I admire NBC’s Brian Williams and his decision to cover the Iraqi War from the front lines. But, based upon what I’ve seen, read and heard, it appears the network’s decision to send the nightly news anchor into harm’s way may have been ratings-inspired.
If so, it’s shameful in so many ways. For one, it will really tarnish NBC’s image. For another, it will further decimate so-called ‘legitimate’ journalism’s remaining respect and credibility.
Intrepid correspondents and photojournalists have always put themselves in harm’s way to report from the front lines. So what’s so different this time around? Why are so many so obsessed with Williams’ sojourn? In my mind, it’s just another example of the superficial tabloid stories our society seems to revel in.
The war should be the news. Not the debonair ‘reporter’ who’s off to cover it. Could anyone imagine this sort of fuss when Walter Cronkite went to Vietnam or Ernie Pyle shipped off to cover WW II? Were entertainment reporters writing about Edward R. Murrow’s health and well-being when, in the midst of the nightly bombings of London in September, 1940, he signed on with the now-classic line, "This is London"?
I wish Brian Williams Godspeed. And, I wish our tabloid press would find different, more relevant items to report on.
If the late Mr. Murrow could comment on today’s coverage, I’ll bet he’d sign on by saying, "This is sleeze…"
Thanks to Gene Colter for the idea for this post.