Williams says comparison was “aggressively misunderstood”

posted at 4:36 pm on August 11, 2006 by Ian

On last night’s 7pm edition of Hardball, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams likened suicide bombers to our Special Forces and 9/11 first responders. (Video here)

After making these comments and receiving fire for it, what does Williams do? Well, he certainly didn’t decide to apologize to those who risk their life so Williams can make asinine remarks:

Comments I made during a live interview with Chris Matthews last night have been aggressively misunderstood in the hours since. Here was my point: people always say that our country will be at a disadvantage as long as the “other side” is willing to take their own life for the cause. I was making the point that if that’s some kind of litmus test for bravery… or belief in the cause, we have those guys, too. People who fight for us, people who protect us — know full well that the American cause is worth dying for — as are our freedoms. People are dying for the U.S. side every day. Laying their lives on the line. And I give thanks for them every day. I was not at all equating the ‘other’ cause with what Americans stand for. I was criticizing the view, expressed by some, that as long as we are fighting the “suicide bomber mentality” we can never get the upper hand, because, as this belief goes, “we aren’t willing to give our lives the way they are.” Of course we are. The difference is: the folks willing to die for OUR country do so in the act of protecting and defending it — NOT killing civilians by detonating an explosive and killing innocent people.

Brave? Did he just call suicide bombers brave?

Mark Finkelstein at Newsbusters doesn’t let Williams get away with a poor excuse:

Perhaps the most revealing aspect of his entry is Williams noting that his comments were made “during a live interview” with Chris Matthews. Translation: ‘Hey, I’m basically just a newsreader. Cut me some slack when I have to think on my feet rather than reading off a teleprompter.

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I don’t know. I take him at his word.

Allahpundit on August 11, 2006 at 4:38 PM

Yo, Brian: just shut up. You don’t get paid to think, obviously, and the best thing you can do now is just shut up. This is what happens when people like you don’t know when to shut up.

B Moe on August 11, 2006 at 4:47 PM

I’m inclined to agree. Williams’ explanation is pretty much the way I interpreted his remarks initially.

RedWinged Blackbird on August 11, 2006 at 4:49 PM

At least Brian Williams should be thankful that attention is now being paid to his incredibly BORING Blog. I’m not kidding. I’ve been following it and it is a struggle to stay awake reading that blog. Great cure for insomniacs, however.

The Daily Dully Blog By Brian Williams

pjcomix on August 11, 2006 at 4:49 PM

I take him at his word, too. He said:

And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness to take one’s own life. I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They’re called Army Rangers and Navy Seals and the Special Forces folks and the first responders on 9/11 who went into those buildings knowing, by the way, they weren’t going to come out. So we have players like that on our team.

He is comparing our soldiers to suicide bombers, as if both their causes and their actions are equivalent morally. What is there to misunderstand?

januarius on August 11, 2006 at 4:50 PM

My apologizes for being redundant, but at least Mel Gibson had the excuse of being drunk when uttering his nonsense.

DannoJyd on August 11, 2006 at 4:50 PM

Perhaps Brian Williams should take Lincoln’s advice. “It is better to be thought a fool then to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt!”

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on August 11, 2006 at 4:53 PM

I’m “aggressively annoyed” with the MSM.

Dave Shay on August 11, 2006 at 4:54 PM

OK, Williams should’ve been this explicit when he was making his original remarks. He wasn’t being “aggressively misunderstood” so much as “intellectually lazy.” In this age of excessive moral equivalence and the increasing backlash against it, Williams should’ve known better than to make such a statement in the cavalier way that he did.

And he could’ve gone a lot further toward calming the waters by simply using the two magic words, “I’m sorry” to the servicemembers he unwittingly slurred when he lumped them together with terrorists. People will forgive just about anything in this country when you sincerely use the magic words.

Otherwise, his “clarification” simply takes his utterance out of the “outrageous” classification and moves it into the, “Well, duh” category. Which makes me wonder why he bothered saying it in the first place.

Spurius Ligustinus on August 11, 2006 at 4:59 PM

Sure, I’ll take him at his original word too. The rest is spin. Or he’s really, really dumb.

He was and remains an empty suit, though ask M. Wallace and he might think ‘a taller and better looking one than Mahmoud’.

Entelechy on August 11, 2006 at 5:03 PM

I agree with Allah, but Brian was not as clear on the Matthews show, but who is, when you’re having to deal with the hyperventilating Mathews and you’ve only got 30 seconds to say something profound. I do think his heart was in the right place, but the words just didn’t come out right. It’s happened to me, “But I haven’t been drinking Ossifer”.

d1carter on August 11, 2006 at 5:04 PM

Our soldiers don’t “take their own lives.” They risk their lives; but their intent is to make it back alive with the mission accomplished.

