An open letter to Brian Williams of the NBC Evening News

Brian, if I may call you that, I have written several messages, into the blind, to TV personalities over the past few years about things they have said or done in the course of their shows. In the news category, they include Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet the Press, followed now by David Gregory, as well as you. One difference between MTP and straight news shows, such as yours, is that MTP is constrained by the problem that if they start embarrassing too many interviewees, no one will appear on the show; but the news shows up no matter what. Therefore, you have no such restrictions on how you present the news; other than some propriety; network or personally enforced.


I think there are two things wrong with news presentation today, especially on MSM networks: one is that too much bad news is reported, numbing the public with that barrage; and the second being that the news is presented in such a way as to lull the viewer into ignoring the severity of the news items. This is not a new issue with the news, and was pointed out in Don Henley’s Dirty Laundry song back in 1982 with lyrics like:

“We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five
She can tell you 'bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye …”


I’m not saying, Brian, that you are a bubble-head, but you definitely soft-soap the news, IMO.  Where you should be delivering the news like a guided missile straight to the cerebral cortex, to get people fully engaged, you, instead, deliver the news as if it were a newborn baby, wrapped in a warm blanket. I don’t know if this is the way NBC wants it, or if it is an indication of some sort of reticence, or even some shyness, on your part. But I think you can be much more effective if you put a bit more of yourself into each story.


I remember when you first came on the scene and you were on the Tonight Show.  Cher and Jane Fonda were also guests; they were on before you, so they were already seated when you came on. Well, they just became two giggly school girls in your presence, making jokes about your gentlemanly appearance, and especially your manner of dress. You were obviously embarrassed, and you appeared quite uncomfortable with it, as I remember. And that’s all I remember. I can’t recall how it finally stopped, or if it even did; nor can I remember who the host was at the time. The reason I bring this up at all is because, IMO, it showed a certain inability of yours, early on, to handle such stress, even though it was coming from a couple “silly” girls.  You could have easily taken control of the situation by saying something like: “Shut your mouths, bitches, before I choke you with my manliness.”


Fast forward back to today, and we have you saying something very much like “And we thought this was over”, after reporting on the London Whale dropping $6B in illicit trading at J.P. Morgan.  Well, I “knew” it was not over, and did many others; so, you were not speaking to or for us. What you should have said, IMO, was something like: “Those SOBs did it again! Who, out there, is going to stop them?” I think I fired another feedback message off into the blind after that one.


One message I definitely sent you, Brian, was when Sullenberger landed that commercial airliner on the Hudson River. You were all over him and his “heroism”; and you had also been touting several others around that time as heroes for just doing their job; diluting the true meaning of heroism, IMO *1*. Sullenberger was an exceptional pilot, and demonstrated that in merely doing his job.  But, he did save his own life while saving the others; so he probably would have done exactly the same thing if the plane had been empty. And Sullenberger was the first to say that he was not a hero. So, in this case, I would rather you had commended him by saying something like: “God dammit; that guy sure can fly a plane. That ranks right up there with getting Apollo 13 back”.


And also along those lines, you keep using the line: “Thanks as always” to people like Dr. Nancy Snyderman, who helped out and reported from the Philippines recently, and Richard Engle, who is always putting himself in harm’s way. At the end of their reports, Brian, you should be saying things like” Damn, woman, you went way out of your way going there to help out and report in that hell hole”, and “Richard, you are the man, for risking your life to scoop us the real deal from the field.”


And now back to my first listed issue with MSM news: too much bad news is reported, numbing the public with that barrage.  You usually have a closing article of spiritual value.  We need more of that.  One slightly uplifting story after a slew of death and destruction is not any balance at all; even with your lightweight delivery.  How about turning it right around, having a slew of good news articles, followed by one bad news article; delivered by the “new” Brian.  Leave people angry with the way things are, not only because of the story itself, but also because you took one good story away from them.  The way things are now, you provide little to no hope at all, and just turn people numb to the ugliness that is rampant.  And, if you cut down on giving the crazies their “15 minutes of fame”, some of them might just stop acting so crazy.


