Discussion: Hotel Manager

Discussion for article #233101

Translation: how dare Brian Williams cast any doubt on the sanctity and safety afforded by such an elitist establishment as the Ritz Carlton? We had cops ready, willing, and able to shoot on sight. Next disaster, count on us to save your ass – at a price.

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"cast doubt "

You guys need to do a better job of this. She cast doubt on nothing. She essentially admitted to having no personal knowledge and then said “nuh uh.” That does not “cast doubt” on anything. It’s simply her engaging in supposition, speculation and conjecture.

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Myra sure as good eyesight, being in Baton Rouge and all.

“But she maintained that the Ritz Carlton was safe, well-stocked with medicine, and guarded by numerous police officers.”

Right…it’s also zombie proof and ready for the zombie apocalypse. She was just spewing self-serving twaddle.

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I’m sorry, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Williams provided no proof that his hotel was overrun by gangs, or that he had his life saved by a cop; and frankly, his story sounds fake. Just click through to the link and read all the absurd things Williams was saying, about how street gangs were waiting right outside the hotel “ready to smash and grab.” Sounds like a bunch of hokum to me. There were lots of these fake stories that came out during and after Katrina, and all they did was perpetuate the stereotype that black people are animals who can’t be controlled. But in fact, it was the white people who did more harm, by killing innocent people and preventing them from leaving New Orleans.

And really, why is anyone defending this actor? He’s not a journalist. He’s a handsome man that reads news from a teleprompter. And if this forces him out of his job, then he’ll be replaced by another attractive person who reads the same news he’d have read. And while I’ll admit that Williams was funny on 30 Rock, I’ve never cared for him as a “journalist.”

Well. there certainly was a body three short blocks from the Ritz Carlton which decorated the street for a week after the hurricane and was made famous in this article which also mentions the looters:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/08/national/nationalspecial/08orleans.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2005/09/08/national/08orleans.2.ready.html

Your last statement is the one that should come first. Your admission that “I’ve never cared for him” means that your entire analysis of his recollections and stories is biased and your bias clouds your analysis.

Here is the thing, people use imprecise language to describe what happens. I have spent my entire life researching stories- how they are told, how they are translated, and how they are read. Williams’ stories are not inaccurate when the imprecise nature of the English language is taken into account.

Take, for instance, the idea that there were street gangs waiting, as you say, right outside the hotel ‘ready to smash and grab.’ That is accurate in so far as the English language is accurate. It could mean that the gangs were in the street right outside the door to the hotel or it could mean that they were a block away or even a street away. No matter where they were, they were ‘right outside the hotel’. This mode of speech is called Hyperbole, and it infests much of the English language.

Take another of Williams’ anecdotes- seeing a body float passed the hotel. This holds true whether or not the body floated past the hotel’s front door or floated away while Williams was in his hotel room looking at the devastation through binoculars.

Journalists (and I use to be one) tend to relay their stories with a certain amount of hyperbole and minor embellishment regarding language. The problem is not when you get that in the story. That is human nature. Ask a fisherman about the fish he caught every year and you’ll note that the fish gets larger. Ask a soldier about how many enemies he faced in any given encounter, and the number will slowly increase (I know several soldiers who have ‘embellished’ their stories over time). This is the nature of human memory and of human language.

There is no one in the news business who relays the news robotically. There does not exist a plethora of Sheldon Coopers, Sherlock Holmeses, Temperance Brennens, and Spencer Reids reading the news every night or even reporting on it. Human emotion tints and colors the stories told by every journalist. Your personal dislike for Brian Williams is perfectly alright by me- you are free to watch his competitors or, as I do, not watch the National News at all- but to attack him for being a fallible human being without faulting every person on FOX News, CNN, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, ABC, Al-Jazera US, and on is hypocritical. None of them report the news perfectly, without emotion, and without hyperbole or embellishment.

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His Poupon, now that he thinks about it, was perhaps tending toward Gray more than the Black he reported having used on his meager cheese plate…

I think you’ve got this backwards. Why are you defending him when there is absolutely zero proof that he’s telling the truth and several witnesses say he’s wrong? Go read the Washington Post article for yourself. He supposedly said “a gang was waiting on the streetcar tracks in front of the Ritz, ready to ‘smash and grab.” Does that sound inexact to you? That sounds like a specific location to me. He also said there were armed gangs terrorizing guests inside the hotel itself. Yet other people are saying that’s not true, including the hotel manager. If you didn’t know that he said these things, perhaps you should stop defending him until you first see what you’re defending.

This isn’t a problem of a newscaster conveying news in an emotional way. This is about a dude straight up lying. Or at least, telling stories that can’t be verified by anyone else. Why are you defending him? He’s not even a journalist. He’s an actor that reads the news. I’m sure he’s a swell guy, but he’s not a journalist and doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt, particularly when other witnesses directly contradict his stories. I’m not saying he’s lying because I don’t like him. I’m saying he’s probably lying because his stories sound fake and other people who were they are saying they weren’t true. And the question: Why are you defending him when you don’t even know if he’s being honest?

I usually agree with your posts and appreciate the depth of knowledge and insight that you bring but there are a few things here that I want to to respectfully disagree with you on.

