Stephanie Smith reports: Brian Williams’ welcome to MSNBC might be frigid because staffers there haven’t forgotten a scathing report he arrogantly aired on his short-lived “Rock Center” about “corrosive” cable news blowhards at MSNBC, Fox News and CNN.
The two-part September 2012 report was so unpopular at MSNBC that, at a network holiday party shortly after, some over-served staffers even chanted “F - - k Brian Williams.”
“Rachel Maddow said on-air last week she was ‘really happy’ about Williams joining MSNBC and she believes in ‘second chances.’”
Williams is now a cable staffer after his demotion from NBC’s “Nightly News”anchor chair. But in 2012, as anchor and managing editor of his own show, “Rock Center,” he aired a two-parter on cable news’ “partisan ranting” from correspondent Ted Koppel. Williams introduced one segment by describing cable as, per Koppel, “corrosive and does nothing to help compromise in this country.”
“The rank and file at MSNBC were furious at Brian. They hated it so much, they were still mad about it months later at the office Christmas party…That’s where some cheered ‘F - - k Brian Williams’ — It was like a rallying cry.”
Williams stuffily wondered, “Has any of this splashed up against what we do?” Koppel responded: “What works about cable television is it’s cheap and it makes a ton of money. There is nothing cheaper than a bunch of talking heads. The people who hire those talking heads have discovered the more irascible, the more partisan, the nastier they are, the bigger an audience.” Read the rest of this entry »
Mollie Hemingway writes: NBC News’ Brian Williams is taking a few days off from his anchor chair at the Nightly News. The Most Trusted Name In News (TM) is in a spot of trouble. He admits he lied when he claimed he was in a Chinook helicopter forced down by rocket-propelled grenade fire in Iraq in 2003.
There are also concerns about dramatic stories he told about gangs attacking his hotel in New Orleans during Katrina. Whether he saw a dead body floating by him in the French Quarter. Whether he got dysentery on that trip.
Or witnessed someone commit suicide in the Superdome. Also about whether he actually saved a puppywhile on duty as a voluntary firefighter. Whether he was really “looking up at a thug’s snub-nosed .38 while selling Christmas trees out of the back of a truck” in the 1970s. And whether a helicopter he was in during Israel’s war with the militant group Hezbollah in 2006 was nearly hit by Katyusha rockets.
I could go on. The point is that he’s beginning to resemble Jen from the IT Crowd:
[Check out Neil Postman’s book “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” at Amazon]
If Brian Williams were just a dude at the bar, he’d probably be your favorite dude at the bar. He has great stories and tells them well. The loquacious Williams is just an obscenely well-paid news reader. As Neil Postman put it in his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves To Death, “A news show, to put it plainly, is a format for entertainment, not for education, reflection or catharsis.” And that’s how we like it — here’s a promo for a new CNN game show featuring anchors competing against each other. (Show ‘em who’s boss, Tapper!)
A Far Worse Kind Of Exaggeration
Some journalists have responded to the Williams spectacle by running defenses they’d never imagine using on others — such as that Williams had ordinary false memory syndrome. Others are just waiting for him to be pushed out or quietly get back to work.
Williams lied. I’m not defending him. But in a world of serial exaggerators and distortion artists, he’s the least of mainstream media’s problems.
Exaggeration and distortion is de rigueur for many political journalists.
Exaggeration is kind of what our media do. Now, part of this is defensible. At one of my first newspaper jobs, I would write unbelievably spare copy that accurately described the event or situation I was reporting on. My editor used to take his big red pen and scrawl, “So what?” across my copy, double underlined. It was a great edit. I had to learn how to make a story interesting and how to pull out the parts a reader would actually care about.
Surrounded by fans and protected from criticism, it’s no wonder Brian Williams became a serial fabulist
Jonah Goldberg writes: By now everyone knows about his transgressions. If even only some of the reports are true, Brian Williams is a serial embellisher, a self-aggrandizing fabulist.
No doubt everyone knows somebody like this, and if you don’t it’s probably because you’re that guy. But Williams’ case is special. This isn’t some sad Willy Loman at the end of the bar who needs to invent impressive stories about himself. If anything, he needed to not tell such stories, given that he reportedly makes more than $10 million a year to be a trusted name in news.
Yet he couldn’t stop himself.
