Readers React

Having some fun in a fake news firestorm

The reader reaction to Brian Williams was serious -- until Jon Stewart announced his departure

More than in most weeks, journalists (or "fake" journalists) themselves were the focus of the news this week. Dozens of readers reacted seriously — that is, without any humor — to revelations that "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams had, over the years, embellished his experience during the Iraq war, saying he was on a U.S. military helicopter that was hit and forced down. They penned lengthy letters reflecting on the role of a big-name anchor in today's changing news environment.

But when "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart announced he would be stepping down this year, the reaction changed. Readers didn't take their focus off Williams; in fact, Williams' suspension continued to draw many more letters than news of Stewart's impending departure. But readers lightened up. Many connected the two stories and suggested they swap jobs. Perhaps it's a tribute to Stewart's method of delivering news, opinion and comedy all at once that many readers reacted to the announcement of his departure and Williams' suspension with humor of their own.

Costa Mesa resident Peter Maradudin thinks Stewart may have higher aspirations:

Jon Stewart is retiring, of course, so that he can run for president.

I can't think of anyone smarter or more knowledgeable. Watch out, Hillary!

Donna Greenbush of Oceanside suggests a desk swap:

Stewart retires from fake news. Williams is suspended for fake news.

Could hosting "The Daily Show" be Williams' next step?

Physician Allan McCall says Williams' behavior might be familiar to ER doctors:

Regarding the adventures of Brian Williams, I have not seen the parallels with the prevarications in "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen." Emergency room doctors are familiar with the Munchausen syndrome.

Joel Matus of Los Angeles has a simple fix for NBC News that doesn't involve firing Williams:

NBC News does not need to suspend Williams. It only needs to change the title card to read: "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Based on Actual Events."

Los Angeles resident Stacy Antler suggests that some TV personalities shouldn't throw stones:

So, NBC suspended Brian Williams for exaggerating about his experience in a helicopter in Iraq.

I guess Fox News will be firing its entire staff soon for failing to tell the truth. I await an announcement.

John Johnson of Carlsbad makes a similar point:

Brian Williams apparently exaggerated or fabricated stories about his involvement in an incident involving a helicopter during his time covering the war in Iraq.

Indeed, he has given journalism a black eye, and his employer has taken him off the air and suspended him without pay for six months.

If the same rules were applied to Fox News, there would be continuous dead air.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times