Brian Williams lies
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
9 February 2015
Brian Williams lie is a result of NBC brand
We Americans are a forgiving bunch. When scandals hit, they usually blow over if they don’t linger. As John Huston said in the movie Chinatown, “Politicians, ugly buildings and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.”
Which brings us to NBC new anchor Brian Williams, who has admitted to lying about being under fire in a helicopter in Iraq in 2003. (A good timeline is here.) He said the copter came under fire from an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade), which was evidently not true.
Now Williams is taking a leave of absence, saying he has become too much a part of the news and may not be back for several days. It’s the right strategy as the news cycle spins so fast that the leave may make many viewers forget about the whole thing.
But I’m not so sure. While we don’t live in the same era as Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley anymore, the news anchor position – especially on a network evening news show – has its own brand equities. Foremost among them is honesty.
Once that public trust is broken, it’s hard to get back – especially if it’s the paramount brand equity in your arsenal. It’d be like if Nike shoes started causing injuries (so you couldn’t “Just Do It”).
That’s not to say Williams won’t be back and continue his career as the NBC News anchor, but I’d suggest keeping track of the ratings. NBC News, which also oversees The Today Show, Meet The Press, MSNBC and CNBC, has been under attack recently as all outlets have seen their ratings drop. The mishandling of Ann Curry’s cruel ouster from The Today Show put it behind ABC’s Good Morning America for morning TV, for instance. And there are other examples.
There’s an inherent distrust factor going on at NBC News that the Williams lie simply ties a ribbon on. I have ranted about the failure of mainstream media to be nothing more than entertainment, celebrity-chasing entities that value personality over information. Argument over truth.
The Williams lie, an attempt to bolster his own image, is a result of that cynical culture. If Williams and NBC want to regain the public trust, it should change the whole NBC News brand.
Only then will the apology (and return) of Williams make a difference.
Ataribox Tom Dougherty, CEO - Stealing Share 18 July 2017 Ataribox is perfect for this moment in time I’ll repeat just as I have said in the past, “I am by no means a video gamer.” But I do know Atari and have an interest in Ataribox. But my lack of gaming skills...
Time rebranding Tom Dougherty, CEO - Stealing Share 17 July 2017 Time rebranding is fools gold with name change News reports say there’s a Time rebranding effort afoot. And I think it’s fool’s gold to think that will make the company (and its magazines) more relevant....
Boston Scientific Tom Dougherty, CEO - Stealing Share 13 July 2017 Boston Scientific TV spot doesn't create preference There are few, if any, companies that brand products and companies in the medical device category more than Stealing Share. We’ve worked with...