I’ve seen a number of articles and blog posts claiming that Brian Williams’s fantasies of being embattled in Iraq don’t matter because, as the reasoning usually seems to go, “Who cares?” I disagree.
I gave up on television news three decades ago, when broadcast news morphed from being a “service” to being a “profit center.” I long before had realized I could read four times as much information in half an hour as I could passively have poured into me from television (and without the commercials). Nevertheless, Williams’s perfidy, intentional or not, matters greatly.
At Psychology Today Blogs, Denise Cummins discusses this; here’s a bit:
The media is the “fourth estate.” It has tremendous power to influence policy and hence history. And for that reason, news anchors can’t just be pretty faces, charismatic celebrities, or entertainers. They have to be people of integrity who are held to high standards. We need to know that what we are being told is the truth. And that means that news anchors must remain dispassionate, disinterested, and truthful reporters.
We already have one major “news” network dedicated to spreading propaganda and falsehood to poison public discourse. We need trustworthy–not error-free, which is an impossible goal, but given in good faith–reportage so as to make informed decisions.
Otherwise, the country will go to hell even faster than it already is.