The allegations against Brian Williams may be piling up, but it's time for NBC to take a closer look at what matters. Media types may care deeply about the accusations, but it's not clear that those who really matter—the audience—really do, writes Michael Wolff in USA Today. The real question: "Does Williams' fate and future have to do with how the evening news audience sees him, or is it more about how the media sees itself?" For the likes of NBC, Williams' removal is supposedly about preserving the integrity of nightly news programs. But the truth is that that integrity is largely gone already.
Indeed, the "once deep and well-resourced news organizations" have been "reduced, in effect, to an on-air front man." The audience appears to know this; to them, the shows are "about constancy, a predictable and soothing background noise"—not about hard-hitting journalism. As for surveys that suggest trust in Williams has plummeted, it's unclear how accurate they are, and competing polls offer contrary results. So are we at the point where "Williams must be sacrificed in an effort to maintain the network news fiction about gravitas and journalistic stature and credibility, a fiction far larger than Williams' own tall tales?" Perhaps a better option would be to let NBC Nightly News "contentedly run out its years simply by bringing Williams back." Click for Wolff's full column.