I know Brian Williams well enough to say "Hello, Brian," and hear "Hello, Norman." We've been together a dozen or so times in groups.
So what I'm about to say here doesn't come from a "friend" or "a pal of." It comes from someone whose empathy is grounded in a struggle to understand the complexity of the human condition and with, given the enormity of the task, a passing grade at the least.
Brian Williams puffed up a story he was telling to make himself look better. He lied, no doubt. He puffed up his part of the tale, and in the manner of a young boy, he lied. Now, we can label him "Lyin' Brian" and revel in seeing his image shattered. "There but for the grace of the moment go I," we can think -- a very human feeling, by the way -- or we can examine our individual humanity and perhaps find the small child in ourselves that has been inflating his or her grown-up image for years, puffing up a moment here or there -- a test score, an athletic feat, a hint of danger and our "survival."
Yes, Brian Williams is a newsman and an anchor and holding him to the highest standard goes with the territory. But he's a human first, and drastic ironies and imperfections come with each of us in that territory. Wouldn't we be a gentler, more educative culture if, instead of wallowing in Williams' shame, we treated it as an opportunity for all of us to discuss and examine the nature of the humanity we have in common?
I'm not advising anyone here. I simply see myself, and you by empathetic extension, in our fellow human, Brian Williams. Enough already.