Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, has been suspended for six months without pay due to his fabrication of his personal experience during the Iraq War.
Williams admitted to fabricating a story in which he said he was in a helicopter that was hit in 2003 while reporting on the Iraq War. However, he was actually in a separate helicopter one hour later and a war veteran revealed the truth online after the recent broadcast.
Williams has been continuously telling the fabricated story since 2007. It was originally accurately reported in March 2003, when Williams said he learned the helicopter ahead of him was fired on when his helicopter landed. But later in different interviews in 2007, Williams said the helicopter he was in was shot.
Williams has been appropriately criticized because maintaining credibility is crucial to journalists.
Because Williams is one of the most well-known news anchors, he has become a public figure with celebrity status on television. However, it is good that his celebrity status is not getting in the way of his accountability. He is still being held accountable for his words and the public and media are reacting by raising awareness and demanding the truth, treating Williams the same they would other journalists. He negatively affected his reputation as a journalist and hurt NBC News as a reliable media source. Williams and NBC News took decades to build the trust of the nation but it only took one moment for Williams to diminish that trust.
Although Williams said “Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us,” after this controversy, it will be difficult for the public to believe Williams’ words as reliable.