NBC “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams continues to make headlines for telling a war story he now admits was false.
In an interview with the military news site Stars and Stripes, Williams discussed his Iraq 2003 war story – admitting that he was never on the downed helicopter in question, and that he was allegedly unaware that the company that was hit with RPG's was nowhere close to his aircraft.
He claimed that, as a civilian, he looked at the situation differently than a professionally trained soldier would.
“It was my first engagement of the war and remember I was — we were all I think scared. I have yet to meet the veteran who doesn’t admit to cinching up a little bit when it starts, and it all became a fog of getting down on the ground, what do we do now, taking our direction from the air crews…
“So, a professional will look at this differently.”
The "Nightly News" host stood by his original reporting of the incident that he was behind the helicopter that was hit.
“No, I think I correctly reported as I did in my blog in ’08 that I was on the aircraft behind the one that was hit. […] Because I knew we had all come under fire, I guess I had assumed that all of the airframes took some damage because we all went down. Also, remember, adding to the fear of the moment was the fact that we unhooked, our load master let loose a huge, our cargo, so you go through this over-torque where you rise in the air before you settle, despite what was some dandy piloting by the crews of all three aircraft. It was like landing on the surface of the moon. And I’m going to have a far different recollection than the professionals."
When told by a Stars and Stripes reporter that his helicopter was actually an hour behind the grouping of three Chinooks that came under fire, the news anchor replied,
“That’s the first I’ve heard of that.”
Williams continued, “I did not think we were in trail by that far.
“I think that’s probably a good question for Tim [Ed.: Terpak, a retired soldier, was featured in the broadcast where Williams falsely claimed to be on the attacked Chinook], who I now learn witnessed the overflight.”
When asked what NBC is going to do about the story debunked as false, Williams responded, "I don't know. I'll talk to my boss."
He went on to say,
“I don’t know what screw-up in my mind caused me to conflate one aircraft from the other.”
"The fact is, I remember three aircraft going down. I was on one of them."
Williams issued a brief statement over the weekend saying he will be stepping down from his news desk “for the next several days” while NBC investigates the situation.
He has yet to deliver a thorough explanation on air regarding not only his Iraq 2003 war story, but also statements made in his award-winning coverage on Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Even the details of his personal anecdotes offered in interviews and the like are under thorough examination, such as when Williams claimed he saved a puppy (or two?) back in the day as a volunteer firefighter.
Here's a link to the full audio from the Stars and Stripes interview below.