Moral Relativism At NBC News

I have a friend whose father was one of the Iran embassy hostages in 1979-81. I can’t even imagine what his reaction will be when he sees this bit on Brian Williams’ MSNBC blog:

Many Americans woke up to a curious story this morning: several of the former Iran Hostages have decided there is a strong resemblance between Iran’s new president and one of their captors more than 25 years ago. The White House and most official branches of government are ducking any substantive comment on this story, and photo analysis is going on at this and other news organizations. It is a story that will be at or near the top of our broadcast and certainly made for a robust debate in our afternoon editorial meeting, when several of us raised the point (I’ll leave it to others to decide germaneness) that several U.S. presidents were at minimum revolutionaries, and probably were considered terrorists of their time by the Crown in England.

Williams repeated the comparison on NBC Nightly News yesterday (I just heard the clip on Laura Ingraham’s radio show). He didn’t include the little caveat about “leave others to decide germaneness” on the air.

The last time I checked, the Founders didn’t seize hostages, or parade them before the press, or hold show trials with bound and gagged blindfolded diplomats as “defendants,” much less institute a brutal police state after winning their Revolution.

And the network news yahoos still wonder why their ratings are in free-fall.

UPDATE: Williams has posted a rather pompous non-apology apology.

40 Responses to “Moral Relativism At NBC News”

  1. The World According to Nick Says:


    And this is the guy who replaced Tom Brokaw? (H/T to Vodkapundit). And people wonder why I don’t watch the NBC Nightly News. Now I have one more reason. You can find a full definition of asshat here.

  2. Doug Says:

    And the reality of the matter is that Williams is probably sitting in his office in NY right now wondering why people are upset by this

  3. Eye Dream Awake Says:

    Does Anyone Even Watch Brian Williams?

    Will Collier on the Ahmadinejad coverage: The last time I checked, the Founders didn’t seize hostages, or parade them before the press, or hold show trials with bound and gagged blindfolded diplomats as “defendants,” much less institute a brutal police…

  4. Mauther Says:

    You’d think that a senior news correspondent, when posting on an official blog, would be more careful and avoid making a statement as rhetorically weak as that. While what he states is factually correct, the comparison is completly baseless and tactless considering this is geared toward domestic distribution. While the American Revolution had its fair share of radicals, most of those were marginalized after independence. The US made a conscious effort to put forward national leaders that helped them on the international stage. Controversial heroes like Daniel Morgan (advocated targeting opposing officers) and Francis Marion (guerilla leader/alleged attrocities against the Cherokees) were quietly rewarded and moved out of the public spotlight. One has to fast forward to Andrew Jackson to find a president with the kind of international baggage Mahmoud Ahmadinejad brings to the table. Even then, those individuals acted as uniformed representatives of an acknowledged organization. If the allegations against Ahmadinejad are true, he was acting as a non-uniformed, unaffiliated armed intruder into internationally recognized sovereign territory making him criminal at best. By all international measures, the seizure of the US Tehran embassy was a crime (if done by a non-state) or a war-crime (if done by a nation-state).

  5. William Young Says:

    Notice the new president only resembles the terrorist from way back, so the two might not be the same.

    But the Bush National Guard memos were only unable to be authenticated, not necessarily fakes.


  6. pete Says:

    Steve I agree with you, However, isn’t it Williams job to ask these questions ?

  7. Doug Says:


    It may be his job to ask questions, but that’s not what this was. This was an opinion disguised as a question, which is how he phrased it to Andrea Mitchell during the broadcast last night.

    Speaking of which, I don’t watch NBC News — does anyone know what Mithcell’s response to that comment was ?

  8. Ian Wood Says:

    This is the result of a) a culture that keeps insisting that everyone belongs in a four-year college; b) an academy taken over by the generation that embraced defecation in the streets as a sign of political defiance; and c) the self-exploration movement insisting that a person’s self-regard is more important than being corrected.

    Put that together and you produce people who aren’t nearly as smart as they think they are leaving dungpiles in the public square and feeling good about it.

