Brian Williams may have “misremembered” a moment in Iraq, but he’ll likely never forget the roasting he has suffered at the hands of social media.
On Wednesday, Brian Williams acknowledged that he was not in a helicopter that was hit by enemy fire nearly twelve years ago. The 55-year-old veteran reporter and NBC Nightly News anchor said that he was in a different helicopter.
Williams made the correction after being called out by members of the military who were there when the event occurred.
If Brian Williams had made this error a decade or two ago, the consequences would have been decidedly minor. There was no Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook through which word-of-mouth could spread about this event in a matter of seconds.
The internet has made it so that when a news anchor makes such a major faux pas (being caught in what amounts to a lie), it will be remembered for a long time — if not forever.
— The Hill (@thehill) February 5, 2015
The long-term implications of this “misspeak” by Brian have yet to be decided. Williams is, for better or worse, a well-respected journalist with a lot of influence at NBC and the realm of mainstream media.
In the short-term, it’s particularly easy to judge what happens when you say things that aren’t true as a news anchor, the sort of things that are readily debunked in the “Internet Age.”
Brian Williams has learned via #BrianWilliamsMisremembers that the internet is easily entertained by mocking persons who are paid to tell the truth (as in report the facts behind actual events) get busted for doing the complete opposite.
Williams doesn’t come across as particularly stuffy, but to the Millennials, he is a living representation of a bygone era.
Once upon a time, people relied on news anchors to tell them about the world, events, and (with an increasing lack of discretion coupled with a greater desire for ratings) how the viewer was supposed to feel about it.
Persons who reported the facts were replaced in many households with pundits who reported their opinions.
Some are presently seeking to determine whether Brian Williams is guilty doing more of the latter more so than the former, and if that’s what led to this particular scandal.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) February 5, 2015
The idea of a trusted member of a news organization being caught in an act of dishonesty is troubling; however, some are willing to give Brian Williams the benefit of the doubt.
Granted, these persons are likely not found on Twitter. Twitter continues to enjoy Williams’ fall from grace, mainly because it’s fun to imagine all the major events throughout history that Brian Williams could have shoehorned himself into if he possessed the audacity.
The tone of the tweets is largely humorous, which suggests that many Twitter users either have already forgiven Brian Williams or were never really that angry to begin with.
Yes, Brian Williams and the #BrianWilliamsMisremembers hashtag remains top news, but the attitude of many social media users suggests that no one is really surprised at the audacity of a news anchor to share information without either (a) checking to see if it’s true or (b) bothering to tell the truth in the first place.
— AskMen (@AskMen) February 5, 2015
Brian Williams may have apologized for his faulty memory — but who’s going to apologize for the mainstream American media making the public so jaded that no one’s all that scandalized that something like this could happen in the first place?
[Image Credit: NBC News]