February 6, 2015

"Who knows what impact incoming fire will have on Brian Williams’s career."

Says Ken Auletta in The New Yorker (where the punctuation is presumably punctilious, but that's a question without a question mark).
Yet this much is clear: ​journalists are supposed to be more transparent than the politicians we cover. We’re unpopular, in part, because we don’t practice the transparency we preach. Brian Williams believes that journalism is a noble calling, and he has often honored that calling. But by resorting to spin he let down more than “some brave military men and women.”
How does Auletta know Brian Williams believes that journalism is a noble calling? And... "more transparent than the politicians we cover" sounds like a damned low standard. I'm not sure Auletta even believes journalism is a noble calling.

72 comments:

damikesc said...

Don't see how being a stenographer for the DNC can be a noble calling for anybody, but hey, YMMV

Revenant said...

If the ratings for NBC news drop, he'll be fired. If not, there will be no effect whatsoever.

The important thing to remember is that journalists are not in the news business. They are in the ad-selling business. The companies they work for don't care about "truth" or "transparency" or "nobility" or any of the rest of that crap. They care about what they can charge for a 30-second ad for Gain detergent.

Williams is the top-rated anchor at the moment. They aren't going to fire him for lying unless his lying causes him to drop in the ratings.

LCB said...

How does Auletta know Brian Williams believes that journalism is a noble calling

Well DUH!!! Cause he's a journalist! And we all KNOW that it's a sacred, noble calling to server the democratic party!

traditionalguy said...

Who's on first.

Ipso Fatso said...
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Ipso Fatso said...

"How does Auletta know Brian Williams believes that journalism is a noble calling?"

Easy. Because when Ken Auletta speaks of Brian Williams and journalism being a noble calling, he is also speaking of himself and his career (and most other journalist's careers) as being a noble calling. One of the main target audiences of journalists are other journalists and Auletta is playing to them. This is one reason why there has been little reaction to Williams’ lies in the main stream media. They ain't gonna go after one of their own. Not if they want a job at NBC, CBS, etc. Williams may go down for his sins but even Dan Rather survived for a while. It will be interesting to see the rehab that Williams goes through, if any, to keep his position.

The Drill SGT said...

When did transparency become a synonym for truthfulness?

I thought the proper synonym for transparency was openness.

traditionalguy said...

You can't blame Williams for practicing his narrative generation skills on his own time. He must be frustrated by reading half ass fantasy narratives of others off a teleprompter every night. He just wanted to prove himself and do some of his own stuff.

Williams remains a winner for NBC. He has totally mastered faking sincerity.

bwebster said...

"Journalism is a noble callng" -- horse$#@%. It's a job.

Roger Sweeny said...

"Journalism is a noble callng" -- horse$#@%. It's a job.

It can be both. As can many jobs.

Anonymous said...

"Journalism is a noble callng"

The nobles of journalism look down on the rest of the poor benighted peasantry of the US.

The Godfather said...

The Brits call the people that read the news on television "news readers"; we ought to do the same. You would 't find a lot of people saying "news reading is a noble profession."

As for those who actually gather and report the news, why don't we call them "reporters" anymore? It might remind them of what their job is supposed to be. Calling them "journalists" just encourages them to be creative, which (like accountants) they are not supposed to be.

Scott M said...

Maybe he was suggesting that Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey know the impact.

The Godfather said...

"Who knows" is not a question when used this way; it means "No one knows". Therefore, a question mark is not required.

Freeman Hunt said...

But by resorting to spin he let down more than “some brave military men and women.”

Really? They're let down? They thought Brian Williams was their compadre, and now it turns out he lied about something, so they're feeling sad and disappointed?

I'm pretty sure that if I called all of my family members and friends who are in or have been in the armed forces, none of them will indicate any emotional or relational attachment to Brian Williams.

I hate this new cultural thing where they pile on people by saying, "You really let Group A down," as if Group A deeply cares what one outside schmuck with no power over them thinks or does.

The guy is a news anchor, and he lied about something stupid. The people he "let down" are his employers and people who relied on him for correct reporting. (And really, if we're going to be totally frank, people who rely on television for excellent news coverage are deluding themselves.) Among military people, I would imagine he has doofus-ified himself.

So...

