Brian Williams, the anchor of NBC Nightly News, is recanting a story about being aboard a helicopter in Iraq that was forced down in 2003. On Wednesday, the anchor apologized for his error and in an interview with Stars and Stripes. In the interview he said that in fact, the problem was he had not accurately remembered the events that took place. Just last Friday, Williams was discussing the incident as part of a news segment in which the program offered a tribute to the soldier that apparently saved him and his news crew. This is also the same soldier that the anchor took to Madison Square Garden last week for a hockey game.
At the time of the game the two were displayed on the Jumbotron and an announcer recounted the story of the alleged rescue. Following the game however an investigation done independently by the military newspaper, Stars and Stripes, seemed to indicate that this report was inaccurate. Soldiers who were present at the time indicated that Williams was actually in a different helicopter. In fact the anchor was said to be about an hour behind the ones that was shot down. Sergeant Joseph Miller, who was the flight engineer on the helicopter that actually was carrying Williams said that their aircraft was not under direct enemy fire.
On Wednesday, Williams issued a statement recanting the story of his helicopter being fired upon while in Iraq. In the statement, the anchor said that during the broadcast the previous week he had actually made an error in recalling the events surrounding a ground-fire incident that took place. The original intent of the news segment was to pay tribute and thank the veteran who had not only protected him but many others during the war. In the statement, he said that a number of service men and women who were there at the time actually came forward with details about what had transpired.
Even in the original broadcast from 2003, Williams clearly states that the helicopter that was attacked was actually the one in front of him. The issue came to light after service members took to Facebook with the truth of what had happened at the time. Williams took to Facebook in response and once more apologized while also indicating that he felt terrible about the mistake. In fact the anchor specified that he went back and found his own notes from the time in which he stated that it was not his helicopter that was shot at or taken down. He went on to say that he had no desire to fictionalize events or dramatize events that had happened.
As part of recanting the story of what happened in Iraq, Williams said that he believes that the combination of 12 years since the incident and watching video of the crew inspecting the crash site, had actually made him blend the events into something that he had been a part of. He felt it was important to specify that he was not in any way trying to steal anyone’s valor and had only tried to honor those men and women who acted to save others.
By Kimberley Spinney
Photo by Anthony Quintano – Flickr License