Tag Archives: Brian Williams

‘Cadet Carson’ never suited up


The vetting of the latest Republican presidential front runner has begun.

It’s gotten a bit bumpy for the noted neurosurgeon.

Politico reports that contrary to what he’s written about himself, Dr. Ben Carson never was offered a scholarship to the U.S. Military Academy. He didn’t even apply for admission, Politico reports.

Carson, though, says he was told when he was 17 years of age that if he applied, he’d be offered the full ride. Who told him? He said it was Army Gen. William Westmoreland, who had just finished commanding U.S. forces in Vietnam.

So … did the good doctor lie, fib, “misremember,” or what?

Carson’s record is under scrutinyĀ more than ever now for a simple reason. He’s among the leaders of a still-packed GOP presidential field of candidates.

If he made it all up, then he’s likely guilty of something approaching stolen valor … you know, when folks make up war stories about themselves. It’s more or less what former NBC News anchor Brian Williams did when he claimed to have to been shot down by an Iraqi rocket-propelled grenade in 2003; oops, didn’t happen, we found out later.

Still, one shouldn’t be allowed to get away even with “misremembering” such details about one’s life when he seeks to become president of the United States of America.

It kind of reminds me of when Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton once said he didn’t remember getting a draft notice. Interesting. As one who did get such a notice from Uncle Sam, I can speak for others who did as well that you do not forget getting such a letter.

Dr. Carson has some serious explaining to do. His campaign now says he didn’t get the scholarship or the appointment to West Point.

Now, let’s hear from you, Dr. Carson. Did you make it up?


Brian Williams gone … but then he stays

There are a lot of things I don’t understand in this world.

One of them is how a high-priced broadcast celebrity journalist can stay employed by the network that hired after he violated one of the basic tenets of journalism: to tell the truth.

Brian Williams reportedly is out as anchor of NBC NIghtly News. He’s going to be given some sort of undefined “special assignment” slot on the network’s news team.

My strong hunch is that the one-time golden boy of NBC won’t like the demotion. He’ll likely quit to “pursue other interests.” But in order for him to make his exit cleanly and without too much fuss, the network will have to pay him a lot of money to fulfill the terms of his contract.

You know the story. Williams fibbed about being shot down while riding in a helicopter during the early months of the Iraq War in 2003. He embellished the story with each retelling of it in the years since. Then the network discovered at least 10 or so more incidents of embellishments — or non-truth-telling.

Where I come from, that’s reason to get canned, booted, tossed out on your ear.

Brian Williams violated Rule No. 1 of Journalism 101: tell the damn truth.

He didn’t do it.

He’s been reduced to a punch line at parties. Late-night comedians had a field day over his shame. The Internet is still bubbling with fake depictions of Williams storming ashore at Normandy on D-Day and walking on the moon before Neil Armstrong ever set foot on the place. Others are out there, too.

Whatever project he undertakes at NBC will be viewed, I’m quite sure, with plenty of skepticism from a public whose trust in this guy was shattered because heĀ couldn’t carry out the basic rule of good journalism.

Williams is likely gone, but at what cost?

Brian Williams’s future as NBC News’s anchor seems to have been settled.

He’s gone.

Williams embellished his wartime experiences during the Iraq War, contending his helicopter was shot down when it wasn’t. There were some other fabrications, but that’s the one that got him in trouble. NBC suspended him without pay for six months.


Williams has become the object of jokes around the world. His credibility is blown to smithereens.

What escapes me, though, is how someone could — in effect — be terminated for cause, but still get all kind of big money to “settle.” Williams holdsĀ a huge contract with NBC. But then he squandered the trust he had cultivated, that his bosses at NBC News had cultivated.

So, as USA Today reports, the network is going to replace him in the anchor’s chair with Lester Holt and then pay him millions of dollars to leave quietly.

I don’t understand a lot of things in the business world. This is one of them.


More ‘lies’ from O’Reilly

Bill O’Reilly is a serial liar, according to one of his former colleagues at Fox News Channel.

OK, that doesn’t surprise a lot of folks. What’s a bit surprising to me is that the allegation of lying comes from Eric Burns, who was a host of “Fox News Watch” for a decade until 2008, when the network let him go.

I’m not sure if Burns is spitting out some sour grapes here, but he did tell CNN’s Brian Stelter that O’Reilly long has been known to embellish his credentials, if not lie outright about what he reported on.

The clip attached to this link is about 8 minutes long. It’s a highly interesting critique on O’Reilly’s time at Fox and whether his bosses and colleagues at the network expect much from him. Burns said no, they don’t.


Why is this such a big deal? Well, maybe it’s not huge. But in the media world, O’Reilly has become cable the biggest star on cable “news,” although I use the term “news” guardedly where it involves O’Reilly or, for that matter, Fox News in general.

