He’s a liar. He admitted it.
The real story: His bosses don’t care.
Watching this Sunday’s Meet the Press, you could be forgiven for not knowing there was an issue. They spent more time on the ages of presidents than the Williams’ scandal.
You could maybe understand the fact that the powers that be didn’t want to pull the rug from under their anchor and make a public stink about his excellent adventure being a bogus journey. What is impossible to understand is why they kept letting him run around telling the story.
It’s not like he was just sitting in a bar, telling stories of faded glory over suds and some peanuts.
He recently recounted the story of Brian Hawk Down on Letterman. Admittedly, it was a humble brag, honoring someone else as an opportunity to tout his own bravery. But seriously, there was no one in the hierarchy who could say, “Hey Brian, this is a terrible idea”?
Either no one thought that having their ten million dollar man put out a report guaranteed to make him a target was a bad idea or no one had the control over him to stop it.
I’m not sure which scenario is worse. Either one of them speaks to a media culture that doesn’t even make a pretense of valuing truth.
Indeed, the guilt of NBC and its hierarchy can be seen in how they’ve handled the incident.
Williams gave his mealy-mouthed apology about “misremembering” and relieved himself of duty. This is a double secret suspension that would make Dean Wormer proud. It’s not an admission of doing any wrong and he’ll be back in his anchor chair in a few days.
Not going to work for a few days and coming back with no repercussions?
We mortals have a term for this:
Indeed, Williams’ letter continues in his self-promoting tradition. He’s not stepping aside from embarrassment for being a lying liar. No, he wants to avoid being a distraction.
My God, look at his selflessness. In a few retellings, we will be hearing about how Brian Williams threw himself on a grenade to save his fellow squad mates.
Wait, NBC will say. They’re not sitting on their hands, letting Williams get some sun while the story blows over.
After all, they are investigating!
At this point, the investigation can only make things worse for Williams. It will likely focus on claims that he saw dead bodies floating down the street in the French Quarter during Hurricane Katrina.
Except that the high ground in New Orleans, there wasn’t much flooding in the French Quarter.
Oh yeah, he was also shot at again in New Orleans.
It seems that like cans in Steve Martin’s The Jerk, some people just really don’t like Brian Williams.
Keeping Brian Williams around sends a simple and unambiguous message: The public face of their news organization telling lies is a pardonable sin. Indeed, it may be no sin at all.
This is a time for Republicans to strike.
Not at the low hanging fruit. Indiana Williams and the Helicopter of Doom will become its own punchline. Schadenfreude’s great but with some actual guts and animal cunning, this can be spun into strategic victory in terms of the 2016 race.
Debates weren’t great for Republicans in the 2012 election cycle.
George Stephanopoulos midwifed the War on Women meme in the primaries.
Candy Crowley ran interference for President Obama in his second debate with President Obama.
This means that Republicans have to be pretty darn careful about debates, unless they want them to become battle space preparation for the enemy.
Now, if Republicans simply point out the blatant unfairness of the current system, they’ll just be called whiners.
Brian Williams gives them leverage with NBC.
The Republican National Committee should make reasonable demands of the network in terms of format and moderator, for both the primary and general election debates.
If NBC plays ball, fine.
If not, go for the jugular. Point out that NBC News is hopelessly compromised because of how it handled Brian Williams over the years. If they can’t effectively police themselves, they can’t be expected to referee debates.
Freeze them out.
Then, and I know this is a hard thing for establishment Republican leaders to conceptualize, they stay strong.
We live in a media saturated age. With radio, the internet and cable news, telling NBC and its moronic cousin MSNBC to pound sand won’t limit the ability for conservatives to get their message out. More importantly, it will make it easier for them to communicate without fear of that message being warped by their hosts.
Williams and NBC are wounded animals.
Capitalize on it.
Then pivot. With NBC’s scalp, they can use that standard in setting the terms for debates on other networks.
It’s the same principle with how public sector unions got insane compensation packages in California. The first domino falling sets the standard for the rest.
Now the only question that remains is whether the RNC will have the guts to set the whole thing falling.
This essay is part of an ongoing dialogue between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island regarding the future of conservatism and the role of emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. See the previous installments in the series and join the discussion:
- Sarah Hoyt, March 22 2014: Interview: Adam Bellow Unveils New Media Publishing Platform Liberty Island
- David S. Bernstein, June 20 2014: What Is Liberty Island?
- Adam Bellow at National Review, June 30 2014 kicking off the discussion: Let Your Right Brain Run Free
- Dave Swindle on September 7, 2014: Why Culture Warriors Should Understand the 10 Astounding Eras of Disney Animation’s Evolution
- Dave Swindle on September 9, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part I
- Dave Swindle on September 19, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part II
- David S. Bernstein on November 19, 2014: 5 Leaders of the New Conservative Counter-Culture
- Dave Swindle on November 25, 2014: 7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Will Be My Last Day on Facebook
- Dave Swindle on December 2, 2014: My Growing List of 65 Read-ALL-Their-Books Authors
- Mark Elllis on December 9, 2014: Ozzy Osbourne and the Conservative Tent: Is He In?
- Aaron C. Smith on December 22, 2014: The Villains You Choose
- Paula Bolyard on January 1, 2015: 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Conservatives
- Susan L.M. Goldberg on January 1, 2015: The Plan to Take Back Feminism in 2015
- Kathy Shaidle on January 4, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part One)
- Andrew Klavan on January 5, 2015: In 2015 The New Counter-Culture Needs to Be Offensive!
- Clay Waters on January 5, 2015: The Decline and Fall of Russell Brand
- Mark Ellis on January 5, 2015: How Conservatives Can Counter the Likable Liberal
- Audie Cockings on January 5, 2015: Entertainers Have Shorter Lifespans
- Aaron C. Smith on January 6, 2015: How Mario Cuomo Honestly Defined Zero-Sum Liberalism
- Stephen McDonald on January 10, 2015: Why the New Counter-Culture Should Make Strength Central to Its Identity
- Stephen McDonald on January 16, 2015: The Metaphorical War
- Kathy Shaidle on January 19, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part Two)
- Frank J. Fleming on January 20, 2015: What if Red Dawn Happened, But It Was Islamic Terrorists Instead of Communists?
- Mark Ellis on January 21, 2015: Adam Carolla: The Quintessential Counterculture Conservative?
- Aaron C. Smith on January 29, 2015: Objection! Why TV’s The Good Wife Isn’t Good Law
- David Solway on February 2, 2015: For a Song To Be Good, Must It Tell The Truth?
- Mark Ellis on February 6, 2015: President Me: Adam Carolla Vs. the Scourge of Narcissism
- David Solway on February 6, 2015: ‘Imagine’ a World Without the Brotherhood