Brian Williams (Memory and How Time Effects It)

Last week I discussed Brian Williams and the events leading up to his professional predicament and his crisis response to the subsequent public outcry.

The public outcry was one of two responses.  First, silence from the people who knew him, but could not defend his error.  There was no response that would not sound hypocritical and like an excuse to what seemed to be a blatant lie.  Second, the response from other view of the discussion was far more direct and accused directly him of lying.

The error was additionally magnified by Williams’ position of trust as a highly regarded and trusted news voice in the US.  According to a 2014 survey, ABC News and NBC News (Williams’ employer) were both tied as the most well known and most trusted television news sources by both US liberals and conservatives. [1]  His error is considered especially egregious because he “betrayed” his integrity as a journalist.

The major talking points in the media were that he lied to aggrandize himself and he lied which betrayed the integrity and professionalism of the news media.  Neither option is good, but like everything else in the world I don’t think the conclusions are that simple.  The events leading up to the crisis are so well known that it presents a great opportunity to examine memory and it how it (as I understand it) works.

(Please, refer to the time line at the end of the article.)

My question is did he really lie?  I am not contesting that he told an untruth.  There is no doubt that what he said was proven to be wrong.

But, did he lie? Continue reading