Brian The Big Blue Herring

Joy reigns in the conservative sphere. The dreaded Brian has fallen when his feet of clay crumbled. The noble patriots have another clod with which to return the fire of the dirty libs. – Anonymous Curmudgeon.



I can't recall when a public figure disappeared faster than Brian Williams. One day he was embellishing events that took place in 2003. The next day he apologized for the sin of conflation, and then he was gone.

But why? Ronald Reagan told more than one disputed story and Bill O'Reilly is being accused by nuns of lying. Some point out that there is an entire network of talk shows that twist the truth, obfuscate, slander and shamelessly deceive. I'm sure that includes the wee minority of radio talk shows that are liberal.

Brian Williams is held to a higher standard of accuracy. When his embellishment of events during the Iraq War became news, it was pointed out that he had made other misstatements. Williams left without making a fuss. This action demonstrates a graceful acknowledgement of graceless action and some sort of personal responsibility. Adult behavior in the face of error is very rare in public life.

In contrast, Bill O'Reilly has been scolded by two orders of Catholic nuns – the Maryknoll Sisters and the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland. O'Reilly has been accused of gross misstatements when he said that he witnessed the murders of sisters in El Salvador. The nuns have tactfully asked for a spirit of integrity and honesty regarding the reporting of this crime. Other journalists have made accusations that O'Reilly distorted events in the Falkland War. Of course those other journalists are likely to be progressives and their biases may discount their testimony.

All tact has been thrown to the wind by liberals, who have gone after O'Reilly like a bear after a half-rotten moose carcass. In response to the leftist onslaught, O'Reilly has done what he does best: rant, rave, accuse, threaten, obfuscate and bellow furiously. Quite frankly, if I had gotten myself into trouble with nuns, I'd do what Brian did: shut the hell up and go hide.

However, I'm happy to defend O'Reilly. I don't like him – I think he's bully – but I have to give him some cover. For the most part he has been a commentator, not a news anchor like Williams. That's a big difference. Commentators have more freedom to make opinions and opinions do not need to be grounded in fact. It's sad, but true, and even sorrier when you consider that too many citizens of this country rely on distortion, opinion and commentary – rather than facts – to shape their world view and their voting choices.

Bill O'Reilly is likely to continue in the attack-dog tradition of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin and Bill Maher. (Maher is a gnomish lefty who is eight inches shorter than O'Reilly.) In the spirit of finger-waving, chicken-legged nitwits like Palin and Anne Coulter, Mr. Bill has made himself wealthy as a bloviator. It should be said, however that he wouldn't look that good in a short skirt.

So, if you are a liberal and love to hate B.O. (Bill O'Reilly, not Barack Obama), such love will not be denied. B.O will be around for a while. After all, B.O. is an underling of Fox News, which is owned by today's version of the Hearst Empire. That would be News Corp, the domain of the global chess player, Rupert Murdoch.

I mentioned Ronald Reagan earlier. Reagan alleged that he was at the liberation of Auschwitz. The truth is he was in Hollywood at the time. His fibs were about as common as those of Bill Clinton, but Nancy kept her husband on a much shorter leash than did Hillary. Lying is the stock and trade of politicians. Presidents have every cause to lie, and sometimes for good reason. Bill Clinton's distance from the truth is legendary and Ronnie was never known to ruin a young woman's dress.

Others might go on to assert that Ronald Reagan's government laundered the sale of arms to Iran for the acquisition of monies for insurgents in Nicaragua. Well, mistakes were made, but despite the covert nature of the transactions, many have excused such subterfuge, because it was for the sake of freedom.

The bottom line is that Brian Williams is held to a higher standard because he was the news anchor and managing editor of NBC News. Even though he is a minion of MSNBC, he is expected to speak the truth. Some of us deplore that political and philosophical discussion in this country is cheapened by the commingling of fact, fiction and speculation. Criticisms of the Right can now be countered with "what about Brian?" But, beware, that leverage has a shelf life.

Brian Williams is not a red[1] herring, he's a Big Blue[2] Herring! We can expect Brian to go quietly into the night or end up as a genteel host on NPR. Conservatives will soon miss him. He will no longer be a whipping boy for them. But B.O. will remain flailing and flopping like a dying fish – a red herring for the libs. Not to worry, the cons will still have the other B.O.



[1] Red as in “red state”. I remember when it was better to be dead than red.

[2] Blue as in “blue state”. Where they all drive Subarus and drink lattes at the barbecue.