So, Brian, in closing let me say that if you are striving to be a Huntley, Brinkley, or Cronkite, you have much more of a drive ahead of you; and you must drive driven.   Be the news; think Howard Beale.  And if you got this far, thanks for listening. “Good night and good luck.”


*1* I am using my own definition for hero.  A typical one is something like: “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.”  I don’t think that a person can be considered a hero if he performs brave and noble acts from which he also benefits, the same way as everyone else.


Steve Borsher Added Nov 26, 2013 - 10:50am
Williams is just the most visible of the bunch; and he makes $10M/year feeding US pablum.  If you call non-heroes "heroes" often enough, they will most likely begin to believe it.  I'm sure most politicians think they are heroes.  They are doing " the people's business"; yeah, right. There should be a "True Hero Of The Year Award" to reset the inference of what a hero truly is; and that is not necessarily covered by the Nobel prizes. Read what Darrell said, He is my "hero".
Steve Borsher Added Nov 26, 2013 - 11:17am
Thanks. Yes, they were my "heroes" too. And i would add Jim Lehrer and Tom Brokaw as well. Brokaw has become a senior statesman of news broadcasting; he remains extremely relevant.
Steve Borsher Added Nov 26, 2013 - 12:41pm
The MSM is the logical, and political, extension of the smoke screen laid down by the politicians.  They have to report something negative about 0care now, because it is just too obvious, and it cannot be hidden by PC phrases; although 0bama and co tried very hard to do just that. When Axelrod had nothing left in his arsenal of catchy phrases to defend it on Meet the Press, you gotta know "something is rotten in the state of" 0bama.
Did anyone in the MSM ever say: "Nancy Pelosi is the epitome of a slimy politician"?  Well, she is, but that would not be PC.  There's a very good reason it is called "political" correctness. I'm surprised that it isn't called by its PC name: social correctness. That was a big gaffe by the politicians, IMO.
And now close your eyes, relax, breath slowly and evenly, and think about what it takes to keep this huge balloon of deceit in the air: the politicians, the MSM, the police, the military, the courts, etc.; all working in lock step to keep US all "barefoot and pregnant", and out of their way and in line.
Steve Borsher Added Nov 26, 2013 - 2:55pm
Where PBS stands, or lays down, in all this is a conundrum. They are funded by major corporations and the gumment, so one has to wonder how independent and truthful even they can be.  Haven't they had some funding pulled recently?  IMO, the only really independent broadcaster would be a pirate station. Did anyone on PBS ever say: "Nancy Pelosi is the epitome of a slimy politician"? Well, is she or isn't she. PBS is the darling of big money that wants their donations to be highly visible.  And it is worth keeping their hands off the content, mostly, to maintain that respectable appearance.
Here's the funniest thing I ever saw in this vein.  Even while Bank of America was wallowing near bankruptcy and burning taxpayer money, they continued to fund PBS. Do I need to elaborate? OK, I will anyway.  Bill Gates did a similar thing in overcharging for his mediocre/unreliable software, and is now giving that ill gotten money away; essentially dictating (like that word?) where we want to donate our money.
Steve Borsher Added Nov 26, 2013 - 4:02pm
Thanks. That is a very good addition to the article. And I do appreciate your "step-son's" sacrifice.
I don't know if Europe still does this, but back in the day (you know which one) they used to batch all the commercials at one end or other of the program; now, that was civilized TV.  Of course, TV nudity wasn't taboo either over there. I watch Nightly News off the DVR, so my time isn't wasted; but I'll always take as much news as I can get. These days, Nightly News is mostly a digest of what I already read on the Internet; but the many of the "special correspondent" pieces are not to be missed.  We all have things that will suck us in, not matter how cynical we might be, ans Richard Engel just seems to me to be "the real deal".  I would be devastated to find out his reports were just so much dog wagging. Joe Scarborough dissed Engel on Meet the Press, and that was the end of The Morning Joke for me.
Steve Borsher Added Nov 27, 2013 - 11:38am
