Brian Williams and NBC: No honor, No shame. No future

February 9, 2015

“I became a journalist because I didn’t want to rely on newspapers for information. “ – Chris Hitchens

Brian Williams has been the face of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and now he seems to be the face of shameless too. Williams has regaled his gullible Media colleagues for a decade or more about a brush with death in Iraq that never happened. The Stars and Stripes, not the NY Times or the Washington Post, busted Mr. Williams. According to the chronology revealed in the Stars and Stripes, the false tale of near death in combat was embellished over time, becoming more heroic with each telling to audiences like David Letterman and Alec Baldwin.

Blowing a fairytale past Deborah Turness, Baldwin, or Letterman is no surprise, but hockey fans are another matter. Seems that somewhere out in flyover country, some 3rd Infantry Division veterans saw Brian’s fatal, and hopefully final, version of stolen valor – and dropped a dime to the newspaper of record for American GI’s.

Williams was at the Ranger’s game in New York burnishing his “I support the troops” facade by posing with a disabled veteran and spinning another “combat” yarn about himself at the same time. The William’s ego spot at Madison Square Garden was never about the sacrifices of real veterans.

The cameo was about hubris, worse still, stollen valor.  Real veterans, real heroes, and real combat casualties languish in the parking lots of an inept Veterans Administration, while poseurs like Brian Williams try to bask in reflected glory. The charade continued for more than a decade, abetted by the silence of network colleagues. Williams was not alone on that trip to Afghanistan. Who checks the fact checker?

NBC and Williams were exposed by ordinary soldiers in a GI newspaper.  Such   duplicity says everything about federal standards and the national Press today. Williams was not outed by the White House.  A President that consistently apologizes for terror culture is unlikely to criticize an ally like NBC. Williams was not outed by other Media regulars like network crew members and colleagues at Public Television, ABC, or CBS. Williams was not exposed by the brass at the Department of Defense either, the institution with the true record of aircraft movements and combat incidents. Williams was outed by the very grunts he pretends to support. In short, the most popular network anchor in America was exposed by his antithesis – real soldiers telling the truth.

According to eyewitnesses, Williams and his entourage did not arrive at the scene of the Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) assault until an hour after the shooting stopped. Williams apparently seized an opportunity to exploit their grace under fire. The helicopters and troops involved were then stranded for two days by a sandstorm. The worst of William’s experience was a weather delay, an event more common in Chicago than Iraq. Chicago might be more dangerous too.

Hilary Clinton spun a similar “combat” fiction in Bosnia when her husband was dismantling Yugoslavia. Yet, with professional politicians, nobody expects the truth. A better comparison would be with Dan Rather, another celebrity anchor formerly over at CBS. Recall that Rather used forged documents to try to discredit George Bush’s Air Guard service. Like Williams, Rather tried to spin his fraud with “the fog of memory” excuse too. Rather got fired for his stunt. Williams is still on the NBC payroll.

No surprise then that the first Media standard bearer to come to the defense of Brian Williams was “Gunga” Dan Rather. What’s to defend?  A lie?

Becoming the news is a fatal flaw for any objective journalist. Brian Williams is now the news – and a serial liar to boot. His integrity is forfeit. Just as any CBS coverage of the military is suspect, NBC now labors under the same cloud. If you are supposed to be in the fact finding business, credibility is the only currency. NBC and Brian Williams are now bankrupt.

Rather and Williams at the top of their networks is a symptom of more fundamental Media problems: the conflation of news and entertainment, sub rosa anti-military sentiment, and political pandering.

Clearly, Williams like so many of his colleagues are more Kardashian than journalist, professional celebrities. Williams is the most popular of all news anchors, a one man advertising revenue rainmaker.

Let’s not kid ourselves about poseurs like Rather and Williams, their spin on things military is patronizing, revealing an underlying contempt for the real sacrifices made by soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen.

Media coverage of war itself is now a fraud. The President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense will not name the enemy nor call the ideological struggle with Islam and the battles with Islamists a war. Good men and women are maimed and killed in wars where generals and politicians have no intention of winning. Death without strategy or purpose is the dirty little secret yet to be covered by what critics like Limbaugh rightly calls a “drive-by” Media, a pandering Press corps.

