Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Brian Williams Out at NBC?

One of my favorite museums on the planet is the Newseum in Washington, DC. I can go there from open to close and get lost in the history of the press while learning about our first amendment rights. The very first time I visited The Newseum I was very intrigued by a story about a reporter named Janet Cooke. Janet Cooke was an African-American female journalist who was awarded a "Pulitzer Prize" in 1981 for her Washington Post feature piece, "Jimmy's World."

The story was a profile of an 8-year old heroin addict named Jimmy. Cooke graphically described an encounter she had with the boy, where she detailed his physical condition due to his drug use. This story captivated and touched the hearts of the general public, especially the residents of Washington, DC. 1981 was the height of the drug epidemic that plagued communities of color in the United States, so it wasn't difficult to believe that such a child could exist. The story angered many and even caused concern from the mayors office and local citizens. Then mayor of Washington, DC Marion Barry enlisted local law enforcement to find this young boy and get him the help he so desperately needed. All the attention that this story generated led to a serious fact checking quest that resulted in a series of lies by the Barry Administration, an embarrassed Bob Woodward (Assistant Managing Editor of Washington Post at the time) and Cooke resigning from The Washington Post and returning her "Pulitzer Prize." The world learned that the entire story was fabricated and Jimmy did not exist. Cooke's credentials were also discredited when it was discovered that she lied about receiving her undergraduate degree from Vassar College and did not hold a Masters Degree in Journalism.

Janet Cooke was banished from journalism and most people today don't know who she is.

Fast forward to 2015.......  Brian Williams

Honestly, it wasn't hard to believe all of the things that Brian Williams said. Like Cooke, Williams had focused on subject matters that were relevant to the conditions of our country. The problem I have here is that Brian violated ethical standards that journalists are supposed to adhere to, and he is not being held accountable. A 6-month suspension without pay is not holding Brian accountable for his actions.

From MSN:

NBC News has suspended "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams for six months, according to an internal memo sent by NBC News president Deborah Turness on Tuesday.
In the interim, Lester Holt will continue to serve as serve as substitute anchor. Williams is suspended without pay.
The memo noted, "As Managing Editor and Anchor of Nightly News, Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times."

Should Brian Williams be fired from NBC?
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