UPDATE: Politico’s Mike Allen states on Twitter that an NBC source tells him Williams has cancelled his appearance on Letterman.
— Mike Allen (@mikeallen) February 8, 2015
According to an NBC News source who spoke with Howard Kurtz at Fox News, Brian Williams is seriously considering using a Thursday appearance on a late-night comedy show as the vehicle that will make all of his problems go away.
Before he was busted last week as a serial stolen valor liar, Kurtz reports that Williams was already scheduled for a Thursday night appearance on the “Late Show” with David Letterman. And now, “Williams is strongly considering keeping the appearance and using it as an opportunity to clear the air and address the lingering questions,” the source tells Kurtz. “But no final decision has been made.”
Because this is all one big fat joke to Williams and NBC News, right?
If you think about it, though, it does make perfect sense.
There have been numerous reports about how Williams, like no other news anchor before him, “fervently courted celebrity.” And it now appears as though that is exactly how Williams sees himself — not as a news man and managing editor of the most-watched nightly news telecast on television; but as Hugh Grant — a celebrity, a star — a guy who can run to a comedy show and HumbleCharm his way out of a career-ending scandal by taking some pre-scripted barbs from a comedian.
Reading a teleprompter for 20 minutes a night is only part of Brian Williams’ celebrity job. The main part is yukking it up with David Letterman and Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon with slow jams, exaggerated “war hero” anecdotes, and digging-his-toe-in-the-dirt confessionals to get out of career jail.
Is Brian Williams a news man, or not?
Is NBC News a news division, or not?
I’m only asking because to those of us among the hoi polloi out here in the hinterlands, serial lying is still something of a big deal, especially from people in positions of trust. Unlike The Great Blue Coastal Elite Nuancers, we’re still the kind of simpletons who think lying is wrong and that five days paid vacation (at $27,397.26 per) and 10 minutes on a couch with the Stupid Pet Trick Guy is the opposite of transparency — it is what we call a big fat cover up.
Yes, I said “cover up.”
You know the one thing NBC News did right all week? That one thing? According to Kurtz, NBC News isn’t even doing that.
There is no internal investigation of Williams at NBC News. Instead, “The network is engaging in journalistic fact-gathering so it can respond to questions about the crisis created by Williams’ false story[.]”
In other words, the network isn’t interested in using the passé journalistic standard of full transparency and accountability to make this right — all they are looking for is a way to spin their $10 Million Man into a soft landing on a planet called Nevermind, where he can frolic in champagne rivers with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and Carol Costello.
Silly Rubes, journalism isn’t a profession, it’s a club.
The plot finally comes together. It all fits. NBC News has known for at least a year that the face of its news division was “pathological,” and did nothing.
That’s because lying isn’t a sin at NBC News. Getting caught lying isn’t even a sin at NBC News — it’s just another PR problem, something to be massaged, spun, worked, finessed… It’s not about integrity or truth or reputation or trust.
Which means there’s only one way NBC News knows how to fix it…
The joke who works for a circus goes to a late night clown for absolution.
John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC