Should Brian Williams Be Allowed Back at NBC?

Courtesy of: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/nbc-ad-urges-recording-news/?_r=0
Courtesy: NYT

by LINDSEY FEINGOLD

Most of the American public is familiar with NBC News anchor Brian Williams. Many viewers, including myself, look up to him. Williams is one of the reasons why I decided to major in journalism. When it was discovered that the storied news anchor lied on national TV to the American public, I was heartbroken.

Since taking over for Tom Brokaw in 2004 as the anchor and managing editor for “NBC Nightly News,” Williams has been in the public spotlight. His trustworthy demeanor has led him to be well liked among the public, and the viewership numbers for the network have risen well above ABC and CBS in recent years.

Courtesy of: http://www.stateofthemedia.org/2013/network-news-a-year-of-change-and-challenge-at-nbc/network-by-the-numbers/
Courtesy: Pew Research

Williams has been on a variety of late night talk shows such as “The Daily Show” which has led to the public strongly supporting the anchor. Jimmy Fallon, host of “The Tonight Show,” even created multiple viral videos featuring Williams rapping and gave the news anchor buzz among younger viewers who may not typically watch “NBC Nightly News.”

Since Williams is such a trusted figure, it was a shock to many when it was revealed that he was lying about his involvement in an incident during the invasion of Iraq. Williams stated on his January 30th newscast, “the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG.”

This was found to be untrue when Veteran Lance Reynolds wrote on Facebook the next day how Williams was not on the aircraft, in response to William’s statement, according to New York Daily News. The military publication “Stars and Stripes” was then tipped off that the story was false. On February 4th, Williams apologized on air about his lie, stating that he remembered the events of that day incorrectly. Naturally, this raised the question of, how can someone possibly misremember if they were in a helicopter that was shot down or not?

“Choppergate,” as this controversy is being called, created uproar within the journalism community and ignited public outrage across the country. According to AdWeek, NBC’s viewership declined by about 36 percent the week after the controversy started. In fact, ABC’s “World News Tonight beat NBC in ratings for the first time in years.

Courtesy of: http://podbay.fm/show/218916008
Courtesy: ABC

NBC has started an investigation on Brian Williams, which has led to the findings of more fabrications. According to Politico, Williams has also lied about being in Berlin on the night that the wall came down in 1989 and flying into Baghdad with SEAL Team 6, as well as many other stories.

NBC decided to suspend him for six months without pay and take his name off of the NBC Nightly News broadcast. However, this decision has created even more controversy in an already huge story. Some believe that Williams should not have been suspended for his mistake. Others, especially journalists, believe that he should have been fired for ruining the integrity of the journalism field.

In my opinion, journalists have a job to do: to report the news accurately. Even though Brian Williams is what inspired me to pursue journalism, he failed to report the news in a truthful manner and therefore should be fired. Ultimately, it is up to NBC to come to a decision, and in time hopefully the public will begin to trust journalists again despite the actions Williams took.