Some of the worst today are the political spinners on Public Radio and Television, taxpayer funded propagandists. The News Hour on 6 February featured Mark Shields and David Brooks commentary on President Obama’s appearance before the National Prayer Breakfast. On that occasion, Obama lectured Christian and Jews about the Crusades, Inquisition, and the European slave trade. More White House excuses just after ISIS beheaded two more journalists followed by the incineration of a live Jordanian pilot with a video feed to the internet.

Both Shields and Brooks endorsed the President’s message. Never mind that all three histories cited are irrelevant to the Islam problem and associated terror. Never mind that these very same justifications are used as propaganda by al Qaeda and ISIS. And never mind that Obama, Shields, and Brooks forgot to mention that today’s slave trade is almost exclusively a joint black-African/Muslim enterprise (see Boko Haram for just one example).

Journalism is literally losing its head. On a global scale, Islamists decapitate the very Media cowards who apologize for Muslim behavior. At the same time, too many reporters at home are willing to commit professional perjury, frequently in the name of Islam. Withal, the message is clear. Neither side can trust journalists these days.

Williams has taken himself off the air for a few days while NBC does some internal navel gazing. The longer the network dithers, the worse this soap opera becomes. Williams has created his personal Katrina. Now he needs to fall on his sword, behave like a man. Surely Public Television has a slot for Williams.


If Ash Carter and Martin Dempsey at DOD want to do something serious about stolen valor, they might start by revoking the military Press credentials of NBC and Brian Williams. Media jock sniffers don’t deserve a free ride on any military conveyance or protection in war zones at taxpayer expense. If sanctions can be imposed on Russia, Iran, and Cuba; surely, sanctions against a dishonest journalist and a network that defends frauds is not too much to ask. American warriors and veterans deserve to be covered by men like Ernie Pyle, not by liars and milksops like Dan Rather at CBS and Brian Williams at NBC.


Murphy Donovan writes about the politics of national security. GMD is a veteran of the East Bronx. He also served in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive (1968) and the Invasion of Cambodia (1971).


Wrong Wars and Wrong Enemies

April 30, 2014

Freedom of the Press is at once a virtue and a vice. The virtue is underwritten by the belief that candor and an informed electorate make for honest government. Press freedom becomes a vice when journalists choose to be government surrogates; enablers of half-truths, evasions, or lies. There may be no better example of this dark side of the First Amendment than the ongoing CBS/CIA collaboration to spin the Benghazi fiasco. You might recall that, with Dan Rather on point, CBS was the network in 2004 that sought to discredit George Bush with fake records. Seems the Rather spin chair is now occupied by Charlie Rose, double-dipper extraordinaire for two networks; CPB and CBS.

If you want to understand how cozy American journalism and national intelligence has become, you might audit Washington’s newest odd couple: Charlie Rose of CBS and Michael Morell late of the CIA. Both seem to be “front running” for Hillary Clinton so that she is not damaged by fiasco Benghazi in 2016.

Michael Morell was a former deputy and sometimes acting director of CIA. He was also the Svengali of the infamous Benghazi talking points. Before his 2 April testimony before Congress, and the Rose interview  the next day, Morell was the invisible man in the cover-up. In fact, he was the go-to guy at CIA during the brief David Patraeus tenure and aftermath. Recall that the Petraeus sex soap opera overlapped the Benghazi charade and Obama’s 2012 campaign finale.

Morell was “retired” last June after the White House finally admitted that the former CIA deputy director had unilaterally altered the now infamous Susan Rice talking points just before the November election. Truth often makes a tardy appearance when it “doesn’t matter,” to steal Hillary Clinton’s sentiments on the subject.

Morell joined Charlie Rose at CBS News in January. Morell also collects a sinecure from Beacon Global Strategies, a revolving-door consultancy staffed largely by former Democrat Party appointees. Beacon Global is a likely bull pen for a Hillary campaign and/or regime staffers.

Those who insist that American Media outlets are politically neutral might also contrast the Sunday chat show coverage of Susan Rice’s Benghazi spin on 16 September 2012 with the Michael Morell’s tortured Benghazi confessions during the first week of April 2014. Rice appeared on most network Sunday shows prior to the election. Yet, not a single Sunday talk show, including FOX, mentioned the recent Morell confession before Congress and the subsequent Charlie Rose soft ball interview a day later.  Administration spin gets wall-to-wall coverage before the election; but, when mendacity or “mistakes” are examined after the fact, somehow political journalism is AWOL.