Life to a suicide bomber has no meaning other than how it can help “the cause.” He is risking nothing, because he has given up whatever value being alive has for him. There is no bravery in losing what you don’t want.

Soldiers, who place high value on life to the extent of risking their own to save others, shows immense bravery knowing they could lose it all. Especially when they doesn’t have to do what they is doing. Mr. Williams, there is no comparison.

Mallard T. Drake on August 11, 2006 at 5:11 PM

No matter the cause of this incident, Brian Williams should have said, “I’m sorry!” to the brave men and women in uniform in the military, law enforcement, fire fighting or any occupation wherein fine, courageous Americans are willing to go into harm’s way on behalf of every American and often people of other lands.

Those on the left can spin it any way they want and accept this as a simple mistake from an MSM dolt, absent “I’m sorry!” no explanations are acceptable!

My family, on both sides, have served in the United States military since the American Revolution and not one of them wanted to commit suicide and murder their own people and innocent civilians as Williams comments suggested.

Umnumzana on August 11, 2006 at 5:26 PM

Brave? Did he just call suicide bombers brave?

Hell, yes, he did. In other words, he steps on his schwanz by channelling Maher, and then attempts to cover his tracks by accusing everybody of “aggressive misunderstanding”. That’s some fancy talking down to, there.

Kid from Brooklyn on August 11, 2006 at 5:34 PM

Especially when they doesn’t have to do what they is doing.

Ahem, Especially when the don’t have to do what they are doing. (Sorry)

Mallard T. Drake on August 11, 2006 at 5:35 PM

The difference is: the folks willing to die for OUR country do so in the act of protecting and defending it — NOT killing civilians by detonating an explosive and killing innocent people.

After going back and watching his original remarks … I believe him. I think his comment above would not be made if he truly had any support for the enemy. If this is what he says he meant, then I don’t believe he needs to appologize.

SirGregor on August 11, 2006 at 5:36 PM

I’m not “aggressively annoyed”. I’m “aggressively” surprised at the surprise that this kind of merde would come flying out of a journo’s piehole unscripted.

And while I’m slinging the Francaise around; if I have to listen to what comes out of a journalist’s mouth, let it be this one.

Kid from Brooklyn on August 11, 2006 at 5:40 PM

I can’t believe anyone is truly buying his explanation. Man everyone has gotten weak. Watch the original video. It’s VERY clear what he said. I already ranted enough in the original thread, but I’ll just prove what I’m saying with the line Williams ends his troop hate with:

So we have players like that on our team.

That is enough right their to prove that he was equating what they do with what terrorists do. If you’re having trouble getting it, read my comment in the original thread, I don’t feel like repeating it.

RightWinged on August 11, 2006 at 6:21 PM

HOnestly, it’s one of those things that you pretty much understand what he meant (according to his explanation) but in reading it give a quick “huh” and realize that if that same thing was said by Michael Moore, it would mean what others interpreted Williams to mean.

BrunoMitchell on August 11, 2006 at 6:22 PM

Yeah, cut the guy some slack.

His actual point is not only unoffensive, it’s a good one to make, however poorly articulated.

Rosetta on August 11, 2006 at 6:58 PM

Rosetta: another morally confused and intellectually dishonest leftist. Don’t you have an anti-American protest to go to????

Andy in Agoura Hills on August 11, 2006 at 7:16 PM

Rosetta said: “Yeah, cut the guy some slack. His actual point is not only unoffensive, it’s a good one to make, however poorly articulated.”

Well, it is damn offensive to every man and women having served their country in uniform; that is, comparing their sacrifices for love of country, to the suicidal, murderous terrorists in any shape, manner or form.

As far as I am concerned nothing short of a clearly wprded apology is aceptable.

Umnumzana on August 11, 2006 at 7:22 PM

I meant “clearly WORDED,” not wprded!

Umnumzana on August 11, 2006 at 7:22 PM

I also don’t think he was implying moral equivalency.

But I do think he has made a straw man of the position he seems to be arguing against. I don’t think anyone claims we can’t win because people aren’t willing to die for our cause. It’s obvious that our heroes are. I think one of the reasons people fear suicide bombers is that they are able to enter places and situations that would otherwise be relatively secure. It is easier to walk into a crowd wearing bulky clothing than to plant a bomb then have it detonate at the moment it will cause the most destruction.

mikeyboss on August 11, 2006 at 7:36 PM

I will take him at his word, only in that he does not understand what true bravery is or is not. It is not killing yourself and others because of a religious ideal. Bravery is the protection of innocent people, and sometimes losing your life in trying to protect them. Bravery is the daily acceptance of your life and its hardships, but even in harsh conditions, it is going on and trying to help others as best you can within your means and ability. Brian needs to mature a bit.

