factory of anti-Jewish literature, films, blood libels and calls for violence, indeed for another genocide,” he adds:

For America, Europe and the moderate Arabs, there are powerful reasons having nothing to do with Israel for trying to prevent an apocalyptic, fanatically anti-Western clerical regime in Tehran from getting the bomb: Iranian hegemony, nuclear proliferation (including to terror groups) and elemental national security.

For Israel, however, the threat is of a different order. Direct, immediate and mortal.

The sophisticates cozily assure us not to worry. Deterrence will work. Didn’t it work against the Soviets? Well, just 17 years into the atomic age, we came harrowingly close to deterrence failure and all-out nuclear war. Moreover, godless communists anticipate no reward in heaven. Atheists calculate differently from jihadists with their cult of death. Name one Soviet suicide bomber.

Former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, known as a moderate, once characterized tiny Israel as a one-bomb country. He acknowledged Israel’s deterrent capacity but noted the asymmetry: “Application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.” Result? Israel eradicated, Islam vindicated. So much for deterrence.

And even if deterrence worked with Tehran, that’s not where the story ends. Iran’s very acquisition of nukes would set off a nuclear arms race with half a dozen Muslim countries from Turkey to Egypt to the Gulf states — in the most unstable part of the world. A place where you wake up in the morning to find a pro-American Yemeni government overthrown by rebels whose slogan is “God is Great. Death to America. Death to Israel. Damn the Jews. Power to Islam.”

All of which makes this headline from Jeff Dunetz at his “Yid with Lid” blog, linking to an article in the Jerusalem Post all the more harrowing: “Report: Obama Has Already Given Iran 80% Of What They Want.”

In his latest column today at PJM, Andrew McCarthy quotes a great observation from Newt Gingrich:

At the Freedom Forum in Iowa last Saturday, Newt Gingrich drew an apt analogy to the period from the end of World War II through 1948, as the Iron Curtain consigned half of Europe to tyranny: Imagine that the president of the United States had been not Harry Truman but Stalin’s useful idiot, Henry Wallace – the former vice president whom FDR thankfully dumped from the Democratic ticket in 1944.

Had that happened, Gingrich opined, our president would have been assuring us, “There is no KGB. There is no Comintern. The Soviet Union is not a threat. Communism is okay. I don’t think you should be worried about all these things.”

Meaning: What we’d have had is defeat in the Cold War.

In 2007 and 2008, when the media pretended not to understand Obama’s radical chic far left worldview, he was compared with many well-known Democrats of history, such as FDR, JFK, Truman, and Bill Clinton. Funny, I don’t recall Wallace’s name being mentioned very often back then, but the comparison is certainly apt.

Andrew Klavan punches back twice as hard against the Killer But-Heads of the left in his latest Revolting Truth  video.

As their many “we support free speech, but…” statements indicate, it’s been obvious for quite some time that left doesn’t support free speech at all, As I said last year, the left’s longest modified limited hangout has officially concluded; militant Islam’s attack on Charlie Hebdo simply “heightened the contradictions” as Lennin would say.

And speaking of Lenin’s descendents

Related: “Is Jonathan Chait liberal?”, James Taranto asks at the Wall Street Journal. Read the whole thing.™

Quote of the Day

January 27th, 2015 - 11:59 pm

I’ll never forget Claude Lanzmann, the director of Shoah, the nine-and-a-half-hour Holocaust documentary, shouting at me, accusatorially, in his Parisian flat: “There is even a baby picture of Hitler!” Virtually aghast at the very idea that there could be such a picture, because it would insidiously ensnare people into the evil enterprise of trying to explain why — why that innocent infant evolved into a genocidal monster.

Lanzmann rejected any such “understanding,” preferring a Hitler who sprang full-blown like a demon in our midst. Almost like Macduff, not “of woman born,” Hitler not of human formed. A hostility to the baby picture, almost disclaiming the picture’s right to exist because of its misleading potential. All of which led, after the French publication of the book, to my clash with Lanzmann, which the Parisian magazine Le Figaro called “L’Affair Rosenbaum. ”

Of course, it is true, many explanations become exculpations, but I would suggest that does not deny, prima facie, the validity of the search to know more than we do. Or entail forgiveness — on the grounds that “to understand all is to forgive all” — no matter how much we know. Maybe we will never know all, never know enough, but it won’t necessarily be because we’re dealing with a supernatural creature beyond human explanation. It may be because human nature has more profound depths than we imagined. Or it may be that we lack some crucial piece of his personal history.

