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Brian Williams and the Smoking Gun That Isn't | Rolling Stone

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There is a difference between an error and a lie.

A lie implies intent to deceive. However, it has now been repeated twice in the span of 90 seconds. That the second time it is uttered is by the New York Rangers public address announcer is of little relevance to the final result – Williams might as well have said it because that is the effect, the perception, a lie told and then a minute later the lie perpetuated. Of course in reality things did not happen in that order. The chronology of the way it is presented is reversed.

Let's work backwards. Here is a more plausible scenario: a producer produces the package, gathers the video, writes a script. A tape editor puts it together. A writer watches it. The writer listens to the Rangers public address announcement, the writer hears, ". . .after their Chinook helicopter was hit and crippled by enemy fire." The writer's job is to pull out the most interesting, key piece of information. The writer does what writers do, which is punch up the language. This is the result: ". . .when the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit with an RPG." Cause. Effect. That is how we go from an inaccuracy to a lie. 

Memory is unreliable in the most ideal circumstances.

And trauma induces various forms of shock, never remembering, and misremembering. Memory contains our ever-shifting story. The best accounts, experts say, are contemporaneous accounts, in this case Williams' baseline account fresh from the experience back in 2003. Even then, ask three witnesses to tell you the story when it is still fresh. You will hear three different stories.

Coming under live fire is surreal, and as Krell reminded us, scary. The adrenaline courses, there is a sense of hyper-awareness, a sense that you are outside of yourself seeing yourself, the God view. The time is out of joint, to crib from Shakespeare. What can seem like hours is minutes, what seems like minutes is hours. Later, you put together a story that makes sense of it, but I would say the chances are pretty good that your global sense of what happened is not global at all, that it is very specific to you and how you experience what later becomes your narrative.

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