Oh, heavens. Looks like someone is eating crow tonight. In case you missed our previous post, Stephen Colbert threw down last night, accusing NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams of reneging on his promise to wear the Colbert Wrist Strong bracelet on the air. Those bracelets — issued to commemorate the breakage of Colbert's wrist and his solemn pledge in support of wristal health for all — happen to be a bona fide enterprise, a fundraiser being sold in support of the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which helps injured service members and their families during their convalescence at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center. This, as it turns out , is something that Williams takes very seriously: He has made numerous visits to Walter Reed and wrote about the experience here. So, when he told Colbert on the air that he would wear the bracelet, as it turned out, he meant it. See below:
That's Williams on last Wednesday's broadcast — and there, in all its high-def glory, is the bracelet, proudly worn and wristing strong. Said Williams to ETP:
Of course I wore it. I told Stephen that I would, and I promised him I'd forward it to Matt Lauer to wear on the air, which I have. While I have always (gently) embraced the broken-wrist community — the larger cause here are the folks I've visited at Walter Reed and their families.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: The dude is a mensch.
But is he a mensch who kept his promise?
Now then, to the tape, because this thing is far from settled: Sure, Williams wore the bracelet on national television, for an audience of millions — but was that enough? Forgive me, folks, but this is where the annoying law student in me rears her nitpicky head. Here's the exchange, dated August 14, 2007:
COLBERT: Would you be willing to wear that on your show tonight?
WILLIAMS: I will.
COLBERT: You will. Katie Couric said she would and she did not.
WILLIAMS: I will do that for you.
COLBERT: You will?
WILLIAMS: Yeah! I'll wear it on national television to the vast and aforementioned audience of 8 - 10 million people, depending on who's home — it's summer, people have lives.
Colbert then went to the tape: "And that night, Brian made good on his — what the hell?" — for there, on the screen, was Brian Williams — with nary a bracelet in sight.
This presents us with an interesting legal quandary: What was the nature of the bargain, to wear the bracelet on national television or to wear the bracelet on national television that night? Clearly Colbert had an expectation that the bracelet would be worn on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2007; that was made manifest both from his articulation of the word "tonight" and the subsequent watching of the broadcast that evening. However, there is much we don't know; Williams uses the word "aforementioned" which indicates conversation that was not included for our review, and also subtly modifies the nature of the pledge by restating it in the form of an absolute ("I'll wear it on national television to the vast and aforementioned audience..."). Which, in point of fact, he did — on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007. Upshot: The two of them are clearly going to have to sit down and talk this through, hopefully ending in a long, hard, manly embrace (oh, let us have our fun, like you're not picturing it!). But if we had to choose, we'd return to the fundamentals of the request: Honor wristal health and, more importantly, the service of the nation's wounded returning soldiers, by wearing the Wrist Strong bracelet on the air. Which Williams did. Ladies and gentlemen, the defense rests. It helps to have giant screengrabs in HD.
As for Katie, we have put out the request to CBS for clarification; and by all means, she can still show solidarity with the cause by wearing her red band proudly on the air from this point onward. It's not too late! As for Charlie Gibson, no one at ABC seems to know quite what his deal is, but given his threat to break Colbert's $#@&% wrist maybe we'd all just best let him be.
UPDATE: After all that tortured legal reasoning, NBC News has informed us that Wiliams did, in fact, wear the bracelet on the evening of August 14th — but, contrary to Colbert's assumption, the bracelet DID creep up over his hamhock forearms. Wow, that must be a stretchy bracelet! And there our mental extrapolations end. Boys, figure this out amongst yourselves. We are spent.
Charlie Gibson Will Break Your $#@&% Wrist [ETP]
Screengrabs courtesty of NBC Nightly News, beacon of wristal health for an estimated 8-10 million viewers everywhere! Depending on whether or not they're home!