The original September 2012 Benghazi talking points were drafted by a CIA HQ analyst at Langley at the request of congressional Intelligence Committees because members needed some cover with constituents over the neglect and malpractice in Libya.

The neglect involved CIA and State Department failure to respond to field requests for improved security. The incompetence centered on the failure to respond to US agents in peril at two facilities in Benghazi as three sequential Islamist attacks were underway. Indeed, General Martin Dempsey at the Pentagon claimed he didn’t send military help to Benghazi because Hillary didn’t ask. The lying played out when previous security requests and even the word “Islamist” was stricken from the after-action draft that was supposed to chronicle the FUBAR fiasco.

Morell now admits that he altered, without consulting field agents or HQ analysts, as much as fifty percent of those now infamous Susan Rice talking points. Morell also admits that General Petraeus, upon seeing the bowdlerized report, concluded that it was useless.

Morell dispatched the talking points to national security principals anyway and Rice took them to the Sunday morning airways. Withal, Morell insists that the White House didn’t have anything to do with “substantive revisions.” We are supposed to believe that Rice led the Sunday damage control charge without Mrs. Clinton or Mister Obama approving the strategy or tactics of what was clearly a very sensitive political defense.

Throughout the Benghazi flail, Clinton and Obama behaved like cat house piano players, ignoring tarts and bouncing bedsprings alike. If adult supervision was absent that controversial September weekend, what specifically were the President and Secretary of State doing during the Benghazi circle jerk? We still don’t know.

Morel would also have you believe that anyone in the tedious and untimely Intelligence review and coordination chain can delete evidence or alter conclusions. It took the 16 agencies of the Intelligence Community a week and four lives to just admit that the tragedy was an attack and not a “demonstration.” Indeed, CIA Director David Patraeus, presiding over eleven versions of the talking points, concluded that the final memo was flawed, if not deceptive. Yet, it was disseminated anyway to a national audience. So much for candor and professionalism in James Clapper’s world.

This is not to absolve Susan Rice, Victoria Nuland, or Hillary Clinton at Foggy Bottom. Clearly these women were push-back principals, the trio who in concert p***y whipped Morell, chastened him to extract any mention of previous warnings or obvious security negligence. Ultimately, defending the White House and State Department on the eve of an election came at the cost of what little was left of public trust in the American national security establishment.

The Dogs That Didn’t Bark

What was the purpose of those two clandestine compounds in Benghazi? What did Libyan Islamists know that the American national security community pretended not to know? Alas, those facilities in Libya were probably attacked because they were shipping Muammar Gaddafi era surplus arms to the anti-Assad Islamist “opposition” in Syria.  If the Libyan office of al Qaeda knew what the NY Times knew, then it’s safe to assume that even janitors at CIA were aware of the motives, opportunity, and inspiration gun running provided to Benghazi jihadists.

And today, much of Allah’s wet work in Libya and the rest of North Africa is yet to be done. After all, the African jihad needs weapons too.

So let’s reconstruct. With one voice, CIA and Morell tried to deny the role of Libyan Islamists in the killing of American agents. With another scheme, CIA was/is providing Libyan arms to Muslin jihadists in Syria. The boondoggle in Benghazi illustrates both the incoherence and the incompetence of foreign policy in the Obama era. Similar schizophrenic policy prevails at the Justice Department. The real enemy for the Obama national security team seems to be sunshine.

In short, Americans are kept in the dark by mushrooms like Morell at home while gasoline is thrown on narco-traffic, gun running, and global jihad abroad. You can’t make this stuff up!

Clearly, Michael Morell and CBS deserve each other. Morell cinched his place on the Washington walk of shame when he admitted to Rose that he dismissed key eye witness accounts from the field, even a video, from Benghazi in favor of spin from swivel-chair warriors, the ass-kissers that cluster inside the Beltway.

Two Heroines

However, there are some dim flickers of journalistic integrity midst the Obama era smog. The Media haze obscuring anything remotely critical of team Obama is penetrated at times, mostly by heroines.

Sharyl Attkisson is the former CBS reporter who did the investigative work on “Fast and Furious,” that gun running scheme in Mexico sponsored by the Holder Justice Department. Attkisson also provided refreshing candor on the Libyan fiasco. Alas, Sharyl resigned under pressure from White House and CBS flacks. She may have taken the last vestiges of CBS objectivity and integrity with her.

