As Christine wrote over the weekend, Brian Williams is stepping away from the anchor’s desk at NBC News for a few days. This is probably for the best as the evening news anchor has been under siege lately for lying about his 2003 Iraq War exploits.
Now, it seems, he used the same story to segue into his 2006 Lebanon War story about Hezbollah’s Katyusha rockets “passing beneath the helicopter” he was in during the conflict.
“A few years before that, you go back to Iraq, and I looked down the tube of an RPG that had been fired at us and it hit the chopper in front of ours,” he added.
This was a 2007 interview with a student from Fairfield University [relevant portion begins a 2:12].
Yeah, about that portion, Mr. Williams–the RPG part; did your news crew edit your original report to make it sound like your were under fire? It’s a question Ed Morrissey asks over at Hot Air after watching CNN’s Jake Tapper interview Stars and Stripes’ Travis Tritten. Tapper brings up the op-ed by Chris Simeone, Williams’ helicopter pilot in 2003, who wrote in the New York Post “all that hit us was dust.”
[Relevant portion at 4:00 mark]
JAKE TAPPER: [Chris Simeone] said that the only thing that hit their helicopter was dust, and that nothing that Williams reported in 2003 was accurate. I want to play some of what Brian Williams reported in 2003, in which there is this moment when somebody says there was small arms fire coming into the convoy. Let’s play that.
BRIAN WILLIAMS [VIDEO]: Indeed, just before we’re able to make our drop, radio traffic makes clear that this routine mission is running into trouble.
RADIO CHATTER [VIDEO]: We took fire on the way in. We currently are not under fire, I say again, not under fire, but we look for some kind of security, over.
TAPPER: So there is this moment where somebody’s saying our helicopter is taking small arms fire and it’s not taking it now, but they were and we need to find some place for security, over — that’s in the radio. Do you have any idea what that was in reference to?
TRAVIS TRITTEN, STARS AND STRIPES: I do, actually. I spoke with the flight engineer on Williams’ Chinook, Joseph Miller, and what he told me is that Williams and the NBC crew, actually, they’d been given a headset and they had taken a microphone, and they had put it in the earpiece of the headset so that they could pick up the radio communications between the company that they were in and another company of Chinooks that was flying a separate mission in the opposite direction. So what you’re hearing is that radio chatter from that other company that was coming under fire.
Yeah, we’ve just lost cabin pressure. Ed pointed out that a simple apology isn’t enough to alleviate this mess, nor will it absolve Williams, his crew, or NBC News of the huge question surrounding their credibility:
If what Tritten and Miller say is true, then not only did Williams tell a false story for 12 years, Williams and his entire NBC crew presented a false report to NBC viewers. They edited in the radio traffic of another mission in order to make it look like their mission came under fire. Some have asked why Williams’ crew didn’t come forward to confirm or deny Williams’ story; well, this would explain why they’d prefer to keep quiet. If Tritten and Miller got this wrong, then we’d better start seeing some denials from everyone involved — and the raw footage and audio from 2003 to confirm it.
Ed adds in his updates that the RPG story dates back to 2004; Mary Katherine Ham noted that Williams is quite tight-lipped about questions relating to his Katrina coverage. An investigation has been launched to look into the validity of his Iraq and Katrina coverage.
Oh, and there’s this painfully awkward Nightly News ad.
This is just a full-fledged, abject catastrophe. Williams was suppose to be a guest of Letterman this week; he's cancelled his appearance.