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Where were all of these people now so indignant about Brian Williams' helicopter story when we were being sold a bill of goods on Iraq? (Image: via NBC News)

My Ironic Defense of Brian Williams

Cenk Uygur

First, let me say very clearly from the beginning that I am biased in this case because I know Brian Williams a tiny bit and he has always been fundamentally decent to me.

On the other hand, I'm the guy who wrote the piece Why Brian Williams is Irrelevant. The current controversy surrounding him ties in well with that article I wrote many years ago. People think that Brian Williams is the problem because he exaggerated a war story about Iraq? Are you kidding me? The whole war was based on a monstrous lie that almost the entire media enabled and perpetuated. That's the real problem.

If the rest of the press scapegoat Williams and feign righteous indignation over his lie, as they are in the middle of doing now, it will be unbearable. Where were all of those people when we were being sold a bill of goods on Iraq? Oh I know, on air. They sold us those lies en masse. So, please don't pretend you have integrity now. Please don't pretend that the real problem is an exaggeration about a tiny story in the middle of the war.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for 9/11 when we invaded Iraq. That is the biggest failure of the media I have ever seen. Has anyone apologized for that yet? Has anyone been fired for that yet? If you want to fire all of the executives and editors who let that lie be sold to the American people through their media outlets, then I'm a 100% with you. Then we can also fire Brian Williams.

Don't get me wrong, Williams was definitely part of that media machine. His much bigger issue is that he never told his audience that he had generals on the air who are being paid by defense contractors to push more war while they pretended to be objective analysts. That's a firing offense! But then you'd have to fire almost everyone at NBC, wouldn't you?

While we're firing people, find me the MSNBC executives who got rid of Phil Donahue and Ashleigh Banfield for speaking out against the war. You fire those guys and Brian Williams at the same time and you've got a deal. But their offense was a thousand percent worse and there was never even a discussion about firing them.

The American people are allowed to be outraged at what Brian Williams said; the people who fought against the lies that got us into the Iraq War are allowed to be outraged; but the establishment press who are part and parcel of that system can go ahead and spare me their contrived, bullshit outrage.

This is how the system covers up for their gross failures. Every once in awhile we are offered a sacrificial lamb on a small issue that is a distraction rather than the heart of the matter. Then the media gets to walk away self-satisfied, with an unbearable smug look on their face -- as if they have ethics. Your ethics amuse me. Your faux concern over this issue is vomitous.

If there is someone in the mainstream media that didn't cheerlead for far more egregious lies that got us into the Iraq War, let them be the first to pick up a stone. The rest of you sitting in your giant glass house, either fire yourselves or shut the fuck up.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Cenk Uygur

Cenk Uygur

Cenk Uygur is the founder and CEO of The Young Turks, LLC and the host of the flagship show, The Young Turks (@TheYoungTurks), a daily 2-hour show on YouTube.

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