“To walk down a street with an anchor is to be stunned both by how many people recognize them and how many viewers call out to them about specific stories. There’s a respectful familiarity different from the awe displayed to Hollywood celebrities. The anchor is treated as the citizen’s trusted guide to the news. As a result, they can feel expected to dominate discussions, to tell war stories, to play God.”
— Ken Auletta, The New Yorker’s media critic
If Kathy Griffin is the quintessential D-list celebrity, then I’m probably somewhere south of Z. But I do get recognized at airports and restaurants from time to time, mostly because of my stints on Fox News. A couple dozen times a year, someone will come up and compliment me. (Or, they’ll compliment The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes, thinking I’m him.)
But you know what virtually never happens? Someone coming up to me to tell me how much they hated my column, my comments, my book, my face, or my existence. Read the rest of this entry »
NBC Suspends Brian Williams for 6 Months Without Pay for Misleading Disinterested Public – ‘Brian Who?’
A Slap on the Wrist: NBC Goes Through the Motions
NBC chief executive Steve Burke said Tuesday that Williams’ actions were inexcusable and jeopardized the trust he has built up with viewers during his decade as the network’s lead anchor. But he said Williams deserved a second chance.
Here is a memo distributed to NBC employees earlier Tuesday:
Williams apologized last week for saying he was in a helicopter that was hit by a grenade while covering the Iraq War in 2003. Instead, he was in a group of helicopters and another was hit, and some veterans involved in the mission called him out on it. Read the rest of this entry »
Failure to Report for Duty: Stars And Stripes Publishes Full Brian Williams Interview Because He Canceled On David LettermanPosted: February 9, 2015
Some industry navel gazers say he’s missed a great opportunity by canceling. But Williams’ loss, and Letterman’s, is Stars and Stripes’ gain
“The reason we decided to publish it now is because Williams backed out of this appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. We felt there was a lot of interest out there to hear him, in his own words, really address these questions and hear his response, unfiltered…”
Williams will not appear on the Late Show with David Letterman this Thursday, yesterday canceling a long-scheduled appearance in the wake of an investigation into his inflated claims about taking enemy fire while in a helicopter in Iraq. Some industry navel gazers say he’s missed a great opportunity by canceling. But Williams’ loss, and Letterman’s, is Stars and Stripes’ gain.
“…so everybody can listen for themselves and judge…Williams has not come forward and answered questions. He has made statements on his own but he hasn’t sat and answered questions about it.”
— Travis Tritten
“The reason we decided to publish it now is because Williams backed out of this appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman,” Travis Tritten, who did the interview, explained this afternoon to CNN. “We felt there was a lot of interest out there to hear him, in his own words, really address these questions and hear his response, unfiltered — so everybody can listen for themselves and judge,” Tritten added. Read the rest of this entry »
— Daniel John Sobieski (@gerfingerpoken) February 8, 2015
Anchor Zombie Joins Viewer Zombies
John Nolte reports: Per an email from NBC News, Brian Williams just passed a note along to the NBC News staff that says he will not be hosting the Nightly News for the next several days. Lester Holt will take his place:
“In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions.
As Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days, and Lester Holt has kindly agreed to sit in for me to allow us to adequately deal with this issue. Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.”
Brian Williams is currently facing an internal NBC News investigation.
The hiatus comes just four days after Williams admitted that he had lied on the NBC Nightly News about being shot down in a helicopter over Iraq in 2003.
Williams and NBC are obviously hoping that some time away will cool the scandal down enough to allow Williams to return. Time is unlikely to do either Williams or NBC News much good. The questions that have arisen in just a few days about other aspects of Williams’ reporting were low-hanging fruit. Williams has a decades-long career to investigate, and now a cloud hangs over all of it. Read the rest of this entry »
NBC Has Launched an Internal Investigation into Brian Williams’s Comments on Iraq, Katrina, and Other StoriesPosted: February 6, 2015
NBC has launched an internal investigation into Brian Williams’s comments on Iraq, Katrina, and other stories http://t.co/mq2RDzp9ax
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 7, 2015
“Unlike the Chinook helicopter he rode in, Brian Williams credibility is completely shot.”
— The Butcher, punditfromanotherplanet
WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — NBC “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams apologized Wednesday for incorrectly claiming as recently as last week that he rode on a helicopter that came under enemy fire when he was reporting in Iraq in 2003.
“If credibility means anything to NBC News, Brian Williams will no longer be managing editor and anchor of the evening newscast by the end of the day Friday.”
— Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik
Instead, Williams said, he was in another helicopter trailing a Chinook that actually was hit. He apologized on “Nightly News” for getting it wrong.
The embarrassing admission came after a story in the Stars & Stripes newspaper pointing out the discrepancy. Williams had made the claim on the air last Friday during a story about Tim Terpak, an Army officer who he had befriended when Terpak was assigned to protect the NBC crew.
“Brian Williams has to go. NBC’s credibility is completely shot.”
— Brent Bozell, founder of Media Research Center
Williams reported on “Nightly News” that he had gone with Terpak to a New York Rangers hockey game. They were introduced to the audience by the public address announcer, who also repeated the claim that Williams’ helicopter had been hit.
“This was a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran and by extension our brave military men and women, veterans everywhere, those who have served while I did not,” Williams said on the air Wednesday. “I hope they know they have my greatest respect and also now my apology.”
“It’s hard to see how Williams gets past this, and how he survives as the face of NBC News…”
Stars & Stripes quoted Lance Reynolds, the flight engineer on the crew that rode with Williams, as saying that “it felt like a personal experience that someone else wanted to participate in and didn’t deserve to participate in.”
The newspaper said Williams’ helicopter traveled about an hour behind the aircraft that actually took fire.
“An anchor’s No. 1 requirement is that he or she has credibility. If we don’t believe what an anchor tells us, what’s the point?”
— USA Today media columnist Rem Rieder
In a Facebook response to service members who had pointed out the mistake, Williams said that “I spent much of the weekend thinking I’d gone crazy.”
— National Review (@NRO) February 5, 2015
Despite the apology, some media critics are wondering if NBC News should let Williams go. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] ‘Insane to Watch’: Brian Williams Effortlessly Lied About Being Shot Down on Late Night With David LettermanPosted: February 4, 2015
John Nolte reports: In what could easily be a career-ender, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted Wednesday that for the last 12 year both he and his network have repeatedly told a false story about a helicopter Williams was in being forced down due to RPG fire during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The Stars and Stripes reports that as recently as Friday Williams repeated this false story and did so “during NBC’s coverage of a public tribute at a New York Rangers hockey game for a retired soldier that had provided ground security for the grounded helicopters, a game to which Williams accompanied him.”
“Williams’ 12 year lie is a disaster for the anchor and for the network that made him the face of its news division. Obviously no one at NBC News bothered to check a story that was just too good to check.”
It was during an interview with Stars and Stripes that Williams finally confessed to his 12 year lie. But this only came after the crewmembers who were in the actual helicopter that was hit came forward and said Williams wasn’t in that chopper or the other two choppers that were close by in a formation. In fact, the helicopter Williams was in arrived a full hour after the three choppers in question made an emergency landing.
“I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams told Stars and Stripes. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”
Here’s the lie Williams told Friday. The video is here:
“The story actually started with a terrible moment a dozen years back during the invasion of Iraq when the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG,” Williams said on the broadcast. “Our traveling NBC News team was rescued, surrounded and kept alive by an armor mechanized platoon from the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry.”
During tonight’s NBC Nightly News Williams recanted with the claim he told the lie in order to honor a soldier:
Williams’ 12 year lie is a disaster for the anchor and for the network that made him the face of its news division. Obviously no one at NBC News bothered to check a story that was just too good to check. Worse, this will only compound the credibility and ratings issues that have damaged the NBC News brand for a few years now. Read the rest of this entry »
Brian Williams may have a hard time retaining his popularity with viewers considering the results of a survey commissioned by Variety regarding the news anchor’s false claims to have been on a helicopter shot down by enemy fire in Iraq.
An overwhelming 80% think that Williams should no longer continue as a news anchor for NBC, according to a survey conducted Thursday by celebrity brand expert Jeetendr Sehdev, who polled 1,000 people who either watched or read the anchor’s apology.
“It’s no surprise that super savvy audiences today didn’t believe Williams’ scripted ‘fog of memory’ explanation or his apology. Williams didn’t tell the story to thank a ‘special veteran’ but falsified the story to celebrate himself.”
— Celebrity brand expert Jeetendr Sehdev
If Williams keeps his seat in the anchor chair, he will have to face an uphill climb to regain viewers trust. Seventy percent of respondents surveyed by do not believe that Williams will overcome the mistake.
Eight out of 10 respondents reported that they will now struggle to believe what Williams says following his admission that he “made a mistake in recalling the events 12 years ago,” as he said during his Wednesday night newscast.
