As Brian Williams takes his medicine at NBC, do Fox Noisemakers ever wonder what could happen to them if their outfit became a news network?
It's official -- Lester Holt's got the Nightly News anchor job.
"I'm sorry. I said things that weren't true. I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I'm determined to earn back their trust. I will greatly miss working with the team on Nightly News, but I know the broadcast will be in excellent hands with Lester Holt as anchor. I will support him 100% as he has always supported me. I am grateful for the chance to return to covering the news. My new role will allow me to focus on important issues and events in our country and around the world, and I look forward to it."
-- a statement by Brian Williams released today by NBC News
I know it's like putting two and two together and getting the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but I read the news from NBC News high command concerning the future of suspended ex-Nightly News anchor Brian Williams with my head still infused with my colleague Gaius Publius's report earlier today on the demotion of Fox Noise supremo Roger Ailes in the new order that takes hold at 21st Century Fox on July 1, with Mini-Murdochs James 'n' Lachlan Murdoch taking over operations and Big Roger reporting to them instead of Dear Old Dad. (You should read GP's account if only for the hilarious unmasking of Roger's attempt to suppress this fact, which went as far as forcing on-air people to read a statement in which he had inserted a lie.)
And so I couldn't help wondering if any of the Fox Noisemakers are having momentary flashes of what could happen to them come July 1, in the admittedly improbable event that James 'n' Lachlan should get it in their heads to convert Fox Noise from a 24/7 propaganda mill to something resembling an actual news operation. What would happen to them if News Corp scalphunters were to subject their video records to the kind of scrutiny that NBC's applied to come up with those 11 specimens of Brian Williams' highly stretchy view of reality?
To back up, the mighty moguls of NBC News, no doubt closely watched if not kibbitzed by their nervous corporate superiors, have decided that Brian can stay at NBC, ruling that while his 11 on-air exaggerated claims disqualify him for the anchor chair at NBC's Nightly News, they're no problem over at MSNBC, where he will now anchor special reports.
Here's the start of Washington Post media maven Paul Farhi's report:
NBC News made it official Thursday afternoon: the network will bring back suspended anchor Brian Williams, but he will no longer be the face of “NBC Nightly News.”
Instead, Williams will become an anchor of news reports at MSNBC, the network’s cable news channel, NBC said.
Williams was suspended by the network for six months in February for a series of exaggerated statements he made in TV appearances over the years, particularly his tale of coming under rocket attack during the early days of the Iraq War in 2003.
Lester Holt, who has substituted for Williams during his suspension, will be his permanent successor, NBC said.
Williams’s continued employment at NBC has been in doubt since numerous instances of embellishment by the anchor came to light in media accounts. In an internal review of his work, NBC found at least 11 instances in which he gave distorted accounts of his reporting exploits, damaging his credibility as a journalist. The network compiled a video of his statements, a damning document that was critical in his removal as anchor of the program he has been the face of for more than a decade.
Williams’s sudden fall brought down the most popular news figure on television; with Williams in the anchor chair, “Nightly News” led the audience ratings among network newscasts for more than five years.
With Williams on hiatus and Holt as anchor, NBC’s streak ended in late March when ABC’s “World News Tonight” briefly surged ahead in the Nielsen ratings. However, Holt — the first African American to anchor a network newscast solo — has kept NBC competitive with ABC, a major factor in NBC’s decision to keep Holt. . . .
NOW, AS TO THE FOX NOISEMAKERS --
I'm not saying it's likely to happen, just that it maybe could, and the TV mini-world isn't known as one of the world's stablest. Isn't it possible that people who have found their way into employment at the Noise Machine may have at least fleeting moments when this new version of reality makes them wonder.
Take Sean Hannity. (Please.) Is it possible that our Sean has already put himself in the professional hands of a mental-health practitioner who will be preparted to attest, if and when the time comes, that Sean can't be held liable for transgressions against the truth on the medical ground that he is developmentally incapable of distinguishing between truth and fiction?
And what of poor Bill O'Reilly, the man who confidently wields Jesus's loofah? Why, poor Billo is probably lucky if he can keep his whopper count down to 11 for a single broadcast. Yes, Billo loves to proclaim that he's a "journalist." I know, I know. But I think of this as being like the suburban householder who has only one joke, which he tells at each and every neighborhood barbecue, feeling no need to try to come up with a second as long as the first always gets a laugh. Billo proclaims, "I am a journalist," and brings the house down every time.
The there's the whole corps of muddle-brained Noisemaking ideologues (please don't ask me their names; I can't tell them apart) who make their living pooping on the truth. Not to mention all those pretty-haired boys and girls whose only connection to the news is the "News" that presumably appears on their paychecks in the jocular corporate name "Fox News." Probably nobody has even told them that the "news" is supposed to be as close as you can get to being true.
Do those folks have dark moments when they fantasize the "11 whoppers and you're out" ax descending on them? Of course, the 11 whoppers only get you exiled to cable, where they already are. But still . . . .