But something or some things made Hitler want to do what he did. It wasn’t a concatenation of impersonal, external forces, a kind of collective determinism. It required his impassioned personal desire for extermination, even at the potential cost of defeat for Germany. It required him to choose evil. It required free will.

“Hitler, Continued: Afterword from the Updated Edition of ‘Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil,’” by Ron Rosenbaum, Los Angeles Review of Books, July 10th, 2014.

“Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will represent the United States at the 70th anniversary ceremony for the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on Tuesday—rather than President Barack Obama or Vice President Joe Biden—while other countries are slated to send their heads of state,” according to Daniel Wiser of the Washington Free Beacon:

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will represent the United States at the 70th anniversary ceremony for the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on Tuesday—rather than President Barack Obama or Vice President Joe Biden—while other countries are slated to send their heads of state.

Tuesday’s ceremony will likely be the last major anniversary where a significant number of survivors of the Nazi camp are present. About 300 are expected to attend, and most of them are in their 90s or older than 100. Nazi authorities killed 1.1 million people at the camp, mostly Jews, which was liberated by the Soviet army in January 1945.

“Heads of state from France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, and Denmark will be present,” Wiser adds.

Insert obvious reference to Obama in 2008 imagining his uncle liberated Auschwitz here.

And as with Obama blowing off the enormous march in Paris earlier this month to protest the killing of a dozen people in the Charlie Hebro offices, after seeming to embrace mammoth gatherings such as his speech in Berlin in 2008 and his Styrofoam column acceptance speech later that year, gentlemen, start your conspiracy theories.

Or just chalk it up to the fact that, as Michael Walsh writes today, “It’s Barack Obama’s Cloud Cuckoo-Land and We Just Live In It.”

It’s Come To This

January 23rd, 2015 - 1:35 pm

“An Israeli barber has fashioned what he calls ‘magic’ yarmulkes out of hair, designed to allow religious Jews to cover their heads without attracting unwanted attention from anti-Semites,” AP reports:

Shalom Koresh said his skullcap, known as a yarmulke in Yiddish and a kippa in Hebrew, was inspired by rising anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere. He said he has seen particular interest from buyers in France and Belgium.

“This skullcap is washable, you can brush it, you can dye it,” Koresh said in his salon in central Israel. “It was created so people could feel comfortable going to places where they are afraid to go, or places where they can’t wear it, and feel secure.”

France has seen a spike in anti-Semitic attacks in recent years. The killing of four French Jews in a hostage standoff at a Paris kosher market earlier this month has deepened fears among European Jews.

But remember, all of those no-go zones in Europe are just a myth now that Marco Rubio has referenced them, even though CNN, Newsweek and the New York Times all reported on them a decade ago; some sources even prior to the French Banlieue riots and car-b-ques starting in 2005.

Naturally, leave it to John Kerry to completely invert the problem, comparing the “lack of integration” of Muslims in Europe to the U.S. Civil Rights struggles of the 1960, to paraphrase the headline of this article from Jeryl Bier at the Weekly Standard, which quotes Kerry bloviating at length when asked by a reporter on the topic:

Well, let me just begin quickly on the integration issue. When I was – I entered college in 1962. And in 1963, ’4, ’5, we were deeply embroiled in this country, and we – college students in the Civil Rights Movement. And we were deeply impacted by that and have always been, I think, as a generation, much more sensitive to this question of minority and rights and integration and so forth. We’ve made unbelievable progress in our nation, unbelievable progress in the years since then. But it would be completely disingenuous not to say to you that we still have some distance to travel. We’re not finished. We’re still – you heard the President last night talk about voting rights. So what was won in 1965 still has to be fully embraced and implemented here, and other things that are linked to that. We’ve seen our own struggles in some communities and great debates about race in America in the last year.

So it would be dishonest of me – and I’m not involved in domestic politics right now, so I’m not going to go into it in depth, except to say that therefore, I think I can say with honesty that there is a challenge in many other parts of the world. And Federica is absolutely correct; this particular incident of violence wasn’t a specific targeting that grew out of that, but we all can do work in many parts of the world that I have seen where one minority or another or another is not able to share fully in the full integration in whatever country they happen to be living. So the world has a road to travel on that, and that’s why we continue to put such a high premium here on the issue of human rights and democracy, and to continue to push, because I think we’ve learned through our own experience the difference that it can make to the strengthening of the quality of our democracy, to our society, and people benefit when we live by that high moral standard.