Nightly News is, effectively, about 18 minutes long.  How much understandable "real" news can be reported in that amount of time anyway.  I think they should use it to do some "good": inspiring people instead of making them feel that things are hopeless.  Presenting a bunch of sound bits as "news" is almost a criminal act, IMO.  I wonder how many people that approach has driven to acts of desperation. Remember what a panic Orson Wells created with the "War Of The World" radio broadcast?
Steve Borsher Added Nov 27, 2013 - 11:40am
The Supremes have a long way to go, IMO, to best their sanctification of lying on one's military "record".
Steve Borsher Added Nov 28, 2013 - 2:29pm
Prior to writing this article I had pinged Williams via Facebook, chiding him on his overuse of saying that JFK's death had "changed the course of histroy".  No event changes the course of history; it merely is history. I also called him a "drama queen".
I originally wrote this piece as a follow up, but then decided to post it here.  I also considered pinging him on FB with a link to this article.  I am sitting on the fence about that, because I think it would appear self serving.  Generally, I don't care much about appearances, but I would also like to see if he "discovers it himself".  Still, would the "$10 million dollar man" even care? Would he mention it on Nightly News?
So, "to (ping) or not to (ping), that IS the question".
Carole McKee Added Nov 28, 2013 - 4:41pm
You can't actually believe that Brian Williams has full control over what he reports. This is a job to him. He has rules that he has to follow, and with all of the political correctness forced on the media today, he must follow those rules to keep his job. I agree that the news is biasedly presented, and many times sugar coated, but that's not Brian Williams' or anyone else in the news media's fault. Various special interest groups have forced the media's hands (and mouths) into making news stories lukewarm so as not to offend.
As far as calling Sullenburger a hero--I don't necessarily agree that he meets the criteria for hero, but I believe that since we have very few heroes to worship, we are searching for them. IMO, the entire military deserves the title of hero, but many don't see it that way. Years ago, people looked up to athletes but not so much any more with all the illicit drugs, alcohol abuse, and sex scandals, in professional sports. People used to worship movie stars, but obviously there is no star quality there any more.
But honestly, Steve, to criticize Brian Williams for his polite and gentlemanly manner is a little off the deep end. If I wanted to hear crude talk and bad language along with the news, I could probably get that at any corner bar. Part of Brian's appeal is that he is a clean cut gentleman, and he would damn well be welcome at my dinner table any time.
Steve Borsher Added Nov 28, 2013 - 5:08pm
Yes, I'm sure the entire thing is scripted; but he has interjected his "feelings" more than once, and could do so more emphatically. I doubt "we thought this wouldn't happen again" was scripted.
The Sullenberger event took place during a period when Williams was calling football players heroes; and I don't mean Tillman.  There is absolutely nothing more disgusting to me than calling any sports figure a hero for merely are doing their "job". Most of the "dream team" basketball players skipped a game just after 911, because they were afraid to fly, IMO  Some heroes, huh? That included Shaq, among others. Maybe LeBron should be considered a hero because he did go.
Yes, he is definitely a clean cut all-american boy; something that Cher and Fonda found quite funny.  I don't want "bad language" either. I just want something better than robotic repetitive delivery. Yes, we don't pay cash for network broadcasting, but we end up paying in more insidious ways. WIlliams has wooed you, just as 0bama once wooed the country; but Williams' is not on a "hot" seat, and so will not suffer the same fall as 0bama.  I still reel at the number of people in need of Snake Oil. Today they call it Kool-Aid.
Steve Borsher Added Nov 28, 2013 - 7:47pm
How would you describe Alex Trebek in your personal comparison to Brian Williams?
Steve Borsher Added Nov 29, 2013 - 12:51pm
I offer what I do in order to help humankind evolve. I do not do it for the comments. I started doing this several years ago, elsewhere, took a break for a couple years, and now I have started up again here, because I like this site.
I watch nightly news because it is on a convenient time, we eat late, although I do usually watch the recording of it about an hour later.  I seek out information wherever I can; if that information is new, I always validate it elsewhere.
