During Monday night’s broadcast of The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart addressed the recent revelation that NBC News anchor Brian Williams had made false claims about taking rocket fire during a helicopter ride in Iraq in 2003. After Williams had reiterated the claim during a nightly broadcast earlier this month, military personnel came forward and challenged the anchor’s recollection, leading to an avalanche of media criticism and calls for Williams’ resignation. While Stewart ridiculed Williams for making up his story for “infotainment” purposes, the comedian took aim at the media’s hypocrisy regarding how they covered the lead-up and early days of the Iraq War.
At the beginning of the segment, Stewart made sure to give Williams — who has been a Daily Show guest many times – a hard time for exaggerating what happened on the helicopter ride. The Daily Show host said it appeared Williams got struck with a case of “Infotainment Confusion Syndrome” when rehashing the story over the years. When Williams originally reported on it in 2003 as a new reporter, he told the basic facts. However, when appearing on David Letterman’s show in 2013, he went into anecdotal mode where he spouted out “total bullsh*t.”
In Stewart’s mind, this is more sin than crime, comparing it to masturbation. Essentially, getting caught is punishment enough. Stewart figured Williams’ colleagues in the news industry would surely agree. This led to a montage of over-the-top outrage from other anchors, reporters and pundits beating the drum of SCANDAL and suggesting that Williams destroyed his and the media’s credibility. After playing the clip of the media freaking out and attacking Williams, Stewart gave the perfect response.
“Finally, someone is being held to account for misleading America about the Iraq war. It might not necessarily be the first person you’d want held accountable on that list. But never again will Brian Williams mislead this great nation about being shot at in a war we probably wouldn’t have ended up in if the media had applied this level of scrutiny to the actual f*cking war.”
This was followed by Stewart destroying the mainstream media for swallowing the Bush Administration’s justifications for invading Iraq more than a decade ago. He played video clips of Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice all appearing on news talk shows spewing out falsehoods without so much as a challenge. This was followed by a montage of media figures justifying their coverage and reporting, including former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw calling it the “fog of covering a war” and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer saying that the news only provides “the first draft of history.”
Regarding Blitzer’s statement, an incredulous Stewart exclaimed, ”It wasn’t even your draft! You were just copying off of Cheney’s paper. You were plagiarizing history!”
Below is video of the segment, courtesy of Comedy Central: