Bill Maher used the Brian Williams fiasco to call out the entire network news corporate media for not reporting the news. Maher suggested that they all should go away.
Brian Williams shouldn’t have to go away because he lied. He should have to go away because the NBC Nightly News sucks, and so does the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and so does the ABC World News Tonight with I think, Ken. But Brian Williams lie about the helicopter, that didn’t destroy his credibility with me. Ten years of wasting precious news time on bullsh*t stories about car chases and bears in a swimming pool, and store clerks fighting back, and returning soldiers surprising their kids at the big game, Powerball jackpots, and that stupid fu**ing Spanish tomato fight. That’s what destroyed his credibility with me.
Delivering the news is a sacred responsibility. It is telling us the important things that we need to know. It shouldn’t be a race to the bottom of who can attract more eyeballs with titillation. If it is, let’s get it over with and show porn in the last segment.
You have 22 minutes to bring us the world. How does that leave time for the four minute segment on the basset hound that found his way home? Here’s a crazy thought, cut the story where the high school sweethearts reunite and marry at age eighty, and spend an extra minute linking your endless weather stories to climate change. Last year the NBC Nightly News spent a total of twenty-five minutes all year on climate change. The most important issue of our time. This is journalistic malpractice, and it is why I never thought of Brian Williams as a reporter to begin with. Because every night it’s the same thing on the news, a couple of minutes at the top on the big story unless, God forbid, it’s going to snow. If it is going to snow on the East Coast, you know, where they live, and then nothing else is happening in the entire world. Brian comes to you live from the snow blower aisle at Home Depot. Like white Godzilla is on the way.
And then the same thing always happens. Nothing. It snows. They plowed it. It melts. The End.
There are many factors behind the de-newsing of the network news. When corporations bought television networks and decided that the news had to be a for profit venture, the coverage changed forever. Network newscasts became infotainment. Hard news stories have been avoided like the plague. Mainstream outlets also convinced themselves that the American people are conservatives who don’t want to be bothered with “liberal” issues. The mainstream media views climate change as a liberal issue, so out of fear of angering their Republican viewers, they give very little coverage to the story.
The great irony is that Brian Williams has become a victim of the same infotainment mentality that his own newscast perpetuated. Brian Williams’s trouble with the truth should have never gotten this much coverage. It’s not an important story. He either lied or didn’t. If he lied, fire him. If he didn’t, he’ll get to keep reading the dumbed down version of the news that his corporate bosses think you want.
For the lazy corporate media, the Brian Williams story is catnip. A celebrity is in the middle of an easy to understand scandal that is cheap to cover. Williams is a much of a reporter as NBC Nightly News is about the news. Both are not much of what they claim to be.
Maher was right. The lazy corporate media should go away. America would be a better-informed country without them.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association