The initial reports covered the story of Williams lying about being in a helicopter under fire in Iraq, now there are doubts about his story about seeing a dead body float by during Katrina and the latest involves Williams inflating a story about being under fire in an Israeli Helicopter during the War with Hezbollah a few years ago.
But arguably the more interesting part of the story involves what did NBC management know and when did they know it? The day the Brian Williams scandal broke, Variety reported:
What makes Williams’ admission worse, according to one person familiar
with the situation, is that he had been counseled in the past by senior
NBC News executives to stop telling the story in public. The advice,
this person said, was not heeded. One person familiar with current NBC
News operations disputed that information.
Later reports suggest that NBC knew exactly what was going on. In the story which suggested that Tom Brokow had demanded that Williams get fired, The NY Post also reported;
One longtime NBC employee who has worked with Williams on several occasions had a few dirty words to describe the celebrated anchor, calling him a “real pompous piece of s–t.”
“He’s an a–hole,” he fumed. “He’s not a journalist. He’s a reader.”
“Oh, the fireworks that are going off inside,” he said. “It’s embarrassing. He’s the face on NBC. He’s a liar.
“Everyone knew it.”
Maureen Dowd added her voice to the story in her Sunday column:
NBC executives were warned a year ago that Brian Williams was constantly inflating his biography. They were flummoxed over why the leading network anchor felt that he needed Hemingwayesque, bullets-whizzing-by flourishes to puff himself up, sometimes to the point where it was a joke in the news division.
But the caustic media big shots who once roamed the land were gone, and “there was no one around to pull his chain when he got too over-the-top,” as one NBC News reporter put it.
Politico interviewed an NBC News insider who said:
always feels the need to embellish,” the NBC veteran said. “He has
always been known for telling stories dramatically, and he’s known for
making any story about him.” But the bluster had always seemed more like
a quirk than a time bomb. “It was more people eye-rolling: ‘That’s
Brian,’” the NBC veteran said
Not that Williams should be absolved by any of this, but this does raise the question if NBC knew Brian Williams was inflating his story, why didn’t they step in and do something about it? Yes Brian Williams is their star, but shouldn’t truth outweigh everything else in a news organization?