Friday, February 6, 2015

Statement Analysis of Brian Williams and Katrina

Regarding Hurricane Katrina, Brian Williams said he "accidentally drank flood water" and got dysentery.  He also said a "gang" was after him and he was rescued by a police officer with whom he is life long friends since.  

A medical doctor from the area which Williams stayed refuted his claims.  

Here is one statement from Williams about the dead bodies.  

We look for him to tie himself to the event using the pronoun "I" and the past tense verbs.  This is a signal of commitment in Statement Analysis.  The context is seeing dead bodies floating in the French Quarter, something that is not a usual or normal occurrence, making it 'personal' and riveting to the memory.

“When you look out of your hotel window in the French Quarter and watch a man float by face down, when you see bodies that you last saw in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and swore to yourself that you would never see in your country,” 

Here is the same statement again, with emphasis added:

“When you look out of your hotel window in the French Quarter and watch a man float by face down, when you see bodies that you last saw in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and swore to yourself that you would never see in your country,” 

Others report that the area in which Willams was staying was not flooded, nor were there dead bodies.  We, however, do not need the testimony of others here:  we follow the pronouns.

Here, in such an extreme event, he is unable to say "I looked our my hotel window..." and consistently uses the distancing second person; something that is used when one shares a common experience with others. 

This is why context is key.  

I might say, "When you drive your car in the snow, you slip sometimes", yet, if I was in an accident, or even a near accident, and wished to be truthful, I would say or write, "I drove my car in the snow and I slid towards a truck and..."

The former is for anyone, in a common experience.  The latter is specific to me.  

Since Brian Williams is unable or unwilling to say that he saw dead bodies floating, we shall not say it for him.   He distances himself from the event via his pronouns.  This is what deceptive people often do.  They wish to be seen as "in the midst of the action", but the outright lie is internally stressful.  

We will review his language, in some of the statements he made about being shot down, and how he repeated the story since 2003, to portray himself as "in the midst of the action" in future posts.  
Medis is now questioning any of his "heroic" or dramatic accounts of news he reported over the years. 

Some media outlets report a backlash over his apology.  We saw that in his apology, he was not only ascribing noble motives to his deception, but blamed circumstances outside himself.  This is what we see in pathological liars who are caught:  the mea culpa is light on the mea.  

Recall Richard Blumenthal who claimed his feet were on the ground in Viet Nam, when, in fact, he had never left the United States. He used the story to make him more endearing to Viet Nam veterans in the vote.  When confronted with evidence that he was not in Viet Nam, he said he "may have misspoken."

This indicates an unwillingness to take responsibility and is a strong signal that, as a prosecutor, it is very likely that he has lied habitually, which may have impacted justice for those whom were prosecuted by him.  Liars often bully and always put themselves before the needs of others, including the public, or the material needs of the business that employs them.  Statistically, they are likely to bring problems, rather than solve problems.  In his control, were the lives of many, accused of crimes.  For this, society must have honest men and women.  Analysis of his statements show a pathological liar, that is, one who was 'trained in deception' from childhood.  

In spite of this, he was reelected.

“I saw fear, I saw death, I saw depravity, I saw firearms being brandished, I saw looting,” he told the Los Angeles Times a year after Katrina made landfall.

“We had to have men with guns behind me one night because I was the only source of light downtown, was the lights that were illuminating the broadcast,” Williams said. “We were told not to drink our bottled water in front of people because we could get killed for it.”


john said...

This same type of language was used by Robert Allenby in his alleged "kinapping"

“I was separated from my friend in the bar after we had paid the tab at 10.48pm and he went to the bathroom and next thing you know I’m being dumped in a park miles away.

Buckley said...

Thanks Peter- Just in case you ever need more examples...

When the Premier of Israel visited Reagan at the White House, the President went on and on for three quarters of an hour explaining why he was pro-Jewish: it was because, being in the Signal Corps in World War II, he visited Buchenwald shortly after the Nazi defeat and helped to take films of that camp. Reagan repeated this story the following day to an Israeli ambassador. But the truth was 180-degrees different; Reagan was not in Europe; he never saw a concentration camp; he spent the entire war in the safety of Hollywood, making films for the armed forces…

Take George W. Bush, whose controversial service as a Texas Air National Guard pilot was shrouded in mystery, evidently because he wanted to conceal the basic facts of his privileged admission to the TANG and his strange departure from its ranks. In his 2000 campaign autobiography, ghosted by Karen Hughes, Bush claimed that after completing his training in the F-102 fighter plane, “I continued flying with my unit for the next several years.” That simple sentence was entirely untrue, according to records eventually released by the Bush campaign, which showed that he had never flown in uniform again after his suspension from active duty in August 1972 for failing to show up for a mandatory physical examination.

Anonymous said...

