Known as the Fourth Estate, the American news media is a key part our government and society. Which is why the recent scandal involving NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams misremembering facts regarding a 2003 helicopter attack in Iraq is so troubling to some people.
But as Jon Stewart pointed out on Monday's edition of the Daily Show, the real concern lies in how the media is covering the Williams fallout with a lot more rigor and concern than anyone ever had during the actual Iraq War.
"Bri. Why? Why Bri? Why Bri lie? Sigh."
The Williams scandal in and of itself is very strange and worth considering. As Stewart notes, "Like with most cases of masturbation, typically being caught is punishment enough. Self-love can be a bad habit — you probably shouldn't do it at your work desk."
Though perhaps, as Stewart explains, "The truth of what a reporter is saying is all in the direction his face is turned." For instance:
But as Stewart points out, the considerably more disconcerting fact of the situation is how closely the media is scrutinizing Williams and his very minor involvement in the Iraq War in comparison to how loosely it covered the war itself.
Though countless media outlets like CNN, MSNBC and Fox have been taking Williams and his credibility to task, as Stewart points out, in the grand scheme of reporting, this recent scandal is actually small fries compared to the lackluster job all those same media organizations did in covering the Iraq War. And even though many of those same people are calling for Williams' resignation, they have no problem exonerating themselves for the bad reporting that may have very well led to the country's involvement in the war.
If the media is so concerned with credibility, maybe it should take a closer look at itself and its recent history of war reporting. It's one thing to misreport a fact about a rocket-propelled grenade hitting a helicopter. It's something entirely different to misreport the circumstances leading to an entire war.