Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Stolen Valor I Would Be Glad to Administer Justice to Brian Williams

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Stolen Valor I Would Be Glad to Administer Justice to Brian Williams

Article excerpt

ISTANBUL, Turkey

For me, and many others, this is personal. We share a rage similar to that felt by war veterans who learn that a fellow soldier is taking credit for something he didn't do. In military parlance, it's known as "stolen valor."

Among journalists who cover conflicts, there's no universally accepted term for this kind of villainy. That is, until now.

From now on, when someone inflates his or her conflict-reporting resume, retelling war stories like they are scenes from "Black Hawk Down," it will be called "pulling a Brian Williams."

It's appropriate. The now-shamed NBC News anchor deserves to have his name permanently associated with such classless, self-serving deceit.

War is atrocious enough. Those who have fought it, been caught in the middle of it or chronicled its horrors know this. There's no need for exaggeration.

What Mr. Williams did dishonored not only himself, but all those who have suffered and sacrificed: soldiers, victims and fellow storytellers alike. His bloviating self-aggrandizement is a slap in the face to anyone who has borne witness to war.

Since this story broke, I've been in a rage. It strikes a personal chord with me.

A few years ago, I was hurt while reporting in Afghanistan by a rocket-propelled grenade, the same kind of ordnance that Mr. Williams claimed had struck his helicopter. Except the RPG that hit me didn't slam into the side of a helicopter in which I was flying or an armored vehicle in which I was riding with soldiers. It hit me in the head.

I was embedded with U.S. forces in the fall of 2010 near the Pakistani border. We were walking through a village when I stopped to talk to a couple of young Afghan men sitting on the side of a dirt road. That's when I heard a loud "WHOOSH" behind me.

The RPG was fired by a man just a short distance away. …

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