NBC’s Brian Williams Contradicts Own Reporters on Iraq, Claims U.S. ‘May Have To Work With Iran’

On Monday, June 16, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams did his best to not only spin the recent surge in violence throughout Iraq as being George W. Bush’s fault but managed to completely contradict the reporting of NBC’s own journalists. 

Williams opened the broadcast by falsely declaring “As a group of heavily armed and highly motivated terrorists continues its way across Iraq, it's not yet clear if the U.S. will take any action in Iraq...The U.S. may have to work with Iran before this is all over as another Iraqi city has now fallen to this group called ISIS.” 

The NBC anchor continued to spin by falsely claiming President Obama isn’t considering sending in troops into Iraq. Williams then went on to blame President Bush for the violence: 

The president has ruled out any troops, and the American people aren't at all sure we should take any action even though what's happening now is a direct outgrowth of the U.S. invasion there over a decade ago.   

Williams then turned to Andrea Mitchell who resoundingly refuted the NBC anchor’s misinformation: 

With the militants now closing in on Baghdad, tonight the president has notified Congress he is sending up to 275 military personnel to Iraq to help secure the embassy in Baghdad. In addition, he has summoned his national security team to a crisis meeting at the White House tonight to weigh military options including possible air strikes that would involve the insertion of ground forces to help determine the targets. 

Mitchell then corrected Williams’ claim that the U.S. “May have to work with Iran” when in reality the Obama Administration is merely considering that option:

The talks between Kerry's deputy, William Burns, and Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif started today in Vienna. The goal is to get Tehran to press it’s Shiite ally, Iraq's Prime Minister Maliki to finally include rival Sunnis in his government, a key step toward a political solution. Still, any talk of any military cooperation with Iran makes U.S. allies in the region, Israel, and Saudi Arabia very nervous about any dealings with their adversary, Iran. And among the military options are the limited use of special forces inside Iraq if needed to help guide possible air strikes. 

It’s a shame that the anchor for NBC’s flagship newscast could be so blatantly wrong when it comes to the basic facts surrounding the increased violence in Iraq. Rather than report the truth, Williams provided his audience with outright misinformation and spin which was thankfully corrected by NBC’s own reporters.  

See relevant transcript below. 


NBC

NBC Nightly News

June 16, 2014

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Good evening. As a group of heavily armed and highly motivated terrorists continues its way across Iraq, it's not yet clear if the U.S. will take any action in Iraq. The president has ruled out any troops, and the American people aren't at all sure we should take any action even though what's happening now is a direct outgrowth of the U.S. invasion there over a decade ago.

The U.S. has started removing some of its staff from the fortress-like U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, calling this a relocation and not an evacuation. U.S. Marine helicopters will come and go from a Navy vessel in the Persian Gulf where the U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier and three destroyers. The U.S. may have to work with Iran before this is all over as another Iraqi city has now fallen to this group called ISIS. Our Chief Foreign Correspondent, Richard Engel, is back in Baghdad tonight to start our coverage off. And Richard, start with what it's like there now. 

RICHARD ENGEL: Good evening, Brian. There is a curfew in place here, and there is absolutely no one on the streets. That is, no civilians. There are lots and lots of police officers out, checkpoints every few hundred yards. Parts of Iraq fell quickly to that militant group, not Baghdad. Here, they are bracing for a fight. 

These Iraqi soldiers, prisoners of Isis, in a video not verified by NBC News, are being forced to swear allegiance to the Al Qaeda offshoot that overran their positions. One refuses and is executed. The others agreed, but they, too, were later found dead. They are getting stronger, joined by supporters of Saddam Hussein and Sunni tribal leaders. In Mosul they march together on their way to hang an Iraqi soldier. This weekend, the militants released pictures of dozens of Iraqi soldiers being led to their death. 

The Iraqi army is now fighting back with air strikes and thousands of new recruits. But the insurgents have their sights on Baghdad, and if they can't get to it, they may try to send in suicide bombers instead. It is strange to come back to Baghdad and see it like this. This is normally the busiest market in the city. Today all of the shops are closed, and this street is normally full of traffic. Today, hardly anything. And there are gunmen on every corner. Some are soldiers. Many are Shiite militiamen responding to a call to arms from their religious leaders. They're ready to defend the capital and the Shiite faith. 

We did find one shop open. A grocery owned by Jamel Karesh, he thinks the ISIS radicals aren't strong enough to enter Baghdad now. Instead, he expects car bombs. “People are afraid,” he said. “We expect bombings will come at any moment.” This is perhaps the most iconic place in Baghdad, Firdos Square. There used to be a giant statue of Saddam Hussein right on top of that pedestal until as we all saw, U.S. Marines came right down this street, the statue came down, and Saddam's regime collapsed. Iraq was at a turning point now, and it may be at a turning point now. 

As evening came, even fewer people were out in the city of seven million. Bracing for a new round of sectarian war, perhaps the worst this country has ever seen. What's next, Brian, could be a very difficult phase for this country. The Iraqi government will try and retake some of the cities have that been captured by ISIS. That means the Shiite government dropping bombs on civilian areas, on Sunni cities. There will likely be a response with car bombings here in Baghdad, and this could be a long fight. Brian? 

WILLIAMS: Richard Engel back in Baghdad for us after many lives of living there while covering the war. Richard, thanks. And on the diplomacy front, it appears the U.S. is considering at least working with Iran. At least the two countries are prepared to talk about working together to quell the violence in Iraq. Andrea Mitchell monitoring all of it from our D.C. newsroom tonight. Andrea, good evening. 

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good evening, Brian. With the militants now closing in on Baghdad, tonight the president has notified Congress he is sending up to 275 military personnel to Iraq to help secure the embassy in Baghdad. In addition, he has summoned his national security team to a crisis meeting at the White House tonight to weigh military options including possible air strikes that would involve the insertion of ground forces to help determine the targets. Also, among the topics of today's meeting, today's first talks between the U.S. and Iran about Iraq. In a classic case of strange bedfellows, the U.S. Navy reached out to Iran to save Baghdad from falling. Even as the leader of Tehran’s Revolutionary Guard, the notorious Quds Force, is in Baghdad helping militias defend the capital.

JOHN KERRY: We're open to discussions if there's something constructive that can be contributed by Iran. If Iran is prepared to do something that is going to respect the integrity and sovereignty of Iraq and the ability of the government to reform. 

MITCHELL: The talks between Kerry's deputy, William Burns, and Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif started today in Vienna. The goal is to get Tehran to press it’s Shiite ally, Iraq's Prime Minister Maliki to finally include rival Sunnis in his government, a key step toward a political solution. Still, any talk of any military cooperation with Iran makes U.S. allies in the region, Israel, and Saudi Arabia very nervous about any dealings with their adversary, Iran. And among the military options are the limited use of special forces inside Iraq if needed to help guide possible air strikes. Brian? 

WILLIAMS: Of course it could still be early yet in this crisis. Andrea Mitchell in our D.C. newsroom tonight. Andrea, thanks.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.