Thursday's Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN spotlighted another set of questionable accounts by Brian Williams regarding a supposed relationship with Navy SEAL Team Six. Williams claimed that he traveled with the unit into Iraq just three days after the 2003 invasion; that SEAL "friends" of his sent him a piece of the wreckage from the helicopter that crashed on the 2011 raid that killed bin Laden; and that a SEAL once sent him his knife. Two guests cast cold water on Williams's claims.
Reacting to the decision by NBC News to suspend NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams for six months following his Iraq war lies, Today 9 a.m. hour co-host Willie Geist acknowledged it was "kind of a difficult and strange morning." Fellow co-host Natalie Morales added: "...it is a difficult day here and we are certainly sharing our best wishes with Brian. It's a tough time for him and his family, so we hope and pray for the best."
Tara Parker-Pope attempted a defense of disgraced NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams in an item ("Was Brian Williams a Victim of False Memory?") posted at the New York Times "Well" blog — late Monday afternoon. It even made Tuesday's New York version of the Old Gray Lady's print edition.
Parker-Pope's premise, similar to that used by Marison Bello at USA Today three days earlier — even using the same "expert" as a source — is that the Williams saga "offers a compelling case study in how memories can change and shift dramatically over time." Parker-Pope's post is particularly pathetic because it appeared online a full four days after Variety reported that Williams "had been counseled in the past by senior NBC News executives to stop telling the story in public." Over the next several days, other media outlets corroborated and built upon what Variety reported. In other words, even if one buys into the memory-shift idea, it can't possibly apply in the Williams case. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
After six days of limiting its coverage of the scandal engulfing NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams to a few cryptic briefs only seconds long, NBC News finally provided full coverage of the controversy on Tuesday's Today show. Co-host Matt Lauer introduced the report: "And now we turn to a story that hits very close to home for all of us who work at NBC News. Brian Williams, who's anchored Nightly News since 2004, has been suspended from his job for six months."
New York magazine pundit Rich admits the anchor badly mishandled the flap over his Iraq-war tall tale but dismisses much conservative criticism of Williams: “They view him as Exhibit A of a lying left-wing mainstream media conspiracy…But neither in public nor private have I ever seen or heard Brian Williams express any partisan political opinion.”
Very few things drive leftists to distraction more than a strong Republican or conservative woman achieving political power.
Joni Ernst is a perfect example. The strong-willed freshman Senator from Iowa describes herself in three words: "Mother. Soldier. Leader." Imagine the howls of outrage if a conservative went after a liberal female combat veteran as Andrew Reinbach at Huffington Post did on Friday. Reinbach tried to claim that Ernst is not really a combat veteran, and questioned "The Honor of Senator Joni Ernst."
In his story on Brian Williams at 10:55 p.m. ET Tuesday, Gabriel Sherman at New York Magazine reported that the now-suspended anchor and his agent "were presented with a dossier of Williams' apparent lies," and that "Williams himself was only slowly grasping the depths of the mess he'd created."
That begs the obvious question of whether the public will ever get to know what's in that "dossier," and what impact its contents may have had on the substance of NBC's news reports during the past dozen (if not more) years. Excerpts from Sherman's report follow the jump (links are in original; bolds are mine):
At about 2:40 this afternoon, Stars and Stripes published a "full transcript of the Feb. 4 (Wednesday) interview in which the anchor admits he was never on the attacked helicopter and claims he was unaware his flight was not directly behind but actually far from the company that was hit."
Williams, in admitting that his flight was far from the company that was hit, is acknowledging that the statement he made that very evening on his Nightly News broadcast — that "I was instead in a following aircraft" — was false, and misled his viewers into believing he was near the dangers involved. Also unaddressed are the following items among many which have arisen since that interview: whether even the original 2003 broadcasts from the anchor's time in Iraq were misleading from the start; how, in the circumstances supposedly just clarified, Williams could have told a college journalist in 2007 that he "looked down the tube of an RPG that had been fired at us"; and other questionable items relating to other stories which have since surfaced. Excerpts from the interview with Travis J. Tritten of Stars and Stripes follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Friday morning on Fox and Friends, Geraldo Rivera, echoing Rathergate, the 2004 scandal which put the blogosphere and New Media on the map to stay and accelerated its growth, reacted to the Brian Williams debacle by denouncing those criticizing the NBC Nightly News anchor "from the safety of their mother's basement," telling them that they should just "shut up."
Saturday, in a pair of tweets reacting to Williams' decision, quoting from the anchor's internal memo, "to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days," Rivera expressed sharp disappointment, saying that Williams should "stand & fight." But in an epic fail, the Twitter account to which he linked in one of his rants belongs to a different Brian Williams.
On Saturday afternoon, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams released a statement announcing that he will be removing himself from NBC’s evening newscast “for the next several days” following the news that Williams lied about being in a helicopter that was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) over Iraq in March 2003. Later that night, all three of the major broadcast networks devoted briefs to Williams’s leave of absence in what were the first network evening news reports about him since the story was broken by Stars and Stripes on Wednesday.
This is for the "false memories" and "he's an untouchable 'brand' crowds defending Brian Williams, who this afternoon announced that he has "decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days."
At the 2-minute mark of the 2007 interview with a collegiate reporter following the jump, watch Williams speak of his alleged brushes with danger, including how he "looked down the tube of an RPG" during what has now been described by the Associated Press as his "fake Iraq story" (HT Ace and several others):
At USA Today Friday afternoon, two of its reporters came down on the side of Brian Williams in the controversy over what even the often media-enabling Associated Press has called his "fake Iraq story."
Roger Yu tried to portray Williams as a victim of a "synergistic stretch" who is now having to defend himself against the "firestorm on the Internet and social media," while Marisol Bello, who covers "breaking news, poverty and urban affairs," wrote that "there are reasons that it's plausible" that "Williams would remember riding in a helicopter that was shot down if he was nowhere near it."