NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has been suspended without pay following news that he misrepresented his account of an Iraq War mission in 2003. Unfortunately, Williams is not alone; many have misrepresented themselves on the job and some have escaped the career consequences better than others.
1. Chief Executive of RadioShack, Dave Edmondson
Edmondson claimed to hold degrees in psychology and theology from Pacific Coast Baptist College in California. He never graduated from this school. He handed in his resignation after the Fort Worth Star-Telegram broke the story. Edmondson went on to found EasySale, an Internet-based consignment and liquidation company.
2. CEO of Bausch & Lomb, Ronald Zarrella
Zarrella claimed he had a master’s in business administration from New York University. He started the program, but never graduated. Following the revelation, he forfeited his $1M bonus (but retained $1.1M in salary, incentives and stock), and still got to keep his job, where he stayed until 2008. He left following an extensive product recall and hundreds of product liability lawsuits.
3. Presidential Candidate, Joseph Biden Jr.
Biden claimed he attended Syracuse University College of Law on a full academic scholarship and graduated in the top half of the class. He actually received a partial scholarship based on financial aid and finished 76th in a class of 85. This incident, coupled with charges of speech plagiarism, resulted in Biden’s termination of his 1988 bid for the presidency. As we all know, his 2010 campaign had a different outcome.
4. FEMA Director, Michael Brown
Following the mishandling of the response to Hurricane Katrina and Brown’s resignation, discrepancies in Brown’s resume were uncovered. Brown claimed to have overseen the emergency services division for the city of Edmund, Okla. Sources revealed that Brown was an assistant to the city manager, which is more like an intern. Brown also claimed to have been a political science professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, but school officials said he was never a member of the faculty. Brown is now a radio show host.
5. Host of ‘Dinner Impossible,’ Robert Irvine
Irvine claimed he made Princess Diana’s wedding cake and worked in the White House kitchens. Food Network asked Irvine to “pack his knives and leave” after he was outed. Two years later, Irvine is featured on Food Network’s ‘Worst Cooks in America.’
6. Notre Dame football Coach, George O’Leary
O’Leary claimed to have a master’s degree in education from New York University and to have played college football at the University of New Hampshire. O’Leary attended NYU but did not receive a degree. He never earned a letter playing football and never played in a game. His first and last day on the job were just five days apart. O’Leary now coaches for the UCF Knights.
7. Harvard student, Adam Wheeler
After being expelled from Bowdoin College for plagiarism, Wheeler was admitted to Harvard University claiming he attended an elite high school and MIT. He claimed he wrote several books and he won prize and grant money with plagiarized work. He was outed when he applied for Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships and a professor noticed similarities between his application and the work of a colleague. After he was expelled, he crafted fictitious resumes that he planned to use to apply for an internship or to Yale or Brown University. He was arrested and charged with larceny and identity fraud.
8. Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal
While campaigning for Connecticut’s U.S. Senate seat in 2010, Blumenthal claimed he served in Vietnam. He served in the Marine Corps reserve, but he never went to Vietnam. He won the election anyway.
9. MIT Dean of Admissions, Marilee Jones
Jones, who had been employed by MIT for 28 years, never received an undergraduate degree, despite allegedly claiming both master’s and bachelor’s degrees on her resume. She later landed a job as a consultant for the Berklee College of Music.
We’ll have to wait and see how Williams’ actions will ultimately impact his career.