Brian Williams: Does he deserve a second chance?

Last week, NBC anchor Brian Williams confessed to altering details of a news story in which he originally claimed to have been shot at while in a helicopter in Iraq in 2003. He admitted the fabrication after veterans of Iraq challenged his story. Many of his other stories are now under investigation, including one in which he claimed to have seen a body float past his hotel while covering Hurricane Katrina.

Since the emergence of the scandal, Brian Williams has made a personal decision to temporarily step down from his position at NBC. In an online article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal Brian Williams is quoted, saying, “Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.” The entire article can be found here:

How can Brian Williams claim that he has made an effort to be trustworthy throughout the entirety of his career if he has fabricated details of multiple news stories? Should Brian Williams permanently step down from his position, be fired, or be granted a second chance? The public trusts journalists to provide them with a fair and accurate report of the news 100% of the time. Brian Williams has grossly violated this trust.

The Wall Street Journal concluded their article by stating, “If Mr. Williams’ admissions drives viewers and advertisers away, NBC, a unit of Comcast Corp., will be faced with the difficult task of either rehabilitating his image and credibility or finding a replacement.” Whether or not ratings drop for NBC, Mr. Williams violated the trust of millions of viewers. Is that something that can ever be repaired?

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4 responses to “Brian Williams: Does he deserve a second chance?

  1. I predict that NBC will base its decision on the business of their network. Instead of making an ethical decision, they will wait to see if NBC’s ratings drop or rise while Brian Williams is away. From there, they can make their decision to permanently fire him or welcome him back. I think NBC does have a difficult task ahead, like you said– they will either have to face the critics of letting Brian Williams back or find a replacement quickly. A question I had was do you think other people were involved in this fabrication? Is Brian Williams the only person to blame?

  2. I feel like this is the sort of thing that happens more than the public is aware of. And I also feel like people who are in the “inside” of the journalism world know that too. That being said, the decision whether or not to let Brian Williams back is a difficult one. In all honesty, I feel that with all of the things going on behind closed doors in the media, Brian Williams can’t be the only person to blame for this incident. NBC will probably end up letting him back, and the whole thing will be old news in a few months. Yes, he is the face stamped on the violation of viewers’ trust, but more than likely, there’s something else going on that we don’t know about, something that will possibly even be unveiled to the public in the future.

  3. Beth was asking about whether we think other people were involved with the fabrication, and in my opinion, the answer is yes, yes, yes. At the very least, other members of the news team must have been there when his helicopter was supposedly shot down. I find it really scary that it took this long for someone to step forward and say something; it makes me wonder what else is being hidden from viewers. And while I’m all for second chances, I think there is a huge difference between a young journalist making a mistake and a veteran news caster purposely fabricating a story. That isn’t a mistake, that was a clear-cut choice on Brian Williams’s part, and he should not be allowed to report again.

    • Angela, I completely agree with you! I don’t understand how a veteran news caster could “accidentally” mix up the details of such important and impactful stories, especially one as experienced as Brian Williams. I think that it’s a blow to journalism if NBC bases their decision on ratings. Ethical journalism should be upheld and valued over the ratings of a tv station. As a journalist, you have a responsibility to report the truth fairly and accurately to the public and Brian Williams has not done this. And yes, I agree that other people must have been involved or known about this before the scandal unfolded in the public eye.

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