Obviously, I agree with you in Snyderman, and Engle.  Andrea Mitchell suffers a loss of my respect in being married to Alan Greenspan.  She is an excellent correspondent with a huge albatross around her neck, IMO. If you think that RE seems a misfit on Nightly News, you should have seen him on Meet the Press, when Joe Scarborough questioned his insights into our status in the Middle East.  I no longer watch Morning Joke because of that; as I said above.
I mostly ignored what followed in your comment, as I did Ken Mapp’s letter from Brian.  I am not interested in the whys or wherefores of the current state of the news; I am only interested in seeing change. Even if Brian Williams responded, I probably would not read much of it; but that would depend on how the letter started off.  “Actions speak louder than words”; yet another one of the Golden Rules that I live by. So, you can also understand, therefore, how I feel about 0bama.
Steve Borsher Added Nov 29, 2013 - 2:08pm
Change requires careful planning that many are not prepared to spend time doing.  Many people who think they are in control of their lives are merely "going with the flow". And that is true right up to the top echelons of business and government. Jamie Dimon was a paragon of of banking after not being scathed by the 2008 financial crises; but that was not to last long.  Obviously, he is no more in control of his business than Donald Trump is with his. Business acumen is an oxymoron these days, IMO.
And, yes, Mike Barnacle, the Boston Globe plagiarist, made watching The Joke difficult.  I never watched when he was alone.
Steve Borsher Added Nov 30, 2013 - 10:50am
I'm hoping the WWW will screw up Congress. I have a plan ...
Steve Borsher Added Nov 30, 2013 - 11:57am
I've been threatening to publish an article about the "plan". Unfortunately, or fortunately, it is not writing itself, like most of what I write does. So, it has become "work".  Still, I hope to get it finished soon.
I'm really not too interested in the details of what goes on in Congress. It's broken, and nothing else beyond that matters.  I try very hard to keep my stress levels down.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 3, 2014 - 5:58pm
I almost added more after the first Malaysian Airlines disappearance when BW insisted on always saying 239 "souls" on board. How does he know that everyone on there had a soul? What is a soul? Are they still on board? Sometimes he is an incredible douche. At least he has stopped bandying "hero" about as much. I used to send him feedback through the NBC site but I've stopped all that for now. Maybe I'll pick up with Chuck Todd where I was with David Gregory; if Todd lasts a while.
Steve Borsher Added Feb 11, 2015 - 10:04am
So, BW has been suspended for six months without pay. He called so many undeserving people "heroes" that he thought he was one himself.
Carole McKee Added Feb 11, 2015 - 12:57pm
Steve--What does Alex Trebeck have to do with Brian Williams?
Steve Borsher Added Feb 12, 2015 - 9:49am
Steve Borsher Added Feb 12, 2015 - 1:48pm
The news is a business and they focus on what the people want to hear. I don't complain about the content of the news, per se, only the presentation. I stopped watching the Daily Show when Stewart became the news. I stopped watching NBC Nightly News for a while, after Williams shameless promotion of his daughter's fiasco, but it is one of my favorite sources of summary news information. I have no problem extracting the straight news from the media slant.
Carole McKee Added Feb 12, 2015 - 2:05pm
Steve--Okay, so I'm still not getting the connection between Trebeck and Williams.
Okay, now you're attacking Jon Stewart and Williams' daughter. So what do you watch? Fox News? It may behoove you to acknowledge that your opinions are not necessarily fact, but merely your point of view.
Steve Borsher Added Feb 12, 2015 - 2:21pm
Oh, you were referring to a discussion from 15 months ago. Sorry, I have no idea what I meant back then. Maybe it had to do with that clip I posted.
I explained my approach to watching the news in my comment just above your last one. I have no problem extracting useful information from ANY news source, and NBC Nightly News is a favorite source of summary information. I do not watch Fox or CNN; I get 95% of my news online from many sources. My news alerts put me hours ahead of any RF source. Here are the only "news" programs I currently watch on TV: NBC Nightly News, local news, Meet The Press. And Lester Holt and Chuck Todd are both vast improvements over former hosts of those respective programs.
