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Brian Williams: Katrina was all about ME ME ME ME

NBC's Brian Williams decided he didn't get enough face time during Katrina so he made a 30 minute TV special to highlight what a wonderful person he was. Ostensibly it is about Katrina "In His Own Words" but in reality it was 30 minutes of the most self-serving bile, I've seen in quite some time. It's so bad I won't even link it. (google is your friend)

The show was a disaster worthy of Hurricane Katrina.

Williams sits on a stool on a set built to look like he was backstage somewhere. -Where exactly they never say, but they needed someplace that felt grittier than his usual plush surroundings.- As he sits on the stool pontificating narrating, they run footage to bolster his point.

Picking the worst part of the show is simply impossible, but one of the absolute low points came when Williams ran some footage of his cameraman telling what he had seen at the convention certer... It was a moving interview to be sure. The problem was none of what the guy said was true. He spoke of bodies surrounding the convention center... He said he saw 2 babies who died of dehydration. That's odd, because they never existed, we know that now. Either the cameraman was hallucinating or he was lying. I could excuse such poor reporting in the heat of battle but this is simply inexcusable.

Some two and a half months after the storm has passed, NBC is not only still getting the story wrong, they bragging about how great a job they did. It's simply amazing.*

Then Williams spends the last half of the show talking about how great the media was... How they "found their voice." Bovine Scatology. The media got greater than 80% of what they reported dead wrong. If government (at all levels) did the same job as the media we WOULD have had 10,000 people dead... And Williams is proud of this debacle?

I suppose for someone who has not followed the Katrina story and is completely ignorant, they came off impressed by Williams performance. As someone who has (nearly obsessively) tried to sort fact from media fiction, Williams came off as a self absorbed ego maniac exploiting the poor people of New Orleans for face time.

Save yourself the trouble of watching this nonsense. It was media looting at its worst.

Watch the National Geographic special instead. They simply do a fact based chronology of events as they happened. Plenty of material I've never seen presented elsewhere, and I only spotted 2 or 3 things in that show they got wrong and those were minor as I recall (and/or excusable). By and large they nailed it. I might review it later but for now, TiVo it and skip the Brian Williams self-love fest.


* Postscript: It should not pass without noting that NBC send a CAMERAMAN to the convention center. But when they spoke about the convention center then did not show his FOOTAGE they INTERVIEWED him and got is STORY. Why? Did his camera break?

The only pictures they showed in the special were AP stills. If this CAMERAMAN saw such horrific things, why didn't he have footage? If NBC had to get AP stills to make their point and they could not use his footage, shouldn't it have been obvious that something about his story was amiss? In another place and time this would be a media scandal as big as any. Now we just shake our heads and acknowledge that Brian Williams and NBC went to the Dan Rather school of journalism ethics.


Comments (7)

Excellent points, Paul (esp... (Below threshold)

Excellent points, Paul (especially the postscript). Of course the hard facts would have lacked the sensationalism they so desperately needed, and they wouldn't have been able to so intricately interweave the threads of their greater agenda.

If you have an opportunity to grab an issue, this month's issue of Car and Driver contained an excellent first-person account of Katrina in Mississippi from one of their former editors-in-chief who rode the storm out in Pass Christian. Without directly addressing the point, he tells a story that suggests that resources and rescuers were there, but simply overwhelmed by the magnitude of the catastrophe. Which brings to mind the assessment that, although there were some problems that were likely avoidable, there is really no way we could have been totally prepared for the worst hurricane disaster to strike the United States in modern history.

Your postscript was loud an... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Your postscript was loud and clear by the fourth paragraph of the main post. At that point, I was already scratching my head wondering where the images were, and rolling my eyes at the irony.

I truly hate the MSM, and that started before I left high school in the late 70's. Self absorbed morons.

I think the only person tha... (Below threshold)

I think the only person that did anything remotely authentic was Anderson Cooper of CNN. I don't agree 100% with his take of things, but he was there in the thick of things, with nary more than his cameraman and himself. His outburst at Sen. Mary Landrieu's self-congratulatory press conference remnided her and others that there was still work to be done and they'd do well to get to it rather than thank themselves and other politicos.

As for Brian Williams, there was a photoblog that went around in the first few days after Katrina. I wish I could remember the guy's name (he was from South America and worked for a hotel in New Orleans), but he took photos of the press posing in various guises of concern. He blasted Williams for mouthing off at a lost passerby who asked him for directions. The blogger blasted Williams for being loathe to interact with anyone other than his cameraman and multitude of prodocuers.

I heard about this "special" a couple of weeks ago and groaned. Our media has gone Oprah on us: the media's "having found its' voice" and the self-congratulatory tone jounalists take when they deign to cover a story. I hope things like this make the network news audiences disappear in droves. People like Williams are models and entertainers who want to be called professionals. Give me a break!

Dan Rather began Storm Porn... (Below threshold)
marlowe anderson:

Dan Rather began Storm Porn a couple decades ago, and it has only gotten worse because the Williams' types think it shows how brave and manly and insightful they are. We'd all be better off if they stayed in their suites in NY and let the professional weather people from the weather channel do what is necessary to keep the public informed and as up to date as possible. What Williams and others do is try to immediately assess blame for what are actually acts of Nature and have been going on since long before recorded history of any kind, much less photo journalism of the TV age. I can't remember--did Tom Brokaw ever behave like Williams? Somehow, I doubt it.

I stopped watching Williams... (Below threshold)
Redhand:

I stopped watching Williams after seeing him take one too many pot shots at the Bush Administration in the guise of reporting the "news." The guy is right up there with Dan Rather, an insufferable, self-absorbed pretty boy who thinks his sh*t doesn't stink. And since he can't smell it, we're not supposed to notice either, I guess.

Over the last few months I find I cannot even handle the Sunday talk shows. I've shut down on the MSM completely. The bias is so nausiatingly obvious, and the "reporting" so inept, that I've concluded it is a complete waste of time. These bastards simply report what they WANT the story to be, not what the facts are. And they have the nerve to call themselves "news organizations." As you said at the beginning, Bullsh*t.

Brian williams that guy is ... (Below threshold)
BIRDZILLA:

Brian williams that guy is full of himself why dont he try sticking his foot in his mouth but he dose that everyday

quit your bitching. forget ... (Below threshold)
caroline:

quit your bitching. forget what you think about brian williams and remember that yeah he might have had it better in new orleans during katrina, but he still stayed when he could have left. he saw things no one should have to see. and most importantly he told a story to the rest of the world about what happened here. i'm from new orleans and i can't imagine staying during those days after the storm especially if i really could have left. its the fucking media, get over it. if you have that big of a problem, DON'T FUCKING WATCH TELEVISION.




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