Ongoing Recovery From Dental Implants
INTERESTING STUFF – 14 February 2015

Dental Week Departures

Dear god. I take a couple of days off and a large chunk of my personal media landscape decamps from the scene.

BRIAN WILLIAMS

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was suspended without pay for six months for inflating his participation while covering a war or two and other stories. Some pundits are predicting that the layoff is preliminary to his being fired.

I'm so old I remember a certain well-known media personality having done something similar 40-odd years ago – pretending he was in more danger while in a war zone than he actually was.

It was a short-lived controversy back then, didn't much affect his career (he is still around) and the internet has been whitewashed of the incident. I can't find it anywhere.

Surveys tell us that it is only us old folks who watch any of the evening network news broadcasts these days and although I don't have a lot of interest in the “penalty” NBC executives will impose on Williams for lying (that's what is), it does seem overkill compared to other public figures.

I wish the news powers that be (at every kind and type of news outlet) were as fervent when reporting the same transgression from elected officials and corporate executives as they are with a guy who, after all, just reads the news off a TelePrompTer most of the time.

BOB SIMON

Bob Simon was one of the best damned reporters of the past 50 years, doing his excellent work at 60 Minutes for the past 20 years. He was killed in an auto accident in New York City Wednesday evening at age 73.

In no manner can I say he was a friend, but I knew him slightly in the mid-1990s when he helped me with a couple of stories when I was managing editor at the then-brand new cbsnews.com website, and we also had lunch together in the cafeteria a couple of times.

He and I were the same age, born within a month of one another, and in addition to respecting him as a fine reporter, I was happy lately to know that he was among the few allowed to work past the usual sell-by date the world imposes on the majority of “older” workers.

JON STEWART ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT FROM THE DAILY SHOW

The first two are sad. This one was – still is - a gut-punch. It is astonishing how personally Stewart's announcement hit me (Vicodin for my dental surgery recovery may have contributed).

It's not your loss, I thought as the shocked and regretful reponses poured in from pundits, Congressional politicians (Republicans too), media figures, comedians and especially young people who are devoted to him.

It is not your loss, I thought. It is not the country's loss. It is MY loss. Mine more than it could possibly be for any of you, and I am bereft.

Silly, of course, but that is how it felt at first and now, a couple of days later I realize better than during all the years I have been a regular viewer how much I depend on Jon Stewart to confirm my own reactions to events (as he so frequently does) and to illuminate the political and journalistic predicaments in which we find ourselves.

Jon Stewart's contribution to truth is beyond calculation. He may have called it “fake news” but it was not. It was real news as no one else, not another single person reports it.

I was speechless when I watched the announcement. Of course, he made it funny because – well, he can't help himself. He's that good.

As he says in the announcement, Stewart's contract runs until September and maybe he will remain at his Daily Show desk until the end of year. I will be hanging on his every show until then and I already miss him for the 2016 presidential election.

The smartest media commentators among us have always known that Stewart is doing journalism, brilliant journalism, on his show but more than a few others have bristled at the comparison.

Matt Ford, taking an early shot this week at marking Stewart's position in the pantheon of great television, sets the record straight on that in The Atlantic this week:

”The idea that what Jon Stewart and his team did was journalism always rankled some journalists, but that’s exactly what it was. At its most fundamental level, the purpose of journalism in a democracy is to build a more informed citizenry.

“For many Americans, especially younger ones, Stewart fulfilled that task. And it seems to be a duty his successors are eager to take up: As he began his new season last week, John Oliver expanded the Last Week Tonight staff not by adding more comedy writers, but by hiring investigative journalists.”

Do any of you recall Oliver's three-month stint as substitute host of The Daily Show while Stewart shot his feature film, Rosewater? I was riveted. In his own way, he was equal to Stewart - as his current HBO program proves every week.

We have seven or eight or nine or so more months of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and I will savor every episode.

