Variety: NBC execs were warned of Williams lies

If this is true, a whole bunch of people's heads at NBC should be on the block.

Variety reports that several NBC executives knew of Williams' lies about his Iraq War adventure and even counseled him not to repeat them. Indeed, it appears that the network refused to air Williams' claims about being shot down.

Incredibly, there was one instance on air, where Williams actually told the truth about the incident

What makes Williams’ admission worse, according to one person familiar with the situation, is that he had been counseled in the past by senior NBC News executives to stop telling the story in public. The advice, this person said, was not heeded.  One person familiar with current NBC News operations disputed that information.

Williams’ version of the story has never been allowed in NBC News programs, according to three people familiar with the unit. Indeed, in a March 2003 episode of “Dateline,” Williams described the helicopter trip accurately. “On the ground, we learned the Chinook ahead of us was almost blown out of the sky,” he said while narrating a report.

The way in which the story has transformed under his telling may prove unacceptable to a news audience, suggested Doug Spero, an associate professor of communication at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., who has worked at various New York TV-news outlets. “A memory loss is OK, if it is a minor detail about something in a story, but when you are personally involved in an incident there is no room for compromise.  I have always said, ‘I believe you until I can’t believe you any more.’ This may be that case.  All we have is our credibility.  Once you lose that, your general worth has been lowered.”

NBC News executives knowingly put on the air a serial fabcricator - a liar, a embellisher of the facts. Any hit to NBC's tattered credibility should be shared by those executives who failed the public by continuing to give Williams a prominent platform.

If the investigation by NBC confirms this information, more employees than Brian Williams should lose their jobs. Maureen Dowd  points out that the upper echelons of the news division couldn't challenge Williams openly:

NBC executives were warned a year ago that Brian Williams was constantly inflating his biography. They were flummoxed over why the leading network anchor felt that he needed Hemingwayesque, bullets-whizzing-by flourishes to puff himself up, sometimes to the point where it was a joke in the news division.

But the caustic media big shots who once roamed the land were gone, and “there was no one around to pull his chain when he got too over-the-top,” as one NBC News reporter put it.

It seemed pathological because Williams already had the premier job, so why engage in résumé inflation? And you don’t get those jobs because of your derring-do.

When Williams was declared the hair apparent to Tom Brokaw in 1995, hailed by Jay Leno as “NBC’s stud muffin,” I did a column wondering why TV news programs only hired pretty white male clones. I asked Williams if he was an anchor android.

“Not that I’m aware of,” he said gamely, in his anchor-desk baritone. “I can deny the existence of a factory in the American Midwest that puts out people like me.”

An indictment of network news, to be sure. When the "talent" can become so powerful that those responsible for putting a newscast on the air don't feel they can challenge the veracity of their employees - even in private - the inmates are indeed, running the asylum.

NBC News president Deborah Turness will not fire those in the executive offices who refused to do anything substantitive about Williams' fabrication.. To do so, she would reveal herself to be incompetent. So Williams is likely to take the fall alone and those who enabled his lies will continue on.

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