Brian Williams is a liar. I’m on the level. He’s admitted to telling tall tales told in moments of ego-driven fanaticism, and mostly to his pals on late night talk shows. You can no longer take his face at face value. After being grounded for six months, Brian emerged from his liars’ lair on Little NBC (MSNBC) to anchor team coverage of Pope Francis’ first visit to the U.S. In honor of his return last month, I want to share a story with you that I’ve kept quiet throughout this entire scandal.
I know Brian Williams rather well. In 2003, I was a producer on Dateline in New York. Within a matter of months, I was promoted to Special Producer for Brian Williams himself. Despite his crazy schedule and all the demands on him, we became fast friends and trusted colleagues. I joined him as we covered Katrina in 2005. I was with him on that helicopter that was forced to land in the Iraqi desert. When we returned to Manhattan, we celebrated the fact that we survived at the Rum House on Broadway. And we returned there a month or two later – to celebrate an offer I’d just received to run the international news operations of E! Networks in Los Angeles. He was ecstatically happy for me. I teared up a bit. We would no longer work together, but I admired him as a news professional. It was the best job I ever had.
Now let me share something else with you. Everything I just told you was a pile of half-truths, exaggerations, okay, I was lying through my teeth. I once worked atABC with Jennings and Walters and Sawyer, but never at NBC. Honestly, I’ve never met Brian Williams. The only true statement was that I admired Brian Williams. And even that’s no longer true. I’m totally above board here. Brian’s war stories, like the one I just shared, are classic examples of people using counterfeit credentials to establish that they are relevant… to spin their own stories to remain in the spotlight… to feel worthy of your attention and respect. But Brian’s job as a journalist puts him into an elite category where stretching the truth is verboten. That’s why his lies are unforgivable – because he was paid mega-millions to earn our trust and tell the truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth. And we fell for it. To be honest, his lies were no bigger than the ones you and I tell – he just had a bigger audience. And more importantly, he got caught.
Trust me when I tell you American society is built on a solid foundation of lies. We expect our presidents to lie to us:
“I am not a crook.”
“I did not have sex with that woman.”
“They have weapons of mass destruction.”
I swear, it takes a pathological liar to become a successful politician… or a mortgage banker… or a pedophile priest… or an N-S-A employee. Millions of you watch a cable news network that spins and skews and alters facts into fiction 24/7. You know they’re doing it. Yet you still choose to watch. We don’t punish liars. We celebrate them. Ironically, Americans tend to praise liars and punish truth-tellers. Ever heard of a dude named Edward Snowden, who gave up his life and career to expose our own governments’ lies? He’s been banished to Russia for exposing the truth. Yeah, if that sorry bastard ever comes back here, let’s throw him in the federal pen for life, the truth-telling son-of-a-bitch! Which brings me to soon-to-be elected President Trump. His campaign speeches, in my opinion, are littered with inaccuracies, fabrications, distortions falsehoods and evasions. And he’s become “America’s sweetheart!” Truth be told, I’ll probably be voting for that narcissistic, folicly-challenged phony. Best let sleeping dogs lie.
Truth is truly stranger than fiction. Take lie detectors. Even they lie. Did you know you can alter the results of a lie detector test by tightening your sphincter muscle during questioning? No shit. It produces a measurable reaction in your nervous system. Now seriously, how many of you just tightened your sphincter? Don’t lie.
To be perfectly honest, we all say we believe in truth, justice and the American way, but we’d rather hear,
“ No, you don’t look fat”
“Your baby is adorable”
or my favorite and most used,
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
No. It’s you. Trust me.
We hear what we want to hear. And we seek out friends and lovers who tell us what we want to hear. And on occasion when we catch that friend or lover in a lie, we sit in judgement. Because honesty is the best policy. Right. And if you truly believe that, you’re just lying to yourself.