More on Lying, Fudging, Pressure on Media

I’m still in Orlando as I write this. Had an interesting conversation with a reader at lunch on Wednesday about the Brian Williams affair.

The first disclosure is that I am a member of “the media.” So, even though there are not as many marbles at stake in what I’ve done compared to TV news, the principles apply.

So, it seems that this TV anchor guy made a trip to Iraq to do some “on the spot” coverage. Usually these guys fly in, stay at the Hilton, get filmed at a safe spot where there is desert behind them, then immediately leave. In this case, Williams was actually flying somewhere in a helicopter was shot down. Somehow he became “confused” and thought that actually he was on that copter, not the trailing one where he actually was.

Second disclosure–I’ve never been in a battle. Came close to being a Navy pilot, but not close enough to claim anything. So, maybe the “spin doctors” who have been dredged up to blame psychological trauma for this lapse of memory are correct. But somehow I don’t believe it.


In my little niche of media, a salesman would frequently come to me and beg, “Gary, if you could just run a friendly story about this company, they will buy an x-month advertising package with us.” I’d just say, “Let me talk to them and see if they have anything worthwhile to say.”

This might be worth $40,000. (By the way, they almost never bought. They were happy with free publicity.)

Imagine that you are the top salesperson or executive of the TV news operation. A dramatic story of being shot down would attract hundreds of thousands of viewers. That translates into higher advertising revenue. See where I’m going? Much of the media works that way.

So, what if Williams had that much pressure from somewhere. That is at least as credible a story as PTSD or something.

Dave suggested a scenario something like this at lunch. I thought, something to consider.

Even so, there had to be many people who knew the simple truth. Yet, the network perpetuated the story for years. Maybe it’s Williams, or maybe it’s someone else. There are still ethics involved.

it would have been just as unethical for me to promote a product just for advertising dollars to readers who depend on my for objective reporting as for NBC. It’s just as unethical when you decide to deceive someone.

I will not attempt to claim 100% ethics in every situation–that would, of course, be a lie. But I hope that I’m close to 100% and apologize when I’m not.

Jesus set the bar so high for us, that those of us who follow him had best get that 100% or know the reason why and ask forgiveness.


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