  9. voxdilecti Says:

    Doug, unfortunately i didnt see it but a BBC correspondent is pretty sure it was him – read the article here –

    its a very interesting article but the writer hovers from outright condemning him for his acts. Read some of the comments on the article, ignore the sarcastic European ones and focus on those written by actual Iranians if you want to get more of a feel for this guy and wonder if this election really was a fraud.

    As far as NBC goes, they mightve been more credible if they had Tom Cruise on there pontificating to us: “Not Matt Lauer, no! ONLY I KNOW THE HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION! Watch my new movie!”

    *God bless the few people who get that*

  10. byrd Says:

    According to ankle biting pundits, he didn’t just remove the “germane” remark from the broadcast–he also suggested that it was someone else making the comparison.

    Nifty move–keep the meme alive while distancing himself. Oops, forgot about that darned internets thing again.

  11. Ten Fingers, 6 Strings Says:

    Subversive Elements

    Sometimes you try and write about things, you realize that you are over your head, and you are better off keeping your mouth such. Politics have been dominating the news recently, it really isn’t my thing and I get all…

  12. erp Says:

    My husband said he saw a clip somewhere showing Mitchell in full agreement.

    Another thing our founding fathers didn’t do, they didn’t strap gunpowder (I don’t think they hade dynamite in those days) and a lit fuse around the bodies of children and send them off to kill other kids at the local market.

  13. Cake Eater Chronicles Says:

    We’re Interrupting Your Regularly Scheduled NBC Nightly News To Call “BULLSHIT” on Your Anchor

    From Brian Williams’ Blog yesterday: {…}Many Americans woke up to a curious story this morning: several of the former Iran Hostages have decided there is a strong resemblance between Iran’s new president and one of their captors more than 25…

  14. Kay in CA Says:

    Andrea’s reply as I heard it on Laura Ingraham’s radio show this morning: “Indeed.”

    I know my American history books sure forgot to mention beheading hostages and suicide bombings that target civilians.

  15. Ugh Says:

    much less institute a brutal police state after winning their Revolution.

    Or at least they only did so for a portion of the population.

  16. Rod Stanton Says:

    Just one more item backing up the assertion that the MSM has been anti-American for 50 years. No wonder they were OK with Dick Durbin. And completely enraged at Karl Rove!
    And you bloggers said that Rathergate would change the MSM’s anti-American bigotry.

    Unless Turner and Redstopne die their empires will hire America haters. The names will change but the bigotry will not.

  17. Daedalus Says:

    You’re right. The colonists didn’t take hostages. They took scalps. They killed off most of the native population. It is so convenient to forget that black part of US history, isn’t it? SCALPS. How is that different than beheading?

    BTW: It’s not America hating. It’s just simple truth, Rod. Truth hurts sometimes, yes, but it is better to speak the truth than turn a blind eye. Just accept it for what it is and move on. That America-hating garbage is thoughtless rhetoric spewed from rightwing mouths.

  18. WitNit Says:

    The dinosaurs never know when they era is over…

  19. Evil Otto Says:

    (Rolling eyes) Yeah, Daedalus, I remember that scene with Thomas Jefferson in congress holding up the scalps of defeated British soldiers and screaming “God is great!!!”

    Let me spell is out, Daedalus old buddy: colonist IS NOT THE SAME AS Founding Father. Indians ALSO took scalps. Brian Williams=idiot.

  20. Ugh Says:

    Evil Otto:
    Yeah, Daedalus, I remember that scene with Thomas Jefferson in congress holding up the scalps of defeated British soldiers and screaming “God is great!!!”

    Good point, Jefferson was much more subtle. He would never stand up on Congress proclaiming that other human beings were his property, to sell or sleep with as he wished.

  21. Evil Otto Says:


    Wow. That’s all you’ve got?

