Fish stories and war stories — everybody’s got them. It’s just something that happens when personal exploit meets action removed from civilization. Take Chris “American Sniper” Kyle for instance: According to him, he once shot 30 looters during Katrina, punched out Jesse Ventura and then chased the Devil’s Herd horseback across Oklahoma with Bigfoot Wallace. Even George W. Bush has openly lauded Texas’ love of tall tales — a love he later extended as far as Iraq, and its mythical weapons of mass destruction. True, some tall tales are more destructive than others — thankfully and finally though, at least one man has been held accountable for lying about the Iraq War.
That man is NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams, who was recently suspended from his network to take up a new position as the Official Sacrificial Lamb of Media Bullsh*t. Yes, Williams’ name has been all across the airwaves of late, from CNN to ABC to CBS to FOX, which have decried his telling of war stories on David Letterman’s show as a sickening violation of journalistic integrity. According to those networks (which totally aren’t NBC’s direct competitors), Williams has single-handedly destroyed the credibility of journalism in America.
If you’re wondering…yes.
Fox News said that.
The story, to summarize, is this: In 2003, Williams was an embedded reporter in Iraq, sitting with soldiers who themselves were chasing Bush’s Chupacabras of Mass Destruction. As he reported at the time, Williams was riding in a convoy of four Chinook helicopters when once of them was hit with an RPG fired from the ground. But in 2013, Williams told David Letterman that he was in one of the two helicopters hit by RPGs. Having told Letterman that war story more recently, he stuck with it, and repeated it on air during a news broadcast in 2015. Someone (again, totally not a competitor) caught it, and Williams was yesterday given a six-month unpaid suspension by NBC while they “conduct investigations into his other claims.”
To which Dick Cheney responded: “Bomb Syria! Jackelopes!“
Of course, Jon Stewart weighed in on the matter; there was just no avoiding the 800-pound Sasquatch in the room. He didn’t exactly soft-peddle the report on his friend and fellow liberal-leaning journalist, as some predicted — Jon was quite forthright in calling out Williams’ war stories for what they were. But, as usual, he was just as fervent on putting said tall tales into a larger perspective. Starting with the cause:
“We got us a case here of infotainment confusion syndrome. It occurs when the celebrity cortex gets its wires crossed with the medulla anchordala.”
A public service announcement followed — evidently, active ICS is diagnosable by the position of the speaker’s head. Looking straight at the camera: telling the truth. Looking away at a 45-degree angle: tall tales. Turning the head activates what’s known as the celebrellum:
“That’s known as the brain’s applause center. Once that engages, there’s no going back — you’re in full-blown anecdote mode.”
Which, considering who’s saying it, is actually kind of a fascinating insight. Less fascinating though than the rest of the segment, where the Daily Show host goes into full-on, Facing-the-Camera-Jon-Stewart-Mode, ripping apart Williams’ very critics for disseminating lies during the war. Particularly regarding Cheney’s Loch Ness Centrifuge. Still, though, one could make the argument that only a dirty liberal like Williams would knowingly tell tall tales as fact on a legitimate news outlet. Which we’d have to ask Karl Rove about. And speaking of asking media personalities about things…
Did I ever tell you about the time in 1998 I slapped Chris Kyle across the face for being a lying sack of sh*t?
I did it with a fish THIS big.
Don’t fact-check that.
UPDATE: Speaking of Megyn Kelly, she’s extended an invitation to Williams to come on her show on Fox and “come clean” about the whole thing. And that might not be a bad idea; she’s been surprisingly sympathetic toward Williams, who she called a “good person who made a big mistake.” She also said “Americans love to tear down the mighty, but they also believe in second chances. They are, in most cases, forgiving.”
And considering the fact that Williams told his tall tale to David Letterman, of all people…well, there might be some truth in that. It remains to be seen if Williams will take Kelly (the only person with a scrap of credibility at Fox) up n her offer; but he can’t show up on direct network competitor stations CBS, ABC or CNN. So Fox, oddly enough, might end up being his choice (if any) by default.