February 8, 2015

Williams Stepping Down Temporarily

Brian Williams has given himself a leave of absence (paid?) from the NBC Nightly News. He is stepping down temporarily and plans to return, I suspect, when he thinks we've forgotten about his deception. According to the Wall Street Journal
On Friday, NBC News President Deborah Turness said in a staff memo the network was launching in inquiry into Mr. Williams that would look at not only the Iraq story but other reports of his as well, including his work covering Hurricane Katrina. While covering Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Williams famously reported seeing a body float past his hotel, a story that has been challenged by some New Orleans locals who note that the area where the anchor was staying wasn’t flooded.
NBC and Williams refuse to acknowledge that Williams lied about Iraq and Katrina. Instead Williams blaming his "faulty memory" for his deception and NBC faulting Williams' "admission" of lying rather than the lies themselves as the reason viewers and advertisers lose trust and respect for him. WSJ states that
If Mr. Williams’ admissions (emphasis mine) drives viewers and advertisers away, NBC, a unit of Comcast Corp. , will be faced with the difficult task of either rehabilitating his image and credibility or finding a replacement.
Rhetorically, Williams' self-imposed "discipline" of stepping down and the framing of his being caught in lies as "noble admission" of erroneous statements is likely the first stage of rehabilitating the seasoned managing journalist's tarnished image. Williams said
Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.
Williams' statement in the WSJ suggests that finding a replacement is not in his future plans. Because his "stepping down" is self-imposed and he is the managing editor of the outlet, we are left to wonder how much input he has in the final decision about his future.

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