I grew up watching television. My mother was a single parent in the 50’s and 60’s raising two boys. Our TV was the perfect babysitter for ‘latch-key’ kids. I was so addicted that I couldn’t do my homework without the distraction of a television broadcast, and I still maintained an A- average. I never changed in regards to my attitude about television, and that continues to this day. I did become a critic. I seldom watched news shows after Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, and David Brinkley were not anchors anymore. When the internet became a reality, I found the factual news online, and not only from American publications but from those all over the world. At some point, around the year 2003, I began to watch any news broadcast which included Brian Williams. He reminded me of the great newsmen of the past who actually investigated the news in the field and therefore had first-hand knowledge of what was actually occurring in our nation and the world. I realized early on that the least credible network was NBC. With the exception of Saturday Night Live, it had little in the form of entertainment or news. Then came Brian Williams Nightly News; he was reminiscent of the great newsmen of the past. Today’s action by NBC proves once again that they have no spine; no integrity.
I was not surprised to see John Stewart support Mr. Williams and factually report that jealousy and a hatred for celebrities by mainstream media was at fault for making a misspoken statement erupt into a national issue. But I was totally shocked when FOX News Bill O’Reilly lent his support to Mr. Williams.
Today NBC made the decision to suspend Brian Williams for six months. I, for one, will not be watching their broadcast until he returns. My hope is that Mr. Williams leaves NBC for another network which displays the courage to support a true newsman; and I will watch that program.
Deborah Turness is the president of the news division of NBC. She condemned Williams’ inaccuracy and gave no support to Mr. Williams for what he had done for her network. She has lost her network the continuation of having the highest rated news program on broadcast television.
If Mr. Williams had not taken responsibility for his inaccurate statement, I, along with others who offer the truth, and factual representation of the facts, would have been more critical; but that was not the case. As he has always been, he faced the truth and incriminated himself with no plea for forgiveness.
Stewart spent much of his diatribe about Williams in humorous attacks; that is the nature of ‘The Daily Show.’ But he became much more ironic when he criticized the mainstream media for its failure to denounce the invasion of Iraq. Williams is simply another scapegoat related to the illegal and immoral actions of the Bush Administration in Iraq.
What really happened here? It’s far more simple than jealousy or attempting to right a wrong. It’s a move by a major corporation to bow to the few and deny the many. Sponsors who fear a decline in ratings forced NBC to continue to be among the network of wimps and cowards. Gone are the courageous efforts of those who believe in the truth and allowing the American people to know that truth.
Little known is the fact that the major media is under the thumb of the federal government. If they expose the truth regarding a fact that Congress or the President wants suppressed, their information, their sources, will disappear.
News broadcasts were required by the FCC when television became a reality. They lasted for one-half hour, and provided little or no revenue for the network. Today ‘news,’ as we call it, produces more revenue than any other portion of a network’s broadcast. Think about it.
Commentary by James Turnage