Translation of Brian Williams’s manipulative words
Ellie ♦ 11th February 2015 ♦ 28 Comments
I saw this Brian Williams story [Internet Archive link] and I thought I’d see what he’s up to. Celebrity claiming to apologize? Translation mode ENGAGED! As with the other translation posts, I am writing to expose the manipulative patterns seen here.
Here are the original comments:
Transcript of Brian Williams’ on-air remarks on 2/4/2015 on “NBC Nightly News”:
“On this broadcast last week, in an effort to honor and thank a veteran who protected me and so many others following a ground-fire incident in the desert during the Iraq War, I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago. It didn’t take long to hear from some brave men and women in the air crews who were also in the desert. I want to apologize: I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire. I was instead in a following aircraft. We all landed and spent two harrowing nights in a sandstorm in the desert. This was a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran, and by extension: our brave military men and women — Veterans everywhere — those who have served while I did not. I hope they know they have my greatest respect. And also now my apology.”
Williams’s post on the NBC Facebook page:
“To Joseph, Lance, Jonathan, Pate, Michael and all those who have posted: You are absolutely right and I was wrong. In fact, I spent much of the weekend thinking I’d gone crazy. I feel terrible about making this mistake, especially since I found my OWN WRITING about the incident from back in ’08, and I was indeed on the Chinook behind the bird that took the RPG in the tail housing just above the ramp. Because I have no desire to fictionalize my experience (we all saw it happened the first time) and no need to dramatize events as they actually happened, I think the constant viewing of the video showing us inspecting the impact area — and the fog of memory over 12 years — made me conflate the two, and I apologize. I certainly remember the armored mech platoon, meeting Capt. Eric Nye and of course Tim Terpak. Shortly after they arrived, so did the Orange Crush sandstorm, making virtually all outdoor functions impossible. I honestly don’t remember which of the three choppers Gen. Downing and I slept in, but we spent two nights on the stowable web bench seats in one of the three birds. Later in the invasion when Gen. Downing and I reached Baghdad, I remember searching the parade grounds for Tim’s Bradley to no avail. My attempt to pay tribute to CSM Terpak was to honor his 23+ years in service to our nation, and it had been 12 years since I saw him. The ultimate irony is: In writing up the synopsis of the 2 nights and 3 days I spent with him in the desert, I managed to switch aircraft. Nobody’s trying to steal anyone’s valor. Quite the contrary: I was and remain a civilian journalist covering the stories of those who volunteered for duty. This was simply an attempt to thank Tim, our military and Veterans everywhere — those who have served while I did not.”
Williams’s I’m taking time off statement:
In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions.
As Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days, and Lester Holt has kindly agreed to sit in for me to allow us to adequately deal with this issue. Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.
Translation in red. Comments in purple italics.
Transcript of Brian Williams’ on-air remarks on 2/4/2015 on “NBC Nightly News”:
“On this broadcast last week, in an effort I should get credit for my effort to honor and thank a veteran who protected me I was in danger y’all. I’m a hero too. and so many others but I’ll mention me first following a ground-fire incident in the desert during the Iraq War, I made a mistake lied in recalling the events of 12 years ago Brian should read our post on euphemisms. It didn’t take long to hear from some brave men and women Is the flattery working? Red, white, and blue y’all! Hooah! in the air crews who were also in the desert. I want to apologize: I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire. I was instead in a following aircraft. We all landed I was with the soldiers! and spent two harrowing nights in a sandstorm in the desert. So I DID suffer. I should get a medal! The sand was everywhere. It was in my socks and in my hair and it scratched me so much. This was a bungled attempt I should get credit for an attempt by me to thank one special veteran, and by extension: our brave military men and women — Veterans everywhere — those who have served while I did not but I spent TWO harrowing nights in a sandstorm in the dessert. It was awful. I got sand in my eyes too. I hope they know they have my greatest respect. And also now my apology.” No. That wasn’t an apology. Apologies are simple. I apologize for ____. My actions were wrong in____ ways. In the future I will ____. And there is no blank to fill in for WHY you did it. Williams is attempting to be understood rather than attempting to make amends. Apologies should not place a burden on the apology’s recipient.