Khyber Pass on August 11, 2006 at 7:36 PM

The difference is: the folks willing to die for OUR country do so in the act of protecting and defending it — NOT killing civilians by detonating an explosive and killing innocent people.

For this statement he gets a pass. I’m not going to get all flustered over the use of the word bravery. At least he showed some pride.

I love the fact that we can actually have an effect on the media. Can you imagine how this war would be covered if we were not here or if the whole NYT debacle had never taken place. The left would have alot more room to be pro-hezbollah.

Theworldisnotenough on August 11, 2006 at 7:45 PM

Williams is a nimrod. To equate psychotic mass murder with sacraficing your life in battle for your friends shows what a moral bottom-feeder he truly is.

The problem for Brian is that we DO understand his comments and the context in which they were given.

Mojave Mark on August 11, 2006 at 7:57 PM

I am not buying his bull shit excuse, He compared suicide bombers to our guys.

If you can’t see that …..

ScottyDog on August 11, 2006 at 8:11 PM

And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness to take one’s own life. I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They’re called Army Rangers and Navy Seals and the Special Forces folks

Wouldn’t have been accepted by the “greatest generation”, Bryan, to compare the bravery American pilots at Midway to Japanese Kamikaze pilots.

Essex on August 11, 2006 at 8:12 PM

I’m back from my anti-war protest now.

From my reading of his comments, he seemed to be addressing the idea that the terrorists have an advantage over us in that they will die for their cause and we won’t.

He was trying to refute that idea and he did so inartfully.

I read nowhere in his initial comments or his clarification where he says that our men are the same as the terrorists or that the causes are equivalent. Not what he said at all.

To assume that he meant exactly that, I think is a step too far.

I agree he’s an empty suit and all that but it seems obvious to me he didn’t mean what many of you really seem to want to believe me meant.

There are enough DU glue-sniffers and Kos-kids that actually DO think this that we don’t need to being seeing others where they don’t exist.

Rosetta on August 11, 2006 at 9:17 PM

I have a very fundamental question . . . why is anyone taking this dolt seriously? He’s a been nowhere, done nothing two-bit commercial voyeur.

rplat on August 11, 2006 at 9:24 PM

“They’re called Army Rangers and Navy Seals and the Special Forces folks and the first responders on 9/11 who went into those buildings knowing, by the way, they weren’t going to come out.”

Clearly that implies a suicidal urge by our military and fire fighters; and just as clearly he was comparing that to the suicide bomber terrorists. I don’t know how Rosetta or anyone else can read it any other way!

But, if someone on the Right said anything close to it Rosetta and others on the Left would be calling for his head on a platter. That is the liberal double standard we live with today.

Umnumzana on August 11, 2006 at 10:16 PM

Go light on the pigeonholing, Umnumzana. It discredits your arguments. I am firmly enconsed on the right and probably agree with you on much.

However I do read this differently and I still have a reserve of “benefit of the doubt” for people that seem to have misspoke.

I’m not saying the guy didn’t say something in a very stupid manner, he certainly did. But that’s far different than him meaning what you are ascribing to him.

Rosetta on August 11, 2006 at 10:36 PM

I think he was saying ‘we have tough guys too, tougher than yours….’ But he doesnt do analogies very well , and cant explain it with more analogies.
Remember, you cant fix the problem with the same mind that created the problem.
He must not be that quick on his feet, as someone above me said here.

shooter on August 11, 2006 at 10:46 PM

Now that comment I agree with. He wanted to build a point but realized that he wasn’t equipped with the proper tools.

Rosetta on August 11, 2006 at 10:52 PM

Rosetta, I feel like you haven’t watched the video, and more so now after a couple of your recent comments:

From my reading of his comments,…

However I do read this differently

Have you only read it? I still wouldn’t get your position anyway, but perhaps you need to watch the video in the original post. I can’t believe so many people are giving him a pass for unartfully misspeaking. Yes those things happen from time to time, but this is not one of those cases. There is no way to spin what he said.

Now, watch or read (again) his initial comments. Then my first comment I think about sums it up:

First of all, the obvious… He just compared Army Rangers, Navy Seals, Special Forces, and 9/11 First responders to terrorists. No spinning on this one, that’s what he did.

