Low Expectations: Why Brian Williams' Future Is Up To His Viewers
Brian Williams did something wrong -- not just wrong, but lame.
He stretched the truth about a trip to Iraq during the US's 2003 invasion.
He said his helicopter had been shot down, when he was truthfully in the helicopter behind the one that was shot down.
Williams told the story, apparently, to honor a "special" veteran, and by extension, all of the military men and women who serve our country.
Instead, all he did was embellish a story with himself as the main character.
He sounded like your middle-school friend who told you he hooked up with Hilary Duff at summer camp.
It's sad; it's like Barry Bonds taking steroids.
Both Bonds and Williams were at the top of their respective games, and they artificially enhanced themselves while surpassing others who played by the rules.
Watching Bonds smash baseballs like Thor, and hearing a Williams give a firsthand account of a war zone, was awesome, but so unnecessary.
These two men would have still enjoyed a place of prominence without their trickery, but now, the shine of their prestige has been permanently dulled.
That said, the difference between Bonds and Williams is honesty in the apology.
Bonds dodged questions so unskillfully, he was indicted for perjury; whereas, Williams went on national television and essentially said, "I'm a big, dumb idiot and I'm sorry."
He reaffirmed his admiration for soldiers who served while he did not. He confessed fully and asked forgiveness.
Of all the bullsh*t apologies that have ever been on television, this one was surprisingly honest, direct and remorseful.
Williams made no attempt to salvage his actions; he took responsibility and got on with the news.
There have been many calls for NBC to fire Williams, or for him to commit journalistic seppuku and resign.
This sucks, because Williams has been so good at his job all of these years; even his cameos on "30 Rock" showed a likeable side.
He wasn't God or a puppet, but his laid-back intelligence, pleasing baritone and Ken-doll looks made him the perfect man to tell us what's happening in the world.
Now, we don't know if we can trust him.
We've had politicians lie about their military exploits. George W. Bush strutted around with an inflated codpiece, looking like the inspiration for "Top Gun" before he gave his infamous, "Mission Accomplished" speech.
Joe Biden said his helicopter was "forced down" during a trip to Afghanistan, implying enemy fire, but the reality was a snowstorm.
Ronald Reagan lied about fighting in WWII, as all of his contributions to the war effort came from Hollywood.
The difference between Williams and these politicians is our expectations.
We've had politicians lie to us ever since the slave-owning Founding Fathers signed a document that said, "All men are created equal," but it is the job of newscasters to tell the truth.
In Williams' profession, integrity is the only quality that matters; a liar is useless. Brian Williams is not a truthbot; he's a human.
Self-glorification is among the hardest temptations to resist, especially if the chances of being caught are so incredibly low.
Williams wanted to embellish his résumé a bit, and who are we to cast the first stone?
But, Williams is held to a higher standard, and rightfully so. His lie is a barely forgivable breach of trust.
Williams does not need to decide his future, nor does NBC; his viewers will do that for him. If they no longer trust him, they'll head to more trustworthy sources for the news.
The end of Brian Williams may not be a supernova, but instead, a gradual burn out.
Williams is a journalist, and he will continue telling stories. But, will anyone listen?