|Williams on Elm Street, Novermber 22, 1963|
You know you are in trouble when Tom Brokaw is out for your blood.
NBC’s most revered journalist is furious that Brian Williams is still in the anchor chair after he sheepishly admitted he hadn’t traveled on a helicopter hit by enemy fire.
“Brokaw wants Williams’ head on a platter,” an NBC source said. “He is making a lot of noise at NBC that a lesser journalist or producer would have been immediately fired or suspended for a false report.”
On Wednesday, Williams, 55, acknowledged that he had repeatedly said he was aboard a chopper that had been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during a 2003 reporting trip to Iraq, when he was actually safely traveling in a different aircraft.
Brokaw, 74, was still the “Nightly News” anchor when Williams came back from his Iraq expedition — and an insider said he knew the story Williams later spouted was bunk.
“Tom Brokaw and [former NBC News President] Steve Capus knew this was a false story for a long time and have been extremely uncomfortable with it,” the source said.
“He is not going to be suspended or reprimanded in any way. He has the full support of NBC News,” a network source said.
Many of Williams’ colleagues believe his claim that he simply “conflated” two versions of what happened in 2003.
“There have been meetings about it all day. They are taking it very seriously,” the NBC source said.
“But we believe that Brian’s apology on the air speaks for himself. He admitted over time he conflated the events.”
NBC brass hasn’t been talking to lower-level employees about the situation, leaving people in a panic, the insider said.
In the first place, I get sick to my stomach when I see the career of someone who has worked hard his entire life crumbling before our eyes. I feel for the man and the anguish he and his family must be going through.
“NBC bosses don’t understand how serious this is. Nobody in a leadership position is talking to the troops. Nobody has addressed it,” the source said.
One longtime NBC employee who has worked with Williams on several occasions had a few dirty words to describe the celebrated anchor, calling him a “real pompous piece of s–t.”
“He’s an a–hole,” he fumed. “He’s not a journalist. He’s a reader.”
“Oh, the fireworks that are going off inside,” he said. “It’s embarrassing. He’s the face on NBC. He’s a liar.
“Everyone knew it.”
At the same time, it was Brian William's behavior that got him in to this fix. I am like, come on people.
Around the time NBC transitioned from Tom Brokaw to Brian Williams, I gave the man more than a fair shot. I had watched NBC News as my go-to local and national news network for decades. When Williams came on the anchor scene, I observed his proclivity for hyperbole, insinuation and speculation. I recall in particular watching Williams make extreme claims during the Hurricane Katrina coverage that were not repeated by other news sources, nor confirmed in the aftermath. I decided Brian Williams was not credible. When I've briefly tuned in to the man's show since, I saw a television news anchor on a smug, melodramatic morality trip. Williams distorted and stacked information to prove predetermined points. A straight news reporter he was not.
If viewers, colleagues and his employers had demanded more from Brian Williams from the get go, I suspect the exaggerations and misstatements would not have morphed into outright lies. The guy is a pleaser -- always looking around gauging what people think of him and positioning himself accordingly. The man thrust aside integrity in the name of being popular and politically correct. His employers and many fans condoned -- indeed, rewarded -- that persona for more than decade.
As I say, there is nothing to like about the destruction of Brian William's career.