TV personalities are part of  genus celebritata. and are open to, most deserving of, bashing. I site the ongoing downfall of my former "hero" Bruce Jenner. But I suppose you defend that Kardashian carnival with "live and let live". The USA, IMO, has turned into a cesspool of moral corruption; with the Three Gummnet Stooge branches, the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial, leading the way.
Carole McKee Added Feb 12, 2015 - 2:43pm
Oh, absolutely not. I am not a Kardashian fan at all. I keep asking who made them famous and why? I think Bruce Jenner belittled himself by going down that sewer pipe. 
However...I am a Jon Stewart fan. And as for Brian Williams...I may not have always liked the way Brian Williams presented the news, I don't think he deserves a 6-month suspension without pay, just because he "mis-remembered" something from 12 years ago. If there had been gunfire of any kind going on at the time of the incident, he could very easily have remembered the gunfire as coming at him. It's not fair when you consider that we had a president look into the camera and tell the bold-faced lie of proof of weapons of mass destruction, and he still remained president even after it was proven to be a falsehood. Brian Williams enhanced a story, making it a little more exciting. Our president's lie cost many lives, and much money.
Steve Borsher Added Feb 12, 2015 - 2:52pm
Like I said, I watched Jon Stewart until he believed he was bigger than the news. Sorry, I don't remember what that was, but, in my mind, it was similar to what Dick Cavett did to Lester Maddox, which ended Dick Cavett for me. Brian Williams did the same to himself; to me. And I never could stomach Stephen Colbert.
I might start watching Daily Show again if John Oliver takes over. I have been watching him on HBO.
And I won't get into discussing 0bama here. I do plenty of that elsewhere.
Carole McKee Added Feb 12, 2015 - 3:23pm
I like John Oliver. It would be great if he did take over the Daily Show. 
I didn't mention Obama at all. 
JM Albaine--MY president told their American people they could keep their insurance because he had no reason to believe that they couldn't. It was not his intention to make people lose their plans. But the rotten, greedy insurance company bastards didn't see it that way. Obama does not lie. He wants what is best FOR THE PEOPLE, and FOR THE COUNTRY. It doesn't work out that way because of the Republicans who all want what is best for themselves, and for the party. They fight him so hard on Obamacare because it's pissing off the insurance companies who have made large campaign contributions to the Republicans to keep it from happening. 
There are changes that need to be made in both parties. Read my blog sometime.  In the meantime, don't come at me with remarks about any Democrat. Take a good look. Have you seen John Boehner's face lately? He looks like the devil personified, because he is so pissed off about not getting his way. And his way is not what the people want. What is the United States? Another corporation that is interested in making money while sticking it to the people under it? Or is it a union of the people?
Steve Borsher Added Feb 12, 2015 - 3:23pm
0bama doesn't even have to open his mouth; his lying WH spokes people do it for him. And if BW was misremembering he has been doing so for 12 years. He misrepresented what happened immediately after it happened. The probably helped him to become the 10 million dollar man; or was it raised to $13M just before his latest retelling; or was it raised because of his latest retelling. Of course, I am not disappointed with BW's outing; but I would be if it ever happens to Richard Engle.
Steve Borsher Added Feb 12, 2015 - 3:30pm
What you site is the reason I don't follow politics much at all; except to make fun of it.
And "Our president's lie cost many lives, and much money"? 0bama isn't president? That would be good news; except for who would be president then: the second banana in the vaudeville act that is the current administration, BFD 0'Biden.
Carole McKee Added Feb 12, 2015 - 4:59pm
Steve, Obama didn't say anything about weapons. That was Bush who was president. He's the one who said there was proof of weapons of mass destruction. 
JM Albaine--Obama is not my king. Just because I think he has the people's best interests at heart doesn't mean I feel like his subject. That's just a stupid remark. Worshipers? So if we agree with a man's politics we worship him? Excuse me! I worship only God and Jesus Christ. I happen to like Obama. 