Seventy percent did not describe Williams’ apology as sincere, with 60% believing that the anchor attempted to minimize the significance of his fabricated story in his apology. Read the rest of this entry »
TRUMPOCALYPSE: ‘Radical,’ ‘Dark’ Inaugural Speech Mystifies TV Talking Heads as News Crews Scramble for MetaphorsPosted: January 21, 2017
The television anchors, reporters and analysts covering President Donald Trump’s inaugural speech may have appeared on different networks, but they were united in their depictions of Trump’s speech.
“This was Donald Trump seizing power, in the sense that there is a new sheriff in town,” Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said. “The American carnage must stop right here, right now. … This was the speech of an insurgent, the leader of a revolt that has won and taken control of Washington.”
Even the more charitable descriptions of the speech noted the darkness of his rhetoric.
“I thought the speech was not poetic, but quite strong. It was very much Trump. While it wasn’t soaring he had many lines that were quite memorable,” said Fox News’ Brit Hume. “He painted this dark landscape of circumstances in this country, and promised to fix it all, basically.”
Some fact-checked Trump’s speech, which mentioned crime rates and Americans out of work. Read the rest of this entry »
During NBC’s special live coverage of Donald Trump’s press conference on Wednesday, reporter Cynthia McFadden revealed that U.S. intelligence officials deemed rumors of a Russian dossier of damaging information about the President-elect to not be credible.
She explained to NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt: “…as far as they are concerned, and I’m going to quote now, ‘Intel and law enforcement officials agree that none of the investigations have found any conclusive or direct link between Donald Trump and the Russian government, period.’”
McFadden further informed viewers: “They wanted it available, we are told, so that if they felt they needed to explain to the President-elect the difference between vetted intelligence…and this raw kind of disinformation that’s out there.” Read the rest of this entry »
At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey writes: In the clip above, Conway wonders aloud what message Democrats thought they were selling during the campaign. “I don’t know what her message was to America,” Conway says, “other than ‘I’m not Donald Trump and you shouldn’t vote for him’.” Conway also argues that Hillary didn’t do much to move the needle with women, scoring 54/41 in exit polls, almost identical to Barack Obama’s 55/44 over Mitt Romney in 2012. How did she fail to leverage that advantage, Conway asks?
The near-hysteria generated by advocates of this latest social panic has reached almost ludicrous heights. In the past 48 hours, we have now been lectured about “fake news” by Hillary Clinton, former NBC News anchor Brian Williams, and outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Hillary’s reliance on lies and half-truths in the campaign was well documented, especially when it came to her e-mail scandal and the slow unfolding of contradictory facts that exposed those lies — let alone Hillary’s claim to have been in New York City on 9/11, “Tuzla Dash” claims in 2008, her supposed rejection by the Marine Corps over her gender, and especially the attempt to slough off the planned terror attack on our Benghazi compound in 2012 as a spontaneous reaction to a YouTube video when speaking to the families of those killed in the attack. Brian Williams lost his position as anchor for repeated instances of fabulism, including in on-air remarks. Read the rest of this entry »
“Castro ‘was considered, even to this day, the George Washington of his country among those who remain in Cuba’.”
Along a similar theme, in an ABC Special Report during Nightline, Jim Avila maintained that “even Castro’s critics praised his advances in health care and in education.”
In a relatively tough report on Castro’s abuses, CNN’s Martin Savidge, in a pre-recorded bio piece, highlighted how “many saw positives, education and health care for all, racial integration.”
[More, media’s worst from the MRC archive as collected by Rich Noyes: “Fidel’s Flatterers: The U.S. Media’s Decades of Cheering Castro’s Communism”]
A meandering Brian Williams popped up by phone on MSNBC to ruminate and recalled how in his last visit to Cuba, in 2015: “You see the medicine system they are very proud of.”
ABC’s Avila went so far as to tout how Castro “was considered, even to this day, the George Washington of his country among those who remain in Cuba.”
Heather Wilhelm writes: On Monday, NBC’s “Today” show hosted everyone’s favorite person who might actually be an android, Hillary Clinton, for a folksy “Pancakes and Politics” town-hall gathering. The setting was autumnal Hollis, N.H., in a cozy red barn; Hillary wore a cozy
blazer the color of a minor explosion. The event opened with the jovial flipping of pancakes, because we all know that the former secretary of state—a woman whose inside desperately
screams “Don’t blackball me, I NEED THIS!” but whose outside cleverly imitates an animatronic wax statue from Madame Tussauds—likes nothing better than to stay home and cook.
