by Julian Spivey
After the news broke of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams’ admission to lying about his helicopter being shot down in Iraq in 2003 I told people that journalists had been fired for similar things, but Williams’ mass popularity left him untouchable.
I’m no longer certain that is the case.
Williams is an incredibly popular anchor who helms the most-watched evening news telecast in America and has become somewhat of a celebrity even outside of his journalism thanks to comedic appearances on “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.”
If he continues to remain popular and the show remains the most-watched in evening news, it’s highly likely NBC will hang onto him as nightly anchor despite journalistically ethical violations he has likely committed. However, polls are suggesting that trust in Williams has greatly weakened and that there may be reason to believe other false reports in his past. These polls and further allegations will likely mean a steep plummet in the evening news’ ratings.
A recent poll conducted by Variety found that 80 percent of those polled believe that Williams should be fired by NBC as anchor of the Nightly News. Seventy percent of those polled don’t believe that Williams can recover from his mistake. The same number also believe that Williams’ apology wasn’t completely sincere.
According to USA Today, Williams’ report of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is now being questioned, as well. Williams had previously reported witnessing a dead body floating in the French Quarter of New Orleans, which is a fabrication according to former New Orleans city health director Brobson Lutz. Lutz claims that the French Quarter remained mostly dry during Hurricane Katrina and the only death from that area was as result of a heart attack.
NBC is currently conducting an internal investigation over Williams’ apology/story about not being shot down in Iraq, according to The New York Daily News. If the network finds that Williams has been untruthful about multiple reports it will likely have no option other than terminating him, despite his popularity and ratings.
It would seem that many believe Williams has fabricated news stories to further his career – whether he actually has or not – and this is something that might bring one of the most respected men in broadcast journalism down.
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