NewsBusters Time Machine: My Views Have Been ‘Cleansed’ of Opinion

This week’s NewsBusters Time Machine looks back at a 2013 interview Brian Williams gave in which he laughably insisted that his reporting has been “cleansed of political opinions.” Maybe he meant “cleansed” of facts? The not-yet disgraced journalist also claimed he was “down the middle.” 

Talking to prominent liberal, Alec Baldwin on his then WNYC talk radio show Here’s the Thing, Williams hilariously insisted, “My work has been so cleansed, as I see it, and as I've tried, of political opinions over 27 years....I can try to call it down the middle, and try to be fair about it, and do a 'just the facts'...” 

 

 

Williams has a history of partisanship, even wondering on election night 2012 if Rush Limbaugh needed to be “shut down.” 

And as far as honesty, this is the guy who falsely said he was shot down in Iraq 2003, who told tales about seeing dead bodies while covering Hurricane Katrina.

A transcript of the 2013 radio interview is below: 

Here’s the Thing 
3/4/13

ALEC BALDWIN: This is Alec Baldwin and you're listening to Here's the Thing. Today with Brian Williams.

Although loud personalities with extreme views gobble up more airtime, television news is an industry that still rewards unbiased, thoughtful, and direct reporting.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: My work has been so cleansed, as I see it, and as I've tried, of political opinions over 27 years.

BALDWIN: How do you do it? Do you have political opinions?

WILLIAMS: I sometimes don't know.

(...)

WILLIAMS: No one needs another blowhard yelling at them. No one gives a rat's patootie about my opinion. So that's nice that I don't have to share it. I'd have to form one first on half of these issues, and people, and I can try to call it down the middle, and try to be fair about it, and do a 'just the facts,' with a little fun around the margins.

BALDWIN: But why do you think, why do you think you're different in so far as – when I would watch [Dan] Rather, I could sense very much that Rather had his opinions, and I could sense very much...

WILLIAMS: And I think that made him-

BALDWIN: ...that Rather was straining mightily to contain those opinions in the framework, Brokaw as well. Does Brian Williams lay in bed at night with his wife, and that's when those opinions come flying out? Your feelings about – or do you keep all of that private? Or have you found – because you don't exude that at all on the air.

(...)

BALDWIN: But is it something that you consciously have worked to do? Your predecessors – Cronkite probably no. And I know we don't always need to go 'Cronkite, Cronkite.'

WILLIAMS: Well, he's the gold standard. He's my north star.

BALDWIN: Yes, but many people in your business, you can feel little belches and little fissures of their opinions coming through, or a sense of that, and with you, there's none. Is it something that you consciously have tried to comb out of your delivery?

WILLIAMS: Yes, I try to keep it down the middle. I just don't think anyone needs that from me.

BALDWIN: That's what you think is a better broadcast?

WILLIAMS: You think there's a shortage of opinionated media out there these days?

BALDWIN: No.

WILLIAMS: You think people are longing to hear what I think about the...

BALDWIN: I think that's what makes your program so successful. That's why I watch you.

WILLIAMS: ...fiscal cliff? Yeah, well, thank you.

BALDWIN: I don't want anything on it. Just give me – I want the news.
 

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