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The Brian Williams Personal Integrity Disaster Prevention Axioms

Brian Williams See no evil speak no evil hear no evil by Japanexperterna, Flickr, creative commons

See no evil speak no evil hear no evil by Japanexperterna, Flickr, creative commons

Brian Williams’s career, like most journalists of note, was largely built on catching perpetrators and fakers by spotting those who failed to observe or purposely avoided heeding these axioms.

Axiom # 1:

Silence from the beginning of adversity automatically earns the label perpetrator.

Axiom # 2:

The greatest threat to reputation and trust is perpetrator silence.

Axiom # 3:

Gaps in communication, whenever they occur, can never be credibly explained.

Axiom # 4:

Can’t blame the lawyers, the perpetrator is in charge of their own integrity.

Can’t blame the bosses, the perpetrator is in charge of their own sense of honesty.

Can’t blame the media this kind of behavior is what they thrive on.

Can’t blame the bloggers, bloviators, and backbench quarterbacks, it’s the perpetrators destiny.

If the perpetrator fails to manage their own destiny, someone is waiting on a digital platform somewhere, or the evening news to do it for them.

Axiom # 5:

The perfect response arriving late and unannounced is the most damaging of all . . . Because of the predictable questions that automatically arise:

  • Where were you?
  • This is all you got?
  • What were you doing?
  • What were you waiting for?
  • What did you cover-up?
  • Isn’t this just too little too late?
Axiom # 6:

Even the perfect response, arriving late, by surprise, where the communications are mumbled, bumbled and bungled will always be described and remembered as a mumbled, bumbled and bungled response.

Axiom # 7:

All of the usual excuses for remaining silent just confirm perpetrator status.

Perpetrator Excuses for Silence

  1. “The government asked us not to talk.”
  2. Our attorneys advised us to be quiet.”
  3. We didn’t know enough to say anything that mattered.”
  4. “We wanted to wait until we had all the facts before we talked.”
  5. “We didn’t want to further hurt the survivors and the victims.”
  6. Those injured, hurt or adversely affected deserve their privacy.”
  7. “We didn’t want the media to be bothering those who were injured or survivors.”
  8. “We knew the media would get it wrong, whatever we said.”
  9. “We knew that saying little or nothing would reduce the coverage and manage the sensationalism that crisis always causes.”
  10. “Saying something would give a lot of people who didn’t deserve it visibility, credibility and additional power.”
  11. “We didn’t want to play into the hands of those who opposed us, who were angry, or who were going to sue us.”
  12. “My cohort members from Bus. school would call me a sissy.”
Axiom # 8:

No one really cares about what happens to perpetrators, especially those who are truly self-inflicted. They will be fun to poke at, though.

Axiom #9

Silence is the most reputationally toxic communication strategy you can choose

Axiom # 10:

Ignoring these axioms leads to oblivion (just where Mr. Williams is headed).


James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, Fellow IABC; APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus


If you have questions, or would like to dive more deeply into the subject of this blog, you can reach me 24/7 at jel@e911.com; 203-948-7029 (voicemail, email, text). I look forward, as a friend and colleague, to helping you achieve the objectives you’ve set for yourself for having a happier, more influential, successful and meaningful career.

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