Charles Parker: News, Opinion Should Be Rooted In Fact
By Charles Parker // February 17, 2015
NBC Gag Order On ‘Lyin’ Brian’ Hopes To Muffle Our Criticisms
Over the past few weeks, we have learned of the exaggerations of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams regarding times he spent covering war zones and other disasters.
At first, it seemed he was only guilty of falsely claiming to be on a helicopter that had taken fire and landed emergently while he was covering the Iraq War. But as the drip, drip, drip of the scandal faucet continued, other allegations of Williams’ serial over-elaborations have led to a six-month suspension for the veteran newsman.
When this story first came out, I was ready to give Williams a pass.
First, there’s the old fog-of-war thing. The correspondents who put themselves in harm’s way to give us folks back home details of the shock and awe should be commended. There is a stunning display in Washington DC at the Newseum that pays homage to the many journalists who have been killed covering conflicts. It gives one pause.
ABOVE VIDEO: The Journalists’ Memorial at the Newseum in Washington bears the names of reporters, photographers, editors and others who died or were killed while covering the news.
And second, I would venture to guess that many of us have stretched the truth at times when wanting to be a part of history. I know I have.
One morning in January 1986, I was working at the almost-ready-to-open Cocoa Beach Hilton, preparing the front desk area for customers who would be arriving in a few days. It was bitter cold outside. I figured the Challenger wouldn’t launch.
A construction worker walked in the lobby and told us, “The rocket just blew up.” And I had missed it.
Within hours, however, when I started speaking to friends in Virginia, from where I had moved a few years prior, I regaled them with stories of my eyewitness view of the accident from the roof of the high-rise hotel on the ocean.
A couple of weeks later, after I had watched funerals and crying relatives, after I had realized the impact on my new home county, I came clean. And I was glad I did.
Brian Williams kind of came clean…about the helicopter story. But then the feeding frenzy got out of control – overwhelming his damage control. And NBC punted, probably putting a gag order on Lyin’ Brian, hoping that a hiatus will muddle our thoughts and muffle our criticisms.
People should expect more from the ones who are delivering the news. There has to be distinguishing characteristics between reporting the news without bias and promoting one’s personal opinion.
That is why – as I have been writing both for Space Coast Daily – I want to make the distinction.
When you see my byline – and only my byline – it is a straight news story. It has been sourced and checked and double-checked. Sometimes sources might have to be anonymous, but that is standard-operating-procedure in journalism. You can rest assured that they are legit.
When you see my column title – “Out on a Wire…Without a Net” – it is my opinion. It is researched. It sometimes will give both sides. But make no mistake, it is biased.
And – in both – as all published news and opinion should be – it is rooted in fact.
Brian Williams obviously has some deficiency there. I doubt America will see him at 6:30 in the evening anymore behind the anchor desk…at least those who still watch won’t…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charles Parker writes a weekly perspective/opinion column, Out on the Wire…Without a Net, on Space Coast Daily which appears every Tuesday.
He is a longtime resident of Brevard County and has been writing for various publications for the last 40 years – both print and digital. Parker covers space, politics, religion, and other news and special events for Space Coast Daily.
Currently, Parker is an aerospace engineering teacher at Merritt Island High School. He is also the director of both the da Vinci Academy of Aerospace Technology and the Academy of Hospitality, Entrepreneurship, and Tourism at MIHS. He is a professor of Humanities and World Religions at Eastern Florida State College and Valencia College.
Parker has worked extensively in the tourism and aerospace industries in Brevard. He has also been a United Methodist pastor and director of a non-profit to help young adults aging out of foster care. He was formerly a board member at Brevard Achievement Center and the Childcare Association of Brevard. He was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to the Children’s Services Council from 1999-2003.
Parker earned a BA in Organizational Management from Warner University and a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. He is married, has four children and one grandchild.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cpbrevard_scd
AUTHOR NOTE: These views are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Brevard Public Schools, Eastern Florida State College or Valencia College.