NBC’s Williams Seemingly Endorses Racism Explanation

<img vspace="3" hspace="3" border="0" align="right" src="media/2005-09-08-COMDSWilliams.jpg" />After insisting that “I don’t do opinions,” on Thursday’s <a href="http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_daily_show/index.jhtml"><i>Daily Show</i></a> on Comedy Central, <i>NBC Nightly News</i> anchor Brian Williams seemed to come dangerously close to endorsing the view that racism was behind the slow rescue of residents in New Orleans as he approvingly relayed how, a “refrain” he heard from “everyone watching the coverage all week,” was “had this been Nantucket, had this been Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, how many choppers would have-” At that point, audience applause caused him to cut off his sentence as he gestured toward the audience to cite affirmation of his point.<p><br />Hard to imagine that if Williams heard the refrain, which is out there, that the hurricane’s destruction of abortion clinics in New Orleans shows it was meant as God’s punishment of sinful behavior in the city, Williams would have so willingly passed along that line of reasoning. </p><p><br /> Transcript follows. <b>Video Excerpt</b>: <a href="../../media/2005-09-08-CCTDS-Williams.rm">Real</a> or <a href="../../media/2005-09-08-CCTDS-Williams.wmv">Windows Media</a></p>

<!--break--> Williams made his comments after host Jon Stewart had charged that “this administration continues to get us, it seems like, into situations that are untenable, and then once into those situations, when people attempt to bring up that maybe some of the decision-making might have been wrong-headed, the conversation always becomes, 'look, we're in a tough jam right now, this is no time to talk.’”<br /><br /><!--break-->From the end of Williams’ appearance on the September 8 <i>Daily Show with Jon Stewart</i>:<br /><br />Stewart: “Local authorities, state authorities, federal authorities all bear some responsibility. Is there a sense that the federal government is taking too much of the hit now, the state and locals are starting to walk away? What's been your sense?” <br /><br />Williams: “I’m going to let that one go because I’m going to leave it to, I don’t do opinions. And I'm going to-” <br /><br />Stewart: “Okay, I do.”<br /><br />Williams: “-leave it to other people.”<br /><br />Stewart: “I got one. Here’s the only thing that I will say, and comment on it if you will: This administration continues to get us, it seems like, into situations that are untenable, and then once into those situations, when people attempt to bring up that maybe some of the decision-making might have been wrong-headed, the conversation always becomes, 'look, we're in a tough jam right now, this is no time to talk.’ You know, it reminds me of like when your dad was lost. And you’d be in the back like, 'we’re lost.’ '[sounding like a dad] This is no time to get a map! We're lost.’ You know, is that, this seems to be a pattern of some sort.” <br /><br />Williams: “I will say, it was awfully hard. You know, I’ve been to some pretty lousy places in my life. And Iraq over the past 12 months and Banda Aceh, open graves and bodies. These were Americans, and everyone watching the coverage all week, that kind of reached its peak last weekend, kept saying the same refrain: 'How is this happening in the United States?’ And the other refrain was, had this been Nantucket, had this been Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, how many choppers would have-” [stops when audience applause drowns him out and he looks to audience and gestures to indicate how their approval matches his point.] <br /><br />(Not sure Chicago was such a good contrast since a lot of poor black people live there.) <br /><br />Stewart: “We appreciate the work you have been doing, it’s really been extraordinary and thank you so much for coming, I’m glad you got home safe.” <p />

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center