Media Scandals

By Matthew Balan | February 11, 2015 | 3:46 PM EST

On Wednesday's CNN Newsroom, Mark Feldstein channeled Michael Moore's take on the Brian Williams scandal. The former CNN journalist acknowledged that Williams likely wouldn't recover the "traditional credibility that he had as a news anchor," but later fell into the same Bush bashing as Moore: "Is it as bad a scandal as telling lies about the Iraq War to get us into it, as the Bush administration did? No. But in journalistic circles, telling a lie is the cardinal sin."

By Tom Blumer | February 11, 2015 | 1:49 PM EST

Tara Parker-Pope attempted a defense of disgraced NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams in an item ("Was Brian Williams a Victim of False Memory?") posted at the New York Times "Well" blog — late Monday afternoon. It even made Tuesday's New York version of the Old Gray Lady's print edition.

Parker-Pope's premise, similar to that used by Marison Bello at USA Today three days earlier — even using the same "expert" as a source — is that the Williams saga "offers a compelling case study in how memories can change and shift dramatically over time." Parker-Pope's post is particularly pathetic because it appeared online a full four days after Variety reported that Williams "had been counseled in the past by senior NBC News executives to stop telling the story in public." Over the next several days, other media outlets corroborated and built upon what Variety reported. In other words, even if one buys into the memory-shift idea, it can't possibly apply in the Williams case. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):

By Kyle Drennen | February 11, 2015 | 12:17 PM EST

After six days of limiting its coverage of the scandal engulfing NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams to a few cryptic briefs only seconds long, NBC News finally provided full coverage of the controversy on Tuesday's Today show. Co-host Matt Lauer introduced the report: "And now we turn to a story that hits very close to home for all of us who work at NBC News. Brian Williams, who's anchored Nightly News since 2004, has been suspended from his job for six months."

By Tom Johnson | February 11, 2015 | 11:43 AM EST

New York magazine pundit Rich admits the anchor badly mishandled the flap over his Iraq-war tall tale but dismisses much conservative criticism of Williams: “They view him as Exhibit A of a lying left-wing mainstream media conspiracy…But neither in public nor private have I ever seen or heard Brian Williams express any partisan political opinion.”

By Mark Finkelstein | February 11, 2015 | 8:21 AM EST

Joe Scarborough is shocked by the outpouring of "sheer hatred, snarkiness and snideness" directed at Brian Williams. 

On today's Morning Joe, Scarborough drew a contrast between himself, who as an opinion person has to expect much criticism, and Williams, who he claimed reported the news in a "straight" way.  But as Newsbusters and our parent MRC has carefully documented, Williams has been anything but a "straight" reporter of the news. Like so many of his MSM brethren, Williams had a distinctly liberal slant.

By Rich Noyes | February 10, 2015 | 7:40 PM EST

Earlier this afternoon (Tuesday), National Review’s Eliana Johnson dug up the full transcript of embattled NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams recounting his helicopter story to Tim Russert in 2005, and she zeroed in on Williams specific claim that the pilot — “our captain” — was shot “right through the earlobe,” a claim disputed by the two pilots on that Chinook.

By Matthew Balan | February 10, 2015 | 12:41 PM EST

Comedy Central host Larry Wilmore poked fun of NBC's Brian Williams on Monday's Nightly Show. Wilmore teased his monologue on Williams with a one-liner: "We look at our relationship with war, and revisit the movie Black Hawk Down – or as Brian Williams calls it, 'The Brian Williams Story.'" The comedian likely didn't know that the journalist actually boasted, back in 2003, that his now-discredited helicopter incident was "Black Hawk Down meets Saving Private Ryan."

By Tom Blumer | February 9, 2015 | 3:33 PM EST

At about 2:40 this afternoon, Stars and Stripes published a "full transcript of the Feb. 4 (Wednesday) interview in which the anchor admits he was never on the attacked helicopter and claims he was unaware his flight was not directly behind but actually far from the company that was hit."

Williams, in admitting that his flight was far from the company that was hit, is acknowledging that the statement he made that very evening on his Nightly News broadcast — that "I was instead in a following aircraft" — was false, and misled his viewers into believing he was near the dangers involved. Also unaddressed are the following items among many which have arisen since that interview: whether even the original 2003 broadcasts from the anchor's time in Iraq were misleading from the start; how, in the circumstances supposedly just clarified, Williams could have told a college journalist in 2007 that he "looked down the tube of an RPG that had been fired at us"; and other questionable items relating to other stories which have since surfaced. Excerpts from the interview with Travis J. Tritten of Stars and Stripes follow the jump (bolds are mine):

By Tom Blumer | February 9, 2015 | 9:25 AM EST

While its appearance at the height of the Brian Williams serial tall-tales scandal seems coincidental, a New York Times Sunday review column by Clancy Martin, a "professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City" who has been "married twice before" (!), reveals quite a bit about the kind of dreck the Old Gray Lady will tolerate in the name of advancing its personal values-free, anything-goes take on the world.

Clancy goes through a tired, predictable "everybody lies in their relationships" exercise, apparently unable to distinguish between good manners, motivational statements, and flat-out factual falsehoods. After the jump readers will see a list of statements the author treats as "lies" which definitely are not in many if not most circumstances. I have applied some of them to more generalized or current circumstances.

By Mark Finkelstein | February 9, 2015 | 7:12 AM EST

Joe Scarborough's defense of Brian Williams amounts to a warning to people in the media and politics: I know a lot about many of you, too.

On today's Morning Joe, Scarborough ominously said: "in over a decade in this news business, it is fair to say looking straight in the camera, I've seen a lot, I know a lot, and I know that there are very few people in this industry or in politics that could live by the standard of perfection. Cast the first stone? I would be careful."

By Tom Blumer | February 8, 2015 | 10:15 PM EST

Friday morning on Fox and Friends, Geraldo Rivera, echoing Rathergate, the 2004 scandal which put the blogosphere and New Media on the map to stay and accelerated its growth, reacted to the Brian Williams debacle by denouncing those criticizing the NBC Nightly News anchor "from the safety of their mother's basement," telling them that they should just "shut up."

Saturday, in a pair of tweets reacting to Williams' decision, quoting from the anchor's internal memo, "to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days," Rivera expressed sharp disappointment, saying that Williams should "stand & fight." But in an epic fail, the Twitter account to which he linked in one of his rants belongs to a different Brian Williams.

By Tom Blumer | February 7, 2015 | 6:36 PM EST

This is for the "false memories" and "he's an untouchable 'brand' crowds defending Brian Williams, who this afternoon announced that he has "decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days."

At the 2-minute mark of the 2007 interview with a collegiate reporter following the jump, watch Williams speak of his alleged brushes with danger, including how he "looked down the tube of an RPG" during what has now been described by the Associated Press as his "fake Iraq story" (HT Ace and several others):