This is why what Brian Williams said was such a big deal to me, a military family member at the time.
My "little" brother was deployed to Iraq during the 2007 "troop surge." He was 21, and a Specialist in the Army. He had voluntarily enlisted, and was excited to serve his country as his father did. He was going to protect us from the bad guys who caused 9/11. We were supportive of him, but soon it became apparent that the Iraq war was a sham, even to many who were enlisted and coming back. Many were telling stories about how the whole thing was not as we were being told, and they didn't understand why they were being sent there to be blown up for absolutely no reason.
My brother was one of those people. So as a proud American, and someone who had blood on the line, I became his voice, and an anti-war activist. I wasn't so much anti-war as I was pro servicemen and women. Initially I was quite non partisan.
I bought my brother one of the first iPhones, so we could stay in touch. He would call his parents mostly when he could, but was never able to say much. We relied on our information mostly from the evening news. So, when we would hear about a helicopter taking fire, it would effect us deeply. When you have a family member over there, every soldier suddenly becomes your family. Each service member who dies, a loss you mourn, thanking God that the name in the New York Times the next day, wasn't the same last name as yours. You lose a lot of sleep, wait a lot, and pray a lot.
So, how bad was the lie that Brian Williams told about being shot at in the helicopter? For me, personally, as someone who actually had family serving there, pretty bad. Not only was it disrespectful to those who actually did take fire and put their lives on the line everyday, but it was a horrendous disservice to those military family members who watch the news daily to find out what is going on. To lie, on such a topic, is simply unconscionable.
I befriended a military mom from Corona, Queens. Maria Duran. Her son, Alex Jimenez, was one of two (the other being Byron Fouty) soldiers who were kidnapped during an ambush in Iraq. I remember sitting in Mrs. Duran's home, a proud Dominican woman, with her younger boy, and her father who must have been about 85 or so, glued to their televisions, waiting for news on their captive son. She had a military liaison, but they didn't give her much information. Much of what they heard about Alex came from the news, or the internet. Alex, a year later, after many rumors, and confusing misinformation, was found dead. This family agonized wondering about their son, for an entire year. Can you imagine what that must have felt like?
The point that I am trying to make is that, the media has a moral responsibility to accurately report these things as best they can. They must take into consideration that there are families with loved ones over there, who take their word as truth, as hope, or as devastation.
The military didn't give us weekly "updates." We spent our days waiting to hear from loved ones, and we watched the news. THAT was how we learned that our husbands, children, brothers, and sisters, were alive and alright.
I like Brian Williams very much as a TV personality, but at some point, our media cannot be comprised of teleprompter reading monkeys, who will send any crap up the flag pole that is written for them. I understand that if "it bleeds it leads," but we must return to an age of journalistic integrity, where we don't have to choose to receive our information tailor made from bought and sponsored sources with political or corporate agendas, or news outlets that make up lies for ratings.
In the end, I don't think that Brian Williams' career is over. The American public seems to have very short term memory on these things, and he is a well liked guy. I also feel bad for him to a certain degree for being the face and the fall guy. After all, he had producers, cameramen, and the network who allowed this or encouraged it to run. He just took the fall. But at the end of the day, Brian Williams had a CHOICE.
He had a choice to say, "no, I won't lie." he had a choice to act with moral integrity. He chose his paycheck over truth. No one held a gun to his head to lie, they maybe just held a gun to his bank account. That's a tough one when you're so successful in this competitive market, but at the end of the day, he chose his career, and for that, I don't feel sorry for him. Our Nation looked to him. Military family members looked to him. For TRUTH.
Time to bring integrity and truth back into the way we receive our information. I know that is a lot to ask for, but I can remain hopeful. Truth. How about we try that on for size, and see how the public responds.