Brian Williams Might Have Lied About Hurricane Katrina, Too
Theoretically, Brian Williams is in some shit after being caught fabricating an oft-repeated story about being in a helicopter shot down in Iraq in 2003. Realistically, televised news doesn’t give a fuck about credibility and he’ll probably be fine. [Update: Or not. The soldier who claimed to be the pilot on William’s helicopter and defended his new, non-“misremembered” version of events has now withdrawn his statements to CNN. – SW] However, there’s now some questions over Brian Williams’ account of his time in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina which might have also been embellished. Page Six reports:
Williams claimed to have gotten dysentery from drinking floodwater and seeing dead bodies float past his hotel in the New Orleans French Quarter while covering Hurricane Katrina.
However, the The New Orleans Advocate noted that the French Quarter was not flooded and quoted a local health expert who did not recall anyone getting such a stomach ailment.
Williams recalled his bout with the bug in an interview with Tom Brokaw last year, when he said: “I accidentally ingested some of the floodwater. I became very sick with dysentery.”
The Advocate said a public health official never heard of people getting things like dysentery after the storm.
And speaking of Tom Brokaw, there are reports that he wants Williams fired, but in an email to The Huffington Post, Brokaw claims he never suggested that, but he also doesn’t voice any opposition to that decision either:
“I have neither demanded nor suggested Brian be fired,” Brokaw said in an email to The Huffington Post. “His future is up to Brian and NBC News executives.”
Of course, the real question is how the hell was such an easily-refuted story allowed to be repeated for 12 years? Why now was it suddenly shot down? (I’ll let myself out.) Hullabaloo goes into the rabbit hole:
Some have asked, “Why wasn’t this corrected sooner?” That’s easy to answer, William’s fabricated close call with a RPG on a chopper was part of the narrative about the war that the media created for itself and for Americans at home.
They were assisted by the military brass who knew a good story when they heard it, therefore they didn’t take steps to correct the record. As they say, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”
The lie about William’s getting shot down reinforced several ideas and narratives.
1) Iraq is a scary place and needs control. Reporters need to be embedded with “the troops” for their own protection. The green zone briefing tent gives the media what they need to know. Shorthand for staying put? “Remember what happened to Brian Williams.”
2) We need to fight these people, they are fighting us.
“They aren’t throwing flowers and sweets at us you peace-loving hippies! They SHOT AT BRIAN WILLIAMS! Of COURSE we had to kill everyone in the area!”
3) People with “skin in the game” sell the war better. Some in the military knew it was a lie, but why spoil Williams’ great story? “Let the baby have his bottle.”
The whole post is worth a read, or you can watch the human equivalents of paint drying try to sell you a movie about BDSM written by a Twihard. Those are your choices. (Along with porn, going outdoors, reading a book, video games, making a sandwich, or literally anything else. I’m a terrible negotiator.)