LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two days after NBC announced the six-month suspension of Brian Williams, questions have emerged over at least one other statement made by Williams when he was in the Southland.
While speaking at a forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in 2008, an audience member asked Williams what his “wow” interview was or moment in his career.
“What was my wow … I’ve been so fortunate,” he said. “I was at the Brandenburg Gate the night the wall came down.”
What Williams was referring to was the demolition of the Berlin Wall in 1989, but there are now reports that he actually arrived the day after the wall came down.
Williams’ predecessor Tom Brokaw was the only American anchorman to report live from the scene on that historic day.
“If you lose credibility, I think you lose everything, particularly for the ‘Nightly News,’ ” said Jessica Levinson, vice president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.
Levinson, who is also a professor at Loyola Law School, believes Williams lost credibility last week when he admitted he embellished his account of events on board a helicopter over Iraq in 2003.
“People are amnesiacs. They forget about these things. They forgive because people see him on TV, and they see you on TV every night and you’re part of their lives but not when he’s starting to look like a liar,” she said.
Levinson says Williams’ misstatements and embellishments not only hurt him and his network but people’s trust in journalists.
“When journalists make themselves part of the story and that’s fabricated, I think it really shakes the public,” she said.
Levinson says as a result of becoming part of the story over the years he may have started to believe it himself.
She believes this controversy will be what Williams will be remembered for instead of his journalistic achievements and success.