I never saw the elephant. I served in between gulf wars, two deployments to the Persian Gulf, four consecutive years arduous sea duty aboard the finest frigate in the Navy. Having been a sailor, sailors lie, so when I recount my sea stories, they usually seem a little more exciting, a little more colorful than they actually were. I enhanced, I exaggerated, I embellished, I probably lied, but I never told anyone I saw the elephant, because even lying, cursing, drunken sailors have rules. You don't say you've seen combat, if in fact you haven't.
On March 26, 2003 during an airing of "Dateline," Brian Williams reported Tom Brokaw that he was riding in a military helicopter that was forced to the ground while flying over Iraq. He added, that once on the ground, they learned that another helicopter took damage from an RPG. In the twelve years since the incident, I'm certain that Williams recounted the episode to countless people, and just as I earlier described the recounting of my sea stories, I have no doubt the story got a little more interesting with each conveyance. Ten years later, when Williams appeared on "The Late Show" with David Letterman, he recounted that "two of the four helicopters" in their squad were hit by ground fire from RPGs including the one which Williams was in.
In early February 2015, social media rears it ugly head when some people involved in the original 2003 incident, raised questions about Williams actual involvement. In response, in a Facebook post which in retrospect only tended to show Williams' propensity for excessive verbiage, served to further cloud the issue. America, en masse, became outraged and on Sunday, February 8, NBC announced that Williams would be suspended for 6 months without pay. Which brings us to the question, why or more succinctly, why now?
Brian Williams has been telling and retelling and enhancing this story for the past 12 years, surely somebody at NBC must have know he was lying. (It's likely he had someone, like say, a cameraman that was embedded with him probably). Nobody checked the story, nobody cared, because lying has become mainstream.
In 1980, Washington Post author Janet Cooke, wrote an article about an eight year old, third generation heroin addict, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing on April 13, 1981. Two days later when it was discovered that the story was fabricated, Cooke was fired by the Post, forced to return the prize and now lives in relative obscurity in Kalamazoo Michigan. Thirty Four years later, Sean Hanity and Bill O'Reilly lie on a nightly basis, yet no one outside of Media Matters seems to care.
The fact is, nobody bothered to fact check Williams' Iraq stories, because everybody lied about Iraq. Colin Powell, Dick Chaney, Judith Miller and George Bush lied repeatedly and convincingly for several months in order to convince The American People that we needed to go to war in Iraq... and not shallow, harmless lies, big fat Tommy Flanagan pants on fire lies that no one should have believed anyway like
We Will, In Fact, Be Greeted As Liberators
It is unknowable how long that conflict [the war in Iraq] will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.
We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons — the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.
Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.
We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.
The people who now doubt whether or not Saddam really has WMD programs, chemical and bacteriological in particular, are really two types. Either they work for Saddam or they're doing human imitation of an ostrich. They really are, I think, no other possibilities.
Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly . . . all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes.
Nobody should have believed any of these lies and yet every member of the media, in lockstep parroted every lie uttered by the Bush Administration.
So what should be done about Brian Williams? Let me be clear, I am in no way defending Brian Williams (he said he saw the elephant, when he didn't see the elephant), but the powers that be at NBC can't cry foul now and point to Williams as the big liar, when they've all played the game. Those same powers that be at NBC, allow representatives of the right-wing-hate-machine to appear on the weekly Sunday morning talk shows and lie unchallenged, because, as Chuck Todd admits, he allows guests to lie on Meet The Press, because if he didn’t, politicians (Republicans) would refuse to be on his show.
So once again, I'm not advocating for Brian Williams' return to NBC, but releasing Williams for lying means nothing if you turn a blind eye to other known, admitted and accomplished liars.
I'm just saying.