Yesterday morning, Brian Williams came down to The Princeton Tiger’s headquarters at 48 University Place for an interview with a member of our revered editorial staff. This is the anchor’s first interview since his suspension last week. He arrived 15 minutes late, out of breath, and disheveled. I greeted him with a warm welcome and began our interview.
The Princeton Tiger: It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Williams. We’re a little surprised that you wanted to talk to us over other, um, more news-oriented publications.
Brian Williams: Actually, most news publications want nothing to do with me right now, so you guys are really my only option.
Tiger: Well, Mr. Williams, nevertheless, The Princeton Tiger is an esteemed, well-respected organization on campus and, well, the reputation and credibility of all of our reporting is of utmost importance to us.
BW: I understand that. Firstly, I’d like to apologize for my tardiness. On the way over, I was pulled over unlawfully by some police officers.
Tiger: No way! What happened?
BW: I got into my car this morning, with former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, and in the rear view mirror, I see the motherfuckin’ law.
Tiger: Oh my, really?
BW: I got two choices, pull over the car, or, bounce on the devil, put the pedal to the floor. Now, I’m not trying to get into some highway chase with Jake—plus I got a few dollars, I could fight the case. So the officer asks me, ‘Son, do you know what I’m stopping you for?’ and all I can think is, ‘cause I’m young and I’m black and my hat’s real low.’ So, I would have gotten here on time—
Tiger: Wait a minute—Mr. Williams, are you paraphrasing Jay Z’s “99 Problems?” Is this some kind of joke?
BW: Oh, right, of course. I must have heard the song on the radio on the way here and confused it with my own life. My apologies. The truth is… that my life is anything but easy. My aunt May is frail and elderly, the girl I love hardly knows I exist, I held my uncle Ben as he died in my arms, the entire school thinks I’m a nerdy loser when I’m actually a superhero, and my best friend James Franco wants to—
Tiger: That’s Spiderman! The Tobey McGuire one. What the hell, Mr. Williams?!
BW: Right! Of course! That’s Spiderman! I’ve watched that movie so many times. I must have accidentally confused my life with Peter Parker’s…
Tiger: This is ridiculous, Mr. Williams! You were a celebrated journalist. You risked your life so that everyday Americans could know what was happening throughout the Middle East. You have no reason to lie. You already were a superhero in our eyes.
BW: How dare you accuse me of lying? I simply recalled the past incorrectly. Anyone could do that! Who are you to tell me I can’t! I made some of the greatest contributions to math and economic theory of the past century right here at Princeton! From a young age, I knew I was special. My first grade teacher once said I got two helpings of brain and half a helping of heart. And although I’ve always believed in equations and logic—
Tiger: That’s A Beautiful Mind! Literally everyone at Princeton has seen that movie!
BW: Well, frankly, my dear…
Tiger: …I don’t give a damn? That’s Gone with the Wind. Why are you doing this?
At this point, Mr. Williams broke down crying. He covered his face to hide tears.
BW: Oh God, who am I kidding? I’m sorry for lying. I’m sorry for making up stories about my life. I just want to be taken seriously. I want people to see me as the brave reporter I once was, not the desk-monkey news anchor I’ve become. I’m more than that. Sure, maybe I wasn’t in that helicopter that was shot at by RPGs, but I was in Iraq, and I might not have been in battle but I was damn near it.
Tiger: Jesus, Rambo, take it easy; don’t start crying on me. You’re a reporter! You’re supposed to be honest, all the time! You know what, I’m sorry, Brian, but this interview is over. I don’t have the time to entertain the lies of charlatans such as yourself.
As I got up to leave, Mr. Williams composed himself and glared at me.
BW: …Maybe I haven’t always been honest, but all you people behind your tablets and TV screens NEED reporters like me—reporters who can forge exciting stories out of the news. You wouldn’t last a day with honest news told by honest newsmen! And if you disagree with me, just grab a cameraman and go into the danger zones yourself!
Tiger: Mr. Williams, did you or did you not lie about being in that helicopter?
BW: You want answers?
Tiger: I think I’m entitled!
BW: You want answers?!
Tiger: I want the truth!
BW: YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!
– AA ’17