  22. Disillusionist Says:

    Scalping, as a matter of fact, was introduced to this country by the British, who found it a much easier way to count up dead bodies for bounty. (It also bears no relation to the practice of beheading, since scalping was almost uniformly practiced on the already deceased.) Having the scalp and a hefty percentage of your hair forcibly removed, although extraordinarily painful and grotesque, would not typically be fatal unless the blow was struck at a sufficiently steep angle to fracture the skull. There are numerous cases of humans surviving the experience of being scalped, but as far as I know, no one has ever survived the experience of being beheaded, in anything other than a spiritual sense.

    It is also a simple, if hard, truth, that when two cultures so radically different in technological levels come into contact, the less advanced culture is doomed from that moment on, regardless of how benign the intentions of the more technologically advanced culture may be.

  23. David March Says:

    Until we can begin to pronounce the names of the Persians, I strongly suspect relations will continue to be ugly.

    Remember the chief English-speaking spokesman for the revolutionaries who later briefly served as Foreign Minister, Sadegh Gotbzadeh? He’s the one that during his U.S. network interviews always referred to us as “you guys…”

    I remember one American Newsreader prounouncing his name as “Gots-the-bodies.”

    Poor bastard was executed on orders of his former beloved Ayutollah Homeini, after many months of daily mass murders.

    If our U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young could with a straight face call Ayutollah Homeini “some kind of a saint” why should we expect Brian Williams to make any fine distinction between the founding fathers of our country and the butchers of the Iranian Revolution?

  24. David March Says:

    By the way, Ugh… most of the decline in native populations in both North and South America resulted from the fact that they had no immunity to the diseases endemic among the Europeans. Just like syphilis spread like wildfire among the people of the “old world,” smallpox and other diseases began to spread through the “new world” with results far more disastrous than any intentional aggression.

    Even the most hospitable interactions between Europeans and natives led to many virulent deadly outbreaks. Of course, mortality among the Europeans, because of their vulnerability to new-world infections, was very high, but they were constantly being replaced by new arrivals.

  25. Pouncer Says:


    ” ‘much less institute a brutal
    police state after winning their Revolution. ‘

    Or at least they only did so for a portion of the population ”

    You might want to study the textbooks a little harder, or at least rent and watch the musical comedy _1776_. One of Jefferson’s indictments of George III in the declaration was for establishing the “pernicious” practice of slavery in the colonies. (yes, a faction of representatives from the far South voted that paragraph out of hte final draft…) But to accuse the new rustic US of instituting slavery against the will of the civilized British is bunk.

    John Adams came to international prominence by DEFENSE ATTORNEY the BRITISH soldiers against a Boston public and jurypool for there actions in the Boston Massacre. Not exactly the infamy of a terrorist.

    That SAMUEL ADAMS and the “Sons of Liberty” might have been considered dangerous violent criminals by British officials, one may grant. But then the role such particularly violent men played in the FOUNDING of the new gov’t has to be weighed and found minor. Many, in fact, objected as much to the founding of a strong national US gov’t as they did to British rule. “Founding Fathers” these rogues were not.

    Study before you pontificate, please.

  26. richard mcenroe Says:

    OH, come on, you guys, everybody who’s anybody just KNOWS Washington used to shoot prisoners in the jails personally, just like Allawi… then he was carried on the backs of freezing slaves and native Americans with smallpox to feed plastic turkeys to the gullible enlisted dupes at Valley Forge…

  27. Jonathan And Wanda Rantings Says:

    NBC – “Nothing But Communists”

    After a report regarding the new terrorist president that Iran “elected”, Brian Williams, the N(othing) B(ut) C(ommunists) succesor to Tom Brokaw on “NBC Nightly News”, had the stones to make this anti-American commentary …

    I await an apology fr…

  28. Jo macDougal Says:

    America haters in the MSM continue to smear America. Rathregate changed nothing.

  29. Jonathan Says:

    Did you really think it would ?

  30. mrsizer Says:

    The Left should realize that this issue is not merely wingnut ranting. We have International Law to respect. Surely the perpetrator of an illegal act should not be allowed to hold the Presidency of a country.

    btw: What is a petard?

