Brian Williams, the acclaimed anchor of NBC’s Nightly News, has been suspended for six months without pay due to his embellishment of his involvement in a shot down helicopter in Iraq in 2003.
Williams, who had been drawing an average 9.3 million viewers nightly, and recently signed a 5 year contract extension worth about $50 million, admitted his embellishment after the engineer of the shot down helicopter, Lance Reynolds, as well as other crew members, stated on Facebook that Williams was not on their aircraft. Williams had told the story of him being on the shot down copter on Letterman in 2013, and ever since, crew members have refuted his story. Williams responded on the February 4th NBC Nightly News Broadcast, admitting his embellishment, and profusely apologizing. However, many current and former military members, as well as the majority of the general public, were outraged, and demanded repercussions for Williams.
Due to his suspension,Williams will be losing out on about $5 million, and likely will never regain his role as anchor for the NBC Nightly News. This is a big fall from grace for the largely recognized top news anchor in the world, and it is hard to see Williams ever being viewed as such ever again. Some would say this situation is unfortunate for Williams, but in actuality, Williams has nobody to blame for this debacle but himself.
This is a situation that never should have occurred, and is an unfortunate embarrassment for NBC. However, if NBC is suspending Williams for 6 months without pay, they may have well just fired him right away, as opposed to suspending him, and prolonging Williams’ inevitable departure. Williams’ reputation as news anchor and journalist is forever soured, and him being put back on the air in his previous position would sully the reputation of NBC’s news cast. Any news station that would hire Williams would likely meet the same fate in terms of the reputation of their news, therefore making it extremely unlikely that Williams ever regains a prominent anchor role ever again on any station. This serves as a prime example of the monumental importance of truth in the media, and the potential consequences that the breaking of trust between the media and the public can have. Any major, reputable journalist that breaks the trust he or she has with their audience immediately lowers their standing in the eye of the public, and that can never be regained. This situation, although sad and unfortunate, is a prime example of the importance of honesty and trust in the media, and the consequences that breaking that trust may have. For being such a talented and smart man, Williams made a dumb decision in his embellishment of this important story, forever tarnishing his journalistic integrity.