In the past week, almost everyone has weighed in on Brian Williams: various journalists, op ed columnists, talking heads. I had even thought of commenting myself, although I’m not in any of those categories. Instead I’ll comment on NBC’s reaction to Williams’s embellishments.
I think the media giant handled the situation appropriately. It took Williams off the air for six months without pay, and it didn’t say what would happen after that. There are those who think the nightly newscaster won’t return, and there are those who think he deserves a second chance.
But imposing a six-month time-out enables everyone involved to breathe. NBC has time to investigate if there are any other cases where Williams was less than forthright. It also buys time to see if Lester Holt, the stand-in, garners an audience. And it takes this problem off the front page.
I would only hope it also signals that our country is turning the corner on such behavior. Perhaps in the future those who misuse the public trust (I’m thinking politicians, Congress people, and corporate liars here) will also be treated to a serious time-out. Or worse.