***SECOND UPDATE: TV Newser reports that Williams’ story got more dramatic over time.
***UPDATE: Starting at the 3:50 mark below, you can watch Williams tell David Letterman this fabricated story. The level of detail is astonishing. After the story, Letterman tells Williams how much respect he has for him and later refers to him as a “war hero”:
Fox News also points out that Williams penned an account of the false story on the Nightly Newsblog back in 2008: “We came under fire by what appeared to be Iraqi farmers with RPG’s and AK-47’s. The Chinook helicopter flying in front of ours (from the 101st Airborne) took an RPG to the rear rotor, as all four of our low-flying Chinooks took fire.”
In what could easily be a career-ender, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted Wednesday that for the last 12 year both he and his network have repeatedly told a false story about a helicopter Williams was in being forced down due to RPG fire during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The Stars and Stripes reports that as recently as Friday Williams repeated this false story and did so “during NBC’s coverage of a public tribute at a New York Rangers hockey game for a retired soldier that had provided ground security for the grounded helicopters, a game to which Williams accompanied him.”
It was during an interview with Stars and Stripes that Williams finally confessed to his 12 year lie. But this only came after the crewmembers who were in the actual helicopter that was hit came forward and said Williams wasn’t in that chopper or the other two choppers that were close by in a formation. In fact, the helicopter Williams was in arrived a full hour after the three choppers in question made an emergency landing.
“I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams told Stars and Stripes. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”
Here’s the lie Williams told Friday. The video is here:
“The story actually started with a terrible moment a dozen years back during the invasion of Iraq when the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG,” Williams said on the broadcast. “Our traveling NBC News team was rescued, surrounded and kept alive by an armor mechanized platoon from the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry.”
During tonight’s NBC Nightly News Williams recanted with the claim he told the lie in order to honor a soldier:
Williams’ 12 year lie is a disaster for the anchor and for the network that made him the face of its news division. Obviously no one at NBC News bothered to check a story that was just too good to check. Worse, this will only compound the credibility and ratings issues that have damaged the NBC News brand for a few years now.
Just a few months ago, NBC News Chief Medical Correspondent Nancy Snyderman was caught violating her Ebola quarantine. During the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman uproar NBC News was caught editing a 9-1-1 call to make Zimmerman look racist. During the 2012 presidential election Andrea Mitchell was caught fabricating a Mitt Romney gaffe.
For the last few years, NBC News has perpetrated one fraud after another on the American people.
If CNN media reporter Brian Stelter, who has a huge credibility issue of his own, is any indication of how the left-wing intelligentsia will react to Williams’ 12 year lie, the wagons are already being circled:
Whether an innocent mistake or not, you hafta feel sympathy for @BWilliams right now. News broke an hour ago; now he has to anchor his show.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 4, 2015
— Democrats sure got it good. In another sign the wagons will be circled to protect their own, Politico media reporter Hadas Gold tweeted out her own self-fulfilling prophecy that Williams will keep his job: —
i predict this will not end brian williams’ career. damage, yes — Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) February 4, 2015
— The face of NBC News lied for a dozen years about being in a helicopter he was not in; about being in a helicopter that was hit by an RPG that was not hit by an RPG; about fearing for his life on the ground when he didn’t fear for his life.
Brian Williams stole someone else’s war story and made it his own … for 12 years. He repeated the lie on the air at NBC … for 12 years. He only confessed to his lying after he was caught.
But if you think about it, it makes sense for NBC to keep a serial stolen valor liar like Brian Williams as the face of its dishonest, fraudulent news division. Perfect sense.
John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC