"Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams, and NBC News, continue to maintain silence in the wake of Wednesday's revelation that he had "misremembered" key elements of a war story he has been telling for years, or "conflated" portions of this story with others -- notably that the helicopter he was riding in during the opening days of the Iraq War was forced to land after taking on enemy fire, specifically an RPG.
And so, Friday morning, my sincere and modest ongoing effort to actually help.
That's right -- a letter, the oldest, trustiest gimmick in the critical arsenal.
I'm not going to rant and rave here; no scolding, no frothing or wild-eyed demands for resignation that I notice other critics have made.
Instead, this quiet, reasoned plea: Get on the air and deal with this terrible crisis.
Deal with it exhaustively, specifically, and in great detail.
Give dates, times, places.
This is serious. Not just your integrity is at stake, but your career.
I'm not going to repeat myself here. I did two long posts on this Thursday, the second one insisting that you and NBC can go part of the way toward fixing this with full disclosure.
You and Tom Brokaw, on the air, and now. Tom asks the questions, you give the answers.
But I do sincerely regret one word in the first post Thursday. I said this whole episode was "ephemeral," and that our short-attention span culture would move on to The Next Thing.
I was dead wrong. There's nothing remotely ephemeral about this. Instead, it is now assuming the stain of permanence -- a blot on your character, career, integrity and, especially, the entire news division..
There are so many issues to work through here that I barely even know where to begin, but the legacy of NBC News seems like a reasonable place to start. You work for a proud news division with a long and distinguished history. Hundreds of NBC News employees have covered wars for 75 years. Some of them have died doing so: Welles Hangen, for one, killed May 30, 1970, in Cambodia, comes immediately to mind. His remains weren't discovered for decades. Some of the NBC News employees, like Richard Engel, are doing brilliant work on your air right now.
War reporting is the most dangerous -- and most vitally important -- part of journalism, for these are the reporters who bear witness with a risk to life and limb. You owe it to their memory, and you owe it to Engel and many others, to explain what happened that day -- while also recognizing that at least in the opening days of the Iraq, you, too, were a war reporter.
Let's talk about your colleagues, too. This isn't just a "Brian Williams crisis." This is their crisis, too. They don't know what's going to happen here, but they are seasoned professionals who understand the corrosive drip-drip-drip of the news cycle, and how it often leads to only one place, and that is not a good place.
They are reading the stories -- that the New Orleans media, for example, is now picking apart your report during Katrina. They devour the gossip columns, like Page Six's story Friday morning -- which I am also assuming is accurate -- that Tom Brokaw is furious.
They are gossiping, too. How can you survive this? What will you say to defend yourself? Why is NBC News management standing unequivocally by you, when -- if they had embellished a story -- they would have either been reprimanded or fired. Is there a double-standard? they are asking.
An anchorman, as you know, isn't just an "anchor," but a symbol. A symbol of what's authoritative and honorable and, above all, honest, and a symbol that applies to the entire news division and beyond.
The job isn't reading the news, but leading by example. In fact, the word "lead" is a key one here, for anchormen and anchorwomen lead.
You are not leading, but hiding.
Here's another issue. How can "Nightly News" cover veterans' issues going forward? Seriously, how? Veterans, I would imagine, are rightly angered at this so-called "borrowed valor" story. They want to know what really happened. They deserve to know what really happened.
How can you speak before veterans groups, like Wounded Warriors? You've been a champion of these groups, but what can you say to them now? Your enormous support of these groups, I am certain, has been deeply appreciated by servicemen and women. They, too, are pained by this episode.
Finally, let's talk about you. I know you. We go back a long way. You're a Jersey boy who went to Brookdale and who worked hard and honorably in this profession for 30 years. You are a volunteer fireman. You may be an anchor but you know what average people go through and what they think because you are, at heart, one of them.
Most of all, I know your work and I admire your work. I am, like everyone else, pained to see this unfolding the way it is unfolding.
So, to wrap. There is no perfect way to fix this, and there may no way to fix this. But there is a right way to at least try. That's called full disclosure.
You owe it to your colleagues, to veterans and -- most of all - to yourself.