Outrage at NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams over his stories of stolen valor quickly turned to relentless ridicule of “Lyin’ Brian,” leading the newsman to cancel an appearance with David Letterman and suspend himself from the news “temporarily” until the storm blows over.
A busy news week has seen most of us move on to other subjects, but the New York Times on Tuesday published a lengthy article asking if Williams is a victim of false memory. Consulting a number of researchers, professors, and published studies, the Times suggests that Williams’ account of being shot at by RPG fire, a “well-documented story, told differently many times by Mr. Williams, actually offers a compelling case study in how memories can change and shift dramatically over time.”
In other words, Williams very well might have thought he was telling the truth, relying on malleable memories that can “fade, shift and distort over time.”
So, is Williams actually the hapless victim in this misunderstood controversy?
Whether Williams was lying or a victim of false memory, neither option gives us much confidence is seeing him back behind the anchor’s desk.