“Honestly, there’s so much wackiness here, it’s hard to know where to begin.”
“I guess you’ve probably flipped a pancake before in your life?” Savannah Guthrie, the “Today” host, asked gamely. To be fair, when it comes to Hillary Clinton, who famously insulted millions of American cookie bakers during her husband’s 1992 campaign, this is actually a legitimate question.
“Yes. I have. I have.” Here, in this moment, Clinton stared at the spatula she’d been forced to hold, perhaps considering whether she could quietly murder someone with it. The seconds slowed. The spatula quivered. No one died. Instead, Hillary glanced up at the lofty, rough-hewn ceiling, and replied in a flat tone: “Never in a barn.”
Ridiculousness aside, here’s the bottom line: I don’t care if there is ever a female president, and you shouldn’t either. What I would like is a president who:
1. Actually likes human beings
2. Does not constantly act all exhausted and frustrated with the yokel dummies out in the hinterlands—that’s you and me, of course—when problems arise in America
3. Does not claim to have the power to adjust sea levels
4. Does not have a name that rhymes with Schlonald Frump
5. Understands the value of limited government and the separation of powers
6. Maybe takes notice when rogue Russian agents are trying to sell nukes to ISIS
7. Is not a closeted socialist
8. Is not an actual socialist
About an hour later, after cheerful audience questions about Clinton’s favorite alcoholic drinks, hidden musical talents, and people dying in Benghazi, Guthrie closed the interview with a slow, delicious meatball, dripping a trail of sauce right over home plate: “You often say that you’re not running because you’re a woman; you’re running on the merits, and one of your merits is that you are a woman.”
This sentence was hilarious, circular, and nonsensical, but no matter. Hillary nodded, perhaps channeling Yoda or Vishnu or some voodoo doll in a closet somewhere, then smiled and agreed. Read the rest of this entry »
Cloaked in Charity, George Gives His Critics The Finger
In a non-apology apology that is unlikely to appease the referees of press ethics, let alone his Republican detractors—and may just baffle morning television viewers who haven’t paid attention to the blossoming scandal within the media-political complex—the former top aide to Bill and Hillary Clinton put the very best face possible on his lapse in judgment in not disclosing $75,000 in donations to the Clinton Foundation when he conducted a contentious April 26 interview with foundation critic Peter Schweizer on This Week With George Stephanopoulos, ABC News’s Sunday show.
Although Stephanopoulos’s case is very different from—and nowhere near as serious as—the embellishments of suspended NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, his explanation of his mistake on Friday morning was much in the same vein as Williams’s claim last February that he made up a story about a helicopter ride in Iraq simply in an innocent, good-hearted attempt to honor America’s fighting men and women. Read the rest of this entry »
Are Conservatives a Little Paranoid? The Obama Administration has ‘Richly Earned Citizens’ Distrust’, says David FrenchPosted: May 11, 2015
No, the Obama administration isn’t going to invade Texas
David French writes:
…Let’s not forget that more than half of Democrat voters thought it was “very” or “somewhat” likely that the Bush administration either “assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.” Let that sink in: For all the elite’s disdain of allegedly gullible conservatives, a majority of the Left believed that an American president was complicit in mass murder.
But extreme paranoia wasn’t limited to the Democratic rank and file. As National Review’s own Rich Lowry pointed out, Naomi Wolf (former campaign consultant to Bill Clinton and Al Gore) actually wrote a book explaining how the Bush administration was mirroring the early actions of dictatorships like those in Germany, Russia, and China. Harper’s Magazine published breathless stories about a barely averted Bush administration “coup” or “military dictatorship.” Even as recently as 2013, the National Journal published an article claiming that military officers were considering “staging a coup” against President Obama — the basis for the claim was a series of statements by a retired general who specifically declared that no coup was being contemplated.
In this atmosphere of earned distrust, it is appropriate for elected officials to ask questions about even benign and well-meaning military exercises. No, the Obama administration isn’t going to invade Texas or Utah. Yes, there are some bottom-dwelling, opportunistic conspiracy-mongers who’ve done their best to whip up public concern. Read the rest of this entry »
Lisa de Moraes reports:
Gutfeld will continue to serve as co-host of The Five, airing weekdays at 5 PM ET, and will keep make his weekly appearance on The O’Reilly Factor. During this transition, a variety of rotating guest hosts will substitute host Red Eye. Gutfeld will address his sign-off from the show on tomorrow’s edition of Red Eye, which airs at 3 AM ET.
