I've always found something both annoying and reassuring about Brian Williams, bannered by American pundits as the most trusted face on US news television.
A popular visitor to David Letterman's late night show, his analysis of various political and social issues carried the calm assurance of a media man who knew his stuff and presented his convictions with aplomb. While nodding my head in approval at his well-reasoned comments, he also slightly irritated me because he was just a bit too smooth, lantern-jawed and confident.
Now, unsurprising to this old media cynic, it's all unwound for Williams, thanks to several indignant war veterans relating to the US forces' newspaper, Stars and Stripes, that the television reporter's account of how his helicopter was forced down after being hit by an RPG during the 2003 Iraq War, leaving him and his film crew stranded in the desert for two scary nights, simply isn't true.
In reality, Williams was travelling in another helicopter some time and distance away from the one forced to land and while he did spend time overnight in the desert, it was a well-planned media jaunt, with a helicopter in full working order on standby, if enemy threatened.
Crew from the 159th Aviation Regiment flying the helicopters also confirmed that Williams' account of the action was wildly inaccurate and that he was nowhere near the chopper that took fire.
Now poor old Brian has turned out to be like a lot of my old journalistic mates, who, to make a story slightly more gripping, sometimes embellished facts with a sprinkle of fiction.
In Williams' case, unfortunately, his embellishments turn out to be a trifle thick, leaving him forced to stand down from his senior editing position to rethink his future.
He has now dug himself into a hole, apologised and, in political-speak, suggests he "misremembered" the incident. Sadly, he's been further embellishing the story over the years, claiming on one Letterman show that "several of the accompanying helicopters were hit after coming under fire".
Now one thing is for sure, having once been under enemy fire (in my case from German bombing) you don't "misremember" such occasions, or have need to "conflate" incidents (Williams' term), simply because the reality was frightening enough.
To add to the anchorman's woes, doubts have risen again about his coverage of the hurricane that inundated New Orleans, where he claims he became very ill from dysentery, while local medical records suggest that no cases of dysentery were filed during the disaster.
It's a pity that before he started out on his illustrious media career Brian Williams hadn't either read or taken to heart the observations of Dr Samuel Johnson, who wrote this abridged account in The Idler in 1758, about the corruption of news-writers.
"No species of literary men has lately been so much multiplied as the writers of news. To write news in its perfection requires such a combination of qualities that a man completely fitted for the task is not always to be found."
In one jocular definition: "An ambassador is said to be a man of virtue sent abroad to tell lies for the advantage of his country; a news-writer is a man without virtue, who writes lies at home for his own profit. To these compositions is required neither genius nor knowledge, neither industry nor sprightliness; but contempt of shame and indifference to truth are absolutely necessary.
"He who by a long familiarity with infamy has obtained these qualities, may confidently tell today what he intends to contradict tomorrow; he may affirm fearlessly what he knows he shall be obliged to recant, and may write letters from Amsterdam or Dresden to himself.
"Among the calamities of war may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by falsehoods, which interest dictates and credulity encourages. I know not whether more is to be dreaded from streets filled with soldiers accustomed to plunder, or from garrets filled with scribblers accustomed to lie."
Sadly, I sense Brian may have plenty of time on his hands to read the complete Idler essays written by the good doctor, as it's difficult to believe he will ever regain credibility after falling off such a pedestal.