  31. voxdilecti Says:

    Based soley upon my hundreds of hours spent playing Age of Kings II and not doing any historical research to check my accuracy, I, not unlike Mr. Brian Williams will attempt to spread my knowledge with you and all the miserable proleteriate:
    “A petard is siege/sabotuer unit using cannon powder to blow up your opponent’s castles and stuff.”

    My my! Wasnt that enlightening? Hey those Petards are awfully similar in their devices to our dastardly founding fathers. Causing all that property damage in that shameful Boston Tea Party, isnt that right Andrea?

    *alright, aside from that i really dont know what a Petard is outside that game. He was pretty much a sucide bomber in it, but methinks thats sorta inefficient in medieval warfare. google it.*

  32. richard mcenroe Says:

    A petard was actually a large pot (literally, clay pot) that was filled with “meal” gunpowder and used to try to blow open fortification gates and sally ports. Think of it as a medieval form of satchel charge (or a secular humanist Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch). The fusing was, to put it mildly, unreliable by later standards. The phrase “hoist by his own petard” meant literally to be blown up by your own weapon and figuratively, to be undone by the unexpected consequences of one’s own plots and plans…

  33. earthpapa Says:

    Hmmm…I deny an intention to offend anyone, but I regret it if anyone was unduly offended. Thanks for nothing.

    As for the new Iranian PM, he looks somewhat like the 1979 hostage taker, but side view comparisons of noses and ears reveal substantial differences. Kudos to those who raised the issue. It deserved to be vetted, and they deserved to be heard.

  34. Rod Stanton Says:

    a petard is a fart.

  35. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: All
    RE: Dealing With the So-Called Major Media

    When are you guys and gals going to start acting instead of talking?

    Unplug your television. Cancel your cable. Unsubscribe to the NYT, WaPo, LAT and the rest of their ilk.

    No one’s going to pay any attention to you until you put your money where your mouth is. And, interestingly enough, in this case, it’s keeping it in your wallet.

    It’s a WIN-WIN situation. And you do all the winning.

    They do all the whining.



  36. Al Maviva Says:

    Oh, come off it.

    Don’t you remember seeing the book with a series of Hogarth paintings, where if you flip the pages really fast, it’s like a video of George Washington using a long knife to cut the head off a screaming Lord Cornwallis? Eh, you must have missed it. But I assure you, the founding fathers were basically the same as Al Zarqawi, just a bunch of terrorists as you righties would call them, freedom fighters and minutemen in my book.

    As we say here at MSM News, Inc., ‘One man’s blood-soaked mass murdering screaming insane homicidal lunatic is another man’s freedom fighter.”


    Dan Rather
    Deputy Chief
    MSM Moral Equivalancy Dept.

  37. Robert Crawford Says:

    Scalping, as a matter of fact, was introduced to this country by the British

    This is completely wrong. Scalping was practiced — quite extensively — in North America long before Europeans even knew the place existed. The Crow Creek massacre site, for example, had skulls that feature evidence of scalping — and that site dates to 1350.

    Similarly, scalps and scalping are featured on many pre-Columbian works. In an exhibit I recently saw, there were two pieces — one had a bound captive being either scalped or beheaded, another had a hero whose cape was covered in scalps.

    About all you can say is the British introduced PAYING CASH for scalps. Previously, scalps earned the takers prestige and status, but not cash…

  38. BeldarBlog Says:

    Beldar to Brian Williams: “Revolutionary” ≠ “terrorist”

    I belatedly found, via a link from Will Collier, what Will c

  39. YoYo Says:

    I don’t understand his apology/explaination. He says:
    “The first several U.S. presidents were certainly revolutionaries… and might have been called “terrorists” at the time by the BRITISH CROWN”

    And his defense is:
    “While I insist that a re-reading of my question will prove that in no way was I calling the framers “terrorists” (for starters, the word did not exist 229 years ago)”

    So he was speculating that the British would consider the Americans to be something that a word for the concept did not exist yet?

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