But by resorting to spin he made himself look like a jackass to “some brave military men and women.”

More accurate.

Sam L. said...

Cartoon as comment:
http://www.gocomics.com/that-is-priceless/

Anonymous said...

If the ratings for NBC news drop, he'll be fired. If not, there will be no effect whatsoever.

Exactly. That is how it is with the media. As long as money is being made then all is forgiven.

Same thing in politics - lies only have an effect if it effects elections. Otherwise partisan hacks are totally willing to overlook all kinds of falsehoods and untruths from their side.

It's disgusting, and those who behave as such should be called out.

traditionalguy said...
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traditionalguy said...

Anyway until the Sadam Hussein wars, the Americans had not interfered with Muslim conquests except for a USMC operation that attacked Tripoli to capture savage Islamic pirates called the Barbery Pirates who were based on the lybian coast. They had been a long term operation for capturing slaves from among infidel sailors on merchant ships, including American ships.

John Borell said...

Brian Williams has a $10 million per year, 5 year contract. The calling may or may not be noble, but the compensation is rich.

tim maguire said...

I believe that journalism is a noble calling, but it does not necessarily follow that everyone who answers the call is noble.

How did Williams' rather baldfaced lie become "spin"? IN what sense is it sort of true?

kcom said...

What about this sentence, punctuation mavens?

But by resorting to spin he let down more than “some brave military men and women.”

Should it have some commas?

I think I was taught it should be like this:

But, by resorting to spin, he let down more than “some brave military men and women.”

Swifty Quick said...
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n.n said...

It's not journalism (i.e. journal keeping) that is a noble calling, but rather ego-agnostic recording of the day's events in personal diaries that is a noble pursuit.

Williams is not a journalist, but rather an actor, a poor player. An ego that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. Who should store his diary under lock and key, safely buried beneath his pillow. Death of a Journolist.

Balfegor said...

Journalists always seem to have a more inflated notion of how trusted they are. Actually, journalists are not trusted at all:

Their findings: just 21 percent of the people surveyed ranked newspaper reporters with high or very high honesty and ethical standards. Next came lawyers, tying with 21 percent, followed by TV reporters at 20 percent, then advertisers at a miserable 14 percent.

Brian Williams slots in as a TV reporter. Maybe he as an individual is considered particularly trustworthy by the public, but the public doesn't have particularly high expectations of honesty or ethics for his profession.

And in fact, we see this every time journalists are caught out lying. When Jayson Blair was caught, for example, it turned out a lot of his "sources" had read his completely fabricated quotes in the New York Times but never bothered to call in to correct the record because they thought making stuff up was just standard journalistic practice at the New York Times.

Finding out that Mr. Williams is a liar isn't and shouldn't be an earthshattering revelation -- he is, after all, a journalist. And as everyone knows, journalism is not exactly a profession with high ethical standards. We've all learned in school how journalists helped start the Spanish-American War. And lots of us remember wacky journalistic hijinx like NBC blowing up trucks to sensationalise a news report.

The people most outraged -- and I mean genuinely outraged, rather than merely disgusted -- by Mr. Williams' lies are journalists, who cling to the notion that journalism is a high and noble calling with the highest standards of honesty and all that bilge.

Known Unknown said...

then advertisers at a miserable 14 percent.

#WINNING

tim in vermont said...

No impact. Lying is part of his job covering for Democrats.

Sure journalism can, in theory, be a noble job, but it never is.

Swifty Quick said...
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Drago said...

As you can see by this latest Walker "mission statement" crime against humanity, the left is very busy doing battlespace prep to innoculate hillary.

JRoberts said...

Maybe Katie Couric, Ann Curry or David Gregory are available...

eddie willers said...

In the real world he would have been fired already.

No question mark needed.

SteveR said...

The only thing you need to consider is how would the media be reacting if the person who did this was Bret Baier?

richard mcenroe said...

"News! ANYBODY can get news off the net! I sell infotainment-like journastic art product!-- Buck Godot, Zap Gun for Hire by Phil Foglio

richard mcenroe said...

We have multiple witnesses who now are on record as to Williams lying about the helicopter incident. The one man who supported him has now recanted.

Now we're getting multiple witnesses challenging Williams' alleged experiences during Hurricane Katrina.

