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The Nightly News Without Brian

Brian Williams has been called many things in his career, but recently, the title “liar” has been added to the list. On Feb. 9, NBC news journalist Lester Holt took the place of long-time news veteran Brian Williams. Williams has faced a great amount of controversy after he was caught in an inaccurate report of a personal story.

I was watching the news that night. He thanked soldiers that had “saved his life” when his aircraft was shot down while reporting in Afghanistan in 2003. I thought to myself how heroic this was of the soldiers, and nothing else of it. Shortly after he reported his dramatic story, the truth came to light.

People who were with Williams in the aircraft came forward with the accusation that it wasn’t actually his aircraft that was shot; it was the one in front of his. Many viewers and fellow journalists are angry and have lost their trust in him because of this lie, but I haven’t.

Williams has been the anchor for “NBC Nightly News” for 11 years. In these 11 years, he has delivered countless solid reports of current events. He has traveled to war zones and sacrificed his own well-being so he could report good news stories to his viewers. Now after this controversy, this all has gone to waste. At this point in time, Williams has been removed for six months without pay.

I know that it is unprofessional of a journalist to lie, and Williams should have known that. However, in his years of reporting the news, he has been a reliable source for viewers all over the country. It seems like no one is taking any of that into consideration.  I think that the punishment and overall controversy over Williams’ lying scandal is a little overblown. He made a mistake, but that doesn’t mean we can never trust him again. It means he isn’t perfect. What I do know is he can relate stories of all genres to the people of America, and have an empathetic tone. That is what makes a good journalist a great one.

With Holt as the new anchor, I can’t help but get annoyed. Personally, I think that Holt should stick to what he knows best: “Dateline.” After watching him report criminal stories routinely every Friday night, it’s hard for me to take him seriously in a different role. Although he is a fellow veteran of NBC news alongside Williams, I find it difficult to adjust to the change.  For the majority of  my life I have gotten used to hearing Williams’ methodical voice reporting the nightly news.

Williams has been a great anchor, a popular anchor, and now his reputation is tarnished forever. I agree that it was wrong for Williams to lie in the first place, but he did later go on to correct himself and personally apologize. It is safe to say that he has faced enough if not more punishment for his actions. The harm of his report was miniscule, and it didn’t affect any of the viewers in any dramatic way. The event happened over 10 years ago; it’s no longer a current event. Viewers are not dependent on this information, and it was just suppose to be a sentimental piece for Williams and the heroic soldiers. People need to calm down. He wasn’t intentionally trying to offend or lose the trust of his viewers and colleagues.

When Williams’ suspension is up and the controversy has died down, he should be able to return to his job. In the end, the main reason that this became such a big deal is because no one could believe that he would slip up like this. That isn’t a good reason to ruin his life. He recognized his mistake and apologized. Even so, I believe that with the trust of his viewers, he can come back to what he does best, being the anchor for “NBC Nightly News.”


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