  1. Williams is not only a face but a Managing Editor and does have some journalistic chops.
    2)I have spoken at length with other journalists who went down and covered Katrina for NY papers and they confirm-and documented at the time-the stories that Williams repeated. You can look them up in the archives.
  2. The older I get, the more forgiving I am of false memories in the finer details and the science seems to indicate that the more traumatic an event is, the more likely for memory to be faulty, Most people’s recollections can’t withstand intense scrutiny and time tends to add or shed detail.

I’d rather see Williams leave NBC and challenge himself with the kind of journalism that he dreamed of as a young man. He has talent, money and is only 55. Let him go the Moyers route and reinvent himself.

That would be interesting

They confirmed that armed gangs had infiltrated the hotel? If that’s the case, then you need to tell WaPo and the Guardian, since they’re only finding people who dispute his claims.

And honestly, my biggest problem with Brian Williams is that television news is terrible. It made sense before the days of the internet, but these days, it’s not only useless but harmful; since it gives people the false impression that they’re informed. But if you can’t easily verify your news, then you shouldn’t bother getting it at all. Nor should we rely on spoonfed journalism, when it’s so much easier to learn things on our own. You can learn far more reading TPM and Steve Benen than all the TV journalists combined.

There were indeed gangs in the streets and they were going through the stores for supplies of all kinds.
I don’t know whether any tried to steal from his hotel but I’m sure that stories like that were rampant at the time and could easily be incorporated into the reporting.
I just hate to see Williams put in the same category as a Jayson Blair.
It’s just not the case.

Are you just avoiding the stories about what he claimed happened? He straight up said there were armed gangs wandering through the halls of the Ritz Carlton; not just looters in the street, but in the hotel itself. Seriously, why do you assume he DIDN’T just make up these stories? Why do you trust him, other than that you don’t want to believe he’d lie?

To me, his stories sound fake and until other people step up to confirm them, I’ll assume that he was just telling scary stories to impress people. And the difference with Jayson Blair is that I don’t think Williams reported these as official news stories. But still…these sound like tall tales to me.

The Ritz is on Canal Street, which separates the French Quarter from downtown. I was in New Orleans as a working journalist 5 days after the storm. I can confirm I saw plenty of looted stores on Canal street, and while most of the French Quarter was was high and dry, there were also places on Canal with deep standing water 5 days after the storm had passed. Across Canal, in the main part of downtown, water was several feet deep. So I have no trouble believing he saw a body floating. At the time when saving live people was still possible, picking up the dead ones was of low priority. The one I saw I will never forget, bloated and bobbing next to a ramp on I-10 rescue workers were using as a boat launch.

I am not vouching for any other details of what Williams said, or what happened on the helicopter. But at least some of his Katrina story rings true.

Uh, I think you should re-read the article. She was pretty clear in what she said, just that she didn’t come out and call Williams a liar. I think, as manager, she would have known if his comments were legitimate. He seems to have a history of puffing up his reporting, and now it’s caught up with him. He doesn’t need to be shot or anything, just should not be the face of the news department of NBC.

No, I do not have it backwards. As someone else responded to you, the stories from Katrina have been documented by others and have largely been confirmed. Please remember that not everyone remembers things exactingly. People who have gone through traumatic events are well known to ‘misremember’ what happened. The accounts surrounding several of the most well documented tragic events in history, including some that were caught on film, have been remembered differently than they actually occurred, and the people who went through them each recall them differently.

I studied the transmission of oral history in my varied forms of study. I’ve studied history quite well, in fact. I’ve read accounts of one battle from two different people and had them be completely different accounts. For instance, my great-uncle was on Normandy Beach. His account of D-Day is quite different from that of James Doohan, who was also in that battle (and lost a finger in it).

And just because one person (the manager) does not recall “a gang … waiting on the streetcar tracks in front of the Ritz” does not mean that a gang was not waiting on the streetcar tracks in front of the Ritz, especially since their account is that they saw “a group of people” on the tracks. Gang has different meanings to different people.

I am well aware of what I am “defending”. I am pointing out that your own biases make you unwilling to see beyond any explanation than the conclusion you have already reached while I, laying things out quite logically, have pointed out that English language is very inexact; that traumatic events are often remembered differently by different people; that many of the people who were there documenting the events back up the core of Williams’ story (especially at the time that he first relayed them).

Meanwhile, on FOX News, they have claimed that President Obama had a direct line to Benghazi and watched Ambassador Stevens die horribly while they delayed any action from taking place to rescue him. They claimed that President Clinton ordered Vince Foster murdered. And so on and so forth. Where was the outrage when FOX News lied continuously about Democrats?

I have also noticed that you keep changing your story and your claims. Each time you get countered, you move the goal posts. For instance, did Williams claim that there were armed gangs roaming the halls of the Ritz or did he claim that they were standing outside on the streetcar tracks? Additionally, when did he make those claims? Did he make them the year after Katrina, or more recently?

Your dislike of Williams is noted and just fine. If you dislike him, ignore him the way I do the Kardashians, but you do not have to justify your hatred of him and you do not have to make a case for him to be fired unless you want to start demanding the resignation of Roger Ailes, Gretchen Carlson, FOX News as a whole.

I mean, we’ve caught Bill O’Reilly in flat out lies about his childhood…and so far, no one has called for his resignation.