Being a really old news junkie and with an overabundance of news sources, you would think that nothing should surprise me anymore. But sadly that is not the case.
All too often I am truly astonished with the sheer stupidity of people who truly do not know the difference between the truth and a lie.
I’m not talking about uneducated people, but intelligent people, although in my opinion it makes no difference. Every one of us learned shortly after we could talk the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie and the possible consequences.
As you may conclude I have little tolerance for a liar, not only because it’s wrong, but because everyone has to make a conscience effort to lie. It is never an accident.
I was however surprised when it came out that NBC newscaster Brian Williams had embellished stories about himself that turned out to be downright lies. What first came to light was his story on the late-night Letterman Show that he had been in a helicopter during the Iraq War that was hit by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) and AK-47 fire and forced to land.
Unfortunately, earlier he had reported on the evening news from Iraq that he had been on one of two helicopters that were forced to land because the other one sustained damage from the ground fire.
As it turned out, the pilot of the helicopter that Williams was on came forth through social media to say it was not their chopper that was hit. In another instance he was quoted as saying, “He was looking down the barrel of an RPG.”
As those untruths began to unfold, others became evident such as his being present when the Berlin Wall fell (he arrived two days later) and about his experiences in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
Williams was subsequently given a six month unpaid suspension from NBC News and replaced by Lester Holt. A further investigation was made by NBC executives who concluded there were numerous other instances where he had given untrue accounts of his reporting exploits, which damaged his creditability as a journalist.
Don’t worry about Williams being unpaid for six months. He has a five-year contract with NBC, starting in 2014 for $10 million a year. Although others at NBC knew about his “stories” for years, he will not be leaving NBC, but will move to MSNBC, their cable affiliate to report on late breaking news and also maintain his contract.
I don’t intend to bash Williams, but he was a personality you may choose to invite into your house each evening, and if you are inclined to believe what you hear on the news as being true, then you have to trust in the deliverer of the news. He is certainly not the first “trusted personality” to blatantly tell a lie.
A few others come to mind: former President Richard Nixon and his “I am not a crook” statement when trying to vindicate himself in the Watergate scandal; former President Bill Clinton and “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” statement while under oath in the Lewinsky scandal; former Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld’s “We know where they [weapons of mass destruction] are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Bagdad” statements; former First Lady Hillary Clinton stating she had to evade sniper fire when visiting Bosnia in 1996; and others like Dan Rather, Pete Rose and Lance Armstrong, just to name a few.
What bothers me the most about lies from people I trust is my disappointment in them and the fact that I wanted to believe them. I still want to believe that people will learn from the mistakes of others, and I’m hopeful I’m not just being naïve. Onward and upward….. I hope.