Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Yeah, That's the Ticket ...

NBC has suspended Brian Williams for six months for repeatedly misrepresenting the facts about his work as an embedded journalist in Iraq — specifically as they relate to his experience on board a helicopter that he said was shot down.

Problem is that some folks — folks who were there — don't remember it that way.

Maybe we ought to cut the guy some slack. Things can seem black and white when you're young, but they take on subtle hues of gray as you get older. Whether it's the fabled fog of war or some other kind of fog, it's easy to be mistaken about things. Easier than some people might think.

It's like when I was the 40th president of the United States, and I had to deal with the air traffic controllers' strike, and ...

Wait a minute, you say Ronald Reagan was the 40th president?

Oh, yeah, that's right. I've been studying the presidents most of my life, and I frequently write about presidents and would–be presidents on this blog — but I've never actually been president. (I have been to the White House, but I was a child at the time.)

You know, the same way Brian Williams was in a war zone and may have seen a helicopter get shot down — but, contrary to what he has said on several occasions, no helicopters in which he was riding were shot down.

Well, that is a small detail, isn't it? Just as Williams apparently did, I must have "conflated" truth with fiction.

As I was saying, in the course of your life, you can get mixed up about what happened to you and what happened to someone else. A good example is when I won Best Actor Oscars in back–to–back years, and ...

Oooops, I did it again, didn't I? I "conflated" again. That wasn't me. That was Tom Hanks. I've seen a lot of movies, but I've never actually been in a movie. Therefore, I've never been nominated for — let alone won — an Oscar for my performance in a movie.

And I suppose now you'll tell me that I didn't win the Masters when I was only 21. Right, that was Tiger Woods. I've watched some golf on television, but I have never played golf.

Fact is, I am a writer. I have worked for newspapers and a trade magazine. I've taught journalism on the college level.

And I feel thoroughly qualified to say the following. A journalist's most valuable possession is his credibility. When that is gone, when people can no longer trust what he says or writes, the journalist might as well look for another way to make a living.

Which is what I think Williams should be doing during his six–month suspension.

He might also want to look into the Pathological Liars Club. I'm, uh, president of that organization. Yeah, that's it.

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