I think Williams credibility is pretty much shot at this point (no pun intended), as well, his career, and public persona. Whi will believe anything that comes out of his mouth now? We could probably go back and have lots to analyze with his past statements. It might be a good exercise, to try to use SA to decipher when he's been deceitful vs. honest. I think he's an attention seeker and craves the limelight. I don't understand why people crave so much attention that they have to deceive.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering where this lie started for him. I wonder if his family knew the truth, and then when he publicly lied, they were like, what the heck?! Or, I wonder if her just an overall liar. If I was his family, I'd be weary of anything he says now, as well as wondering what else he's lied about. Lying is awful! It can cause so many problems. It's so much easier to be truthful, and of course it's simply the right thing to do.

Skeptical said...

Remember how musicians were told to get to Carnegie Hall - practice, practice, practice. I guess the same can be said for becoming a skillful liar.

Anonymous said...

"I was the ONLY source of light..." hmmmm.......

Perhaps his "awareness program" of the dire straits people were in were to: garner donations;curtail donations?

tania cadogan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sus said...

"I think Williams credibility is pretty much shot at this point."

I agree because this now seems to be my family's favorite line, "Did Brian Williams tell you that?" Haha

Peter Hyatt said...


I love it!


Anonymous said...

from the myths of Reagan to support liberal poster buckley:

2. He was but a movie-set soldier in World War II.

It's true that Reagan spent virtually all the war years flying a desk at the First Motion Picture Unit, USAAF, in Culver City. But that hardly means he did not passionately want to fight for his country overseas. Army doctors found his vision to be so defective, at "7/200 bilateral," that a tank could advance within seven feet of him before he could identify it as Japanese. His Warner Bros. colleague Eddie Albert, a veteran of the Pacific War, later told me about presenting Reagan with a souvenir from the bloodbath of Tarawa. "I've never forgotten the way he looked. Like I'd humiliated him."

In the spring of 1945, Capt. Reagan, as the FMPU's intelligence officer, spent weeks processing raw color footage from the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. The images so burned into his brain that later in life - quite understandably - he imagined he had been there at Ohrdruf and Buchenwald. He kept one of those Army reels to show to each of his children in early adolescence, so that they could learn about man's inhumanity to man. Ask Patti. Ask Ron.

Peter Hyatt said...

I, too, have seen the "myths" of Reagan (which do not come close to the myths of Lincoln, by the way!) but I disagree strongly with one in particular:

his acting. (the oft-cited article lists 5, I think)

He was a good actor and was chosen for some on screen chemistry with Patricia Neal (of whom I am a fan).

I love the movies from the 1930's more than any other era, with the early 40's coming in second.

Reagan was not a great actor, but he was good. But then again, who am I to even know? I sat through "Fury" with Brad Pitt and "Girl Gone" with the wooden Ben Afleck. No accounting for taste on my part!

Back to Reagan: it does not justify Brian Williams (one lie does not justify another) and, if you watch carefully, you will find quite a bit more coming from Brian Williams and I do not think you will find such excuses as hundreds of hours of video, nor do I think you will find justifiable attempts to portray someone as a hero, other than Brian Williams.

I don't watch NBC news but I am guessing by the two posts anti-Reagan that Brian Williams doth lean to the left of center?



Buckley said...

I was comparing Presidents Reagan and Bush's lies to Rosen- err- Senator Blumenthal's, not to Williams'.

I disagree Peter: Reagan was a superb actor and President. The notion that he was an honest politician is misremembered though. His words in speeches and his actions show a big disconnect. He was a conservative in speech, but looking at the laws he signed, he's hardly a movement conservative. He railed against big government but enabled and expanded it in his years in office. He had a strong foreign policy but lied to the American public about trading arms for hostages. (That this deceit is "misremembered" attests to his acting finesse).

I don't care what Williams' politics are- he should be fired; he has lost the public's faith in his veracity.

As for me being a liberal poster- I'm for gay marriage and gun rights. I think both Democrats and Republicans spend too much of our money. The federal government should stay out of public education. I voted for Obama and for my state's Republican governor.

I believe that too many in our country base what a lie from a politician is based on their own politics. I find that unfortunate and work to avoid and point out bias wherever it is found. Blumenthal's "in Vietnam" makes him a pathological liar and Reagan's "in Europe" makes him "a good actor."

I love engaging in debate, linguistic or political, as much as the next guy. I love learning SA and have great faith in it, but along with the principle I'm learning and applying is a growing belief that clay belongs in art class, and iron belongs in science.

Lis said...

I think if we're going to debate politician's statements, the most pertinent thing might be to try to find an entirely truthful statement from one of them! Good luck with that.

Sus, your comment made me laugh out loud! ha!

Anonymous said...

There are those who chase these catastrophes to "work over" the victims. Williams in one such instigator of the troops that rush in to break down all sources of humanity for his own worth.

What's more, they keep up the tortue in order to peddle their meds. If that isn't enough, they take away the bullets one is supposed to use to guard one's own self and property so they can prescribe other meds.

What's most important is their political mantra. Screw health!