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Opening Arguments

The real deal

"The CBS Morning News" today had a tribute to Bob Simon, the CBS foreign reporter and longtime "60 Minutes" correspondent, who did Wednesday night in a car accident in New York City. It featured news clips from his long career, and it was impossible not to appreciate how fearless he was in pursuit of a story. He had reported from just about every war zone there was, starting with Vietnam and including Iraq, where he was captured and tortured for 40 days:

"It's a terrible loss for all of us at CBS News," 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeff Fager said in a statement. "It is such a tragedy made worse because we lost him in a car accident, a man who has escaped more difficult situations than almost any journalist in modern times."

He was the real deal. Watching the highlights of his reporting only makes the puffed-up braggadocio of a clown like Brian Williams seem even more pathetic. It is being reported now that before Williams was suspended for six months, there was an intense debate within NBC over whether to fire him:

The ultimate decision to suspend Williams for six months was made after an internal investigation unearthed other “instances of exaggeration,” according to a person familiar with intense behind-the-scenes discussions between network officials and Williams.

[. . .]

NBC journalists, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they have been warned not to speak publicly, told The Washington Post that they were stunned by how quickly Williams fell from one of the highest perches in broadcast news.

They also said they were not surprised by the allegations that Williams had inflated his involvement in news stories and what he supposedly witnessed while on assignment. They said his exaggerations were an open secret at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and became an inside joke, mostly because they were not made on “Nightly News.”

"Everybody knew" the "open secret." If NBC wants to get its credibility back, suspending Williams isn't the only thing it has to do.