Not that anyone here is stupid enough to need this explanation, but here it is anyway… The members of “our” team that he lists don’t commit suicide in an effort to kill innocent people. Even if you were to give moral equivelency to terrorist and say that none of us are innocent civilians, our guys don’t pyschotically go out to kill themselves to accomplish their mission. Are they willing to die doing what they believe is right? Yes, but they aren’t hoping too.

As for the 9/11 first responders specifically… What an idiot you are Williams. Do you actually believe they went in knowing they wouldn’t come out? For what purpose? They were going in to get people out… if they didn’t come out, neither did the civilians. Are you saying that these first responders didn’t feel like they had a right to live while others died so they just joined the death party?

I understand benefit of the doubt, and don’t mean to go after one of our own here (you) Rosetta, but I just want you to look at his actual words that make it clear it wasn’t a simple case of unartful speaking.

RightWinged on August 11, 2006 at 11:24 PM

RightWinged,

Thanks for giving ME some benefit of the doubt. I had not watched the video but had only read the text. After your suggestion I did watch the clip.

What he says in the video (and more importantly the way he says it) is so starkly dumb, I guess I just have a hard time believing that he would actually mean something so obviously insane.

Maybe part of it is that as a professional reader, he is practiced at emphatically stating whatever comes out of his mouth as though it were gospel truth. I suppose that’s a good trait when your reading your teleprompter but when you’re speaking extemporaneously, not such a good thing.

In any event, I sort of enjoyed being called a leftist.

Rosetta on August 11, 2006 at 11:39 PM

Ian, I yield to no one regarding the earnestness of my desire to destroy Islam and regarding the intensity of my despite for most journalists, those quarter-educated, self-righteous know-it-alls. And even I think you’re beating a dead horse with this one; whatever the details, Williams just seems to have been trying to make the innocuous, obvious point that there are people on both sides of this fight who are willing to give their lives for a cause.

Now consider this remark of yours.

Brave? Did he just call suicide bombers brave?

Did you just imply that our enemies have simply no excellent qualities? I maintain that some of our enemies do excel in one way or another. In particular, I think every one of the 9/11 terrorists had more physical courage than I do, and I give Osama bin Ladin points for tactical cleverness (just as I take points away from him for strategic stupidity). If our enemies had no good qualities, they wouldn’t be dangerous, and it wouldn’t make any sense to seek their destruction, as I do.

Kralizec on August 12, 2006 at 12:33 AM

I think the terrorists genuine belief that they will go to heaven and have 72 virgins waiting for them greatly dimminishes their supposed bravery.

If they thought they would die and burn in hell for eternity because of their rotten deeds but still chose to strap themselves with explosives, that would be brave.

Rosetta on August 12, 2006 at 12:47 AM

I think every one of the 9/11 terrorists had more physical courage than I do…

Kralizec: You are judging these maniacs from a sane point of view, that is: your own. You understand the value of life and would not strap on a bomb. You understand what you would lose and are aware that you have no right to snatch life from innocents. If you were told that human life is nothing and the fast lane to heaven was to martyr yourself, wouldn’t that make the decision easier?

These fanatics put no value in human life and it doesn’t take courage to give it up for “something better” in their minds. Don’t give them credit. It takes more courage to face life day to day under trying circumstances than it does to opt for “the easy way out.”

Mallard T. Drake on August 12, 2006 at 2:19 AM

In any event, I sort of enjoyed being called a leftist.

For the record, that wasn’t me that called you a leftist. I still disagree, and think that Williams was speaking what he truly believes. I maintain that there is no way to spin this:

the willingness to take one’s own life. I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They’re called Army Rangers and Navy Seals and the Special Forces folks and the first responders on 9/11 who went into those buildings knowing, by the way, they weren’t going to come out. So we have players like that on our team.

After saying “willingness to take one’s own life” he says we have guys on our team “like that” too, and lists off many of the bravest groups of people in our country. But the simple fact is that they don’t have a willingness to take their own lives (suicide). They RISK their own lives, they don’t show a willingness to TAKE their own lives. I would say that the military is risking their lives for doing what is right, while someone would argue that the terrorists think that what they’re doing is right… That’s a much longer argument, so leaving that aside, he also mentioned 9/11 first responders. They aren’t attacking anyone, they are simply life savers, plain and simple. For him to say that those guys on “our team” are like the terrorists willing to TAKE their own lives, is ridiculous. They don’t TAKE their own lives but they do RISK them trying to save others. I can’t understand how anyone can take Williams’s statements in any other way than how he said it.

RightWinged on August 12, 2006 at 2:41 AM

RightWinged,

I appreciate your point entirely. I think the only difference is that you are attributing the comments to malintent and I’m attributing them to stupidity and the inability to express his point clearly.

