For 12 years NBC anchor Brian Williams has been re-telling the story of how, during the American invasion of Iraq, a Chinook helicopter he was traveling in was shot out of the sky and had to make an emergency landing. That did not happen. Williams was aboard another helicopter that arrived on the scene long after a Chinook carrying American military personnel–and no embedded journalists–was shot down and had to land.
You can now proceed to read as many articles as you wish about the “fog of memory” and the way memory has a tricky way of “reconstructing events” and about how, as Williams himself put it, he made “a mistake [he] would never have chosen to make.” But to allow Williams to get away with this–for 12 years no less–would mean accepting that there really is no truth, that all is perception. That idea is a disaster that can’t be allowed to propagate. There is no excuse. For Brian Williams’ 10th anniversary in the anchor chair, NBC ran a skin-crawling promo that told us: “his battle scars are worn on the inside.” The public should demand that the network give him a scar to wear outside, on his disgraced face. NBC must fire him. Either that or admit that it’s not in the news business at all–just the business of “relatable” entertainment. Williams lied for a dozen years because he thought the lie increased his credibility. How could he possibly report on the next elections, and legitimately examine the veracity of the candidates’ claims? He can’t.