But America should not be, does not deserve to be, without a daily dose of what's really going on in our world, of mocking what needs mocking, and if I could have my way, John Oliver's HBO outing will turn out to be an interlude while waiting for his rightful place as distinguished successor to Jon Stewart.

UPDATE 5:45AM: I just read an excellent piece about the importance of Jon Stewart to America by Timothy Egan on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today is – nothing. No story. It is on hiatus for two weeks. Please read more here.

Comments

Of course in a perfect world, Oliver would take Jon Stewart's place & continue the Daily show. Well, we can dream, can't we? :)
Very sad about Bob Simon, very sad. And almost as sad about Brian Williams. Brian, never one of my favorites, so IMO it is very difficult to find anyone on evening news who is even moderately credible. I find most of them rather emotional in their delivery & of course one longs for another Cronkite. I just ignore them all. Dee

Ronni, help me with this. If any reporter were not giving facts during live reports, wouldn't there be TV editors, legal department, assistants... a whole team of news department people checking facts? In real time, not year's afterwards.

I think Brian Williams issues needs more and better research. I really respected Bob Simon and his reporting. The 60 minutes stories he did are all top rated, I will miss them.

MissDazey...
When a reporter is on the scene, he or she is - well, reporting. He/she is the source of the story. It is assumed he/she is professional.

And it works that way 99 percent of the time.

There is no way there are people available to fact check every utterance of every reporter every day at every news outlet.

In Williams' case, he apparently reported correctly in the original story. It is over the years following, in interviews and non-news situations, when he embellished the circumstances.

I'm so glad you brought up the Brian Williams matter. This story has been blown way out of proportion almost to the point of looking like a vendetta against Brian.
Brian Williams misspoke. He apologized and corrected his mistake. He even went as far as to take himself off the air for a while.That should have been the end to this story period. Instead the media keeps picking at a scab until, what should have been nothing more than a blemish, became a giant carbuncle.

Don't mean to defend Brian Williams, but I don't know anyone, public figure or not, who hasn't embellished a story or remembered it a bit off from the truth. If indeed he has been counseled to desist embellishing that story by NBC, then they are right to take action. What is ludicrous is the attention his story is getting over real news.

What scares me is the gullibility of so many Americans that even the most outrageous claims are believed and forwarded via social media. If they can read it and perceive it as outrageous, why don't they do a simple check on their own. No, they want to be outraged and believe it if it fits their political agenda. Doesn't have to be true.

Latest I saw was about the US government purchasing something like 30,000 guillotines. Really? And I first heard about it on Facebook. Yes, needed to check that out. Farce was first reported in 2013 as I recall. Yet I saw 15 subsequent shares. People didn't even read comments to see some had called out this hoax.

Sorry this is so long. Just had to get it out. Thanks, Ronni.

Bruce and any others...
Brian Williams did not "misspeak." Anyone knows the difference between his helicopter being hit by bullets and not being hit by bullets.

What he did over the years is turn the event into a better, more personal story, something most of us do all our lives when passing on personal anecdotes to our friends and colleagues.

But we don't do it in front of millions of people on television nor when it is a story involving real lives of real soldiers who were there to help protect a civilian on a battlefield nor when it is our job to report the news as accurately as possible.

Williams is wrong to have done this. And he seems to have also needlessly invented at least one incident while covering Hurricane Katrina.

Because we cannot all be at the scene of the news, we must be able to trust the people who deliver that news to be as truthful as circumstances allow. Every time.

Brian Williams has broken that trust - a human transgression to be sure but not one that can go unremarked when uncovered and then dealt with in some appropriate way.

Williams' reputation is tarnished. I don't know to what degree he has tarnished NBC News' reputation. But the length of his suspension feels like overkill although I could be wrong.

