NBC suspended Brian Williams six months without pay last night. Personally, I thought he got off light, but when NBC would not fire him the prior Thursday or Friday, I thought it would go this way.
The Peacock Network missed a golden opportunity to set an example by terminating Williams, but when Brian took himself out of play on Saturday, it was an opportunity was gone forever. The only conclusion I have is that NBC brass wanted to keep the anchor around, because to them, it doesn’t matter if Brian’s recollections were fraudulent and designed to get himself over as if he was a wrestler or a rap star.
I have no delusions that the news business is supposed to be this bastion of truth anymore. Back in 1997, WTVT (Fox 13) and two of their reporters, Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, went to court over a piece on Monsanto and their use of a bovine growth hormone as an additive used in milk. The court battle was so fierce that both sides claimed victory, and the example was set that news outlets will kowtow to the needs of big business.
As the Howard Beale character famously said in Network, television is not the truth, but an amusement park. I, sadly, doubt that to the present hierarchy at NBC, the truth doesn’t matter but making money does.
Brian Williams is no Walter Cronkite. He isn’t even a Frank Reynolds.