As with most of the gaseous rhetoric uttered by the Secretary of State, who by the way served in Vietnam, that’s entirely bass-ackwards, as Ed Morrissey writes:

Unlike the US in the Jim Crow era (or South Africa during apartheid, to use another example), the issue in France and other nations on the continent is not official policies of discrimination. It’s not even cultural pressure to marginalize and “otherize” Muslims. The insularity of those communities is self-imposed. They want to be separate, and thanks to a perverse prioritization of multicultural sensitivity in France and other countries over assimilation, those cultures allow them to do so on an extraordinary scale.

And needless to say, they have no interest in accepting the traditions of other cultures in nations they immigrate to.

Just ask these fellows.

In 2012, NBC became notorious — at least on the right — for deceptively editing George Zimmerman’s 9/11 call to make him — before he was known to be of Hispanic decent — appear to be an anti-black racist.

But any hack leftist can do ransom note editing to smear his opponents through subtraction. (Jon Stewart in a rare left-on-left critique would dub NBC “The Splice Channel” when it was caught.) It takes a unique skill to make your opponents appear racist by adding words to their statements. Or as Ann Coulter writes, “That MSNBC routinely, almost compulsively, mischaracterizes what conservatives say is nothing new. It’s what makes the network so adorable. But in a recent trend, anchor Rachel Maddow has been upping the ante, altering quotes we just heard her play on tape:”

On Monday night, for example, Rachel ran a news clip from President Reagan’s 1983 Martin Luther King Day signing ceremony:

“Chris Wallace, NBC Reporter (by miraculous coincidence, currently a Fox News anchor): ‘There was an air of celebration in the Rose Garden and an underlying tension. White House officials wrestled for days how to usher in a holiday the president opposed. They finally decided to embrace it. … Maybe that’s what today was about, that blacks have the power to make politicians do things.’”

End tape, cut to Rachel, taking notes, muttering with disgust: “The blacks now have the power …”

Except Wallace didn’t say “the blacks.” Refer to the tape. By adding the simple article “the,” Rachel turned Chris Wallace from a garden-variety 1980s news reporter into Archie Bunker. It takes a special kind of zealotry to play a tape of someone and then immediately lie about what viewers just heard him say.

Rachel’s rewrite of Wallace (again, a Fox News host) was astonishingly similar to her misquote of Republican Senate candidate — now senator — Joni Ernst just before the November elections. Maddow inserted the word “the” into Ernst’s statement, entirely changing her meaning.

Ernst had said — as anyone could hear from the tape helpfully played by Rachel: “I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from a government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”

The very next line in the transcript has Rachel sneering — as if repeating Ernst’s line: “I believe in my right to defend myself from the government with my beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter.” She then riffed on her own rewrite of Ernst’s statement, warning that a Senate candidate “is threatening to turn to armed violence against the government if she doesn’t get what she wants …”

Obviously, there’s a pretty big difference between a Second Amendment right to defend yourself from “a government” and “the government.” One is theoretical — referring to some future tyrannical government or even a foreign government. “The government” is referring to a specific set of government officials currently constituting our government.

Or as anyone at MSNBC could tell you, it means: “THERE’S A BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE!”

Don’t ever change Comcast. Don’t ever change.

(Via Five Feet of Fury.)

Well yes — I know a guy who wrote a book about that stuff in 2008. As Jonah Goldberg later wrote, it was Stalin who initially launched the smear:

Joseph Stalin championed the idea that all of his political opponents should be dubbed fascists, including many of his fellow Bolsheviks, such as Leon Trotsky (whom Stalin had assassinated), and much of the Red Army’s officer corps (whom he had executed), and countless Ukrainians (whom he had liquidated). Stalin insisted that even mentioning the man-made – i.e., Stalin-made — Ukranian famine was evidence you were an agent of the Nazis.

Under Stalin’s “theory of social fascism,” any socialist, social-democratic, or progressive group or party not loyal to him had to be called fascist. Hence, for a while Moscow insisted that FDR and even Norman Thomas (head of the Socialist Party of America) were fascists.

Ultimately, Communist propagandists and their allied intellectuals would reflexively blame fascism for everything, regardless of the facts. That’s what prompted George Orwell to remark that “the word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable.’”

And FDR and Truman were happy to play along. In 1942, at the height of the Second World War, Roosevelt “displayed a Nazi Iron Cross and said it should be presented to a columnist of the New York Daily News who was one of the president’s most bitter critics,” as Commentary noted in a 2010 review of an FDR biography. In his 1944 State of the Union speech, Roosevelt similarly thundered:

One of the great American industrialists of our day—a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis-recently emphasized the grave dangers of “rightist reaction” in this Nation. All clear-thinking businessmen share his concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop—if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called “normalcy” of the 1920′s—then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.