Your thoughts on limited government are just twisted. What do you think the GOP wants to do? Just give the power back to the people? They want to cut programs like Medicare and Social Security. How can that be giving power back? It's only another form of keeping the power, only hurting the people as they do it. Everything they want to destroy are all programs that don't affect them. You better damn well believe if they had to rely on Social Security when they retired, that program  would would be fixed and enhanced. They want to have a country where big business controls all the money and the middle class and the poor just starve. Now if that isn't "Kingly" thinking, I don't know what is. Just as the monarchs in Europe controlled everything OF THE PEOPLE, the GOP wants to. Their thinking is, "Everything for me, nothing for thee." 
Steve Borsher Added Feb 13, 2015 - 9:52am
All politicians lie; 0bama is a politician; 0bama lies: QED. He lied to get elected, and continues to lie to this day.
Actually it is my new alias who is here. I did say I would keep up with comments on my articles; I just don't have time now to comment on other articles. That said, I am about to post a new article; but only because it wrote itself last nigh.
Carole McKee Added Feb 13, 2015 - 3:41pm
Steve--All politicians lie; 0bama is a politician; 0bama lies: QED. He lied to get elected, and continues to lie to this day.
While that is true, I think it's important to notice the importance placed on the lie. Those who are against Obama, (Republicans) point out, enhance, focus and dwell on anything Obama might have said that wasn't quite true; yet gloss over any falsehood said by anyone in their party.  And that goes for any misdeed, as well. 
What has the worst impact?
"You can keep your current insurance." or "We have proof of weapons of mass destruction."? You may say the latter one unless you had  loved one killed or maimed over there in the Middle East. 
Another one.
"I didn't have sex with that woman." vs. "I am not a crook." Which is more serious? A blow job or a break-in and theft? And which one is dwelt upon?
Or how about the Benghazi incident? How many people died there as opposed to the innocent deaths in the Trade Center? Yet we all know that Bush was warned about that and ignored it. 
That's all I'm saying. I would rather have to change insurance companies than have to bury a loved one brought home from Iraq or Afghanistan. Which would you rather do?
Steve Borsher Added Feb 13, 2015 - 3:51pm
I would rather have a president with some backbone. "No drama 0bama", and the "appeaser in chief" fit him very well. He took the Tucson shooting and used it to boot up his reelection campaign. He had AF1 flown around the NYC skies for a photo op, scaring the entire city. He took his wife to NYC on a $25000 taxpayer paid junket almost immediately after being elected. He spends a lot of time trying to play golf, to the embarrassment of everyone but him. He visited Louisiana exactly once during the Gulf spill. He has insulted both Netanyahu and Putin on their visits to the White House. He named his dog after himself. He is at once a conniver and a bumbling fool; even his former advisors are outing him now. And that is the last I will discuss 0bama in this thread, because I have given up on trying to get anyone at WB to see the obvious.
Carole McKee Added Feb 13, 2015 - 3:57pm
JM Albaine--you said you believe in Jesus Christ.....I believe I said I worship Jesus Christ, but yes, I believe in him. I also said I don't believe Obama is a king. You keep saying that, so you obviously think so. Well, that's your choice. AND HOW DARE YOU make a statement referring to me and my little people!!! Who do you think your are? You have your opinions and just because mine differ from yours, it doesn't make me less of a person, or less intelligent. Maybe you have more degrees than I have, but I doubt it. The big difference between us is that I care about HUMAN BEINGS. Not wealth, not big business, not material things--but people. And that doesn't take big intelligent brains--just a big heart. You should probably go live in the Middle East somewhere. You obviously have as little caring and respect for human life as Al Qaeda.
Carole McKee Added Feb 16, 2015 - 1:51pm
JM Albaine--You are such compassionate wonderful person with a big heart. You are correct.
And the real tragedy is that you, and many like you, have forgotten or overlooked why this country was founded and what it stood for.