Brian Williams is getting quite a bit of love from blogtopia lately, none of which is deserved. I'm just going to say it: Brian Williams is an idiot. Read my seminal post on the topic if you're one of the people thinking that he's one of the good guys. That isn't to say that he's one of the bad guys, but he is one of the bad guys' pawns.
"By dint of the fact that our country was hit we've offered a preponderance of the benefit of the doubt over the past couple of years," the "Nightly News" anchorman said. "Perhaps we've taken something off our fastball and perhaps this is the story that brings a healthy amount of cynicism back to a news media known for it."
Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph. By dint of the fact that you tools in the corporate media
offered a preponderance of the benefit of the doubt stopped doing your damn jobs, thousands and thousands of people are dead in an unnecessary war of choice and our country is more vulnerable than it has ever been. It couldn't be more simple or more horrifying than that. But Williams wants to let bygones be bygones and tell us that now we can all just wait and see how everything will change. That everything has changed. This time the corporate media is going to grow a set. No more being afraid to ask a question during a primetime press conference. There's finally a sheriff in town and his name is Brian. Watch him work: (from the pro-war WaPo)
When NBC anchor Brian Williams and his crew were trying to take pictures of a National Guard unit securing a Brooks Brothers shop in downtown New Orleans, a sergeant blocked the footage by ordering them to the other side of Canal Street.
"I have searched my mind for some justification for why I can't be reporting in a calm and heavily defended American city and cannot find one," Williams said yesterday. "I don't like being told when I can and cannot walk on the streets and take pictures."
But he grumbled and told his crew to stop shooting Wednesday, Williams said, because "authority in New Orleans is as good as the last person to make the rule. I didn't have time to take it up the chain."
Didn't that give you chills? Our newly emboldened hero grumbled. And he probably pouted a little bit too. But what I didn't hear him doing was getting the damn story. He was told not to, you see, and well, there are rules.
Now, on top of everything, Williams has started blogging. It wasn't too long ago that he wasn't too keen on that particular form of journalism:
You could already argue that the internet - that now if you have a modem and an opinion, in many cases, you're a journalist. And is the internet good or bad for the discourse? Is it making us feifdoms of one in our own homes with our computers? Is it counter to the idea of the town square approach to journalism that a lot of us believe the founders both of the nation and of journalism had in mind? Part of my job is to ask questions so I'll leave you with those to ponder.
Translation: "Bloggers are beating my time. Harrumph." But now he has his own blog. Truly he has seen the light. Read this powerful report from September 7 - well into the Katrina nightmare: (emph mine)
An interesting dynamic is taking shape in this city, not altogether positive: after days of rampant lawlessness (making for what I think most would agree was an impossible job for the New Orleans Police Department during those first few crucial days of rising water, pitch-black nights and looting of stores) the city has now reached a near-saturation level of military and law enforcement. In the areas we visited, the red berets of the 82nd Airborne are visible on just about every block. National Guard soldiers are ubiquitous. At one fire scene, I counted law enforcement personnel (who I presume were on hand to guarantee the safety of the firefighters) from four separate jurisdictions, as far away as Connecticut and Illinois. And tempers are getting hot. While we were attempting to take pictures of the National Guard (a unit from Oklahoma) taking up positions outside a Brooks Brothers on the edge of the Quarter, the sergeant ordered us to the other side of the boulevard. The short version is: there won't be any pictures of this particular group of Guard soldiers on our newscast tonight. Rules (or I suspect in this case an order on a whim) like those do not HELP the palpable feeling that this area is somehow separate from the United States. At that same fire scene, a police officer from out of town raised the muzzle of her weapon and aimed it at members of the media... obvious members of the media... armed only with notepads. Her actions (apparently because she thought reporters were encroaching on the scene) were over the top and she was told. There are automatic weapons and shotguns everywhere you look.
The story continues to sadden, fascinate and expand exponentially. It's unfortunate, in a way, that at least in the blogosphere this has morphed into a story about guns and censorship (a less-than-perfect description of what we encountered in downtown New Orleans).
"at least in the blogosphere ..." I don't know why he bothered with the whole long-winded, less-than-perfect paragraph from which that quote came when he could have just said what he meant: "Hands off my story, bitches." And that's what he will always mean, but never more than when he slips the gloves back on and is next taking dictation from some glamorous source, who tells him that he's the best there's ever been.