Did Brian Williams exaggerate claims of nearly being hit by Hezbollah rocket?

According to "The Washington Post," Williams “gave varying accounts” of his wartime coverage, at times suggesting that he was in danger while in other instances omitting mention completely.

February 9, 2015 10:55
2 minute read.
Television news anchor Brian Williams

Television news anchor Brian Williams. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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NBC News anchor Brian Williams became the subject of controversy last week when he acknowledged that he never came under enemy fire while reporting on the Iraq war over a decade ago, as he had previously claimed.

Now Williams’ recollections of his experience covering the Second Lebanon War in 2006 are drawing scrutiny.

According to The Washington Post, Williams “gave varying accounts” of his wartime coverage, at times suggesting that he was in danger while in other instances omitting mention completely.

In 2007, Williams told a college news station in Connecticut that “there were Katyusha rockets passing just underneath the helicopter I was riding in.”

Yet, as The Washington Post noted, Williams did not mention the rocket in an account he posted on his NBC News blog months earlier.

Instead, he reported “witnessing a rocket launch” from “a distance of six miles,” a far cry from his earlier claim that the rockets were “just beneath” the helicopter in which he was riding.

Williams has canceled a planned appearance with late-night talk show host David Letterman this week, an NBC News source said on Sunday, the latest fallout over misstatements by Williams over his experience reporting on the Iraq war.

Williams, a star anchor who has garnered high ratings for the network, said on Saturday that he would voluntarily take himself off the evening newscast for several days while NBC looks into an issue that has damaged his credibility.

NBC, a unit of Comcast Corp, on Friday said it was launching an internal probe of Williams over his statements that he was aboard a helicopter in 2003 that was brought down by enemy fire during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Williams, who has told the tale repeatedly over the years, has escaped close scrutiny over the remarks until recently. He apologized this week, saying he "misremembered" the incident, an explanation that prompted military personnel and other journalists to call for his resignation. Williams has also been widely derided on social media.

Elizabeth Spayd, editor and publisher of Columbia Journalism Review, told ABC's News's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday that NBC should have an outside expert carry out an investigation of Williams' statements.

NBC News declined comment over the Letterman cancellation.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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