Williams’s post on the NBC Facebook page:
“To Joseph, Lance, Jonathan, Pate, Michael I’m using your first names because we are bffs. We really bonded in that harrowing sandstorm and all those who have posted: You are absolutely right and I was wrong. He should have stopped right here. In fact, I spent much of the weekend thinking I’d gone crazy. Pity play. I feel terrible Pity play about making this mistake euphemism, especially since I found my OWN WRITING about the incident from back in ’08, and I was indeed on the Chinook behind the bird soldier word that took the RPG soldier abbreviation because I speak soldier in the tail housing just above the ramp. I’m using soldier words because I’m a hero! I’m one of you. I know your secret code words for danger and helicopter. I say “bird” like you do. Because I have no desire to fictionalize my experience again (we all saw it happened the first time) Did you? The soldiers did, but they seem to think they TOLD you what happened and no need to dramatize events as they actually happened to the soldiers, not you, I think the constant viewing of the video showing us inspecting the impact area — and the fog of memory over 12 years I probably have PTSD too. It’s terrible.– made me Ugh, “made me” abusers love to tell what made them do rotten things. conflate the two, and I apologize. I certainly remember the armored mech platoon soldier words!, meeting Capt. Eric Nye and of course Tim Terpak. Shortly after they arrived, so did the Orange Crush sandstorm, making virtually all outdoor functions impossible. I was a real trooper during that sandstorm. It was so sandy and stormy. But I never gave up. I honestly now that’s irony don’t remember which of the three choppers soldier word! Gen. Downing and I slept in, I slept in a chopper with a general because I’m important but we spent two nights on the stowable web bench seats and oh, my aching back. Those are so uncomfortable. in one of the three birds. I just love soldier words. Later in the invasion soldier word! when Gen. Downing and I reached Baghdad I was with the general because I’m important, I remember searching the parade grounds for Tim’s Bradley soldier word to no avail. My attempt I really want credit for my attempts to pay tribute to CSM Terpak was to honor his 23+ years in service to our nation, and it had been 12 years since I saw him. The ultimate irony is: In writing up the synopsis of the 2 nights and 3 days I spent with him in the desert, I managed to switch aircraft I mean lie and honor myself. Nobody’s trying to steal anyone’s valor. Gaslighting Quite the contrary: I was and remain a civilian journalist covering the stories of those who volunteered for duty. This was simply minimizing an attempt to thank Tim, our military and Veterans everywhere — those who have served while I did not.”
Williams’s I’m taking time off statement:
In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news I should get credit for all I’ve done, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions and I can’t report on myself. That would be awkward.
As Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News I’m important, I have decided It was my decision. I am the boss. to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days, and Lester Holt has kindly agreed to sit in for me to allow us to adequately deal with this issue. Upon my return I’m coming back. I will prevail. That sandstorm toughened me up, I will continue my career-long effort I struggle and fight and work so so hard and I always have to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us attempt at Jedi mind trick.
End of translation.
I hope that exposing these manipulative words helps you. I saw how Williams was subtly making it look like he suffered too and he was trying and making an effort and he flattered those whose glory he was trying to steal. This is a familiar tale. Consider the abusers who tell about how inconvenient it was for them when we got up and down out of bed all night with newborns and sick children as if their reporting our work made them parents like us. Consider how they might throw in a parenting vocabulary word they picked up in their Facebook feed so they look like involved parents. Consider how they will tell flattering stories about their targets so that they look like the positive ones. Consider how Williams waves his title around to remind everyone who THE boss is like abusers demand we acknowledge their headship. Consider the abusers who don’t recognize our boundaries and talk about what we’ll do upon their return. I see many parallels here.
What did you see?
Ellie is now offering a private translation service. For more info visit TranslationsbyEllie. [This link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.]
July 17, 2016 update: Unfortunately, translationsbyellie.com is not a functioning website at this time.
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- Tagged: abuser's tactics, Ellie, identifying abusers, language of abusers, translation
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Ellie, thank you for your translation. I suggest that you add to the introduction the explanation of the two colors used, as you have done for the prior translations, just for the benefit of any new readers.
