8 Famed Broadcasters Forced Out by Scandal
1. Brian Williams
Williams, 56, was suspended for six months without pay after he admitted "misremembering" an incident in which he claimed his helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq. He actually was never in the chopper that was attacked.
NBC launched an internal investigation to fact-check the anchorman and identified other times when Williams exaggerated. He could have been fired; instead, he will be reporting mostly with MSNBC.
2. James Forlong
Brian Williams wasn't the first journalist to suffer the consequences for fabrications involving an incident during the Iraq War. A decade earlier there was reporter James Forlong, a national media figure in Britain for Sky News. This ending was a lot more tragic.
Forlong was forced to resign after a bogus report of a cruise missile firing produced a credibility crisis at Sky News. Forlong submitted a report supposedly showing a live firing of a cruise missile from a submarine, but which was really made up of library footage and film shot when the craft was tied up in port.
Humiliated and ashamed, Forlong killed himself just three months after his resignation. Only 44, he hanged himself.
3. Martin Bashir
The longtime British journalist, who is a former anchor for ABC's "Nightline," was hosting a show on MSNBC, Brian Williams' new address, when he let loose inappropriate comments about former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, calling her, among other things, "A world-class idiot."
On November 15, 2013, Bashir was criticizing Palin for comparing the Federal debt to slavery. Bashir brought up the cruel and barbaric punishment of slaves described by slave overseer Thomas Thistlewood, specifically a punishment called "Derby's dose" which involved forcing slaves to defecate or urinate into the mouth of another slave as punishment. Bashir said, "When Mrs. Palin invokes slavery, she doesn't just prove her rank ignorance. She confirms if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, she would be the outstanding candidate."
He resigned under pressure three weeks later.
4. Howard Cosell
The fall of Howard Cosell was a sad thing all around. He was eventually dismissed by ABC when, during a "Monday Night Football" telecast in the 1983 season, he twice referred to Washington Redskins wide receivers as "a monkey," specifically as Art Monk was scoring a long touchdown: "Look at that monkey go!"
What's sad about it is that Cosell had long been known as a champion of black athletes in the days when many black athletes had to stay in separate hotels and were generally denigrated or not covered as they should have been by the mainstream press. Muhammad Ali and other prominent black athletes supported Cosell's character after his dismissal.
5. Jimmy 'The Greek'
In retrospect, it probably wasn't the smartest move for CBS to hire a Las Vegas bookmaker as a commentator for "The NFL Today," where Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder would appear in segments with sportscaster Brent Musburger and predict the results of that week's NFL games.
His 12-year stint ended in January 1998, when he said in an interview that African Americans were naturally superior athletes at least in part because they had been bred to produce stronger offspring during slavery.
6. Marv Albert
Often called "The Voice of Basketball" for his work broadcasting NBA games since the early 1960s, Albert's career was at a crisis in 1997 when he was charged with forcible sodomy stemming from an affair with a woman. The subsequent trial brought out some of Albert's BDSM preferences when having sex, and he became a national punchline. He ended up pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery charges, while the sodomy charge was dropped. NBC fired him.
Everyone thought Albert's career was over, but two years later, after having completed the terms of his probation, Albert was hired back by NBC and has enjoyed a long national career since. He is currently the lead broadcaster for TNT's NBA coverage.
7. Dan Rather
Before Brian Williams, CBS's Dan Rather was the biggest sitting anchor of a network news broadcast to exit in disgrace. Rather was one of the most legendary journalists in television history, covering JFK's assassination in 1963, filing groundbreaking reports for Walter Cronkite during the Vietnam War, and keeping the pressure on President Nixon during Watergate.
He took over as CBS News anchor in 1981 after Cronkite retired, and seemed bulletproof -- until 23 years later during the 2004 presidential campaign. On September 8, 2004, Rather reported that a series of memos critical of President George W. Bush's Texas Air National Guard service record had been discovered. Once copies of the documents were made available on the Internet, their authenticity was quickly called into question. CBS retracted the story, and although the story was never disproved, Rather was forced to "retire" months later.
8. O.J. Simpson
What O.J. Simpson did -- although he was acquitted, he was found guilty in civil court -- far dwarfs what happened to our other disgraced broadcasters. Working as an NBC Sports reporter at the time, Simpson became the central suspect in the June 12, 1994, murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her acquaintance, Ronald Goldman.
Regardless of his guilt or innocence, 14 years later, Simpson was convicted of multiple felony counts, including criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, assault, robbery, and using a deadly weapon, stemming from a 2007 incident in Las Vegas in which Simpson claimed he was trying to recover memorabilia stolen from him. He is serving a 33-year sentence, though he is eligible for parole in 2017, when he would be 69.