Ronni, your last comment here in response to those of others is, as usual, logical, reasonable and well stated. Williams must have known the difference between the facts of the incident and the facts he spiced it up with over time. I suppose once you start down that road, it's hard to get off it without confessing to the fiction you've created. Still, it does not excuse it, and it's hard to imagine that he thought the truth would never come out. But how does one gracefully undo those "tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive" when they've become so intricate and pulled so many in?

I agree that the punishment that's being handed out may be excessive, but I'm not sure. We need to be able to trust reporters of facts to stick, to the best of their knowledge, to the facts. I agree with you, too, in wishing that everyone, politicians, corporate executives, everyone who has the public's attention, would be held to the same standard of trustworthiness.

I'm not too familiar with Brian Williams, but it appears he took his eye off the ball of being a reliable newsman, likely due to hubris or ego, showing a disregard or ignorance toward the experience and recollections of others on that mission.

Jon Stewart - put things right for many of us. We GOT IT, understood the bigger picture. This aches...

I must confess I haven't watched 60 Minutes in years, and have only seen a few episodes of the Daily Show. Both are good shows; they just don't seem that relevant anymore. As for Williams, we all have a tendency to embellish our stories. It usually works better when you make others look better, rather than trying to make yourself look better. And also, you shouldn't do it no the news.

I am saddened by the death of Bob Simon and the thought of not having Jon Stewart on to give it to those that need it. AS far as embellishing I immediately thought of Hillary Clinton being under fire. No body fired her. Right? Just asking.

I won't totally frustrate myself by trying to get into the NYT website to read the article. I know I'll just get bounced back to the subscribe screen--again--even though I have yet to read my 1st "free" article in months. I agree that Jon Stewart will be a huge loss in terms of truth in (non)reporting the news.

I will miss Bob Simon and am glad he was "allowed" to continue working despite attaining age 70+ (I was fortunate to be employed into my late 70s until being involuntarily retired in December after nearly 40 years with the nonprofit I worked for).

Although Brian Williams is a likeable TV personality and has done what I thought was credible reporting, I do feel that he misrepresented the facts. That is not acceptable behavior in a national TV news anchor and the suspension is justified in my view, although I would have been satisfied with 90 days.

I was giving Williams the benefit of the doubt on the helicopter story and Stewart explained my thinking quite well when he talked about Williams's anchor face vs his BS war story face. However, in the wake of all the additional stories that have been revealed (embedded with a SEAL team, meeting the pope, present when the Berlin Wall came down, given a piece of the chopper that went down during the Bin Laden raid, etc.), I'm forced to accept that he plays too fast and loose with the truth.

My reverence for Jon Stewart and his many talents is second to none, and while I understand his desire to leave his post after 17 years, I am no less inconsolable. I had to to edit my post to correct references to him in the past tense, and got a huge laugh from his opening line the next night: "I'm not dead." Most articles I read about him had spoken of him in the past tense. Luckily for us, he's alive and well.

Not much I can say about Simon's death except that I was shocked and saddened. He was the quintessential journalist.

That would mean that Brian Williams is the first person to be punished for lying about Iraq.
Hmmm.

I feel bad for Brian Williams - He has apologized and he should be able to move on. We have all embellished a story now and then to make it more interesting and it isn't as if NBC hasn't ever embellished a story or lied by omission to us! It is as if they are trying to make themselves credible and honest. Bob Simons death is an unforeseen tragedy. We will miss him indeed. "Jon Stewart should have his head on Mt. Rushmore. Now we will have to find our own way back to Kansas~!!!" It has been quite a sad news week for us....

Like Maryellen Bess, my first thought upon hearing of the brouhaha over Mr Williams' story was that he was doing no worse than Ms Clinton had done. You can bet that the connection is now being made here in the Red States!

As a few noted, each of us is apt to be guilty of embellishment. I hate it when I find myself doing it; but, it happens. I wonder how much of what I remember is actual fact and how much what I remember has morphed over time.

I'm conflicted. I'd like to think that our politicians and reporters are better than I am - and they surely are in many, many cases; but, even the best among us is still human.

