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The Bigger Brian Williams Scandal: The News He Kept Off The Air Pt. 2

Now comes Vanity Fair with a rather anticlimactic examination of L'Affair Williams, which, like its counterpart in New York, focuses mainly on the dull and onerous office politics of NBC executives and whether they held their "talent's" hands well enough to keep enormous egos satisfied instead of the actual manufacturing of the news. (The piece is framed as "Inside The Civil War For The Soul Of NBC News," but we already know that network news has no soul.)

The piece does, though, buttress the more important nugget both publications bury as an aside when it's really the whole ballgame.

First, what New York reported in our first post on the matter, which is essential reading because of what it reveals about Williams' attitude toward investigative reporting as well as its link to a Beachwood Radio Hour revelation of Williams mocking critics arguing that he is somehow "hiding" the news. Turns out he was.

Now, what Vanity Fair has to say:

[W]hen asked for the unvarnished truth about Williams, the two topics people at NBC News return to again and again are these: his prowess as a bureaucratic infighter and his limited interest in the kind of "heavy" news topics and investigative pieces that had long been championed by such NBC stalwarts as Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert.

"What always bothered Tim was Brian's lack of interest in things that mattered most, that were front and center, like politics and world events," says a person who knew both men well. "Brian has very little interest in politics. It's not in his blood. What Brian cares about is logistics, the weather, and planes and trains and helicopters."

"You know what interested Brian about politics?" marvels one longtime NBC correspondent, recently departed. "Brian was obsessed with whether Mitt Romney wore the Mormon underwear . . .

In the years that followed, NBC's two best-known investigative correspondents, Michael Isikoff and Lisa Myers, both left the network, in large part, insiders say, because Williams had little interest in their work.

"By 2007, 2008, Brian was starting to feel his oats a bit," says a onetime NBC executive who knows him well. "It was a bit of a challenge, not huge. Manageable. He was more reluctant to go on difficult assignments. He didn't want to leave New York. Getting him to war zones was real tough . . . but when he did go, he came back with these great stories that kind of put himself at the center of things.

And weren't true.

There you have it folks, America's Anchorman!


Comments welcome.


Posted on April 7, 2015

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