Since he’s the only that knows what he meant, I will just let it go at that.

Rosetta on August 12, 2006 at 2:55 AM

Ernie Pyle, WWII correspondent, said “Every reporter is a citizen of somewhere and a believer in something.”

Brian Williams made it perfectly clear that he BELIEVES that terrorists are to be equated with the US military.

It wasn’t accidental. It is, IMHO, a sincere statement of what he believes; a statement that mirrors those of the entire “mainstream” media, both print and broadcast.

He’s a typical example of why the MSM is discredited and why America is turning it’s back on the network news and major print media.

We, the People, are starting to “get it” that the media is a Fifth Column working on behalf of our enemies.

georgej on August 12, 2006 at 4:29 AM

I think the only difference is that you are attributing the comments to malintent and I’m attributing them to stupidity and the inability to express his point clearly.

You’re pretty much right on our difference on this Rosetta, only I don’t necessarily attribute it to “malintent” on Williams’s part, at least not conscious malintent. I think speaking off the cuff we got the truth about what he believes, but in his mind he didn’t realize how wrong it was to say what he said. He wouldn’t have had a clue had there not been a stink made about it. I believe his line of thinking is so “normal” in his circles, that it didn’t seem like a strange thing to say. Again, I don’t think he was consciously trying to attack heros, but I think that he truly does believe the comparison he made and doesn’t understand why it’s wrong. I feel like his off the cuff speaking just revealed he’s true thinking. If we can say that Mel Gibson truly hates Jews because of his drunken rant, is it so hard to believe that Williams thinks there is equivalency between the heros he listed and terrorists, when he said it sober?

RightWinged on August 12, 2006 at 7:19 AM

What’s so hard to understand about the difference between being willing to give one’s own life versus being willing to take one’s own life?

Williams may have some sort of point in there some where, but if he does it’s buried beneath a whole bunch of idiot.

Pablo on August 12, 2006 at 8:29 AM

I actually received William’s exact response as an email in response to the one I sent to NBC yesterday.

I’m reassessing my analysis of what he originally said. I don’t think he really meant what what he said. After all, he’s just a fool who reads the news.

pullingmyhairout on August 12, 2006 at 10:14 AM

RightWinged,

Good points, all. If Brian Williams cannot see the differences between the two sides of his analogy then he’s a supreme idiot.

Rosetta on August 12, 2006 at 10:45 AM

Williams made a decision to point out that we have ‘them’ too:

And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness to take one’s own life. I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They’re called Army Rangers…

The question is what comparison was he trying to establish?
1. Equally brave men?
2. Equally sacrificing men?
3. Equally determined men?

Whatever his equation, and he was unclear, he made the statement either to
1. clarify what he thought the terrorist’s zeal(?) negatively implied about our fighters or
2. to give a message to scare the terrorists

However, his words:

there are guys on our team like that, too

are the giveaway.

‘Too’ is the word that equates their fighters, or their zeal, to ours. ‘Too’ means ‘as good’. It does not mean better. I listened to him and I think he meant his words.

I use substitutions to test such phrases:
>And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness of the child molester to take one’s own life in his cause. I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They’re called Army Rangers.

>And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness of the SS guard to take one’s own life to cleanse the land of Jews. I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They’re called Army Rangers.

His statement wasn’t innocuous because the first group carries a taint that is inseparable from their motive. Unless he thinks they do not have a taint. So either he equates our men to scum, or he thinks the first group is heros. It could be the flub of a fool, but the left has declared the terrorists are freedom fighters.

I was more intrigued by Matthews saying:

and yet, after having gotten to know us, they want to kill themselves to hurt us. Isn’t that an even deeper conundrum here than the chemicals being used in
these attacks.

conundrum: A paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma

I can understand Williams. Matthews is the conundrum to me.
.

entagor on August 12, 2006 at 11:12 AM

Don’t think he meant anything like he is being accused of. Do think he is a real moron for making such an easily misconstrued statement.

Who knows.

honora on August 12, 2006 at 12:21 PM

Yes, it would seem he’s a wordsmith who doesn’t quite know how to speak. I suppose he’s being truthful and since he has “writers” who tell him what to say on the news, maybe he can’t think on his own while standing up. Matthews, now there is a clown I would like to see go by the wayside.

Catie96706 on August 12, 2006 at 2:19 PM

honora and Catie96706: If you are right and this is all a misunderstanding, then why not just apologize and end it?

Umnumzana on August 12, 2006 at 6:22 PM

Right – he’s still under the liberal delusion that suicide bombers are brave.

venmax on August 13, 2006 at 8:21 AM