Brian Williams And The One That Got Away

Embellishment! The whopper! The big lie! I have done it; perhaps you have too. We have all done it. We have told our friends, co-workers and even our family an account of the “one that got away”. A story that started in truth. However, over time with every added twist and turn, it becomes an outright fabrication; or, as my mother would call it… “A Bald-Faced Lie.”

We are seeing the results of “telling the one that got away” play out in the saga of Brian Williams; the anchor of the top rated NBC Nightly News. For years, Williams has been making the rounds with a story claiming that his helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade while reporting from Iraq. Now, after a decade of soaking in the accolades reserved for a war hero the story has proven not to be true.

Williams issued an apology saying that over the years he unfortunately, conflated the account of the helicopter that was hit with rocket fire, with the account of his helicopter; which actually was not.   This was the explanation given to us from a man who the nation trusted for accurate reporting; and he has done very little to clear the air. Williams, who has the job of reporting the news has now become the news; which resulted in him voluntarily removing himself off the air for a few days.

So, what can we learn from this, besides the obvious? If we are the most “trusted” news reporter in the United States, should we jeopardize our career by telling the one that got away?

I believe that there are additional things that we can learn from this story: Trust, Integrity and Second Chances

Here are my thoughts.

1, We All Lie

In John, chapter 8 a woman who was caught committing adultery was brought to Jesus before being stone to death. The Jewish leaders, attempting to trick Jesus asked Him what should they do with the woman. He said “Anyone here who has never sinned should throw the first stone at her.”

As we stand here with stone in hand, ready to throw them at Brian Williams, we need to reflect on ourselves, first. Have we ever embellished? Have we also conflated? Have we ever lied? The answer for me is yes. I love stories, one about myself, and others and as a writer and speaker, I have fallen to the temptation to inflate, to over hype and to lie.

From what I know now, there is no question; Williams’ actions were wrong. He may not be able to retain his current job; if accounts are true and he told the story many times, including to a national audience on David Letterman. However, that decision belongs to his employer, NBC.

The Bottom line for me: But for the grace of God go I; and therefore the stone of this writer, speaker, human resource executive and humble servant of God will remain in his pocket.

2. Money and Power are Blinding  

Brian Williams anchors the top rated nightly news broadcast in America. The program rakes in millions of dollars for NBC. Williams has been given enormous power as anchor of the News and managing editor.

Williams’ fused account of the helicopter rocket fire, has been known by many at NBC for years. There was an NBC crew with him on the helicopter; and let us not forget the executives that signed him to a 10 million dollar per year contract. However, no one challenged Williams about the lie and the possible consequences. Could money and power be the cause of the blindness?

The credibility of the network, the hardworking staff and the other reporters who are actually in the war zone were placed in danger by those that chose to keep quiet.

David the powerful and rich King of Israel involves himself in an adulterous, murderous affair with Bathsheba. David believes that his actions have gone unnoticed until Nathan was sent by God and in a dramatic encounter in 2nd Samuel 12 declares to the King. “You are that Man”

The Bottom line for me: Power and money can blind us from the truth. All leaders, teachers, human resource executives, preachers and anchormen need Nathan’s in our lives. We need people with the courage to withstand the pressure that the money and the power bring. So that we can mount the power to reveal the truth to those in power.

 3. Everyone Deserves A Second Chance

We all know that trust is hard to earn; but easy to lose. In nearly a decade in the nightly news anchor chair Brian Williams has earned our trust. In the days and weeks that follow, we will see if he can keep or regain that trust.

However, if that is not the case and Brian Williams lose his job as anchor of the NBC Nightly News, he deserves more than a second chance. He deserves our forgiveness.

Jesus Christ died on the cross so that our sins would be forgiven. Forgiveness is giving pardon, acquittal and mercy for our sinful acts. Jesus forgives us regardless of what we have done.

Luke 7:36-48 tells the story of a sinful woman who crashes a dinner party attended by Jesus asking forgiveness by washing his feet with her own teas and drying them with her hair. The outraged party host demanded to know why Jesus would even allow such a sinful woman in his presence. Jesus responds by saying “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But, a person who is forgiven little, shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The Bottom line for me: Brian your sins are forgiven. Your second chance is now; regardless of your job status at NBC. You are a talented reporter and broadcaster and I look forward to seeing you on the air again.

The one that did not get away

The teachable moment for all of us is not about the conflations of Brian Williams.

We should take this moment and think about how we acknowledge our own sinful nature and reframe from throwing stones. How can we become Nathans and resist being blinded from the truth, money and power? Additionally, how do we give second chances and forgive?

For if we truly love our neighbor as ourselves, we would want nothing less, when we find ourselves as Brian Williams has with the one that got away.

©Copyright 2015 Marben Bland

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