As a person who follows the news last night’s seemingly simultaneous announcements of Brian William’s suspension and Jon Stewart’s retirement served as a mammoth punch in the gut.
Williams was suspended for six months without pay for misrepresenting the details of his time in Iraq in 2003. William’s had acknowledged full responsibility for his mistakes and placed himself on suspension. But NBCNEWS executives decided that the informality of that personal action was insufficient and made the decision to take a more formal path.
Williams served as NBC’s news anchor for ten years. His broadcast consistently ranked #1 in broadcast news. He was funny, engaging and for me the type of person with whom I could relate. My surprise at his lengthy suspension is only exceeded by my disdain for the mean spirited and almost gleeful response from his detractors. Six months is a long time; so long that I doubt seriously that Williams will return. I hope that this incident will prove to be but one chapter in a long and successful career.
Jon Stewart’s decision to step down as host of The Daily Show is a blow to American pop culture. For seventeen years Stewart used his curiosity, intellect and biting wit to expose the hypocrisy that resides at the very core of American politics and media. His brilliance cannot be overstated. If I could emulate one person in my reporting current events it would be Jon Stewart.
Some wonder why Stewart chose this particular time to make his announcement. His contract doesn’t expire until late in the year. Stewart and Williams, both Jersey boys, are good friends. There is an unconfirmed rumor that Stewart moved up his announcement to take the heat off Williams.