The sort of embellishments NBC News anchor Brian Williams made to his experiences in war zones that led to his unpaid suspension certainly aren’t limited to him alone, and we can expect more and more public figures to go under the microscope in the coming weeks.
We learned long ago not to take politicians at their word, but as Huffington Post senior military correspondent David Wood reported Monday, the contagion of “false memory syndrome” from which Williams might “suffer” has been found as far up as the president’s cabinet.
[Robert] McDonald, a retired corporate executive who took over the VA last June as the agency was sinking in scandal, made the claim in late January as he was touring a rundown Los Angeles neighborhood during a nationwide count of homeless veterans. He was accompanied by a CBS-TV news crew, which recorded an exchange between McDonald and a homeless man who told McDonald he had served in special forces.
“Special forces? What years? I was in special forces!” McDonald told the homeless man. That exchange was broadcast in a Jan. 30 CBS News story about the VA’s efforts to find and house homeless veterans.
In fact, McDonald never served in special forces.
“I have no excuse,” McDonald told The Huffington Post, when contacted to explain his claim. “I was not in special forces.”
Find someone else to head the agency?
What’s the cure for this epidemic?
It has been a very special day for Secretary McDonald, whose confession to the Huffington Post was preceded Monday by a big fat “False” from PolitiFact regarding the claim made on “Meet the Press” that 60 employees had been fired for manipulating wait times.
“As of mid February,” PolitiFact wrote, “14 employees had been ousted in one way or another due to the scandal, with another five directors or officers removed as well. Other employees were disciplined without being terminated. Still, the number of terminated employees is well below McDonald’s stated number.”
What are the chances of McDonald joining that number of terminated employees?