The First Amendment protects Free Speech and, among other points, it provides an affirming sanctuary for The Press. Typically one finds both of these components conjoined such as in the case of Larry Flynt (of Hustler magazine fame) and offensive as it may be, to protect the right of the unseemly and the sensational.
So the question is this: Is Brian Williams actions (no different than any other media personality or politician) more an issue of duty than it is a matter of truth-telling? Given the manner in which the breach has been handled, by either Williams or NBC, I believe we are obligated to extend our inquiry a bit further. We should ask if the core issue of the Williams/NBC response is more a function of economics or are their reactions truly an affirming demonstration of a core feature long held to be a necessary component of a true democracy, the duty of the press to faithfully inform the public, and also an effort to demean the use of sensationalism as a tool for contorting the shape of public opinion?
Do we accept, perhaps even tolerate that we expect the bias of misstatements simply because we’ve come to prefer that the illusion continuing uninterrupted? If so then the real problem is not Brian Williams or NBC (or any element of the media or political bouillabaisse). Mired within the illusion is the faithfulness of truth; peril unseen and unspoken yet no less absolute.
Whatever your perspective may be it remains inevitable that we will no less proceed at our own and individual risk. Even if the lie is repeated with sufficient frequency and ultimately is accepted as the truth, it remains, as an absolute, that the foundational reference upon which it rests remains a lie. Contradictions do not exist.
“Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” -Ayn Rand