Our View: Williams strays from his job to present news truthfully

Our View

Brian Williams had one of the most important jobs in the country. As the lead anchor for the most watched news program in America, NBC Nightly News, it was his duty to inform the people of current events taking place all over the world. To do so, he needed to have the trust of his viewers, and he did. In a 2009 poll conducted by TIME Magazine, Williams ranked as the second most trusted newsman in America, narrowly after Jon Stewart. As a news anchor, his job is to tell nothing but the truth to millions of viewers every night, and as recent investigations have confirmed, he has failed in this mission.

During the War on Terror in 2003, in one of his reports, Williams said that the helicopter in front of the one he was in was shot by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG), and both were forced to land.

Later, in a 2007 retelling of the event, Williams said, “I looked down the tube of an RPG that had been fired at us, and it hit the chopper in front of us.”

After that, in 2013, Williams changed his story while on the Late Show with David Letterman. “Two of our four helicopters were hit by ground fire, including the one I was in, RPG and AK47,” he told Letterman. “We figure out how to land safely, we landed very quickly and hard.”

And finally, just a few weeks ago, Williams recanted his story on NBC Nightly News. He said that a helicopter that he was travelling with was forced to land after being hit by an RPG, and that his was not hit. However, the pilot of Williams’s helicopter said his was in a different company altogether.

In light of his helicopter story, investigations have shed light on more of his inconsistencies.

Williams reported that Seal Team 6, the Seal Team that killed Osama Bin-Laden, let him fly with them in Baghdad at the start of the war. However, a special operations command spokesperson said that letting journalists fly with a counter-terrorism operation is against regulation.

Another of Williams’ inconsistencies was regarding the fall of the Berlin Wall. He said that he was in Berlin the night the wall came down, but according to CNN, he arrived the night after.

As a journalist, it was Williams’s duty to tell his viewers the truth and nothing but the truth. Millions of people relied on him every day to get educated about world events, and he betrayed that trust repeatedly.

Williams told some lies, and his punishment is fitting, but the public outrage has to calm down. Williams has reported on a great deal of other stories, and did so while telling the whole truth. He was one of the leading voices through all of the recent tragedies, including the Sandy Hook shooting, the Boston bombing and Hurricane Sandy. His whole career should not be defined by these wrongdoings.

A positive to be taken from this situation is the knowledge of what people can do. The public outcry and thorough investigations done on Williams are an example of what can happen if a prominent public figure lies. The same public outcry and investigations must happen when any other prominent figure tells a lie, and the world will be a much better place.

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