Someone Lied about Iraq?
Did you know that someone recently got in trouble for lying about the Iraq War? No, not George W. Bush. No, not Dick Cheney. Not Colin Powell. Not Condoleezza Rice either. It was Brian Williams. Yes, the man America most trusts to read a teleprompter is embroiled in scandal for (maybe, probably) lying about something that happened to him during the Iraq.
Don’t misconstrue what I’m about to say. I really don’t care about Brian Williams, and if you think NBC should fire him for this (or suspend him for 6 months, as they did), then have it. My point is not to quibble about to what extent Williams lied and to what extent he should be punished. Rather, my point is this: Does it really make sense to focus on this one relatively tiny lie, when, in reality, the entire Iraq War was one giant lie?
The war criminals of the Bush administration aside, let’s take a closer look at NBC’s history on this issue. Leading up to the Iraq War, NBC was owned by General Electric. GE made the tanks and planes that the U.S. used to fight in the war. Consequently, NBC hosts brought on many military generals who argued in favor of going to war. Perhaps no one remembers this, but back then, Chris Matthews of MSNBC (a branch of NBC) was pro-war, and MSNBC actually fired Phil Donahue for being anti-war—among other reasons, ostensibly. As it turns out, Donahue was right, but no one is calling for the firing of Matthews over this lie about the Iraq War. And, so long as we’re being self-righteous about honesty in our newscasters, where’s the outcry for Fox News to clean house? (“No go zones”? Seriously?)
Age of the Machine
Leon wakes up in a land about which he knows nothing. His only guide is a person about whom he knows even less. Quickly finding himself involved in the politics of this new universe, Leon's main concern remains simply getting home. However, things change, and Leon soon finds that returning home is anything but simple. If Leon is going to get back to his universe, he'll have to first discover the truth about this one. But he'll have to hurry: lies are in high supply, time is not.
Age of the Machine
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Et tu, O'Reilly?
Now it comes out that Bill O'Reilly is a liar too...Well, I mean, we knew that already. The O'Reilly story is almost more irrelevant that the Williams's story. I mean, with Williams, at least he gave an air of veracity. O'Reilly? He's a documented liar. He comes on the show everyday and lies. About the Iraq War. What changed? I mean, in that sense, this story is identical to Williams, but again, O'Reilly is a far more blatant liar than Williams.
Anyway, nothing's going to happen to O'Reilly. Those who watch him are already knuckle-headed enough that one more deplorable lie won't ruffle their feathers. O'Reilly will slander all his detractors (a la Lance Armstrong) and his followers will take his slanders for Gospel. O'Reilly won't face any punishment, because he's lost no one's trust. Those who want him fired always wanted him fired. Those who don't would maintain that position even if he killed their children in front of their faces. The story will go away quickly.
Finally, there are those that say that this article unnecessarily offers defense to Williams by saying this is no big deal. Look, I said, I don't care if you want to fire him. Go ahead. I'm just trying to keep perspective on things. If you can manage to get this worked up about one lie concerning the Iraq war, could you please also save some (nay, a majority) or your anger for the actual Iraq war and the criminal administrations that started and continued it? That's all I ask. Pretty simple request, if I do say so myself.
Here’s the thing. I understand if you want to give NBC as a whole a pass for implying that Iraq actually did have weapons of mass destruction, since they didn’t originate the lie, only perpetuated it; but that lie did cause far more damage than Brian Williams’s. The lie that was the Iraq War caused, conservatively, in excess of over 100,000 total deaths, and cost upwards of $2 trillion and still counting, with the cost of caring for wounded veterans slated to add another $2-$4 trillion to that number. Brian Williams’s lie about his helicopter being shot down cost no one their life, and cost no money. So, even if Williams’s was arguably more blatant, you’ll pardon me for not caring in the slightest.
Not to mention—and I realize I said I wasn’t getting into this, but it’s worth a brief comment—it’s not even clear how much Williams really lied. No one, from what I’ve seen, disputes that he was in a helicopter, and that his helicopter had to land for multiple days in Iraq. The only thing in question is whether his specific helicopter within the convoy was shot at, and with what artillery, if any, the helicopter was shot. Seeing as Williams apologized without much of a fight, I’ll just assume that he did lie about something, but again, it seems like it was probably more a case of exaggeration than fabrication, which only gives me more reason to not care about this whole issue.
There’s another odd thing about all of this however. Let’s say Brian Williams was the least trustworthy person ever to walk the face of the Earth. Does it really matter? He reads a teleprompter. Unless you think he’s going to break from the script in front of his face and start making things up, does it really matter that he lied? Perhaps you have some sort of ethical basis for wanting to punish liars (and in that case, there’s a long line of people that will need the pink slip), but short of that, I really don’t care who’s reading the teleprompter, so long as I can understand them and they’re actually reading the teleprompter. Be mad at Brian Williams if you want, put keep things in perspective.
What Should NBC Do About Brian Williams?
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