I see a man taking no responsibility for his actions, and no real apology. And there is no action plan as to how this will not happen again. I also see, as per usual the fan club clinging to his great words, admiring him and coming to his defense (oh poor thing). As per usually, he will come out smelling like a rose, unscathed. 😦
This is today’s media and why there is so much mistrust in the news. A story is told a dozen different ways on many, many stations, newspapers and the internet. Who are we to believe?
This is not the appropriate thread, but I have to let this out before I explode. I found my dad after searching every way I knew how for 35+ years. In reality I found what paper trail there was of him before he died, after hiring an investigator last week. They were pretty quick at this and some information seems a little conflicting, but over all I believe they found him.
I have always felt that he is the beginning of the domino effect of abuse that I fell into. I honestly can’t blame him for my mother marrying a pedophile and my bad choices as an adult, but he did abandon my mom, my unborn sister and me and I never saw even a picture of him until I was an adult and felt safe enough to bring the subject up with my mom.
I did find out that he was in the Army for 2 years prior to meeting my mom. The transcripts have been ordered and with the other information that I have I fear there will be horrible stories of that experience as well as everything else. He has been in and out of trouble with the law his whole life and died in prison and is buried in a cold dusty prison cemetery with his number on the grave and the wrong year of birth on it. He always told my mom that he had no middle name, perhaps to hide his real identity if only in part because he was already in trouble. I don’t know, but I do know that no middle initial appears on their marriage license or my birth certificate. I don’t even know if he knew that my sister was even on the way and the investigator has said that he definitely had a middle name.
At one point he had escaped from jail while awaiting trial for yet another offense. At that point he was declared legally dead. Skeletal remains were found in a river close to the town where he had been incarcerated. The local examiner and sketch artist came up with a description that was very close to that of my dad and a death certificate was issued. As of 1982, the person in the grave is a John Doe.
Two years later after being declared deceased and having worked under his own Social Security number he went back to his child hood area, walked into a bar where people knew him and who said, “Whaaaaat”. He said, “Yah, I know, I’m dead.” This I read in the news article written on these events. The investigator is now trying to see if my known living relative will contact me. I am only half sure that I want to know anymore, but on the other hand I have a cousin out there that I would like to meet. From the news article where he was interviewed he is a musician. That gives us 2 things in common, music and DNA.
I think what hurts the most is that my dad went back to his home town to visit family and friends and whoop it up because he knew it was only time before he was captured, but never came to find out how I was. My sister and I lived in fear our entire childhood and he didn’t come to our rescue. Now I find out that he has been gone from this life for 20 years.
I always thought we would have had a better life if dad would have stayed, but I no longer know. Maybe it wouldn’t have been better financially. Maybe I still would have felt shame, not from being molested as a child, but the shame of having a dad who was always in trouble of some sort. Maybe he would have lead me to a life of crime. Only God has the answers and there are still so many “what ifs” that will never be answered. I didn’t think I would feel grief for a man that I have no memory of.
Brenda – New dad. You have a new Father.
Brenda I am sorry for what you have been through, and what you have recently discovered, and I can understand why you are hesitant to find out more.
My father and mother both abandoned me and my 8 brothers and sisters when I was very young. (my mother even gave up her 6 month old baby to the adoption center with the rest of us.)
Both of my parents did not want to be held accountable.
But my childhood was not comparable to the pain of what you have described .
I realized later that these people will justify wrong behavior, if they want to serve sin bad enough.
I gave up on trying to figure mine out long ago.
Our hope rests in the Lord.
May the Lord continue to bring us through these valleys and towards his marvelous truth.
Brenda — discovering all this after having sought information so long — it must be bitter sweet. Like Jeff says, your true Father is God, and we are your family — sisters and brothers. As a sister, I send you a big long cyber-hug. 🙂
I am so sorry for the pain you’re suffering now, having found out what you now know about your dad. As Jeff said, your real true Father has never left or forsaken you – and never ever will.
I used to wonder or ponder about the family into which I was born with its many “dysfunctions” and distance between immediate members, separation, divorce, lack of connection with even the few in number who we were. Lack of interest in one another. I couldn’t figure out the “whys” of it all or even make it “work” better like I thought family was supposed to be.
