MEDIA
02/09/2015 12:18 pm ET Updated Feb 09, 2015

Former ABC News President Says Industry Partly To Blame For Brian Williams Fiasco

In a HuffPost Live interview Monday, former ABC News president David Westin laid blame on both Brian Williams for his lying mess and on the television industry as an enabling force for Williams' behavior in the first place.

Williams found himself the scourge of the news cycle last week when he admitted to making up a story about being on board a helicopter that was struck down while reporting on the Iraq War. Since, other stories Williams has told over the years have also come into question.

Williams has taken leave from his post at NBC Nightly News for "several days," he said in a memo to NBC News staff.

Westin explained to HuffPost Live's Ricky Camilleri on Monday how the nature of the news industry contributed to Williams' falsehood.

"Right now, I think there's a lot of schadenfreude going around in television news," Westin told host . "I think the much more important point, and this maybe underlies part of what Tom [Brokaw] was trying to say, is I think across the industry now, there is a tendency to try to build up our reporters into an important part of the story themselves. Instead of going out in dangerous circumstances and tell us what's happening, they too often put themselves in the middle of the story. I think that is a bad thing."

Westin, who served as ABC News chief from 1997 to 2010, said while he has tremendous respect for Williams, NBC must make a strong statement with how the network responds to the crisis.

"My initial reaction was a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, because anyone who runs one of these organizations knows that on any given day, something can go horribly wrong. I actually sympathized with NBC News and, for that matter, with Brian when I first heard about it," Westin said. "I know him to be a really able journalist and a very decent man, deep down inside."

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation with David Westin here.

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