Brian Williams Saves His Opinions for Mrs. Williams? Don't Buy It

Phil Rosenthal interviewed NBC anchor Brian Williams for the Chicago Tribune, and Williams professed that he leaves any temptation to deliver commentary at home:

Williams said he is looking for Keith Olbermann, whose hybrid work as a newscaster-commentator has won a following on NBC cable sister MSNBC, to deliver occasional essays on "Nightly News."

But if Williams himself has had the urge to go Full Metal Olbermann, he has resisted it on the air, saving his commentaries, such as they may be, largely for the privacy of his home.

"Ask my wife. She's the only one who gets to hear that. I'm not sure it's great," said Williams, who is scheduled to anchor "Nightly News" from Chicago's lakefront Thursday.

"I think you get one of those a career in my line of work," he said. "[Walter] Cronkite chose to use his chit on the Vietnam War that he witnessed. But I think you only get one."

Baloney. Baloney on Williams spouting no editorials, and baloney on the notion that Cronkite only had one. How could we have a Brian Williams page of biased quotes if that was true?

This reminds me of Williams being interviewed at the end of 2005 on CNN by Howard Kurtz about his Katrina coverage. Kurtz pointed out to Williams that he had recently signed off in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans saying “This is a neighborhood that’s been left to die.” Kurtz suggested the anchor’s message “is government is not doing enough,” to which Williams responded, “I’ll let others reach those kinds of sweeping conclusions.” That’s too cute.

Williams is saying that he’s not making bold Cronkite/Olbermann commentaries – but the editorializing is clearly coming through, often using critic-evading techniques -- like posing his conclusion in the form of a question. Again, on the Katrina beat: "Here in New Orleans tonight, the water that came through this neighborhood a year ago destroyed a lot. It exposed a lot, too, including, some say, the dicey issues of race and class in our country. Why didn’t certain people leave? Who did get out? Was any of this in any way intentional?" Williams was introducing an interview with black radical professor Michael Eric Dyson, who eagerly cast the Bush family as clueless patricians. Williams asked Dyson about the victims of Katrina: "Were they robbed of their dignity by the government?"  

When a liberal anchor says he saves his opinions for his wife, don’t buy it. Brent Baker already had Brian’s number back in 2002 on National Review Online. 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis