“NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams addressed his admission he made up a story about being in a helicopter that was shot down in Iraq in 2003 on his show Wednesday night.
“I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago,” Williams said, adding, “I want to apologise. I said I was travelling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire. I was instead in a following aircraft.”
Williams first recanted the story in an interview with the military newspaper Stars And Stripes published Wednesday. His admission came after he repeated the tale on Friday during NBC’s coverage of a New York Rangers game where a soldier who helped provide security for the grounded helicopters was honored.
Stars And Stripes also noted Williams’ story has “been repeated by the network for years.” You can watch him telling it on “The Late Show With David Letterman” in 2013 here.
On his show Wednesday evening, Williams described the tale as “a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran.” He did not address prior times he shared the story.
After the Rangers game, crew members who were on the aircraft told Stars And Stripes Williams was “nowhere near” the helicopter “or two other Chinooks flying in the formation that took fire.” Instead, they said the anchor “arrived in the area about an hour later on another helicopter.”
Williams told Stars And Stripes he “made a mistake” and confused the helicopter he was in with the ones that actually came under fire.
“I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another,” he said.
In a Facebook post, which NBC sent to Business Insider, Williams suggested the fact he arrived in the area where the helicopter went down soon after the incident may have confused him.
“I have no desire to fictionalize my experience (we all saw it happened the first time) and no need to dramatize events as they actually happened, I think the constant viewing of the video showing us inspecting the impact area — and the fog of memory over 12 years — made me conflate the two, and I apologise,” Williams wrote.
Spokespeople for NBC have not responded to multiple requests for comment from Business Insider asking whether the network will take disciplinary action against Williams.
You can read Williams’ full Facebook post here. Watch Williams’ on-air apology below.
This post was updated at 7:38 p.m. with a link to the 2013 video of Williams.
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