As I sit back to watch yet another episode of NBC’s recently lackluster Nightly News, I wanted to take a moment to share a little bit of my thoughts on the Brian Williams scandal. It’s been several weeks now since BW has been bumped out of the chair, and I blame myself, really. I remember watching that Rangers game live on TV and I got so excited when a two-shot of Brian and Tom Hanks sitting in the stands popped on my screen. At that very moment I thought to myself, wow, how cool is it that two of the most upstanding public figures are actually friends (this is not at all an exaggeration despite what you will come to learn about me). And then boom, that very night after the game Brian says something to the press that incited the snowball that knocked the great Brian Williams off of his throne. People were outraged and seemingly excited by the whole thing. But, I was not. I like Brian Williams, and even though Lester Holt is a fine broadcaster, I’d prefer his dark and sinister voice delivering the intro packages to Dateline and not my news rundown. For those of you who don’t know, Brian was caught talking about going down in a helicopter overseas, when it actually turns out he was in an different one that did technically go down, but in the exact way it was suppose to and not in a crash as he implied. Ok, this is bad, but is it really banish worthy? Oh boy, if someone was fact checking my life, I would be exiled off the planet along with almost everyone I know.
This left me thinking to myself, who hasn’t done the equivalent of telling a tall tale about crashing on an aircraft? Personally, I have actually told a tall tale about crashing on an aircraft! You see, I come from a long line of exaggerators, no really, I’m pretty sure my great–great-great-grandsomething was the ruler of The Valley of Selective Memories and then was married off to the queen of Make Believeia and they spent their days breeding unicorns and spinning thread into gold. It was quite the pairing. Of course, the inherent traits and wealth dwindled through time and each generation got a little more normal and poorer. So, I am lousy at making thread into anything really, but your girl can still spin a tale.
I was once working on a documentary that sent me back to Detroit for the very first time since I had moved away at age 14 1. The city was cold, dark and depressing and made me feel the same sick way that walking into a war museum always does. After a day, I caught a flight down to Tampa and just after hitting our cruising altitude we hit an air pocket, the entire plane went dark and suddenly we began dropping altitude.
Now, do you think this calm description is anywhere close to how I recalled the story for the first 5 years I told it? Heck no! Here is how 20 something me told the glory story:
I was on a plane making the very same trip that me and my family took every year to visit Disneyworld 2, and I was feeling all emotional because fate had brought me back to my hometown and made me face the reality of the depth of poverty and depression my neighbors have been going through 3. Anyway, those planes can really hold up, so part of me thinks that just maybe that exact same TWA aircraft from my childhood and my whole life was coming full circle 4. As soon as we leveled off the entire plane lost power and we were falling thousands of feet into a sea of orange clouds 5. The big, strong man next to me coward in fear and we gripped tightly onto our shared armrest. Not one word was spoken by anyone on the plane, but the sharp ping from everyone’s gasps filled the air 6. Eventually, we leveled off but for a full hour afterwards nobody from the crew surfaced. When we got close to the Tampa airport we were making circles with other aircraft, which was very odd. Figuring this was for an emergency landing, I began to sweat through my clothes and work on the Skymall sudoku, praying that God not to let me die before I solved one of these freaking things 7. Once we landed safely, I was so overjoyed, I ran out of the airport 8 and got down on my knees and literally 9 kissed the sidewalk.
So, you can see the first hand de-evolution of my tale as time went by. The whole thing became more emotionally distant and less important as I filled my mental scrapbook with so many other exciting life experiences. I know I am no journalist and there is suppose to be a fine line of trust there, but it seems like a pretty easy thing to jump from one row to another, so long as you are staying in the same ballpark 10. I just have a hard time thinking that a man should lose his entire career when at this point he is really just reading news that his media outlet has already put their own spin on anyway.
Just my 2¢
1 Exaggeration #1, I technically lived in the suburbs 30 minutes north of Detroit!
2 Nope, we always flew into Orlando.
3 I have never known anyone to live in Detroit’s city limits
4 Yeah, TWA went out of business in 2001, well before this happened, but at least I added the word maybe.
5 I have no aviation skills, it could have been 200 feet for all I know.
6 Shockingly, this part is true.
7 Still all true, though I found out after we landed they were doing construction on the runway and that was the reason for the airline conga line.
8 30 minutes later once I got my baggage – but who needs to hear that?
9 NOT literally!
10 Ok, in this case, it’s jumping full sections.