There’s no equivocating or debating the fact that NBC News made the right decision to ditch the royal wedding and ship Brian Williams back stateside to cover the tornado outbreak.
But NBC News did not do a “brave” thing by bringing him home, as Salon proclaimed. NBC News did the right thing. And calling Brian Williams an “American media patriot” feels more to me like overblown self-congratulation from journalists than recognition of true courage.
Brian Williams may have famously turned his London-bound car around to Heathrow, leaving behind millions in NBC assets and thousands of man-hours of work designed to culminate in that one week. But the gesture was more symbolic than anything. Much of the TODAY on-air crew was anchoring from London, and that’s a lot of resources diverted in a time when the U.S. is involved in three international military conflicts and faces the potential of a debt crisis. And still…
Even by NBC’s own metrics, the decision to pull Williams was not “brave,” or courageous, or even difficult at all. A full two weeks ago, NBC insiders said they were scaling back royal wedding coverage because “they don’t believe America cares that much about the event.”
So bringing your main anchor back to cover a big story in favor of a story viewers don’t care about is courageous?