Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Hope for Brian Williams

I wrote about Brian Williams and the allurement of celebrity here.

But my hope is that the country, which has seemed so gleeful in its condemnation of and laughter at Brian Williams, will forgive him and that NBC will reinstate Williams once the anchor has done "his time."

How many of us, prone to exaggeration and telling what I call, "heroes of our own story" tales, haven't been guilty, unintentionally or otherwise, of the same wrongs as Williams? And most of us haven't been in the public eye when we've told such stories, meaning that we're not as widely and unceremoniously vilified for our exaggerations as Brian Williams has been.

The Williams story is, as I suggested in that earlier post, cautionary. Those with aspirations to be famous should think twice about their ambitions. Fame is like money, of which Jesus said: "What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" (Mark 8:36) If fame or money become our aims, we may gain both but lose ourselves in the process.

Brian Williams, unlike many in the public eye, has admitted his wrong. Forthrightly, without excuses. Chastened, this man who has been, it seems, a responsible journalist, should get the grace and second chance that we all assume we ourselves deserve.

Some feel that Williams deserves no consideration because he has a lot of money, as though money softens the blow, as though money were his motivation for being a journalist. These ideas miss the point. No amount of money can compensate for the guilt and regret Williams must feel right now.

Nor can it give him the sense of fulfillment he likely felt from pursuing his calling as a fair-minded journalist.

Unlike some public figures, whose "apologies" are nothing but recriminations toward those who hold them accountable or who view their mea culpas as pro forma hoops they need to jump through in order to gain the honors they believe they deserve, Williams seems genuinely repentant.

His suspension seems to be an appropriate consequence of his breach of journalistic propriety. In other words, the "punishment" fits the "crime."

But, having accepted his medicine, Brian Williams shouldn't be forced to be a scapegoat wandering in the wilderness for the rest of his life.

In six months' time, Williams should be back at his desk on the NBC Nightly News. If not there, some other news organization should use his considerable talents.

At least that's what I think.

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