Did NBC’S Brian Williams also lie about Hurricane Katrina?

Question surfaces in light of anchor’s incorrect assertions about Iraq War attack.

by George E. Curry NNPA New Service | 2/16/2015, 12:47 p.m.
Question surfaces in light of anchor’s incorrect assertions about Iraq War attack.
George Curry

“NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams has finally admitted that he had incorrectly asserted that a helicopter he traveled aboard in 2002 while reporting on the Iraq War in 2003 was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, forcing an emergency landing.

“This was a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran and by extension our brave military men and women veterans everywhere…” he said on air.

Williams’ admission came on the heels of a story published in the military publication Stars & Stripes that challenged his retelling of events.

“NBC News anchor Brian Williams has told a war story over the years since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It grew to where he was claiming to be on a Chinook helicopter that was forced down after taking rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire,” the newspaper reported. “In his on-air apology Wednesday, he backed off that, but said that he ‘was instead in a following aircraft.’ Soldiers who were in two Chinook companies say he was not in, nor ever near, a helicopter that was being fired upon.”

Williams, who makes $13 million a year, has drastically altered his story over the years, according to a timeline published by CNN.

Lt. Col. Jerry Pearman, the mission commander when one of the three Chinooks took fire, told Stars & Stripes, “I can say with 100 percent certainty that no NBC reporters were on any of the aircrafts.”

Following his public admission, Williams said that he would forgo his anchoring duties at the top-rated network news program “for the next several days.” He subsequently was suspended for six months without pay.

It was during on an appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman” that Williams gave his now-discredited account.

The New York Times reported, “In 2013, Mr. Williams told David Letterman that he had actually been on the helicopter that got shot down, adding that a crew member had been injured and received a medal. ‘We figured out how to land safely,’ he said, ‘we landed very quickly and hard. We were stuck, four birds in the desert and we were north out ahead of the other Americans.’”

Of course, none of that was true.

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), the media watchdog group, said, “Now that he’s cleared that up, there are some other tall tales that Williams might want to take back. Take his recounting of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (“Dateline NBC,” 8/22/10; Extra!, 10/10):

“You know, I’ve been around a lot of guns and a lot of dead bodies, and a lot of people shooting at people to make dead bodies. But you put them all together and you put it in the United States of America, and boy, it gets your attention….

“It was clear already there weren’t going to be enough cops…. Everywhere we went, every satellite shot, every camera shot, we were at the height of the violence and the looting and the—all the reports of gunplay downtown. Well, who’s bathed in the only lights in town? It was us….