About the time Brian Williams got suspended by NBC for fibbing, er, lying, about being shot down in Iraq, O’Reilly came under criticism for his reporting from the Falklands War “front” in 1982 when, in reality, he never set foot on the island territory when British forces landed to take it back from Argentine forces.

Williams got suspended — and likely won’t get his news anchor job back — while O’Reilly’s ratings have soared, as Burns told Stelter on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

That seems to be the aim at Fox: ratings. Burns said the network is giving O’Reilly a pass because the more he comes under fire, the more his rating soar. Burns suggested to Stelter that’s a likely consequence of the audience that tunes in to Fox. He calls Fox News watchers “cultish.” Watch the clip and listen for yourself to what he says.

It’s interesting that in all the discussion, I didn’t hear a mention of what now-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.,Ā has called O’Reilly over the years. Back when he was a mere political humorist, Franken would refer the Fox News host as “O’Lie-ly,” whichĀ enraged O’Reilly so much that to this day he refers to Franken by his former “Saturday Night Live” character, Stuart Smalley.

Whatever the case, the interview with Eric Burns is worth your time.

Well, at least was worth my time.

Fibs = lies? Sometimes

Someone asked me the other day if I could explain the difference between a “fib” and a “lie.”

My quick answer to him was thatĀ I “like the word ‘fib’ better.”

“Fib” has a less-damaging ring to it than “lie.”

I’ve given some further thought to the question, which actually is a pretty good one.

Here’s my more thoughtful answer: A fib is meant to describe a false statement that doesn’t carry as much consequence as a lie.

I used the term “fib” to describe, in this latest instance, what NBC reporter/news anchor Brian Williams had said about being shot down in Iraq. He fibbed about it. He wasn’t shot down. He was riding in a helicopter that accompanied the ship that actually was shot down.

Why is that a “fib” and not a “lie”? Because all it means is that one man’s career is likely ruined. The rest of us will carry on.

What, then, constitutes a lie?

Let’s try this one: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” That came from President Bill ClintonĀ as he wagged his finger at the American public and told a lie about what he did with the White House intern. All by itself, that shouldn’t constitute a lie. Except that the result of that untrue statement — which he also made to a federal grand jury — resulted in his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives.

I suppose I could go on with more actual lies, such as when the Bush administration kept telling us about Saddam Hussein’s alleged complicity in the 9/11 attacks. We all know where those lies led us.

It’s one thing to fib about a personal experience and another thing to lie when it involves the future of the country.

Awww, what the heck. I still like the sound of the word “fib” better.


Now it's Stephanopoulos on the block

What gives withĀ media superstars who keep making serious professional “mistakes”?

Brian Williams fibs about being shot down during the Iraq War and he gets suspended by NBC News.

Bill O’Reilly fibs about “covering” the Falklands War while reporting from a safe distance … but he’s still on the job at Fox.

Now it’s George Stephanopoulos giving 75 grand to the Clinton Foundation and then failing to report it to his employers or to his ABC News viewers.


ABC calls it an honest mistake. It’s standing by the “Good Morning America” co-host and moderator of “This Week.”

It’s been known for 20 years that Stephanopoulos was an avid supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton. He worked in the Clinton White House as a senior political adviser. Then he made the switch to broadcast journalism and by most accounts — yes, some conservatives haven’t been so charitable — he’s done a credible job.

Why did he give to the Clinton Foundation — with one of its principals, Hillary Clinton, running for president? He said he’s deeply interested in two issues the foundation supports: the fight against deforestation and HIV/AIDS.

OK, fine. Has he not heard of, say, Greenpeace and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who fund efforts to fight those very causes? If he was interested more in the causes and less in the people who champion them, then he could have given to any number of reputable foundations to carry on those battles.

He didn’t. Now his reputation as a journalist has been called into serious — and legitimate — question.

Stephanopoulos isn’t the first political hired hand to make the transition to TV news. Diane Sawyer once wrote speeches for President Nixon and the late Tim Russert once was a key aide to New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. They made the switch. Others have gone into political commentary after working for partisan pols — or themselves been politicians — on both sides of the aisle.

None of them, though, gave large sums of money to overtly political foundations while working as journalists or pundits or commentators.

George Stephanopoulos has created a huge mess for himself — and for his colleagues.

Williams, O'Reilly: double standard?

The thought occurs to me on this rainy day on the Texas Tundra: Brian Williams is likely out of a job, while Bill O’Reilly is still going strong for doing essentially the same thing that got Williams into trouble.

How come?

Williams once was the much-admired anchor for NBC’s Nightly News broadcast. Then it came out that Williams fibbed about a story he had told over a decade that a helicopter he’d been riding in had been shot down during the Iraq War. His chopper wasn’t shot down, but he was riding in the same group of air ships that included the one hit by the rocket-propelled grenade. NBC investigated the matter and suspended Williams for six months — without pay. He has become the butt of jokes and the network is highly unlikely ever to return him to his former job.