There is no “why” that I think I will understand this side of Glory, except for one parallel that I gleaned for myself from the story of Ishmael and Isaac (of all testimonies, how unlikely I thought, in Scripture). And that is this: Had Ishmael only accepted his place in the family – the place that God had given him – all that followed may not have happened.
I’m not saying that Ishmael is you or me. I’m not saying you did anything at all to make this happen. What I’m saying is thatt this realization helped me to realize that I have a place in God’s family – as do you. God put me and you in HIS family – a family that my own biological family isn’t a part of (at least not yet, if ever). And because of that, I can slowly – in time – start to look at the biological family into which He placed me and start to understand in my head (if not yet my heart, although that too in time) that He has a plan for placing me (and you) in the families that He did. He has defined the places and times in which we as individuals live. (Somewhere in Acts; I’m unable to locate it this minute and I have to get going…)
And so, the longer I live, the more I take comfort in seeing that in spite of this ugly, messy, twisted up, evil-filled, sinful, broken world, God reached down and put me in a beautiful filled with siblings of His own likeness and mind, growing in conformity to Christ’s image. And no one, absolutely no one can ever take that from your or me.
I will pray for your comfort and peace amidst these new revelations. You have family here on this website, and I’m glad you reached out to us.
You are much loved by your real Father. And His arms are strong enough to keep you.
Any one want to take a stab at: “The ultimate irony is…”
Brian’s worldview: “In the beginning was Brian, and Brian was with God, and Brian was God.”
In response to Anewanon’s invitation: The ultimate irony is that, just as so many will buy into Brian Williams’ self-laudatory manipulations, so also there are many “pastors” who will jump at the opportunity to acknowledge, believe, support, and even facilitate, the small “g” gods in our midst—even as they pursue the subjugation and destruction of their wives.
Okay, so I really enjoy reading Ellie’s posts from a humor perspective. The first one I read was the BJU one and I was stunned! I read the statement and thought, “ok. Pretty good public statement.” And then I read Ellie’s comments. I never realized. I tend to take what people say at face value and never dig deeper. I guess that is the trusting part of me and it has gotten me in trouble.
In the last few years I have prayed for Jesus’ discernment skills as evidenced in the Gospels. He never gets dragged into circular arguments!
I guess I’m learning, because I read Brian Willson’s “apology” and thought many of the same things Ellie pointed out.
I have a friend who is divorcing her abuser and I tried my Ellie skills on a text he sent. I am posting it here for constructive criticism. Enjoy!
Fine about holidays. I guess you’ve cancelled that vacation you had planned since that’s not part of the 50 / 50 agreement either. (You don’t follow my plans, I’ll punish you) I didn’t ask for a trial by jury. I don’t know anything about it. My lawyer probably did that. (I am oh, so innocent. And a victim. Lawyers are horrible.) I somehow don’t believe that this would all be settled though. Your anger and bitterness towards me leads you to your own self defeat. (Guilt trip) When will you ever stop blaming me? (Accusing) I can’t be your scapegoat anymore (wife). (Poor, poor, pitiful me. I think I’ll write a country song.) You need to take responsibility for your own experience of life. (Projecting, guilt trip, demeaning) When will you see how wonderful I was, how much I gave to you, all I did for you, how I took care of you, and how I loved you unlike any man you will ever find again. (Poor, poor, pitiful me. It really is catchy. Now, forget all the awful, mean things I did to you and the way I neglected your needs.) Is that the man that destroyed your life? (No, that man only existed in my imagination and in your trusting heart that chose to look at the good and ignore the obvious signs.) No. You are responsible for your own life, and your own circumstances. (Yes you are. Good job, by the way.) It’s time you accepted that responsibility. (you have and are, but I’m going to cast doubt and add a little more guilt for good measure.) I’m ready to end this anytime by splitting custody and everything else straight down the middle, excluding my premarital assets. (See how loving and kind I am? We shall ignore your premarital assets.) Yes, you can have (child) on the 6th-8th. Thank you. Take care, (wife). You may think I’ve been harsh here, but I’ve actual said all this with love in my heart for you. (And me. Well, mostly me. Truthfully, all me.) Life’s too short too cultivate bitterness and hatred in our hearts for someone we once held so closely. Sometimes we can love so deeply that it can turn into hate. I refuse to blame and hate. (Except when I’m doing it, but other than that, I refuse.) I’m not going to play victim. (Poor, poor, pitiful me! I could be rich writing this stuff! Maybe I can get Linda Ronstadt to sing it?) That’s a miserable choice for existence. Wherever this leads is where I’m willing and joyously ready to go. (As long as I get everything my way, of course.) I can handle it. Take care. (See what a nice guy I am?)
