Media Under Fire:
The Brian Williams Story - How One Manís Manipulations Left A Lasting Impact On Americaís Trust
For generations, millions of Americans have turned to the trusted anchors of the nightly network news to get detailed perspective on world events.
Like denizens, we flock to the small screen each evening, giving ourselves over in blind faith that the information we receive from these polished, handsome orators is delivered in a balanced manner, without bias or interpretation.
In our part of the bargain, we exchange our trust for ratings points – a measure of the visibility of these news anchors and the presentation of their information. The quest for these ratings points – much like the drive for power and influence in any profession – can create an imbalance that, if not checked, could lead to the abridgement of the trust relationship.
In the case of NBC’s Brian Williams, such a breach has been committed. Like many before him who have been blinded by the light of fame, Williams committed two sins – creating a falsehood involving the U.S. military, and then using his bully pulpit to twist and sinew the facts to manipulate the public.
As we know from Proverbs 19:5 -- A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape – it does appear that Brian Williams, in fact, is paying for his mistakes. NBC News has suspended him for a six-month stretch – but the impact is much deeper.
We, as a public, are left to question our faith in those who anoint themselves as self-righteous; and to consider how to protect ourselves from such blind faith exercises in the future. Proverbs 14:5 -- which states that “A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies” – reminds us that we must look deeply at the faith of those around us to ensure that the trust relationship is warranted.
We all know a Brian Williams in our lives – someone who has leeched on the heroism of others, or portrayed himself or herself as something other than they truly are.
For ourselves, we can understand the impact of such untruths by recalling the words of James 3:2-10. This passage offers us some context in how mighty the spoken word is in creating manipulations that wield more power than even the forces of nature:
For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.