Accuracy in Media

brian williams iraq story

Former NBC Universal chairman Bob Wright has come out in defense of embattled NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, saying that he would like to see him back on the air soon, since the “substance” of what he said was true.

“The substance of what he’s [talked about] is true,” Wright told the New York Post.

Wright, who retired as chairman in 2006, also told the Post that if the network had issues with Williams’ statements, they should have confronted him instead of letting him continue to exaggerate, though Wright doesn’t seem to have a problem with exaggeration:

Some of this puffing up [exaggeration] is accurate, but Brian Williams has helped NBC News. He has been the strongest supporter of the military of any of the news players. He never comes back with negative stories, he wouldn’t question if we’re spending too much. All the stories are very accurate. It’s ironic the military people are complaining. These were the people he held in high esteem.

What’s troubling is the comments about his own observations.  His [on-air] stories are completely accurate.

How does Wright know that Williams’ stories are accurate after this debacle? The answer is that he doesn’t, but he does know how much Williams is worth to NBC, not only as the anchor of the top-rated evening news program, but also for the network’s bottom line. That appears to be why NBC moved so slowly to investigate Williams.

While Wright was sticking by Williams, former ABC News president David Westin had a different view on the matter.

In an interview with Big Think, Westin said that NBC has to send a message that nobody’s above the truth and that he didn’t know when we decided that reporters have to be war heroes, since “reporters don’t fight wars, they report on wars.”

That lesson seems to be lost on both NBC News and Brian Williams.

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