The real Brian Williams crime is that fucking bronzer he uses.
— John Cole (@Johngcole) February 5, 2015
Apparently the scandal of the day is that last week, Brian Williams was at a Rangers game with a retired CSM, and the Rangers and fans honored the CSM for his service. Apparently, fifteen years ago, Williams was embedded with the unit in Iraq, and one of the choppers was hit by an rpg and went down. The CSM was one of the soldiers on the BFV that defended the helicopters for several days, and he and Williams kept in touch, so Williams invited him to the game so they could reunite. All in all, a nice gesture to a guy who spent 23 years in the military and earned three bronze stars.
Here’s where it goes south. Williams apparently misremembered/lied/whatever, and stated in his tribute that he was on the helicopter that got hit. Some of the guys on the chopper that actually was hit took umbrage, and Williams apologized and said he misremembered. This is now being treated as if Williams was caught in a General’s uniform in a New Jersey mall pretending to be a medal of honor winner.
Let me start by saying a couple things. I don’t care for Williams or his delivery. I find him at least partially responsible for the abomination that is Girls, as his spawn is one of the stars.
Having said that, I find this to be a pretty big nothing-burger. He wasn’t trying to personally profit from the situation, he was just trying to do something nice for the CSM. He even initially accurately reported what happened, and only now seems to have screwed up the narrative. And he immediately apologized when he realized he was wrong, on facebook in the thread where he was confronted, and again on tv tonight:
— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) February 4, 2015
Personally, I’m sympathetic to the notion that he intended no ill will. First, he was doing this to honor a guy who Williams felt defended him for days when Williams was undoubtedly scared. Second, he’s not trying to claim he was some sort of brave soldier, he’s thanking all the guys who defended him. Third, Brian Williams is a civilian with no training whatsoever. He was probably all hopped up on adrenaline just being on the helicopter, let alone in the desert during a war, and then to be told that someone had been hit, etc. I can see how years later it would all run together. Hell, a simple combat landing in a plane would make many civilians think they had been hit by a nuke. I have no practical experience, but I imagine it would be just as dramatic in a helicopter.
Finally, and most importantly, memories fade and get muddled. About 90% of the time when Shawn and I are reminiscing about things we did together while overseas, one of us will say to the other “I remember that happening, but don’t remember if I was there.”
“I think so. I mean, I remember it happening.”
“Or was that me and Geoff?”
“Again, I don’t remember. I remember it happening, but I don’t remember if I was there or there right after.”
It is what it is. Big fish and all that. That’s how memory works, that’s why eyewitness testimony is a shitty thing to use as the sole basis for a conviction, and that’s why old soldiers talk about the same stories over and over again- to retain the collective memory when the individual memory fails, to have a few laughs, and to remember what it was like being young and dumb.
The internet experts are all atwitter on twitter, though. Folks saying things like “I’m pretty sure I’d know if someone aimed at me” or “I know I would remember being shot at,” to which my response is a pretty emphatic “No, you wouldn’t.” If you’re in a helicopter, I’m not sure how the hell you would know if someone was aiming at you or shooting at you unless saw tracers or you got hit, and even then, there are a bazillion stories (A10 pilots are full of them) about aircraft getting back to base and the crew finding holes while the pilot was oblivious to the fact he/she was under fire. Here’s our own Sooner with his own story:
@Johngcole None of them felt the hit or the detonation. They didn't know until we got back to base and they saw the trunk all blown to hell.
— soonergrunt (@soonergrunt) February 5, 2015
Like I said, I don’t care for Williams, but I find this a big nothing. He wasn’t trying to promote himself or steal someone’s valor, he was trying to do a solid to a guy he thinks saved his ass. Sooner, who has a lot more experience than I do, will hopefully chime in.
And no, liberals, this is not the same as Hillary’s sniper fire bullshit, in which she completely made up stuff to embellish herself. Here, Williams just misspoke (misremembered/whatever blows your trumpet) in a tribute to an American soldier.
BTW- if I read more and he was lying repeatedly about this, I’ll change my opinion accordingly.