Over the weekend, Jonah Goldberg made the case that the Brian Williams story is “overblown”:
The Williams story strikes me as something far less than the Greatest Story Ever. It’s really kind of sad and pathetic. Some people embellish stories, lots and lots of people. The fish always gets bigger. The girl at the bar gets hotter. The other guy in the fight gets tougher. At some point the embellishments cover up the original, like layers of graffiti. That’s what Williams did. Don’t get me wrong. He lied and his apology minimized the size and duration of the lie. But the nature of the lie wasn’t nearly as bad as those of countless others who yoked deceit to a partisan agenda or for political gain. He was trying to praise the military and wanted a little more of their glory to rub off on him.
There is a world of difference between embellishing the size of a caught fish and claiming you were caught under RPG fire. Williams might have been trying to praise the military at the Rangers game, but the problem with this argument is that he’s been telling this story repeatedly for over a decade. Surely Williams could have honored the military without falsely glorifying himself in the process.
Let us also remember Bob Woodruff. In January 2006, only a month after being named co-anchor of ABC News, Woodruff sustained a traumatic brain injury as a result of an IED explosion while embedded with our troops in Iraq. Fortunately, Woodruff survived and has made a remarkable recovery.
Here is a news anchor who actually faced peril and paid an enormous price for it. You would think Woodruff’s ordeal might give Williams pause and keep his mouth shut. The fact that Williams continued to tell his war story says a great deal about his character or lack thereof.