The Truth Can’t Set Brian Williams Free

Kevin Chiang, Photojournalist

The biggest name in news today isn’t Anderson Cooper or Bill O’Reilly; it’s Brian Williams. Sadly, it’s not because he covered a particularly important story or did some heroic act. He’s infamous for spinning a very shocking tale.

Brain Williams was suspended from NBC’s Nightly News after it was revealed that a story that he had told about his involvement in the Iraq War was false. Originally, he had claimed that he was aboard a military helicopter when it was hit by an RPG and then forced to land. The funny thing is, Brian Williams was never on the helicopter that was shot down; his helicopter arrived about a half-hour after the original helicopter had been hit.

However, it seems that Brian Williams did not come up with this story from the get-go. In the on-air report on the helicopter incident in 2003, Brian Williams stated the helicopter in front of him was shot down by an RPG. Alright, that seems true, if a little deceptive as to how far away the first helicopter actually was. But then NBC comes out a little while later with an article with the headline “Target Iraq: Helicopter NBC’s Brian Williams was Riding in Comes Under Fire.” So it might seem that it was NBC who first came up with the deception, a possibility further enhanced by a book published by NBC that stated that Williams was on board a helicopter that was forced to land after being attacked. Then Brian Williams said in 2007 that he saw the helicopter in front of him get shot down, and then on February 10, he claimed that he was aboard a helicopter hit by an RPG. What I don’t understand is why he changed his story.

Obviously it was NBC that first mucked it up, and if anyone should know what actually happened to Brian Williams, it’s Brian Williams. So either Brian Williams is a glory hog who decided that contradicting his previous statements was the best chance to make himself famous, an idiot who can’t remember what did and didn’t happen to him, or some sort of human puppet controlled by NBC that spouts whatever the News corporation wants. Neither of the three options is very desirable. However, Brian Williams has taken steps to redeem himself: he came out and admitted he was wrong, stating that “This was a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran and by extension our brave military men and women, veterans everywhere, those who have served while I did not,” Williams said on the air Wednesday. “I hope they know they have my greatest respect and also now my apology.”

More curious are the actions of Bill O’Reilly. He has repeatedly claimed, more so than Williams, that he was actively involved in war. There has been no proof that he actually saw combat. However, instead of an apology, O’Reilly has chosen to viciously claw and criticize those who present factual evidence; apparently he believes that attacking criticisms is the best way to defeat them. Regardless, neither Williams nor O’Reilly are going to be the last reporters who will be accused and shown to have lied. The real question is, what is America going to do with liars whose job it is to report the truth?