On Tuesday night, NBC News announced it would suspend anchor and managing editor Brian Williams for six months without pay over his inflation of his war correspondence in Iraq in 2003.
NBC News President Deborah Turness explained:
While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position. In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field. As Managing Editor and Anchor of Nightly News, Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times.
Williams’ ouster represents a shocking rebuff to members of the mainstream media who doggedly attempted to guard the precious from the evil minions of the interwebs. Just a few days ago, Chris Cuomo of CNN’s New Day lamented, “They are starting to eat him alive… those lesser outlets and the growing mass of the angry.” Ron Fournier of National Journal labeled those who questioned Williams’ biographical prevarications “the Bile Brigade.” Piers Morgan, formerly of CNN and now of his mother’s basement, wept that Walter Cronkite got away with all sorts of nasty activities, and he was just fabulous.
As John Nolte points out, “The same elite media that invented the swarm and the scalp hunt and use both almost exclusively to promote the cause of Big Government and the Democrat Party, is now crybabying over the fact that the methods they spent years perfecting are now in play against Their Guy.”
But there’s a bigger point here: the same people Dan Rather once derided as idiots in “pajamas” have completely reshaped the mainstream media.
Were it not for those nefarious Snidely Whiplashes of the keyboard, Brian Williams would still be anchoring the nightly news while stumping for Jay Leno’s old job; Dan Rather would still be anchoring at CBS News after lying about President Bush’s war records; Martin Bashir would still be blathering about defecating in Sarah Palin’s mouth over on MSNBC; Alec Baldwin would still be screaming at paparazzi between unwatchable interviews on the same network; Steve Capus would still be at NBC News manipulating tape.
Were it not for those horrible Huns of the New Media, The New York Times would not be bleeding employees; CNN would not have gone full Zucker (never go full Zucker); MSNBC’s Al Sharpton would be trotted out as a legitimate representative of black America by people outside the Obama administration; HBO’s Lena Dunham would still be seen as a media darling rather than a malicious piece of work with disturbing notions about sisterly love and consequently low ratings.
And all of that leaves aside the media’s failed narratives of the past decade: the attempt to convict George Zimmerman of murder by portraying him as a white-Hispanic racist; the evil attempt to string up Officer Darren Wilson for defending himself against “gentle giant” Michael Brown; the attempts to bury scandal after scandal throughout the Obama administration, from IRS targeting to Benghazi, from Jonathan Gruber to Bowe Bergdahl.
The mainstream media still wield outsized power, and when they decide on a narrative, they have the ability to drive it into the minds of hundreds of millions of Americans. But nobody trusts the mainstream media to fact-check themselves any longer. And that, in and of itself, is a massive, narrative-shaping change in American politics.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.