The pilot will focus on Gutfield’s “strong libertarian values, and social commentary,” the network said, highlighting Gutfield’s “whimsical nature and political satire.” Read the rest of this entry »
Tina Nguyen reports: Today, Comcast and Time Warner Cable were served with a lawsuit from a group of African-American media owners seeking $20 billion — yes, “billion,” with a “b” — for discriminatory practices, and alleges that Al Sharpton and his organizations received big money to look the other way.
“The money includes $3.8 million to Sharpton and his National Action Network. The money, it’s charged, was meant to pay Sharpton to endorse the NBCU deal and divert attention away from discrimination.”
The suit, filed by the National Association of African-American Owned Media (NAAAOM) and obtained by the The Hollywood Reporter, claims that despite touting itself as a diverse company, Comcast and TWC only carries one channel owned by a black media owner and refuses to carry any others. Furthermore, the diversity Comcast presents — including the hiring of minority personalities such as
Sharpton, and including a “memorandum of understanding” they signed with the NAACP and Sharpton’s National Urban League — is “a sham, undertaken to whitewash Comcast’s discriminatory business practices.”
The lawsuit specifically targets Comcast’s practices: so far, they argue, only one channel in Comcast’s lineup, The Africa Channel, is owned by a black person (and that person facilitated Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal, “thus creating a serious conflict of interest”). And speaking of that purchase, the suit alleges that Comcast paid off Sharpton, an employee of MSNBC, to support that acquisition — specifically, to say that Comcast was an awesomely diverse company:
The lawsuit goes on to say that Comcast made large cash “donations” to obtain support for its acquisition. The money includes $3.8 million to Sharpton and his National Action Network. The money, it’s charged, was meant to pay Sharpton to endorse the NBCU deal and divert attention away from discrimination. As for Sharpton’s MSNBC gig, the complaint says, “Despite the notoriously low ratings that Sharpton’s show generates, Comcast has allowed Sharpton to maintain his hosting position for more than three years in exchange for Sharpton’s continued public support for Comcast on issues of diversity.”
In a statement to THR, Comcast said it was “disappointing that [NAAAOM] have decided to file a frivolous lawsuit” and that they planned to defend themselves. Read the rest of this entry »
Admitting that the way we were getting news was desperately flawed—at least until a few years ago—is really admitting to a larger failure in ourselves. So, of course, we will never do it.
“What gets lost is a proverbial sense of communal experience. We’re not all getting it through Walter Cronkite. We’re not all going to experience him choke back a tear. The danger is that we become isolated in our own echo chambers—that we don’t get different points of view that open us up to thinking about other people. That’s the dystopian view. That’s the fear—that everyone’s essentially in their own bubble.”
— Jordan Levin
The reality is the opposite: The protections that we now know need to be provided to TV journalists—the expectation that they could be human, that they could quickly admit to mistakes without being permanently reviled, that they could unveil their process while reporting on what they know and don’t know—are really only provided to comedians.
Comedy and news collided not because comedy needed the news, but because news needed the protections of comedy.
Here’s how we know it: The most prominent cases of clear government corruption that were brought to light—and eventually killed—by a TV show in the last year did not come from the Nightly News, a tepid-by-design, rote reconstruction of the day’s events told slowly and dispassionately, as not to ruffle the feathers of the powerful.
Those scoops—acts of journalism in the truest sense—happened, instead, on places like Last Week Tonight, hosted by Daily Show alumnus John Oliver.
His show, for example, highlighted an FCC Commissioner—one whose last job was the head of the telecom lobby—proposing rules that would have allowed that same cable lobby to rake consumers over the coals by artificially slowing down the speed of some websites while simultaneously raising prices. His show launched a protest that was so swift and immediate it crashed the FCC’s servers. That commissioner, Tom Wheeler, did a 180—and last week proposed different rules that would protect the Internet against that kind of throttling.
[Note: If Ben Collins actually thinks the Obama administration-pressured FCC’s 300+ page stack of regulations aimed at transforming the internet into a highly-regulated government-controlled public utility is as simple as consumer-advocacy “rules that would protect the Internet against that kind of throttling” one might conclude that guys like Ben are also among those Kool-Aid drinking journalists who shamelessly promoted the Affordable Care Act as a popular, successful “reform” package that made health care “more affordable”. If this sloppy comment about Tom Wheeler raises serious doubts about the credibility of everything else Ben’s article, so be it.]
