By now, you’ve surely heard about the Brian Williams’ “Chopper Whopper” story which has been dominating the news for the past 24 hours.
I think I may be the only blogger who hasn’t written about it, yet.
NBC Anchor Brian Williams has been telling people his helicopter was shot down in Iraq for several years and now he’s recanting, saying he “misremembered” the event.
Here is his original Dateline report from 2003 – which is apparently the accurate version. Some of the soldiers who were there, claim they didn’t see Williams during the “two harrowing nights” he claims he and his crew were stranded during the sand storm – but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there.
Somewhere along the line, his story morphed into something altogether else.
CNN has a timeline of how the story has changed over the years.
Stars and Stripes reporter Travis Tritten broke the story after being contacted by annoyed soldiers who were there and know the truth.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted Wednesday he was not aboard a helicopter hit and forced down by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a false claim that has been repeated by the network for years.
Williams repeated the claim Friday during NBC’s coverage of a public tribute at a New York Rangers hockey game for a retired soldier that had provided ground security for the grounded helicopters, a game to which Williams accompanied him. In an interview with Stars and Stripes, he said he had misremembered the events and was sorry.
Ace tried to explain Williams’ confusion:
Let me help you out here, Brian. You conflated one aircraft — one you were in — with another aircraft — one you were not in — not due to a “mistake” but due to an age-old reportorial practice called lying to advance an agenda.
The agenda here was dressing up a soft, delicate little boy into a the sort of iron-stubbled man who looks like he belongs on a battlefield.
So you lied. You claimed you were on one of the helicopters that took fire; no human being could ever confuse “Me” or “Not Me.”
Steven Wright makes just that joke — “The other day I was — wait, no, that was someone else.”
See, Brian, it’s funny because we know that confusion about “Me” versus “Not Me” is not possible, except in the insane.
So you lied, and over the years you’ve lied and lied again
Via Variety – it gets even worse for Williams.
“I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams said in the interview with the military newspaper. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.” He also posted an apology on his Facebook page and offered similar sentiments during Wednesday night’s broadcast of “Nightly News.” The Iraqi incident took place before Williams took over the “Nightly News” anchor desk from Tom Brokaw in 2004.
What makes Williams’ admission worse, according to one person familiar with the situation, is that he had been counseled in the past by senior NBC News executives to stop telling the story in public. The advice, this person said, was not heeded. One person familiar with current NBC News operations disputed that information.
Williams’ version of the story has never been allowed in NBC News programs, according to three people familiar with the unit. Indeed, in a March, 2003, episode of “Dateline,” Williams described the helicopter trip accurately. “On the ground, we learned the Chinook ahead of us was almost blown out of the sky,” he said while narrating a report.
Even sympathetic reporters admit that this story has done major damage to Williams’ credibility and his one minute, totally inadequate apology last night did little to repair the damage. Will Brian Williams still have a job at NBC after this weekend?