Thursday, February 12, 2015
THE BRIAN WILLIAMS SUSPENSION
Brian Williams got off easy, too easy. The Golden Boy of NBC News was essentially reprimanded, told to take some time off and not to fabricate any more stories. By giving him a suspension as opposed to terminating his employment, NBC is leaving the door open for his return. The network wants this incident to blow over and is counting on the American public to forget about it. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. This incident, along with Al Sharpton and other missteps at MSNBC, is killing the journalistic integrity of what was at one time considered the preeminent news organization on television.
Williams' suspension sends a dangerous signal to the rest of the NBC news organization. If the top dog in the news department violates journalistic integrity and only gets a slap on the wrist, the underlings should expect the same treatment. No longer will their jobs be threatened, and the calibre of news reporting will deteriorate further. From a Human Resources perspective, it also gives the reporters and producers a precedent to resist termination for reporting misinformation. If Brian only gets a suspension, why not them when they make a mistake?
Let us not forget the network news anchor is the titular head and face of the network. All reporters and producers of NBC News thereby are guilty by association with Williams.
The comparison of Brian Williams to former CBS anchor Dan Rather is uncanny. Back in 2004, Rather reported on "60 Minutes" that a series of memos critical of President George W. Bush's Texas Air National Guard service record had been discovered in the personal files of Lt. Bush's former commanding officer. When copies of the memos were made available to the public, their authenticity was quickly called into question and considered forgeries. It is generally believed this incident hastened Rather's departure and his reputation never fully recovered.
Let us not forget Williams has been the anchor of NBC Nightly News since December 2, 2004; not bad for someone who received no formal education or college degree in journalism, or college degree of any kind for that matter. He arose to his position based on his looks and smooth delivery of the news.
Now attention is turning to the misrepresentations and falshoods Hillary Clinton has spoken over the years. There is a big difference here, unlike Williams she cannot be suspended, not unless it is by the American voters.
A major cleaning of the house at NBC is in order. Regardless of what you think of Williams, it is unlikely the public will completely trust his reporting of the news again. Now is the time to reorganize NBC before their ratings slip any further. ABC is already passing NBC, and MSNBC's numbers are the lowest of the cable news networks. It is time for major changes.
Chet Huntley and David Brinkley should be spinning in their graves over all this.
Keep the Faith!
Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.