Ronni's having brought Mr Stewart to my attention only a few years ago, I don't think I'll notice his absence; but, I've liked the idea that someone like him was out there doing his "reporting" or whatever it is called.

I am heart broken that Jon Stewart is leaving my nightly lineup! I miss Steven Colbert but I will actually mourn the loss of Jon. I saw a report that one of the major networks wants to talk to him. I hope he does something on air so we don't have to miss him for long. I'd take one program a week if that's all we can get.

First Ronni, I hope you are continuing to recover from your dental surgery.
On Brian Williams, I am willing to give him the benefit of a doubt. Many studies have shown that eyewitnesses to a crime will swear they are right only to have their accounts later discredited...On Jon Stewart, whenever something political happens, I look forward to the Daily Show take. I will miss him. However, just as John Oliver came forward, someone else will fill this need for an insightful and entertaining news show. There is too much money at stake.

I agree with PiedType re: Jon Stewart that we felt like we were reading his obit and he was amusing the next night. He really did help to restore sanity to me. I will miss him too and am curious to see where he goes because I don't think it is going to be television.

So much anger floating around these days. Poor Brien is kind of a focal point for expressing it. The reaction and punishment seem like overkill to me.

As for John Stewart, I'm not a fan. His style of "news" leaves you depressed and cynical.

Jon Stewart keeps me sane during this crazy political time we are in.

Humor is the best way to make the point of the idiocy in our country and Jon Stewart's satire is the best. He will be needed during the presidential election. Say it isn't so, John.

John Oliver does a fantastic job of in depth reporting so maybe watching him daily will be my fix after Jon Stewart leaves.

I'm sorry for Brian Williams as I always liked his reporting; although to be honest, I no longer watch the evening news. That said, to boost his ego at the expense of the truth is not acceptable.

Perhaps Brian's downfall will force those liars on Fox news to be more careful with playing fast and loose with the truth. (In my dreams.)

There's not a lot to miss among network news anchors and/or reporters. I had been seeing Brian Williams repeatedly in a promo for his show and was always irritated at someone I saw as an egotistical blowhard, so when the story broke about his lies, I admit to feeling only schadenfreude. Television's so-called journalism has been a "vast wasteland" for years except for Al-Jazeera English.

The deaths of Bob Simon and David Carr, the media critic of the New York Times, were much more to be mourned. The good news was that (after a fairly long life) Simon died in an accident instead of a hospital bed or assisted living facility and Carr died at his desk---a stylish demise to be envied.

As for Jon Stewart, I have to say that, although for many years I had watched his show religiously, he seemed to me to have grown too full of himself in the past ten years or so and I preferred Colbert. But we certainly owe Stewart for nurturing talents such as Colbert and John Oliver among others. I prefer that Oliver stay with HBO, where he can say exactly what he thinks without concern about sponsors or censors. -Meg

Several reports state that NBC imposed the six months suspension because the investigation of what turns out to be several transgressions by Williams will need time to be completed.

I don't agree with those who think the penalty is too severe. Six months without no pay is not exactly a heavy hit on a performer who is paid $10 million a year.

. . . without [no]
pay . . .

Geez, even we ethical journalists err now and then.

The attack against Brian Williams is not about Williams at all. It's a stealth attack against Hillary Clinton; Williams is collateral damage.
Hillary will rise above it and keep working to solve the world's problems, as she always does.

Wear your seat belt.
Tell the truth.
Know when to say good bye.

It was an interesting week, indeed.
a/b

It was quite a week of comings and goings. I am inclined to forgive Brian Williams his misremembering. I have certainly done it myself, not intentionally, but just putting together in my memory two or three things that didn't belong together. I too shall mourn Jon Stewart, a fixture of my nighttime viewing and a wonderful antidote for Fox and the worse moments of CNN. He is the only one who tells it like it is, shows us the emperor has no clothes, and so on.

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