Brian Williams and the God Complex

February 9, 2015 5:39 AM

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Brian Williams, the NBC News anchor, is taking himself off the air for, what he says will be, “several days.” He presumably hopes that the media firestorm surrounding claims he made about his reporting experience in Iraq will subside. He will probably be able to hang on—just as the Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino did. (I’m reminded of Marino because he just appeared on my TV screen as a pitchman for Nutrisystem.) In January, 2013, it was revealed that he had fathered a child out of wedlock with a CBS production assistant and had reportedly paid her millions of dollars, in part so his wife and six kids would not hear of it. Marino kept his sportscaster job at CBS. While caught in a different caliber of scandal, it is safe to say that Brian Williams will treat his time away from the news desk as a period of reflection. He will almost certainly cancel his scheduled appearance on CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” this week. And, if captured by cameras, he will likely appear somber. But anyone capable of a long view knows there are often second—and third—acts in American public life.

However, there are some scenarios in which he does not survive as an NBC anchor. One: if more fabrications surface from the work of hundreds, probably thousands, of amateur detectives online—eager to prove that Williams was not telling the truth when he claimed, for instance, that he saw a body floa...

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