When "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams crashed and burned over all the tall tales he had told, there must have been mirth in the hallways at ABC.
In the highly competitive world of TV news, finding the right anchor is crucial to a network's brand. After running through a few pretenders, ABC had finally filled the iconic Peter Jennings' seat on "World News Tonight" just months earlier with David Muir. ABC was perfectly poised to snatch the top spot from NBC.
During his first six months as "World News" anchor, the newly minted Muir had beaten Williams only a half-dozen times. But after Williams' fall from grace, ABC sailed to the most-watched evening news program.
ABC executives could go for long lunches and look forward to cashing their bonus checks. Muir is young, dashing -- one of People magazine's 2014 "Sexiest Men Alive"! -- and the proud recipient of the Walter Cronkite journalism award.
The vanquished Brian Williams had told most of his fictions off air. The only thing ABC execs had to worry about with Muir was that the new guy would tell fairy tales ON AIR, which is so much less important.
Last week, Muir began the news with a story about the retraining of New York City police officers under Commissioner Bill Bratton. To fulfill the new policy of not inconveniencing criminals, cops are being taught to subdue violent suspects without harming them, requiring the officers to learn a series of Bolshoi ballet moves.
This would work great if American cops were London bobbies arresting public school louts, but we have a somewhat different urban reality in the U.S. There's no question but that the "retraining" will get cops killed.
Muir led off his broadcast with a recap of the event that led to the retraining: "Ferguson, Missouri: An unarmed black man, Michael Brown, is shot to death. The officer is not indicted."
And that was it: "The officer is not indicted." Nothing about how the "hands up, don't shoot" hysteria was a bald-faced lie invented by Brown's ex-con co-conspirator Dorian Johnson. No mention of the police officer being fully exonerated in two separate investigations. No recognition of the fact that Officer Darren Wilson was an exemplar of good police work.
That summary -- "Ferguson, Missouri: An unarmed black man, Michael Brown, is shot to death. The officer is not indicted" -- is nothing short of Goebbels-like propaganda.
Muir's statement of the facts would be wrong-headed and lefty if done before the Department of Justice issued its report on the Ferguson shooting. But Muir gave his summary well after the DOJ's months-long, ridiculously expensive investigation had found that Officer Wilson had shot Brown in justifiable self-defense. There are more beefcake photos of David Muir on Google than there are unjustifiable shootings of unarmed black men in Ferguson.
To be sure, Muir is new on the job, young, callow, a little insecure about his lack of experience. Maybe he didn't know any better.
So we need to know from Dave which of these is true:
(A) You knew that Big Mike never had his hands up, and the cop wasn't indicted because there is no more reason for him to be indicted than for you to be indicted in the shooting, but you just didn't give a crap.
(B) You didn't know any of that.
If Muir didn't know his summary was a lie, then he doesn't even have a passing familiarity with the news. In fact, after all the Sturm und Drang over Ferguson, it would mean that ABC's evening news anchor has managed to keep himself so astonishingly ignorant of current events that he really should be filing reports about seat cushions in America.
But it's also possible that Muir knew his Ferguson recap was a complete lie and decided his best course was to promote the left-leaning agenda of ABC News. A prettier face, but the same old propaganda.
We're dying to know which it is. When you have a moment, Dave, drop us a tweet and let us know.