The TL;DR (too long didn’t read) is stop making news anchors superstars and you won’t have problems like the Brian Williams issues.
So, here’s the deal – Brian Williams is going back to MSNBC after many months of being off air because he lied about an Iraqi helicopter ride. That’s not the only thing he’s misrepresented – but we’ll get back to that.
You can check out the NYT vid on how Williams’ story changed over time. NYT
Last Friday, the Today Show aired Williams’ apology in a sit-down with Matt Lauer. NBC Universal sent out press releases and talking points all during the week: naming Lester Holt as the new Nightly News anchor and pushing the story of a remorseful Brian Williams going back to MSNBC.
So, now that all that’s settled—let’s take a look on what I think are the issues.
Ever since 2003, the soldiers on those helicopters have been saying Williams’ story wasn’t true but nobody would listen to them. It took 12 years and a sh*t storm of social media for mainstream news to step up to the plate. Oh, look another NYT article you can drool over.
Let’s not pretend it took getting the story into the right hands for it to break. No, it didn’t happen that way. Most mainstream media staffers knew Williams was full of sh*t years ago.
The story broke because not too long ago (I think in 2012 or 2013) Williams started going rouge on cable news. Brian Williams started out on cable (MSNBC) and after he made the big league he decided he didn’t like the direction cable news was heading in. He was right but it still pissed off cable news staffers as you can tell when they went into a “f*ck you Brian Williams” chant at a party.
It’s no secret that NBC did their best to turn Brian Williams into a superstar celeb to get ratings. Williams was more than willing to go along with it because he has a massive ego. People like to watch this kind of stuff: Brian Williams’ rapping.
If you want to stop these disasters from happening in the future—stop turning news anchors into celebrities. Hold them accountable and hold the networks accountable. Here’s a hint on accountability: if the sponsors for NBC Universal and MSNBC (in general) had not pulled their ads on Don Imus—he’d still be on MSNBC. Hmm.
Was Williams wrong: yes. But, the network made tons of money selling soap off of Brian Williams’ back for years without doing anything to correct him. Hell, even Tom Brokaw was warning people for years about Williams’ story.
In a nutshell, Brian Williams created the perfect storm for him to get this attention. He pissed off cable news staffers who then started to dig into the Iraq helicopter story. It’s not all about a social media storm bringing this to light. Cable news pumped this story with the help of Tom Brokaw (and a few others).
They made it impossible for Williams to sell Nightly News laundry detergent.