— Barracuda Brigade (@BarracudaMama) February 10, 2015
Then it happened again with payday loans, which prey only on the poor. (The Consumer Protection Agency, as of three days ago, is trying to put an end to them.)
And then again with civil forfeiture—a process that allowed police to seize assets from citizens who were never arrested or charged with a crime. (Attorney General Eric Holder laid out an edict effectively putting an end to it.)
These issues were on the fringe of public consciousness. Fifteen minutes, a lot of reporting and a little bit of comedy later, three pieces of legislation that would’ve negatively affected less fortunate Americans—or, in the first case, all Americans—were about to be killed.
The Nightly News couldn’t dream of doing this that efficiently. Read the rest of this entry »
This is the latest black eye for the Peacock Network, which has been in panic mode since its star anchor, Brian Williams, backtracked on his story that he had been shot at during his 2003 trip to Iraq
NBC is once again under fire from Iraq War veterans — this time for a correspondent’s claims that sniper Chris Kyle was “racist.”
“Mohyeldin’s statements were an inexcusable slap in the face to the widow of Chris Kyle and to all those in the armed forces who continue to serve our country in harm’s way.”
More than 20 retired generals and admirals penned a letter to Comcast, which owns NBC, following a Jan. 29 interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” with Middle East reporter Ayman Mohyeldin, according to a report in the Washington Examiner.
“Some of what people have described as his racist tendencies towards Iraqis and Muslims when he was going on some of these, you know, killing sprees in Iraq on assignment,” Mohyeldin said of Kyle, whose career was recently the subject of the blockbuster movie “American Sniper.”
The former general manager of the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, where Brian Williams has said he stayed while covering Hurricane Katrina, insists there’s no way bodies could’ve been floating past his hotel room during the storm, as the embattled anchor claimed.
“There is no physical way the water was deep enough for a body to float in,” Myra deGersdorff told The Times-Picayune on Sunday.
In a 2006 interview with Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Williams told a horrific tale of watching a dead body float past his hotel window after the levees broke.
“When you look out of your hotel room window in the French Quarter and watch a man float by face down, when you see bodies that you last saw in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and swore to yourself that you would never see in your country,” he said.
His story has been called into question after he admitted to falsely claiming that he traveled on an Army helicopter hit by enemy fire while reporting on the Iraq war in 2003. Read the rest of this entry »
“While my role with NBC News may be coming to an end, I look forward to working with the NBC family well into the future.”
Chelsea Clinton has formally stepped down from her post as special correspondent for NBC News, saying she intends to focus on her work with the Clinton Foundation as well as the baby she is expecting later this year.
Clinton joined NBC News in 2011, a hire that immediately raised eyebrows in journo circles given both her history of avoiding the press and the expected 2016 presidential bid by her mother, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Read the rest of this entry »
For Media Research Center, Matthew Balan reports: The Big Three networks’ Friday evening newscasts finally noticed the latest development in the IRS scandal (they omitted it on Thursday), after Rep. Paul Ryan grilled Commissioner John Koskinen earlier in the day. It was the first ABC, CBS or NBC evening newscast mention of the IRS since news of the missing e-mail broke a week earlier.
Williams set aside a minute and 13 seconds of air time on NBC Nightly News to the latest on the IRS scandal
[Also see: Trust In News Media At All-Time Low]
ABC’s David Muir spotlighted “the outrage…involving the IRS claiming to have lost thousands of crucial documents – lawmakers asking, how can the tax man be let off the hook for losing documents, while ordinary taxpayers would never get away with that?”
NBC’s Brian Williams noted how Koskinen claimed that the IRS “lost evidence in the investigation into how they handled conservative political groups…and given how long the IRS holds on to things like our tax returns, some members of Congress just aren’t buying it.” CBS’s Nancy Cordes zeroed in on congressional Democrats’ attack on their Republican colleagues over the scandal – something that ABC and NBC didn’t do: [MP3 audio available here; video below]
NANCY CORDES: Republicans have long suggested Lerner was urged by the White House to hold up applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups before the 2012 elections. Democrats, like Lloyd Doggett of Texas, mocked that as just another conspiracy theory.