NBC executives are playing the blame game right now, but fingers aren’t just pointing at its disgraced anchor, Brian Williams. And this likely won’t help: The anchor has blamed his habit of weaving tall tales on a brain tumor.
On Tuesday, Vanity Fair published an article on the fall of NBC News, which added this tidbit about the anchor’s supposed reaction when confronted about his fibs, The Wrap summarized.
“He couldn’t explain what had happened. [He said,] ‘Did something happen to [my] head? Maybe I had a brain tumor, or something in my head?'”
Though Williams has evidently fallen short of taking actual responsibility for his actions, there are plenty of people perfectly willing to speculate on his motivations to the press. One of the more common excuses is that Brian was desperate to be as good an anchor as Tom Brokaw, one executive told the magazine.
“I always felt he needed to jack up his stories because he was trying so hard to overcome his insecurities. And he had to follow Tom, which brought its own set of insecurities. He likes to sort of tell these grandiose tales… I just saw it as one of the quirks of his personality.”
Ironically, the beloved Brokaw wasn’t impressed by Williams’ stories about his journalistic heroics. That was never more clear when it came time for Williams to face the music: Brokaw neither joined in the criticism, nor spoke in his favor.
According to insiders, Brokaw was “incensed” by William’s stories – including one in which he and Williams apparently stood side by side when the Berlin Wall came down. That one wasn’t exactly true either – Williams didn’t arrive until the next day, and the lie sent the veteran anchor into “spasms of anger,” the Daily Mail recounted.
And Brian Williams doesn’t have the support of anyone else at the station, according to the Vanity Fair report. They take umbrage with Brian’s love of show business; Williams was often seen on late-night shows and sitcoms, and people believed he was more interested in having a talk show than reporting the news.
“Getting him to war zones was real tough… but when he did go, he came back with these great stories that kind of put himself at the center of things,” claimed one insider.
And another insider had this, slightly more cruel, comment on Brian Williams’ journalistic merits, according to Page Six.
“Brian has very little interest in politics. It’s not in his blood. What Brian cares about is logistics, the weather, and planes and trains and helicopters.”
One of those “great stores” is the one that spelled Williams’ doom – the fib about his chopper being hit by rocket fire in Iraq – was evidently never discussed at a meeting with NBC execs even in the midst of the scandal. According to Vanity Fair, this suggests the problems at NBC run deeper than Brian Williams and his fancy imagination.
Where are the fingers pointing? To NBC News President Deborah Turness, one senior exec told the magazine.
“News is a very particular thing, NBC is a very particular beast, and Deborah, well, she really doesn’t have a f*cking clue. She’s letting the inmates run the asylum.”
[Photo Courtesy Alex Wong/Getty Images]