What to do with Brian Williams. The latest news is a six month suspension without pay. Ouch!
Without falling into the snarky tank, or doing the schadenfreude shuffle, I had a minor experience with him via email that left me in befuddlement at least half dozen years ago.
It began when western film star, Dale Evans, died (Mrs. Roy Rogers). For some reason on “Nightly”, he was pompous about her career – to the point of arrogance. Sorry, as a senior, and childhood admirer of Roy and Dale – even before the television show, I was stunned at his cold nastiness….infuriated; it sparked a Wallace email directly to him.
Shockingly, he replied – writing that if he gave that impression, it certainly wasn’t intentional. Then the resale began, trying to re- direct me to what he really said – when, of course, he didn’t say it. Stunned that he would even reply to an individual viewer, I had a bemused moment…concluding this guy can shame a Chameleon in a nano-second. He simply struggled too hard – to alter a viewer into an admiring fan. For me, that was a bad sign.
We all know the Williams capacity to yap, yap about anything which swirled around him: forced helicopter landings from enemy fire; dead bodies floating in New Orleans; looking down the tube of a RPG; of a his considerable knee-replacement surgery.
The devastation of it all rained down last week when a crewmember from a Chinook flying ahead of Williams, who supposedly was involved the 2003 firefight, posted, “Sorry dude, I don’t remember you being on my aircraft. I do remember you walking up about an hour after we had landed to ask me what had happened.” Stars and Stripes ran it….and that was that.
Good grief…first, “I never had sex with that woman – Miss Lewinsky”; then Senator Blumenthal, followed by Hillary, now Brian Williams; it was almost like Dorothy’s cute terrier, Toto, running up to the Wizard’s curtain, pulling it back, and discovering the phony Oz. Automatically, with deep enthusiasm, the gigantic fat lady has begun her Aria.
Since the once wonderful NBC News has endured a sad decade of ideological mischief-making in manufactured news stories, even altering tapes, to promote a point of view; it seems that Brian Williams may just hold on. Certainly, if his healthy past ratings plummet – then all bets are in the wind. Huntley-Brinkley, John Chancellor – even Dave Garroway, where are ye when we need ye?
Wonderful Walter Matthau in his role of Mel Miller (A Face In The Crowd, 1958) said to a disgraced fraud, Lonesome Rhodes: …You’re gonna be back in television. Only it won’t be quite the same as it was before. There’ll be a reasonable cooling-off period and then somebody will say: “Why don’t we try him again in an inexpensive format. People’s memories aren’t too long….Oh, you’ll have a show. It just won’t be quite the same as it was before. Then a couple of new fellows will come along. And pretty soon, a lot of your fans will be flocking around them…then somebody’ll ask: “Whatever happened to, a, whatshisname?
For whatever psychological reason Brian Williams has made a cottage industry of his “courting celebrity” with the likes of David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, and Jon Stewart, it would seem to anyone with a brain wave that his culture of pathological self-promotion just left the building. We can hope can’t we?