The brilliant writers and the retiring Jon Stewart, the talented comedian and fake newsman who is so good at what he does that he became a real newsman, said it all, “Why Bri Lie? Sigh.”
Some are questioning the timing of fake news anchor Jon Stewart’s retirement announcement, concluding his announcement on the same day NBC announced its 6-month suspension of Brian Williams, was to give ground cover to the embattled real news anchor. If true, Stewart threw himself on a hand grenade, in true war hero fashion. Figuratively speaking of course.
You knew Williams was in trouble when he was called into the company CEO’s office to hear his fate and get the “Howard Beale” treatment. It’s the ultimate irony. Williams getting the “You Have Meddled” speech, one taken from a movie about a fictional television news anchor telling the truth, for repeatedly telling fiction as a real television news anchor.
“Why me?” “Because you’re on TV dummy.”
It’s been revealed the “Life of Brian” is not exactly what he said it was. His helicopter wasn’t hit by an IED or ground fire. Now there are those wondering if he really saw a body floating by his hotel window facedown in the New Orleans’ French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina. I can answer that since I was there – right there in the French Quarter – a few days after the hurricane struck and around the same hotel Williams was staying at. No. The water was never that deep there. In fact, when I was there, it was already bone dry and Bourbon Street had already returned to its usual and unforgettable smell of stale beer and piss.
Sorry Brian. Never happened.
But, OK. His job is to tell good stories and that he does. He writes and performs really well, noted by this profile online. “Actor?”
Here’s the problem I have.
I learned years ago to surround myself with trusted wingmen (for lack of a better term), people that would always tell me the truth even if I didn’t want to hear it. When managing a large group of people, there needs to be that inner circle. Three or four people who run the place and make decisions collectively. At 700WLW, with a huge staff before
Clear Channel Media + Entertainment iHeart Media began questioning why it was important to have producers for talk shows and gutting the place, there was me, Rich, Scott, Holly, Lisa, cabinet members if you will, who ran the place. When I or anyone came up with a bad idea, I counted on them to tell me, “Hey Darryl. We really shouldn’t do this and here’s why.”
(Good lord, only one person is left.)
So here’s Brian Williams, who works for NBC, as in the “National Broadcasting Company” and anchor of its Nightly News, a fairly high profile job, wouldn’t you say? When he traveled to New Orleans or the war zone du jour, he traveled with a cameraman, at least one producer, but probably more, a sound man, maybe a technical guy or two. You mean no one ever said, “Hey Brian. You may want to change up the story a little. It’s hard to bloat and float when dust is blowing down the street.”
Brian Williams – you need (or needed) a wingman or two.
Hell, it’s been reported that Tom Brokaw, his predecessor at NBC, even pulled him aside a few times and tried to explain the definition of “embellishment.”
Everything in life is a learning experience and we all can learn from Brian’s mistakes. Only a few days ago he was riding high without a care. A newsman. A celebrity. On all the exclusive New York City A-Lists. No waiting for a table at the best restaurants in Manhattan. Only to be taken out by a vicious social media and his hungry competitors in the news media game, a group that really enjoys feeding on their own kind’s flesh.
Is what he did that horrible? Not really. He is, however, a victim of a changing media, one where traditional media can no longer keep up with the speed and opinion of social media. One where the old network phrase of “We interrupt this program for a special bulletin from NBC News” is now irrelevant and simply remembered as a relic of a past “golden age” of broadcasting.
He failed to have a wingman and failed to understand the changes that have transformed media. Learn from his mistakes. People love a celebrity and they also enjoy watching a celebrity crash and burn.
A 6-month suspension without pay. This is laughable. Brian’s worth about $40 million, so he’ll be OK. He’ll kick back and enjoy the greening trees and blooming flowers this spring and a summer filled with warmth, baseball and ice cream. And by September, when his 6-months on the beach are over? Chance are he won’t be back.
Our attention span is short. We won’t remember what he did and won’t remember him either.
If Lester Holt, Williams’ replacement for the next 6-months, gets comparable ratings being the first African America network news anchor since ABC’s Max Robinson, NBC will have no choice but to ask Brian for his keys to 30 Rock.
“Why Bri Lie? Sigh?”
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