Noting the death of conservative author and columnist Charles Krauthammar late Thursday night, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams delivered an obituary that was positive overall, but was unable to resist laying blame for the Iraq War at the feet of the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer.
The 11th Hour host first spoke about Krauthammer's prolific portfolio, where his writings appeared “in the pages of the Washington Post, the New Republic, or Time magazine, or in his many books over the years.” Williams even went on to describe the trained psychiatrist's intelligence, writing of Krauthammer “finishing first in his class at McGill, then studying at Oxford, then on to Harvard Medical School. Somewhere in there it became clear he was a young man with a giant intellect.”
Then, Williams began to describe Krauthammer's transition to a conservative view point. In particular, he commented that Krauthammer was “one of the drum majors in the drumbeat toward war in Iraq after 9/11, a task he predicted at the time would take three weeks.” Williams made sure to point out: “And, of course, at the time of his death, 15 years later, 4,000 American lives later, we remain in Iraq.”
More accurately, Krauthammer postulated that history might remember the invasion as the “Three Week War” and wrote those words the day after troops had occupied Baghdad after three weeks of invasion. Strangely, Williams felt necessary to point this out, and seemed to lay blame for the conflict on Krauthammer. It's particularly ironic since Williams was removed as NBC Nightly News anchor for falsely reporting on his own experiences in Iraq.
In an otherwise praising obituary, it was jarring to hear Williams shade Krauthammer's views on Iraq. Perhaps the MSNBC host was simply following The Washington Post's lead, which made sure to include Krauthammer's support for the war in the opening sentence of its obituary of him on Thursday.
The full transcript is below:
The 11th Hour with Brian Williams
11:57:55 PM - 12:00:17 AM (2mins 22secs)
BRIAN WILLIAMS: The last thing before we go tonight: the death today of Charles Krauthammer. Those who did not encounter him in print in the pages of the Washington Post, the New Republic, or Time Magazine, or in his many books over the years perhaps knew him as a long time contributor and commentator across the street from us at Fox News. He was born in New York to Jewish refugees from Europe. His family settled in Canada and somewhere between finishing first in his class at McGill, then studying at Oxford, then on to Harvard Medical School. Somewhere in there it became clear he was a young man with a giant intellect. His life as a young athlete and scholar was dealt a giant challenge when a diving accident left him paralyzed. He adjusted his future plans hoping, as he said back at the time, to muddle through life. Well, he finished med school at Harvard. He practiced psychiatry before discovering he had a gift for the written word. He wrote with strength and clarity, always clarity. His work for the Washington Post was honored with a Pulitzer Prize back in 1987. While he may have started out on the left-hand side as a young man, he later railed for years against what he saw as the liberal monopoly of the news media. He wrote in muscular style about a muscular United States on policy matters and the spectrum between conservative and neo-con. He was a strident anti-communist, a zealous and steadfast defender of Israel, and famously one of the major of the drum majors in the drumbeat toward war in Iraq after 9/11, a task he predicted at the time would take three weeks. And, of course, at the time of his death, 15 years later, 4,000 American lives later, we remain in Iraq. His friends say he will be remembered as warm as he was stoic, as interesting one-on-one as he was interested in the lives of everyone he met. In the end, he was taken down by intestinal cancer. And in a public farewell letter just a few weeks back, he was true to form keeping with style both forward and forthright about his approaching death. Charles Krauthammer was 68 years old.