As Jonah quipped in 2012 in response to the above quote, “Ah yes, if we go back to the 1920s, an era of rampant prosperity and expanding liberty we will have surrendered to Fascism. That is grotesque.”

Equally grotesque were Truman’s tactics in a similar vein. As the New York Times’ headline screamed, “President Likens Dewey to Hitler as Fascists’ Tool,” on October 26 1948, near the conclusion of the presidential election year. CBS’s Walter Cronkite and Daniel Schorr would go on to use similar tactics to destroy the libertarian-themed presidential bid of Barry Goldwater in 1964, a particularly disgusting attack by two “objective” journalists acting as blocking backs for LBJ, considering that Goldwater was half-Jewish.

In short, it’s shameful, reactionary stuff, whose shelf-life is now three-quarters of a century old. Fortunately, there’s at least a little pushback these days on such tactics.

Incidentally, if you’re not a subscriber to PJTV, you’re missing the regular conversations between Andrew Klavan and Bill Whittle on conservative and libertarian philosophy, the left’s undermining tactics and other topics, some of the most engaging material our sister video network is producing.

CNN, Where Time Stands Still

January 21st, 2015 - 12:29 pm

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

When Fox News started out, it got a generally skeptical and unfriendly reception from the journalistic establishment. Even reporters, who generally view any news media organization as a good thing (not to mention a potential source of employment), were largely disapproving. But no one greeted Fox News with more pure vitriol than CNN founder Ted Turner.

“I look forward to crushing Rupert Murdoch like a bug,” Turner told the press. He compared Murdoch to Hitler, which would make Roger Ailes a reincarnation of Goebbels, and followed up with an explanation, quoted by the Los Angeles Times [in October of 1996]: “The late Führer, the first thing he did, like all dictators, was take over the press and use it to further his agenda. Basically, that is what Rupert Murdoch does with his media.  .  .  .” The Nazi analogy was too much for the Anti-Defamation League, which rebuked Turner for trivializing the Holocaust. Turner apologized, but that didn’t prevent him from likening Murdoch to “the late Führer” a year later; or, in 2005, comparing the success of Fox News to the rise of Hitler.

— From Roger Ailes: Off Camera, by Zev Chafets.

Flash-forward to this week: “CNN’s Zakaria Takes Shot at Murdoch, ‘Quasi-Fascist’ Fox Hosts,” Mediaite’s Josh Feldman reports.

Both of which seem like pretty odd complaints, both from Turner, who after leaving the network he founded has gone on to praise North Korea, and from Zakaria, who in-between dodging plagiarism allegations, has complained on CNN that the American people have too much freedom and too little regulation.

Related: “Washington Post Catches CNN Red-Handed Reporting On Muslim ‘No-Go Zones.’”

And from Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, “Sure, Take Out Your Frustrations And Anxiety On Fox, They Won’t Behead You: Paris mayor threatens to sue Fox for insulting Paris and injuring its honor (with ‘no-go zones’).”

It was pretty much a given that it wouldn’t be very long at all before the French would revert to form and quickly begin to lose the goodwill of the American people after the horror of the Islamofascist attack on Charlie Hebdo. Or as Glenn adds, “Funny, I could have sworn that there were a lot of people marching for free speech in Paris recently.”

We’re quickly discovering how many of them were simply engaging in pantomime.

Update: “Je Suis Fox News?” asks Ricochet’s John Gabriel:

Fox News’ jealous critics and the Parisian mayor should re-read their week-old paroxysms of support for an unbridled press. Because free speech doesn’t work if you’re only allowed to offend religious figures but not secular ones.

Heh, indeed.™

Two Posts in One!

January 20th, 2015 - 3:39 pm

“The Washington Post Still Has No Idea If Dave Weigel Is Conservative,” Betsy Rothstein writes at the Daily Caller, linking to this quote from the Post’s Terrence McCoy on “How Clint Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper’ stoked the American culture wars:”

The exchanges are just the latest eruption in a long culture war, analysts said, with lines clearly demarcated. “As screenings have sold out, conservative media has manned barricades against liberals who have attacked the movie or the idea of lionizing Kyle,” conservative David Weigel wrote for Bloomberg. He noted that much of the controversy involves the extended battle over guns — and gun control — and pits pro-Iraq war conservatives against anti-war liberals.