O’Reilly, meanwhile, was revealed to have embellished his own record, talking about how he “covered” the Falklands War in 1982 while never setting foot in the war zone while Argentine troops were fighting British troops that had landed on the islands to take back Britain’s territorial possession. O’Reilly who “covered” the war for CBS News, has since become Fox News’s No. 1 commentator. He reported how he had been put in harm’s way in the Falklands. Except that he wasn’t ever exposed to hostile fire. It was revealed the potential harm came from rioters in Buenos Aires, from where O’Reilly was “covering” the war.

Fox stands by its man. O’Reilly called the reporting of his embellishment the work of “guttersnipes.”

One man gets kicked off the air. The other is still goin’ and blowin’.

O’Reilly often laments what he calls “double standards” in media reporting.

He’s right. There well might be a double standard at work here.


When Brokaw says it's bad … it's bad

Overstatement isn’t my thing, so I say this with great care.

Tom Brokaw has become sort of today’s version of E.F. Hutton. Whenever he speaks of things relating to broadcast journalism, people tend to listen intently.

He’s been fairly quiet about the Brian Williams matter … you know, the NBC anchor who’s been suspended from his job without pay for embellishing his wartime experience in Iraq.

Brokaw, whom Williams replaced as anchor of NBC Nightly News, has weighed in. For my money, it doesn’t look good at all for Williams’s future.

Brokaw has acknowledgedĀ ā€œthis is a really, really serious case, obviously.ā€

Do you think?

Brokaw and Williams aren’t the best of friends. Brokaw said the two men have had a “cordial” relationship, which is more or less a diplomatic way of saying they smile when they see each other but in reality can’t stand to be around the other guy. We’ve all relationships like that, haven’t we?

It’s been reported of late that Williams might have hated succeeding Brokaw on the anchor desk because of the very high standard of excellence Brokaw set during his lengthy tenure. It reminds me a bit of the tension that existed between Walter Cronkite and his successor at CBS, Dan Rather, when Cronkite retired from the anchor job and was succeeded by Rather — who never quite measured up to Uncle Walter’s iconic stature.

Brokaw made his remarks recently in a talk at the University of Chicago. Check it out on this You Tube link. It’s at the 54-minute mark. Quite interesting, indeed.




How does Brian Williams come back?

The question keeps rolling through my noggin. I can’t stop wondering: How in the world does Brian Williams ever get back to the NBC Nightly News evening anchor desk?

The answer that keeps recurring? He doesn’t. He cannot come back. His credibility is blown to bits.

You see social media still joking about Williams. Things he has said in the past have been questioned by those who wonder if he made it up, as he did about his so-called shoot down in Iraq, when he said enemy rocket fire brought down a helicopter in which he was a passenger in 2003. It didn’t happen. Williams reported it correctly at first, then “misremembered” it in subsequent years as he kept retelling the fib aboutĀ being aboard the helicopter when it wasĀ brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade.

NBC suspended him for six months.

HeĀ has said recently that he doesn’t know how he made the story up. He talked about a “brain tumor,” or some such nonsense.

The longer he stays off the air the more difficult it becomes for him to return to it in his previous capacity. The jokesters will continue to concoct gags at his expense. Every utterance he makes will be field-tested immediately toĀ ensureĀ its accuracy.

I think it’s time for NBC to shop around for a permanent replacement.

Indeed, something tells me the network already is looking.

O'Reilly questions keep mounting

History might be repeating itself. First there’s an allegation of fibbing. Then it’s followed by more allegations. More witnesses come forward. More questions get asked.

That’s the way it often goes when controversy starts boiling over.

Bill O’Reilly’s troubles aren’t going away, any more than Brian Williams’ troubles aren’t going away.


The Fox News talk show host now is being questioned about whether he witnessed the murder of nuns in El Salvador, which he says he saw. This comes after questions arose about whether he heard the shotgun blast when someone connected to President Kennedy’s assassination killed himself. It comes after questions surfaced in a lengthy Mother Jones article about whether O’Reilly ever was in serious danger while “covering” the Falklands War from Buenos Aires.

This stuff happens. It’s not unique to O’Reilly. Brian Williams went through it. Others have endured similar revelations. Remember the John Edwards story and how the one-time Democratic vice-presidential nominee denied the affair with Rielle Hunter? How about when President Nixon denied any wrongdoing in the Watergate scandal? Then came those tape recordings and the testimony from those who said, “Yep, he told the FBI to stop investigating the break-in at the Democratic Party office.”

Is any of this going to spell the end of O’Reilly at Fox News? Time will tell.

Meantime, the bombastic talk show host had better get ready for more nasty revelations.