Brian Williams Lied in His Apology for Lying
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has repeatedly said on air and promoted himself to his fellow reporters and on the lecture circuit that he was a survivor of enemy fire in the Iraq war in 2003.
“(Williams) was part of a U.S. Army helicopter mission that was forced down by enemy fire south of Najaf. He nonetheless has returned to Iraq several times, in addition to recent travels to Afghanistan and Iran.”
Williams admitted Wednesday he has been lying about coming under fire in Iraq, but in a mealy-mouthed way telling Stars and Stripes he ‘misremembered’ the event.
The Stars and Stripes report features interviews with crew members who say Williams was never under fire and that his helicopter was an hour behind the formation that did come under fire.
“NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted Wednesday he was not aboard a helicopter hit and forced down by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a false claim that has been repeated by the network for years.
“Williams repeated the claim Friday 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. In an interview with Stars and Stripes, he said he had misremembered the events and was sorry.
“The admission came after crew members on the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook that was hit by two rockets and small arms fire told Stars and Stripes that the NBC anchor was nowhere near that aircraft or two other Chinooks flying in the formation that took fire. Williams arrived in the area about an hour later on another helicopter after the other three had made an emergency landing, the crew members said.
““I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams said. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.””
A posting at NBC Universal archives describes a news report Williams made on NBC from Iraq on March 26, 2003 titled, ”Target Iraq: Helicopter NBC’s Brian Williams Was Riding In Comes Under Fire”, with this description:
“NBC’s Brian William recounts being shot at by a rocket propelled grenade while riding along in Chinook helicopter on a mission over Iraqi airspace.”
Four years later Williams was back in Iraq to do live broadcasts as anchor of NBC Nightly News. An Associated Press article focused on the dangers facing reporters in Iraq and repeated Williams’ 2003 lie of being under fire:
“It’s Williams’ third trip to Iraq since the war started. He’s traveling with retired U.S. Army Gen. Wayne Downing, who was with him on a previous visit when Williams’ helicopter was forced down by insurgent fire.”
A bio of Williams used by Fordham University for his 2011 commencement speech featured the Iraq helicopter lie and touted his bravery in returning to Iraq afterward:
“In addition, he was the first NBC News correspondent to reach Baghdad during the 2003 war in Iraq, and was part of a U.S. Army helicopter mission that was forced down by enemy fire south of Najaf. He nonetheless has returned to Iraq several times, in addition to recent travels to Afghanistan and Iran.”
The lie was repeated word for word in his bio for the 2010 Women’s Conference:
“He was the first NBC News correspondent to reach Baghdad during the 2003 war in Iraq, and was part of a U.S. Army helicopter mission that was forced down by enemy fire south of Najaf. He nonetheless has returned to Iraq several times, in addition to recent travels to Afghanistan and Iran.”
The bio for Williams’ 2010 commencement speech to Notre Dame said this:
“Just days into the war, Williams was traveling on a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter mission when the lead helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade.”
On January 30, 2015, Williams said on NBC Nightly News, according to Stars and Stripes:
““The story actually started with a terrible moment a dozen years back during the invasion of Iraq, when the helicopter we were travelling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG. Our travelling NBC news team was rescued and kept alive by an Armored Mechanized Platoon from the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry.”
In a written apology published by Stars and Stripes, Williams says he questioned his own sanity and found notes he wrote in 2008 on the incident where he says he was flying right behind the helicopter that got hit.
“”To Joseph, Lance, Jonathan, Pate, Michael and all those who have posted: You are absolutely right and I was wrong.
“In fact, I spent much of the weekend thinking I’d gone crazy. I feel terrible about making this mistake, especially since I found my OWN WRITING about the incident from back in ’08, and I was indeed on the Chinook behind the bird that took the RPG in the tail housing just above the ramp.”
Again, the helicopter crew members interviewed by Stars and Stripes say Williams was an hour behind and took no enemy fire.
Williams apologized on air during Wednesday’s Nightly News broadcast. He still left the impression to have been part of the formation that came under fire:
“I made a mistake in recalling the events of twelve years ago…I want to apologize. I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire, I was instead in a following aircraft. We all landed after the ground fire incident…”
UPDATE: There’s more…
— Brandon Darby (@brandondarby) February 5, 2015