Conservative? After voting for Ralph Nader in 2000, John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008, Weigel was hired by the Post in mid-2010 to cover conservatism allegedly from the inside, but not surprisingly given his background, Weigel famously imploded a short while later. When archives from the “Journolist” listserv of 400 or so leftwing journalists, who described themselves in 2008 as the “non-official campaign” to elect Obama began circulating publicly, Weigel was caught using the following language, as the Daily Caller noted in June of 2010:

Weigel was hired this spring by the Post to cover the conservative movement. Almost from the beginning there have been complaints that his coverage betrays a personal animus toward conservatives.  E-mails obtained by the Daily Caller suggest those complaints have merit.

“Honestly, it’s been tough to find fresh angles sometimes–how many times can I report that these [tea party] activists are joyfully signing up with the agenda of discredited right-winger X and discredited right-wing group Y?” Weigel lamented in one February email.

In other posts, Weigel describes conservatives as using the media to “violently, angrily divide America.” According to Weigel, their motives include “racism” and protecting “white privilege,” and for some of the top conservatives in D.C., a nihilistic thirst for power.

“There’s also the fact that neither the pundits, nor possibly the Republicans, will be punished for their crazy outbursts of racism. Newt Gingrich is an amoral blowhard who resigned in disgrace, and Pat Buchanan is an anti-Semite who was drummed out of the movement by William F. Buckley. Both are now polluting my inbox and TV with their bellowing and minority-bashing. They’re never going to go away or be deprived of their soapboxes,” Weigel wrote.

Of Matt Drudge, Weigel remarked,  “It’s really a disgrace that an amoral shut-in like Drudge maintains the influence he does on the news cycle while gay-baiting, lying, and flubbing facts to this degree.”

In March, Weigel wrote that the problem with the mainstream media is “this need to give equal/extra time to ‘real American’ views, no matter how fucking moronic, which just so happen to be the views of the conglomerates that run the media and/or buy up ads.”

When Obama’s “green jobs czar” Van Jones resigned after it was revealed he signed a 9/11 “truther” petition, alleging the government may have conspired to allow terrorists to kill 3,000 civilians, Weigel highlighted the alleged racism of Glenn Beck – Jones’s top critic.

This forced Young Ezra Klein, founder of the “Journolist’ to offer a mea culpa of sorts a few days later titled “On Journolist, and Dave Weigel:”

At the beginning, I set two rules for the membership. The first was the easy one: No one who worked for the government in any capacity could join [so much for that idea -- Ed]. The second was the hard one: The membership would range from nonpartisan to liberal, center to left. I didn’t like that rule, but I thought it necessary: There would be no free conversation in a forum where people had clear incentives to embarrass each other. A bipartisan list would be a more formal debating society. Plus, as Liz Mair notes, there were plenty of conservative list servs, and I knew of military list servs, and health-care policy list servs, and feminist list servs. Most of these projects limited membership to facilitate a particular sort of conversation. It didn’t strike me as a big deal to follow their example.

And as as Moe Lane of Red State added at the time:

Nice of Ezra Klein to shaft his good buddy Dave Weigel on the way out by explicitly admitting that Klein wouldn’t let anybody on the Right onto JournoList in the first place, but that’s the Online Left for you.  You ain’t with them all the way, you ain’t worth nothing to them.

Klein’s response to Weigel’s meltdown appeared in…The Washington Post where he served as a regular columnist until Jeff Bezos purchased the paper in 2013. Terrence McCoy’s bio at the Post today describes him as “a foreign affairs reporter at the Washington Post. He served in the United States Peace Corps in Cambodia and got his masters’ degree at Columbia University.” Despite being a relatively young looking fellow in his bio photo, evidently, learning how to use a search engine wasn’t taught at Columbia during his tenure there. Or how to search a newspaper’s own archives.

Wiegel of course, landed on his feet; the Post was so alarmed by their hiring choice that upon being caught in mid-2010, they simply transferred Weigel a few months later down the hall to Slate, which the paper then-still owned. In 2014 Weigel eventually wound up at Bloomberg News, where today even he’s laughing at the paper’s latest gaffe. As Betsy Rothstein writes, “Weigel ran the excerpt [from McCoy] about himself, adding, ‘smdh,’ as defined by Urban Dictionary as “shaking my damn head.”

Heh. Good to see those layers and layers of fact checkers and editors at the Post still earning their keep. And Michael Crichton’s “Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect” still very much in force there.