Nonetheless, Ms. Attkisson still provides the best dissection of  Morell’s tap dance on Capitol Hill. She knows ‘sources and methods’ bat guano when she sees it. Atkinson is now writing a book about Obama era adventures which, insh’allah, should appear before the next American election.

On another beat, Carlotta Gall has specialized in Muslim wars for a decade or more. Her latest book, The Wrong Enemy, breaks ranks with usual administration drivel about Islamist terror as a criminal enterprise with local motives. Ms. Gall calls a Muslim war a war – from Chechnya to Afghanistan. Finally, a serious mainstream journalist recognizes the global Islamist menace and the role that protected Muslim sponsors, like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, play in war from South Asia to the Mediterranean.

The sopranos are hard to hear in Washington midst the bull frog chorus, but distaff dissonance might eventually change the national night music. When a ‘journalist with giblets’ award makes its debut, Attkisson and Gall should be at the top of the queue. Truth does not care whose feelings get hurt.

Recent crises reflect just how much partisan politics has corrupted national Intelligence and journalism. With the American Left, too well represented among government shills and Press partisans, truth puts sacred cows at risk; the Obama past and the Hilary future in particular. The thought that President Obama’s legacy is failure or that Hilary Clinton could be denied the presidency, again, seems to be a mainstream Media nightmare.






Rat Squads

August 11, 2013

Whistles are in the news these days; wolf whistles, dog whistles, and government whistle blowers. All are, given allowances for pitch and volume, propelled by the same hot air.

We might begin with wolf whistles, the traditional or spontaneous noise men make when encountering attractive women, that moment when libido goes on autopilot.  Wolf whistles are of two sorts; lewd and licensed.

The lewd whistle is often heard at job sites and might qualify as a kind of sexual harassment. The official wolf whistle is muted; as when looks are a job requirement. Muted wolf whistles are the Muzak of human resource (nee personnel) offices at Media conglomerates.

Network newsies, male and female, are a kind of corporate whistle bait.

Wolf Whistles

Most local and national news teams are a surface study in diversity; men, women, and a rainbow of races and skin tones. But if you look twice at news women, it’s hard not to think; “pole dancer.” Some media babes even help with suggestive stage names.  Katty Kay of BBC and CPB comes to mind; surely not as bold as Pussy Galore, but much more aggressive than Kitty Whatshername.

In spite of all the puffing about talent and sexual equality, the attributes most admired in news chicks are visual; face, décolletage, weight, and youth. Literacy or intelligence is not necessarily a show stopper if a girl has better twins, or legs, than a teleprompter.

Yes, yes; there are exceptions. Call them tokens if you will.  Andrea Mitchel, Doris Kerns Goodwin, Diane Rehm, and Barbara Walters would hardly qualify as spring chickens or eye candy. Media matrons are a testimony to tenure or the need to service homely, geriatric, or liberal demographics. Indeed, the public airways are no slouch when it comes to tokens. American Public Broadcasting has at least one aging, zaftig, black, female anchor.

Here media moguls may be missing a bet. When you have a social agenda, think of how much more effective a loud, overweight, angry, black woman might be at the anchor desk. Skinny and black is as lame as skinny and white. The former may explain why Michelle Obama can’t sell salad and yogurt to black kids even as a free lunch. The fat angry American demographic is the real silent majority.

Pretty men are the other half of the whistle bait phenomenon. Let’s be clear here. We are not just talking about Twinkies like Anderson Cooper or David Gregory. Hard to think of any fat white anchors, but old, anorexic, and ugly has a few network tokens. Larry king and David Frost are good examples of prime-time road kill visuals.

Still, the cloying, boyish male newsie is the rule and they cover a spectrum from the dainty George Stephanopoulos to bully boy Chris Mathews.  Stephanopoulos is a former Bill Clinton bridesmaid and Mathews is another political naïf, schooled by Tip O’Neill to worship at altar au gauche.

Weekend hard ball is what American Catholics do if they are too lazy to get out of bed for mass on Sunday morning.  Mathews is very loud, yet not too macho to admit that a “tingle” ran up his leg when a hunky black dude won the White House. Which leg tingled was never specified. Alas, some of the best agenda merchants cut their teeth as political catamites.

 Dog Whistles

Homoerotic candor is not Mathew’s only claim to network fame. Dog whistles are his real forte.

