File under: ‘What was he thinking?’

Published 6:25 pm Tuesday, February 10, 2015

As far as I can understand, the Brian Williams saga is another one of those stories to file under the heading: What Was He Thinking.” It’s hard to feel sorry for someone who makes 13 million dollars a year, but I do.

It’s another of those stories that we hear about when someone who seems to have the world by the tail does something so inexplicable, you want to ask, “Why would he do that?”

I don’t know the answer, but it scares me when I am reminded of how quickly bad things can happen to someone who seems to be a pretty good guy.

Email newsletter signup

It doesn’t matter that I don’t watch NBC News and am not familiar with Brian Williams’ work. I do know that he is the anchor for the Nightly News and I know that is a very prestigious job and pays very well. I mentioned the 13 million dollars that he earns annually.

Many have come to his side to offer support and they say that he has worked hard at his craft and that he is a genuinely nice guy whether at work or out in the public. Brian Williams has a nice family and, until now, has only reported the news. It must be uncomfortable “being” the news.

Just a week ago, he was a very trusted man who entered into the homes of almost 10 million Americans each night to bring them NBC’s version of the day’s happenings. He was sitting, symbolically, in the same seat as Tom Brokaw, John Chancellor, and the duo that I remember best, Huntley and Brinkley. His life was set and the setting was very generous.

Unbeknown a week ago, though, was that Brian Williams had stretched the truth on a story about an Iraq War event over a decade ago. His fall from grace was quick and sobering.

It was quick in that, once the story broke, a man’s 30 year reputation was shot in about 3 days. It was sobering in that what he did could happen to any of us.

I say “us.” I don’t mean that all of us would claim to be heroic, as Brian Williams did, when we are not. What I mean is that many of us, perhaps most of us, stretch the truth sometimes.

Who hasn’t heard about the “one that got away” and how big it was. Or even those we catch. How many 6-pounders have become 8-pounders through the years? Who of us hasn’t told a whopper of a snake story that has become just a little more harrowing over the years?

How many of us hold strictly to the admonition to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”

Now, before you think that I am saying that Brian Williams’ tale of being in a helicopter that was hit by incoming fire is the same as our latest fish tale, let me say I am not. There is a difference, but I am not so sure I am able to say what that difference is.

The Bible tells me that we have all fallen short. I believe that and that is the foundation of my sympathy for Brian Williams. He will have to answer for his “tall tale” and I believe the payment will be very expensive. I think I will just lay low or say something like, “There but for the grace of God go I.”