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 »
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 »
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) May 8, 2015
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 »
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 »
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.
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) February 11, 2015
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 »
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 »
“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 »
NBC paid Chelsea Clinton $600,000 to do nothing, basically. http://t.co/ey0YA6ojvy
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) June 13, 2014
JUST IN: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to purchase the @washingtonpost for $250 million
— NBC Nightly News (@nbcnightlynews) August 5, 2013