Brian Williams’ Embellishments Hurt Others In TV News: ISU Media Prof.
ISU Communication Prof. Maria Moore says the release of an NBC internal review will be crucial to the career of Brian Williams, the TV news anchor who was suspended in February, after confessing to embellishing his role in covering a story in Iraq.
Moore, who came to academia after a career in TV news and management, says she’s worked with local TV anchors whose personal lives affected their professional credibility. But she says she has no experience with anchors charged with embellishing their role in covering news stories.
Moore took part in a panel this past weekend on the Williams case and its impact on the news media, at the Illinois News Broadcasters Association convention in Normal.
Commenting after the panel, Moore noted that Williams is accused of embellishing, not fabricating the news.
“He put himself in a more heroic role, becoming the hero of the story, taking on danger that didn’t necessarily occur for him”, says Moore. “It seems to me that that is feeding the ego, more than an attempt to fake journalism.”
Still, Moore says the latest reports that there may be more cases of embellishments, beyond what Williams has admitted to, tarnish the reputation of a TV newsman with decades of journalistic credibility. And she says reports about the Williams case show it also affects the ability of Williams’ colleagues at NBC News to do their work.
“The credibility of the NBC news division hinges on how all of them behave together”, said Moore. “And the bad acts of one individual can tarnish the good acts of everybody else”.
Williams says she personally believes that Brian Williams will not be returning to the NBC Nightly News anchor chair, and would not be supported by his colleagues if he did. But she hopes that there are second chances for everyone, if they face up to their mistakes and learn from them.