Brian Williams has been telling the story of his harrowing experience in Iraq for more than a decade. But, turns out, it wasn’t exactly harrowing and, more importantly, it wasn’t true. Now the anchorman is coming clean.
Williams admitted he had misremembered the story. “I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” he told Stars and Stripes, who was responsible for uncovering the truth. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”
The story that Williams recounted just last week put the anchorman inside of a Chinook helicopter that was hit by two rockets and small arms fire in 2003. Williams previously stated that due to that attack, the helicopter was forced down after being hit by an RPG. He and the NBC News crew were then rescued and protected by an “armor mechanized platoon.”
In reality, Williams was not on board the aircraft that was downed. Instead, he arrived in an undamaged helicopter about an hour after the attacked Chinook landed.
At least the last part of Williams’ story seems to be true. Because of the attacks on the helicopters, his was one of the aircrafts that was downed and protected following the fire.
It also appears that the story was initially reported correctly by USA Today in 2003, according to CNN. The outlet wrote that the anchor was “stranded in the Iraqi desert for three days after a Chinook helicopter ahead of his was attacked by a man who fired a rocket-propelled grenade.”
USA Today also said, “The grenade just missed, but it forced the group to make an emergency landing.” And Williams was among that group.
It’s unclear where Williams’ story shifted throughout the years, but the anchor did say in his apology to the soldiers that he had, in fact, recounted the story correctly in 2008.
“I spent much of the weekend thinking I’d gone crazy,” Williams wrote to the soldiers. “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.”
Still, not everyone is convinced Williams simply misremembered the story.
Let's not allow Brian Williams' lies about being in Iraq diminish the fine work he did telling us the lies that got us there.
— Frank Conniff (@FrankConniff) February 5, 2015
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) February 4, 2015
the leader of a news organization that lies about his role in a war zone should be fired. #BrianWilliams
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) February 5, 2015
Watch Williams’ full apology below.
Following the anchor’s apology Wednesday night, many critics still weren’t convinced. Even his apology is now under fire. And memes of Williams have taken over the internet.
Many think that Williams’ credibility is shot and that the longtime NBC News lead should resign.
— Art Chartrand (@ArtChartrand) February 5, 2015
Announcement of Brian Williams being "on leave" in 3,2,1…
— 𝗘𝗪𝗲𝗯 (@ErickWeber) February 5, 2015
The debate over Williams’ guilt even got heated on Thursday’s The View. Hosts Rosie O’Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg got into a serious disagreement over what Williams’ next move should be. O’Donnell wanted him fired, while Goldberg thought his apology was enough, saying, “People forget themselves.”