One rainy evening, three people walked into a bar and sat down. One was grim, another solemn, while the sole woman among them was absolutely giddy. The bartender poured a few shots of whiskey and said to the trio, “Why so grim, so solemn, so giddy?”
The grim man with squinty eyes and a huge forehead went first. “My life is over. I ‘conflated’ a couple of war stories, said I was aboard a helicopter in Iraq that got shot down when I wasn’t. Now, everything I’ve worked for my whole life is gone.”
“Gee, that’s tough,” said the bartender.
The even more-horse-faced solemn man next to him went next. “I said I won a bunch of medals for honor and bravery as captain of a fast patrol boat in Vietnam, but then all my comrades swiftly said I was lying. I lost the job I really wanted.”
“Damn. Rough. What about you, lady?” the bartender said to the broadly smiling blonde.
“Ha! I once lied and said I outran sniper fire in Bosnia. They even had videotape of me walking calmly across the tarmac to meet a little girl who gave me a poem — a poem! And I’m probably going to be the next president of the United States!”
Let’s get something straight right out of the chute: Brian Williams is just a guy on TV. He’s not even a reporter, he just reads a 20-second intro into a story gathered by real journalists. In Europe, he wouldn’t even be called an “anchor” — a too-lofty term for what he does — he’d be called a “presenter.” Rightly so.
Second, no one elected Mr. Williams to anything. He’s a paid employee (reportedly $10 million a year) at NBC — which also operates the decidedly liberal MSNBC (of course, there’s a lot of crossover between the two). In that way, he’s like a plumber who works for Roto-Rooter: An employee who calls in sick now and then and occasionally has to attend that HR presentation on sexual harassment in the office.
So, here’s the thing: If you don’t like that he lied about being in a helicopter that was hit by an RPG — you have but one way to voice your displeasure: Turn the channel. (And by the way … he most assuredly did “lie about,” not “conflate” the RPG attack. How do you “conflate” the time you weren’t on a helicopter that was hit with an RPG with the time you were on a helicopter that didn’t get hit with an RPG?)
It’s far from clear whether Mr. Williams will survive his now-too-numerous-to-list lies — another whopper comes out every day (like the one about seeing a dead body float by in the French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina, except that the French Quarter never flooded). A few sources inside NBC tell me it’s touch and go: The top brass want to ride out the storm while lower-level managers — you know, the ones who do the real work — say he just can’t stay.
But he’s just a TV personality, another hubris-filled, shallow egotist. NBC doesn’t care what you think, and if they decide he stays, he stays. You don’t have any say in the matter: It’s a corporate issue.
But not at all so for Hillary Rodham Clinton. In March 2008, giving a foreign policy speech on Iraq about her days as first lady and a trip to Tuzla, Bosnia, she delivered an unbelievable tale.
“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”
So, picture that: Chopper lands, sniper bullets pinging and zinging everywhere, she and her comrades sprinting across the tarmac, perhaps zigzagging to throw off the sharpshooter.
But it didn’t happen. None of it. Right after the speech, she was asked about the sniper fire. “There was no greeting ceremony, and we basically were told to run to our cars. Now, that is what happened,” she lied.
A week later, she changed her whole story, telling the Philadelphia Daily News editorial board that she “misspoke.” Yes, she said that word. When she said snipers had fired at her, when really a little girl had given her a poem, that was her just “misspeaking.”
The next day, she told reporters: “So I made a mistake. That happens. It shows I’m human, which for some people is a revelation.” Ha ha, oh, she’s so lovely — and human.
Oh, and an incredible liar, a valor thief, a fabulist. And dangerous.
Now, Mr. Williams you’re stuck with. But Hillary? She’s different. She’s no employee of some company — she wants to be the top employee of the American people. You’ll decide. Probably best to just say, “Thanks for applying for the job, but we checked your resume and, well, too mendacious. So, don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.