It’s so nice to see Ellie’s talents spinning off to other surivors!
Wow! You did a great job! How do I know? Because I received an email like that one just this week, with some details different, and your translation is spot on. Amazing how they can be harsh, know they are harsh, know you think it is harsh, but it was all done in love and not harsh at all! Even the hypocritical ending, have a nice day, knowing that they have just done all they could to absolutely ruin it. Evil reigns in their hearts.
I died laughing – and then I was speechless in the presence of such excellent Translation Skill. You are the Queen of it. I hope to be just like you when I grow up. 🙂
The translation was pure genius,
Another stellar translation, Ellie. What did I see? I saw a predictable “word salad”…with a non-apology that kept BW at the center, rather than those he offended being the center of the so-called apology.
He also lied about lying: his “fog of memory” included details hat he wasn’t “foggy”about, designed to keep his reputation intact rather than admit the truth.
Absolutely amazing skills of insight. You are a real translator of insincerity.
That’s the best laugh I’ve had in a week, Ellie. Absolute laughter. Can I send you a stack of letters from my vstbx abuser for you to de-code? That would be hysterical, I am certain of it, and we could all use a little more funny entertainment around here, yes?
BTW, I am coming up now, with a new abbreviation. I have used stbx for years now. Yep, that’s right – years. So now, I am going to change it to vstbx, because it is finally going to be “very soon”. You all feel free to use that now, ya hear?
Thank you for that, Ellie, I must be learning because when I saw his comments here and there, it was very apparent what he was doing was manipulative and self-serving. Another observation was that I heard my N h say about the incident that he felt so sorry for him! Ugh! Seriously? He poured over how much he liked him, enjoyed his broadcasts, more than others on the nightly news, he was his favorite and for a second it sounded as if he had what? ’empathy’ for Brian Williams! Say it isn’t so! All I have to say to that is, birds of a feather!?!
BTW, I have a voice recording of my N h the day AFTER our anniversary last year, he didn’t mention it the day of, for reasons he describes on the recording, and if translated (Ellie) I’m sure it would be a doozy! Up for the challenge?
Oh boy, ST2– have I had those moments too! And “it ain’t so”. It’s NOT empathy when someone identifies [takes sides] with the abuser rather than the victim. It’s evil, and they excuse evil and thus they reveal their own darkened heart. It’s truly a red flag and it’s stunning when it happens.
I might be. Email me privately and we’ll talk.
Thank you, Jeff.
My earthly bio family is a train wreck, to say the least. Dysfunction has ruled for generations and I am blessed to live at least 2k miles away from most of my family. My 2 daughters and I pretty much consider that we are our family. It would be wonderful if hearts are changed, but that is between them and the Lord.
Thank you for your words of comfort and your prayers. They mean a lot to me.
I should apologize to you for hijacking your thread. Please forgive my interruption.
Ellie, another amazing Ego-linguo translation tutorial!! and good chuckle too 🙂 I am learning a lot and my decoding radar is getting tuned up.
“As Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days, and Lester Holt has kindly agreed to sit in for me to allow us to adequately deal with this issue. Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.”
The ‘Williams taking time off’ statement is the most revealing to me. He is the man in control there i.e. the Managing Director; he’s taken the initiative to remove himself for a few days (when he was fired for 6 months); he thanks LH without mentioning his position title (demeaning and likely resentful); he has already made future plans for his return thus forcing his way through, just like abusers faking repentance and demanding reconciliation.
The truth is that NBC is in charge there and suspended BW!
Brian Williams: NBC suspends news anchor for six months over helicopter story [Internet Archive link]
And when you read the NBC account, you think ‘Wow! NBC scolded, punished and disciplined the liar because high standards have to be upheld at all times, and you think: when do we do this in the Christian church when it comes to abusers? To our utter dismay…so rarely… 😦