This article was authored and contributed to Breitbart Texas by Susan Combs.
Over the last few days, the uproar about news anchor Brian Williams’ claims of taking fire in Iraq in 2003 has reached extraordinary heights. I was amazed at the PhotoShopping frenzy that took place when his deception came to light. Images of Williams eating pizza with Jesus at the Last Supper; sitting in Ford’s Theater at the assassination of Abraham Lincoln; and crossing the Delaware with General George Washington filled my Facebook feed and probably yours as well. They were all fake, all funny and all pretty much outrageous.
Things came to a head last week when NBC suspended Williams, without pay, for six months. Yep. In a word, his lies (and there were plenty of them shared on the air and in countless other venues over the years), caught up with him. I expect he’ll be okay financially after years as a well-paid actor. That’s basically what he’s been doing – acting on TV – while purporting to convey the truth about very serious matters.
So what is the big deal? He stole valor from the men and women who go into harm’s way every day, not just when their network needs a ratings boost. He essentially donned a hero’s costume for a role, nothing more. Now, did a helicopter take incoming fire that day? Of course, but Williams only parked himself mentally in that aircraft.
The men and women of the armed services who stand between us and the world’s bad actors deserve the support and acclaim of the public far more than an egocentric news anchor who has to pad his image with the valor of others.
Williams isn’t the only public figure to be caught in a fib about being under fire. Hillary Clinton regaled an audience with a story of landing in Bosnia in 1996, claiming she had to duck and run because of sniper fire. In fact, she came out of the aircraft, strolled calmly across the pavement, and accepted a bouquet from a little girl. Her response later when it was proven she had been wrong was essentially, “so I am human and make mistakes.” This was in 2008 when she was running for President of the United States, a position whose title also encompasses Commander in Chief…of the armed forces – the very people whose valor and bravery she was bestowing upon herself.
It wasn’t a mistake. It was a deliberate padding of her resume with a profile in courage. She stole heroism from others, just as Williams did, but her theft is worse because it so far below the honor of the office she was seeking in 2008 – and perhaps will again in 2016.
Let’s turn that tide of false self-aggrandizement by remembering those who actually are our heroes: the men and women of our armed forces who defend our freedom every day. They are the ones who make our communities stronger and our country better. Theirs is true valor.
Susan Combs has had a distinguished career in public service as a Member of the Texas House of Representatives, Texas’ first woman Agriculture Commissioner, and serving two terms as Texas Comptroller and Treasurer. After two decades of service, Susan remains a champion of sound, conservative economic principles.