How can we trust a news department that employs such a man, when we know that department already had a scandalous record of falsifying stories?

richard mcenroe said...

SteveR --Knives, torches, pitchforks, withering glances and cutting remarks at the DC correspondents' dinner...

richard mcenroe said...

NBC's problem is that both CNN and Fox are positioned to ride this horse 'til it drops, from both sides of the aisle.

Scott said...

if they fired Brian Williams, NBC would be doing what conservatives are demanding them to do.

So, Williams will get to keep his job. Progressives would rather die than concede anything to conservatives. Ever.

richard mcenroe said...

Traditionalguy-- US military forces landed in Lebanon in, I think, 1963...

damikesc said...

How did Williams' rather baldfaced lie become "spin"? IN what sense is it sort of true?

That's what I don't get. There isn't a way to even paint a picture where what he said repeatedly was true.

And this also belies the myth about why journalism is so sloppy. "Well, we don't want to get scooped".

I'd buy it --- if they believed in competition. But the media does not. They don't care about competition.

That's why media personnel rallied around him.

Because they view him as competition. Sure, guys.

richard mcenroe said...

Scott -- then CNN can score points on both NBC and MSNBC, let along what CBS and ABC are free to do.

Of course when you consider the number of NBC brass who are connected to this administration by blood or marriage, it could be a question of la familia

Freeman Hunt said...

Many television personalities self-aggrandizing?! Say it ain't so!

khesanh0802 said...
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Goju said...

Even Williams "apology" is deceptive. The helo he was in was more than an hour behind the one hit by the RPG.

Goju said...

This just in: Brian Williams admits he wasn't really the grassy knoll shooter.

DanTheMan said...

Goju,
That's really unfair. He only "spun" the JFK story to say he was grazed by one of the shots.

Bricap said...

He was pretty good at rapping, regardless of what happens here.

FullMoon said...

I wonder how many other newscasters, local and national, are sweating bullets right now, waiting fot social media to expose them.
Saw a clip of reportage by news babe in a rowboat on a flooded street. Looked serious until some guy in rubber boots walked behind her, showing the water to be only inches deep.

gerry said...

Good heavens, give Brian a break. He's saved puppies from burning houses!

Michael K said...

"Finding out that Mr. Williams is a liar isn't and shouldn't be an earthshattering revelation -- he is, after all, a journalist."

Very true. I think he would survive the Iraq lie story but, if the Katrina story goes down, too, he is in real trouble. A lot of people know that the MSM lied about Katrina but it was open season on Bush. Now, more of those people may come froward to keep that story going. Most of the participants, like the lies about the Superdome, were black and so it was "too good to check."

That might be one scandal too many.

Tyrone Slothrop said...
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Scott said...

@richard mce: NBC News has had a reputational problem for a long time. I just don't think they see journalism as a professional enterprise.

Bobber Fleck said...

There are at least 2 million Americans who claim they were at Woodstock.

Hillary was named in honor of Sir Edmund Hillary before he climbed Everest.

Obama was conceived in 1961 during the 1965 Selma protests.

Jack Kemp (paraphrased): The older I get and the further removed I am from the game the better I've become at football.

Crunchy Frog said...

At least no animals were harmed in the telling of his story...

Beldar said...

Democratic operatives with bylines.

(H/t Instapundit.)

David said...

Memo from Head of NBC News for The Staff

All,

This has been a difficult few days for all of us at NBC News.

Yesterday, Brian and I spoke to the Nightly News team. And this morning at the Editorial Exchange, we both addressed the wider group. Brian apologized once again, and specifically expressed how sorry he is for the impact this has had on all of you and on this proud organization.

As you would expect, we have a team dedicated to gathering the facts to help us make sense of all that has transpired. We’re working on what the best next steps are – and when we have something to communicate we will of course share it with you.

Since joining NBC News, I’ve seen great strength and resilience. We are a close-knit family, and your response this week has made that even clearer.

As a relentless news agenda marches on, thank you again for continuing to do what we do best – bring the most important stories of the day to our audience.



Deborah

Curious George said...

"Michael K said...
Very true. I think he would survive the Iraq lie story but..."

He is the punchline of a million jokes to come. He's toast. NBC will drag it out for a bit, do an investigation, but he's gone.

William said...

A journalist's chances of being wrong are in direct proportion to their nobility. Lincoln Steffens, Walter Duranty, and Theodore White were absolutely incorruptible. They seldom thought much less uttered an insight that wasn't noble and reflective of the high ideals of humanity. They were, nonetheless, thoroughly and absurdly wrong about the events they reported on.......Brian Williams lies were self serving and were not fabricated to advance the higher truth of some liberal ideal. He might not survive........But you've got to admit he's a good liar, even better than Clinton. When he told that story of his adventure in Iraq, he looked utterly convincing. Such courage. Such modesty. He really sold not just the story but also himself......The guy's got talent. He still has boyish good looks and great hair. Perhaps if this news casting thing doesn't work out, he can go into acting. I think he'd make a marvelous Peter Pan, and it would be a sure fire ratings grabber.

The Godfather said...

On the really important issue raised by this post, i.e., whether a "who knows" statement requires a question mark: Eliana Johnson on Breitbart: “Could he [Williams} still lose his job? Who knows.”

Granted, she's just a young writer for a right-wing website, but she's right that the first sentence needs a question mark, and the second doesn't.

Here's how I think about it. If you write "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men", and you are expecting an answer, a sepulchral voice saying, "The Shadow knows", then you need a question mark at the end of the Who knows statement. But if you are not writing the intro to a radio play about The Shadow, then you don't need the question mark.

Anonymous said...

My Fellow Supporters (aka My Fan Club):

Brian Williams here. Folks, this will pass. I make up stuff as I want to look good. And, I want to be invited to Democrats parties and get-togethers. I like access. I need fame like one needs oxygen.

Folks, please bury this story. I have apologized. End of story. No need to focus on Katrina.

Focus instead on Rand, Cruz, or Perry - these three clowns need to be front and center.

Also, folks, remember: the more you focus on me, the more people will remember our dear leader, Hillary - our future POTUS.

So, for her sake, and for the sake of the country, please put my story underneath the mat.

That's all folks, see you on Monday night, same time same place.

The Brian Williams

RecChief said...

there will be no consequence. He is of the left, and the left is fine with this.

Curious George said...

"RecChief said...
there will be no consequence. He is of the left, and the left is fine with this."

The left is fine with his actions, but not that he is a punchline. They will jettison him, without a hint of remorse, for bringing harm to the cause.

Unknown said...

Any profession is noble when executed faithfully and to the best ability of the practitioner. What makes the profession noble is the professional; we have lost sight of that.

In this case the professional failed to be noble, although his diction and manner hide that fact.

Curious George said...

"tim in vermont said...
No impact. Lying is part of his job covering for Democrats."

Yes, lying is part of the job...but to be effective it requires that people believe what he says is true. They won't. So he needs to be gone. NBC propaganda is too important.

richard mcenroe said...

Now it's coming out that NBC tried to deceived its audience with radio traffic from another helicopter under fire as coming from Brian Williams' Chinook. They were actively complicit in the lie.

Swifty Quick said...
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Mick said...

There are no "journalists" anymore. It is not a "noble" profession to be a professional propagandist and courtier of the statist Usurper regime in power. Williams is a liar and his image is shattered by the truth, that he has been an Obama ass-licker since day one. This episode just confirms it. The fourth estate and academia failed in their duty to inform the public (Including "Con (and the word should be "con")law profs", who even voted for a Usurper)

jr565 said...

brian dennehy was a liar about being a Vietnam Vet. Usually when they lie they aren't also famous. So in the case of Brian Williams, if you're a well known anchor you probably shoulddn't be fibbing.
Because it will come out.

Matt Sablan said...

Isn't Zakaria still published at CNN?

They don't care.

mikee said...

So telling complete fabrications multiple times, to embellish one's reputation, is "spin."

Spin on this, Zakaria. Brian was doing what we learned during the Clinton years is called "lying."

And in future, we will be able to tell if Brian is lying because sound will be issuing from his face holes.

William said...

Every time you question Brian Williams' character another fairy dies. If you believe in Brian Williams, clap. Clap louder. Make Tinkerbelle's light increase and grow brighter.

Sam L. said...

Who knows. Go over the first base and ask him!

walter said...

Maybe it's time for Sharpton to step up. ;)