The Weight of Every Lie

Yet again, we are poised to implement consequences for Brian Williams we are unwilling to impose upon anyone who made decisions to go to war: 

A report tonight on the ongoing saga of Brian Williams reveals that NBC News discovered yet another embellishment of his, in the midst of its internal investigation into the many embellishments Williams made publicly.

According to The New York Times, the NBC inquiry found Williams exaggerated his experience covering events in Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring in Egypt four years ago.

The Times does not have much detail on what NBC learned, but recounts how Williams told Jon Stewart, in the days after he covered the protests, he was right in Tahrir Square and “actually made eye contact with the man on the lead horse.” He told Stewart he witnessed the pro-government forces on horseback whipping and beating people.

Again, this isn’t nothing. Brian Williams had a very big chair with a very big microphone in front of it. But the stories we’ve heard about aren’t exaggerations on the facts of the story as they related to the story or anyone in it. They’re exaggerations on how fucking cool and badass Brian Williams is, and about all the crazy shit he’s seen, man. They’re basically a guy in a bar, telling war stories, only he’s on TV.

(How did this happen? Like did he forget he was on TV, like how people forget that everyone can see their Twitter feeds or get seduced into thinking Facebook or Tumblr is their diary?)

That’s not okay, but it’s not the UVA rape story. It’s not Judith Miller’s Iraq reporting. Nobody died. And more attention is being paid to these fabrications than the ones that did lead to deaths. To wars.

So we are arguing about who fucked up the color of the bunting on the runaway train. Yeah, let’s fire that guy, because he screwed up. But let’s also find out why the brakes failed and the cargo’s flying off and oh, up ahead, is that a hole? A big one? Well, shit. Guess we’re going straight in.

All lies are lies and all lies on this scale are wrong and should be rooted out. But not all lies lead to the same place.


3 thoughts on “The Weight of Every Lie

  1. I know a woman who tells me anecdotes full of lurid details. Many of these incidents I was actually present for, and the real story was quite basic. When something happened, afterwards we’d say things like, “It would have been perfect if X happened right then,” or “Luckily Y was not there because he’d have done Z.”

    In her telling of the tales now, XYZ are all part of the story, in fact the best parts that make the story worth the re-telling. Probably what happens to Williams. Thing is, this woman is in her 70s and is not a journalist. Nor is she saying them on camera.

  2. If you’ve kissed the Blarney Stone, you’re entitled, by ancient right, to tell entertaining stories, with limited connection to actual facts.

    It when those stories get confused with “news reporting” that the trouble begins.

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