Brian Williams is being raked over the coals this week amid comments that he made regarding his time covering the Iraq War. During an interview on Jan. 30th, the NBC Anchor gave his recollection of covering the Iraq War, and shared how the helicopter he was in was “shot down” by an RPG. As the news spread, the public was eventually made aware that the incident never actually happened. Williams insists that he did not lie to the public intentionally, but that he simply “misremembered”. News spread around social media as people posted and Tweeted with the hashtag #BrianWilliamsMisremembers. After a week of controversy, NBC announced that they are suspending the anchor for six months. Public opinion has weighed in heavily on this decision. Some have spoken out against the decision, insisting that they will continue to support Williams, and do not think that a suspension is necessary. Others have thrown in partisan-like comments claiming that Williams’ “little white lies” are nothing compared to the “lies” that got us into the Iraq War in the first place. While another set of public opinion insists that in a time where we rely heavily on a 24 hour news cycle, and seek out news anchors whom we feel we can “trust”, that it is imperative that we know we can trust the person delivering the news to us.
This has raised the question of whether or not news anchors should be allowed to give personal opinion when delivering the news, or simply just report the facts. With cable news outlets producing commentary and opinion based shows, it is almost impossible for an anchor not to deliver a bit of personal opinion. If personal opinion is to be a part of every news anchor’s job, then perhaps something needs to be done to make them more “PR-friendly”. Critics of Williams have suggested that he became too engrossed in creating his own brand that he forgot his duty to report the news. People have accused him of glamorizing his experiences during key events such as Hurricane Katrina in order to boost his ratings and glorify his image. With an exorbitant amount of pay at stake ($5M), he is unfortunately losing some of his support; having people wonder whether or not NBC will bring him back after his six month suspension. In the wake of Williams’ suspension, what are your thoughts? Do you think his punishment is too harsh; or do you agree with NBC’s decision?