Brian Williams Questioned on Pope, Berlin Wall Stories


From CNN Money:

As NBC’s fact-checking continues, two accounts from Williams’ younger days could also invite scrutiny.

As a reporter for WCBS-TV in New York in 1989, Williams traveled to Berlin to cover the demolition of the Berlin Wall. The assignment has become an omnipresent line in his various biographies, and Williams himself has identified it as a career highlight.

“I’ve been so fortunate,” he said during a 2008 forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. “I was at the Brandenburg Gate the night the wall came down.”

Williams did indeed witness some of the wall’s physical removal. But “the night the wall came down” is widely recognized as November 9, 1989, an iconic date with particular significance to Williams’ “Nightly News” predecessor Tom Brokaw.

In public settings, Williams has also discussed another brush with history that occurred a decade before the fall of the Berlin Wall. As a student at Catholic University, Williams was at the school when Pope John Paul II spoke at the Washington, D.C. campus in 1979. The anchor’s account of the papal visit has varied over the years.

In 2002, Williams was quoted as saying that he chipped in with the school’s preparations as an employee in the campus public relations office.

“I was there during the visit of the pope,” Williams said.

If he had any interaction with the pope, Williams didn’t mention it then. But that changed in 2004, a year before the death of Pope John Paul II. While delivering the commencement address at Catholic University that year, Williams said the “highlight” of his time at the school “was in this very doorway, shaking hands with the Holy Father during his visit to this campus.”

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