A part of my daily routine has been shattered from the most unlikely of sources - Brian Williams himself. There was a word I habitually associated with the renowned news anchor in his beautifully tailored suits, coiffed hair, and signature therapeutic voice - classy. Without fail, I was one of the millions who tuned in daily to the Nightly News, and even though Williams does primarily lead-ins and less reporting (perhaps we now know why), the overall feeling that resonated with me was an aristocratic yet humble delivery of the nation's daily wrap-up of interests that exuded unquestionable authenticity, and most importantly, trust.
When news first broke of an inconsistency in a decade-old narrative, instead of jumping on the bandwagon with snarled face and sharpened pitchfork, I attributed the mistake to the natural erosion of a memory - an unintentional error that has plagued us all at one point in time. I admittedly shook my head in disgust as I watched the cannibalistic behavior of competitor networks, reveling in Williams's implosion and hypothesizing on the end of his meteoric rise and envious career. Indeed, schadenfreude was alive and well, as always.
Analogous to a husband confronted with the gut-wrenching allegation that his wife has cheated on him, I traversed the slippery stages from denial to reluctant acceptance. Much like this husband, based on the evidence presented, I have come to accept the reality of what has happened - the great Brian Williams cheated on me.
In 2014, Jake Gyllenhaal played Lou Bloom, a thief in the critically acclaimed movie Nightcrawler. In essence, he recreated crime scenes that were juicier and invented a different account of the crime. Bloom delicately crafted and shaped a story he knew would please his buyers (the local news), who in turn were catering to the masses, hoping to captivate and entertain with drama. Brian Williams appeared to have the same modus operandi. He recreated the characters, plot, and storyline for one purpose - he knew it would boost his standing among his peers, his ratings, and ultimately the work would translate into an enormous sum of currency, ten million per year. He was right.
Strangely, ratings are more likely to improve relative to how trustworthy you appear rather than how heroic you appear. At any rate, getting shot at does not make you a hero. Perhaps doing something spectacular while you are being shot at, and your actions under extreme stress make you a hero. No one plans to be a hero; it just happens. The only planning is the lying about it part, but in this case Williams stole the valor of the fraternity of the men who came under fire and returned to the United States to deal with issues of stress on a meager pension - in some cases, no employment at all.
Much like an overqualified second-string quarterback, Lester Holt is doing remarkably well. He embodies that guy-you-would-like-to-have-a-beer-with style and wears a bespoke suit just as well. My only question is how much NBC knew and didn't know. Is it possible there is a greater conspiracy in play, the effort to snuff out and refute a scandal by the quick and dramatic distancing from their all-star, Williams? We'll probably never know that answer, but I think I'm probably like most Americans, and that coveted TV time slot is up for grabs.
Don't get me wrong, I believe in second chances, and much like that scorned husband, I still have a place for Brian Williams, and hope he bounces back, sooner rather than later.