Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Just do the right thing

Can we talk for a minute about the spate of boasting that has toppled Brian Williams from his NBC Nightly News throne for six months and caused the US Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs, Robert McDonald, to have to issue an apology and gave pugnacious commentator Bill O'Reilly reason to have to come out swinging about his allegedly-inflated stories of coming into danger zones while reporting on the Falklands War for CBS?

One at a time...the O'Reilly kerfluffle is still up in the air, air which is filled with a lot of "Oh yeah?" and "But you didn't!"   He said he was there when the fighting was getting violent and others say he was not.  I don't pay much attention to O'Reilly, and so I don't care that much for him...he puts himself squarely in every story he talks about, so he becomes the story instead of reporting the story.  We do have his employer, FOX News, admitting that it might have been hard for him to witness the 1980 murders of nuns in El Salvador, since he didn't get there until 1981, but are we really going to quibble about this man's lies?*  It's like complaining that you went to Baskin-Robbins and got ice cream: it's what he sells.

Brian Williams is home until August to ponder the error of his ways.  NBC set him down for his wildly exaggerated claim of being in a helicopter that came under enemy fire, and for a half-hearted apology when some soldiers who were in harm's way pointed out that he was well out of the way at the time. He said he was in a "following" chopper, but was in fact an hour away.  By his standards, we live right next to Cal Ripken, Jr. and will be dining on the closest thing to pheasant under glass tonight, which is to say, KFC on Corelle plates.  Brian spent too much time sharpening his media personality, doing his Regis impersonation on Letterman and not paying enough attention to the news and the strict facts of which it should be composed.  When he returns late this summer, look for a more serious approach.

Secretary McDonald was a paratrooper and a West Point graduate, and those are two accomplishments that very few people will ever attain.  Why in the world did he feel it necessary to tell a man he encountered on the street in Los Angeles that we was in Special Forces?  Isn't it enough to be able to say, "I'm the Secretary of Veterans' Affairs, a former Army officer in the paratroops, and I was hired to straighten out an agency that for years was egregiously derelict in its duty to provide medical and other assistance to those who served the country"?

As I do so often in troubled times, I turn to old-school country for advice, and today it comes from Ernest Tubb's recording of a Ned Miller song called "Do What You Do Do Well."

He couldn't move a mountain
Or pull down a big oak tree
But my daddy became a mighty big man
With a simple philosophy
Do what you do do well boy
Do what you do do well
Give your love and all your of heart
And do what you do do well

* O'Reilly now says he "saw graphic pictures" of the slain nuns. Similarly, movie actor Ronald Reagan claimed to have "been there" when Nazi concentration camps were liberated, but what he meant was that he saw film footage of camps being liberated. Close enough?

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