An actual dog whistle is an instrument tuned to a pitch that only a canine can hear. The euphemistic dog whistle is an imagined rhetorical device; words supposed to contain hidden or coded messages. Mathews is a self-anointed ‘between the lines’ expert.

According to NBC news analysts, the most common dog whistles are racist. Here any criticism of criminal Chicago, impecunious Detroit, incompetent Newark, failing urban schools, or a mendacious Oval Office is supposed to be racist. For Mathews and urbane lynch mobs, the dog whistle is the all-purpose slander which is supposed to silence critics, immunize a race, and patronize another hyphenated “victim” from a mixed marriage.

Alas, the cure is often worse than the cancer. Put aside for a moment the image of an effete, rich, boozy, white (actually pink) guy playing the ‘brother’ card on national television.  Then consider which side of the Obama legend Mathews is trying to immunize, the white mother or the black father.  Mother was a white free spirit and father was an African dead beat. Potential stereotypes in play here are stereoscopic.

Mathews recently presumed to apologize “for all white people” for the Zimmerman acquittal. Here the intrepid NBC host plays judge and jury. Ever attentive, Christopher John didn’t seem to notice that the trial featured a black victim, an alleged Hispanic perp, and a mixed race, all gal jury. Mathews is the kind of journalist who never misses a chance to validate stereotypes, especially those about Irish touts or racially ambiguous politicians – including the president.

Clearly, words still matter. NBC‘s dog whistle fetish now has an echo over in Foggy Bottom.  John Robinson, Chief of Diversity, at the US State Department has published a list of words and phrases which could be considered dog whistles. The list includes such expressions as “black and tan, going Dutch, holding down the fort, handicap, and rule of thumb” (sic). We can leave it to readers to determine what group might be offended by what. Here’s a hint; “rule of thumb” is code for wife beating,

Whistle Blowers

Diversity of whistles can’t hold a candle to the blowers, again a Media obsession. A “whistle blower” is presumed to be a conscientious citizen or employee who identifies waste, fraud, and abuse. Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are contemporary poster children for the phenomenon.

In the real world, we seldom know much about the motives of leakers. Stimuli probably cover a spectrum from conscience to concupiscence. While, most taxpayers are undecided about whistle blowers; journalists and politicians love them, often building careers on the bones of leakers. Indeed, you could argue that the Press and politicians make whistle blowers possible.

Rat Squads

All bureaucracies, especially government agencies, have grievance departments. These offices sport various labels; internal affairs, auditors, civil rights, diversity, ombudsmen, inspectors general or some such. The titles vary, but amongst cognoscenti, they are known as “rat squads.” Unfortunately, internal watch dogs are more likely to be used to settle scores, with colleagues or unpopular supervisors, rather than for institutional reform.

The most famous rat squad was the internal affairs division of the NYPD that helped whistle blower Frank Serpico catch a bullet (1971) in the face. Detective Serpico retired for health reasons, integrity intact – to Switzerland.

Now rat squads have gone public. The ongoing and ubiquitous “see something, say something” campaign on American roadways is an example. Let’s audit the logic here. A national security team that didn’t vet the Saudi 9/11 crew, Nidal Malik Hasan, or the Tsarnaev brothers expects motorists to identify “nefarious characters,” Jim Clapper’s notorious euphemism for terrorists.

The newest federal leaker screen is Orwellian, encouraging informers to become rat catchers. Under Obama’s Internal Threat Program, supervisors and federal employees at all levels are admonished to watch and report “high risk persons or behaviors” – using arbitrary markers, none of which has ever been validated by experience or science.

Alas, the only possible profile for whistle blowers is suicidal. All leakers have three futures; exile, unemployment, or worse. The recent fate of the Benghazi leakers at the US State Department, by all reports honest brokers, says all that needs to be said.

If you work for government at any level and you identify too many problems, you become the problem. Neither apparatchiks, nor journalists, nor politicians ever trust an informer completely – nor do they befriend leakers once their utility is exhausted. A legacy hat tip to Bob Woodward seems appropriate here.

So the next time you see network “whistle bait” pontificating about candor, courage, or the integrity of malcontents, consider the speaker and their sources. And remember that many media celebrities, like squirrels, are cute; but in the end, these furry creatures, and their creepy informants, are still rodents.


G. Murphy Donovan is a veteran of bureaucratic wars in four Intelligence Agencies.