Lies, Damn Lies and Ballistics
A couple months back while taking a predawn jog on the trail that winds through the woods between my neighborhood and the next, I came face-to-face with a family of aliens. The outer space kind. A daddy and mommy and little baby alien, standing on, or maybe floating above, the trail right in front of me. Only their green, luminescent oval eyes were visible. The rest of their, um, forms shrouded by darkness.
I would have expected such an encounter to evoke shrieking terror, but it was suppressed by the sheer rapture of it. There we were, Earth man and space family. At peace. And together we would bring forth a message of hope and love. This would be the day that everything changes, my destiny. The Alien Whisperer…
Then the deer got spooked and scampered up the hill. I’d gone from Earthly emissary to idiot in an instant. My alien family turned out to be a buck, doe and fawn whose glow-in-the-dark eyes triggered in me a fantastical interpretation of events that was light years from reality.
But I will always have that magical second when every ounce of my being believed. For in that instant it was true, if only in my mind.
Recalling this brings to mind NBC News anchor Brian Williams and the unraveling of his tale of being shot down in Iraq by a RPG fired so close by he could “stare down the barrel” of the weapon that brung it. It is hard to see how there ever could have been an instant when he thought this was true. I’m no expert, but it strikes me that the difference between being shot out of the sky and crash landing and being in a different aircraft and not being shot down is quite distinct.
Williams says the mistake is due a “conflated” memory of events on a busy day in the war zone. I’m of the belief that “conflated” is fancy-talk for “lied about,” kind of a rhetorical condom.
I’m not angry with Williams for lying about this. I’m angry because he conflated lies and truth while cloaked in the responsibly that comes with being a journalist. The credibility of everyone else involved in the Iraq war debacle is already shot to hell. There was no WMD, we weren’t greeted as liberators, Jessica Lynch didn’t fight like Rambo, the oil revenue didn’t pay for it, the terrorists weren’t defeated and Iraq is anything but a shining example of freedom and democracy for the Middle East to emulate.
And the guy sent there to bring back the truth comes back with a bogus story about getting blown out of the sky by a grenade that was actually fired at someone else an hour before he got there. No, we shouldn’t be angry with Williams for the story he told, but the for the story he didn’t tell. The one about the lies we were told and the calamity they caused.
He’ll have to live with turning himself into a pompous clown, we all will have to live with the damage he has done to the institution responsible for reporting the truth about this fiasco.
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