The national media is rightly abuzz with the absurd cornucopia of lies emanating from new GOP Congressman George Santos. But eight years ago this week, The Highest rated news anchor In America – NBC’s Brian Williams – he was fired for at least a decade of exaggeration and outright lies.
The unveiling began on January 30, 2015, when Williams ended his broadcast with a tribute to an Iraq War veteran who, Williams claimed, helped protect the anchor after the helicopter he was traveling in was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. But the next week, the military publication Stars and Stripes reported, the anchor was nowhere near the danger: “Williams and his camera crew were actually riding a Chinook in a formation that was about an hour behind the three helicopters. According to interviews with crew members, the fire.”
Williams apologizing In its February 4 newscast, it suggested a one-time error: “I made a mistake in recalling events from 12 years ago.” But it turned out that he had been telling Helicopter Hooper for years – On Alec Baldwin’s radio show In early March 2013, and again After a few weeks on CBS’s David Letterman Show.
“Two of our four helicopters caught fire on the ground, including the one I was in,” he told Letterman on March 26, 2013. “RPGs and AK-47s.”
“No kidding,” Letterman interrupted.
Later the video was released A much earlier (2005) interview Where Williams told the same story with the oddly specific claim that the “captain” of his helicopter “took an AK-47 round through Purple Heart’s earlobe.” The pilot, Chris Simeon, wrote in The New York Post: “I was the pilot of the plane carrying Brian Williams. I don’t have a purple heart and my ears are fine.”
Other fantastic fiction published:
■ He secretly flew to Baghdad with SEAL Team Six: “I have [had] Its great honor Fly to Baghdad with them in the beginning [Iraq] war [in 2003]” Brian Williams insisted NBC Nightly News After the SEALs successfully killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. A former SEAL Dr Huffington Post it was “Totally absurd…those guys don’t take reporters on missions.” CNN analyst Peter Bergen quipped that “his account of being embedded with SEAL Team Six Did not pass the smell test“
■ SEAL Team Six sent him a trophy after the bin Laden raid: Williams told David Letterman in January 2013: “About six weeks after the bin Laden raid, I received a white envelope and in it was a thank you note — unsigned — and attached to it was a piece of fuselage, from which the fuselage. Black Hawk blown up in that yard.” A former SEAL told CNN: “Yes There is no way in the world That will happen. It would be criminal.”
■ After Katrina, he had dysentery and the gang took over his hotel: “My week, two weeks there, was not helped by the fact that I accidentally drank some flood water. I was very sick with dysentery, our hotel was overrun by gangs.” he rode In a 2014 interview for the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. But the manager of the Ritz Carlton where Williams was staying told him The hotel was not overrun by gangs: “None of the guests were in danger of being harmed,” said manager Myra Degersdorf The Washington Post. “And there was none.”
For dysentery claims, a former city health director, Dr. Brobson Lutz, Dr New Orleans Advocate: “I saw many people with cuts and bruises, but me Don’t assume a single, isolated case of gastroenteritis During Katrina or the whole month after….my dogs drank it [the flood water]And they had no problem.”
■ He saw a dead body floating near his hotel: “When you look out your hotel room window in the French Quarter and see a man floating face down…” Williams told former Disney CEO Michael Eisner. In a 2006 interview. But there was slight flooding in the French Quarter, and told the Ritz Carlton manager The Washington Post None of his staff saw the body. Gen. Russell Honore, who led the rescue effort in New Orleans after Katrina, was skeptical: “If he was a news reporter and saw a body floating next to his hotel, why didn’t he go get it? Why did he get someone to report?” Honore marveled at CNN Reliable sourcesFebruary 8, 2015.
■ He planned to trade his life for Vienna sausages: At a special 2006 event on the anniversary of Katrina, Williams also claimed: “I took a case of Vienna sausage — a can of Vienna sausage as collateral in one of our smash-and-grab carjackings. I was going to give it to someone in exchange for my life” If this really was his plan, it doesn’t sound like a very good one.
As the list of lies piled up, Williams announced on February 7, 2015 that he “Decided to withdraw myself of my daily broadcast for the next few days.” Three days later, NBC announced that Williams would Suspended without pay from NBC Nightly News For six months. He will never return.
In a long report Vanity Fair Showed the depth of Williams’ denial: “‘She couldn’t say the words “I lied,”‘ an NBC insider recalls. ‘We couldn’t get her mouth to form the words “I lied.” She couldn’t explain what had happened. [He said,] “Something happened? [my] the head? Maybe I had a brain tumor, or something Inside my head?” He just didn’t know.’
Another source reported this information The Washington PostPaul Fahrry Says NBC’s Investigation Turns Up Too Many Lies: “A month-long internal investigation by NBC News’ Brian Williams has uncovered 11 examples in which the anchorman publicly embellished his reporting job description, according to a person familiar with the details of the investigation.” But the network Report not publishedOpting to move Williams to MSNBC instead.
Whatever their true feelings, the cable network’s top brass were thrilled that Williams would be joining them. morning joe Co-host Mika Brzezinski said, “I think so It is great for networkingPrime time host Rachel Maddow told her audience, “I Really glad Brian Williams is coming here to MSNBC.”
But they must have known that Williams had become a national joke. TBS’s Conan O’Brien set one up on February 6 Funny video Williams is taking false credit for and writing Miracle on the Hudson To kill a mockingbird.
But at least Williams had a champion. ex-CBS Evening News Anchor Dan Rather, who was ousted after relying on himself forged documents For a campaign-season hit piece against President George W. Bush, to say Politico: “Brian is an honest, decent man, an excellent reporter and anchor – and a brave one. I can attest – like his predecessor Tom Brokaw – he is a great professional and a brave one.”
For more examples from our flashback series, which we call the Newsbuster Time Machine, visit here.