[guest post by Dana]
NBC News Anchor Brian Williams came clean today, admitting that he lied when he claimed to be aboard a helicopter that was shot down by an RPG in Iraq in 2003:
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 himself 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. In an interview with Stars and Stripes, he said he had misremembered the events and was sorry.
After being taken to task for his mis-remembering (in a REALLY BIG WAY), Williams responded:
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,” Williams said in a statement in to Stars and Stripes.
“Because I have no desire to fictionalize my experience (we all saw it happened the first time) and no need to dramatize events as they actually happened, I think the constant viewing of the video showing us inspecting the impact area — and the fog of memory over 12 years — made me conflate the two, and I apologize.
Look, I can’t imagine how many stories Williams has covered in his tenure, how many miles he has logged on planes, helicopters, trains and rickshaws, nor how many different time zones he has has found himself in over the course of a year, and yes, I get it – time passes and details can become murky, but honestly, getting SHOT AT AND FORCED DOWN in a war zone is something you don’t forget! It’s not something you think happened, or something that you sort of remember happening. You. Know. If. You. Were. Shot. Down. I suspect that any civilian aboard a helicopter that gets hit by an RPG will forever have that moment undeniably and indelibly etched in his mind. Unless it didn’t happen.
Williams and his camera crew were actually aboard a Chinook in a formation that was about an hour behind the three helicopters that came under fire, according to crew member interviews.
That Chinook took no fire and landed later beside the damaged helicopter due to an impending sandstorm from the Iraqi desert, according to Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Miller, who was the flight engineer on the aircraft that carried the journalists.
“No, we never came under direct enemy fire to the aircraft,” he said Wednesday.
And, according to Mike O’Keeffe, who was a door gunner on the damaged Chinook:
“Over the years it faded,” he said, “and then to see it last week it was — I can’t believe he is still telling this false narrative.”
At this point, can the public, and NBC Nightly News, trust anything Brian Williams tells us from the anchor desk?