Media Scandals

By Kyle Drennen | February 15, 2015 | 10:57 PM EST

Appearing on the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special Sunday night, comedian Martin Short mocked NBC for the ongoing scandal surrounding Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, declaring to the audience of A-list celebrities: “Do you realize that if this roof were to collapse right now, it would be the least of NBC’s problems?”

By Matthew Balan | February 13, 2015 | 5:06 PM EST

Frank Pallotta of CNN Money hyped in a Friday article that "in just one week, the media world has lost, in one way or another, four of its titans" – suspended NBC News anchor Brian Williams, liberal Comedy Central host Jon Stewart, CBS correspondent Bob Simon, and David Carr of the New York Times. Pallotta played up that "if the impact of losing Williams wasn't enough, in the same hour on Tuesday one of media's best and most popular critics, Jon Stewart, announced he was signing off 'The Daily Show.'"

By Matthew Balan | February 13, 2015 | 1:52 PM EST

Thursday's Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN spotlighted another set of questionable accounts by Brian Williams regarding a supposed relationship with Navy SEAL Team Six. Williams claimed that he traveled with the unit into Iraq just three days after the 2003 invasion; that SEAL "friends" of his sent him a piece of the wreckage from the helicopter that crashed on the 2011 raid that killed bin Laden; and that a SEAL once sent him his knife. Two guests cast cold water on Williams's claims.

By Kyle Drennen | February 12, 2015 | 1:33 PM EST

Adding to the myriad of problems for Brian Williams, actor Charlie Sheen has voiced his support for the embattled NBC Nightly News anchor. In an open letter released on Wednesday, the famously erratic celebrity praised Williams [grammar as written]: "First off, THANK YOU, for 24 years of inimitable professionalism and top shelf brilliance, as a stone cold passion driven and (PERFECTLY) fact based journalist....Now and forever you are a true Patriot and a Hero of mine until the day i leave this star crossed imperfect Rock we call Earth…"

By Matthew Balan | February 12, 2015 | 1:26 PM EST

Liberal author Douglas Brinkley did his best on Wednesday's Anderson Cooper 360 to excuse Brian Williams's "embellishment" regarding his reporting of the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – mere moments after the CNN program spotlighted examples of the NBC anchor's questionable claims. Despite this reporting, host Anderson Cooper never confronted his guest over his own role in boosting Williams's statements in his Hurricane Katrina book.

By Tom Johnson | February 11, 2015 | 6:07 PM EST

Ken Auletta reports that Williams had agreed to a suspension but “wanted a declaration by NBC that he would return as an evening-news anchor.” NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, “torn between wanting to take a hard line and feeling compassion for Williams,” sought Brokaw’s counsel regarding the matter. After Brokaw said he was “concerned about the effects of Williams’s actions on the reputation of the rank and file in the news division,” Burke decided to make the suspension “non-negotiable.”

By Kyle Drennen | February 11, 2015 | 5:09 PM EST

Reacting to the decision by NBC News to suspend NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams for six months following his Iraq war lies, Today 9 a.m. hour co-host Willie Geist acknowledged it was "kind of a difficult and strange morning." Fellow co-host Natalie Morales added: "...it is a difficult day here and we are certainly sharing our best wishes with Brian. It's a tough time for him and his family, so we hope and pray for the best."

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.