Earlier this afternoon (Tuesday), National Review’s Eliana Johnson dug up the full transcript of embattled NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams recounting his helicopter story to Tim Russert in 2005, and she zeroed in on Williams specific claim that the pilot — “our captain” — was shot “right through the earlobe,” a claim disputed by the two pilots on that Chinook.
Comedy Central host Larry Wilmore poked fun of NBC's Brian Williams on Monday's Nightly Show. Wilmore teased his monologue on Williams with a one-liner: "We look at our relationship with war, and revisit the movie Black Hawk Down – or as Brian Williams calls it, 'The Brian Williams Story.'" The comedian likely didn't know that the journalist actually boasted, back in 2003, that his now-discredited helicopter incident was "Black Hawk Down meets Saving Private Ryan."
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):
While its appearance at the height of the Brian Williams serial tall-tales scandal seems coincidental, a New York Times Sunday review column by Clancy Martin, a "professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City" who has been "married twice before" (!), reveals quite a bit about the kind of dreck the Old Gray Lady will tolerate in the name of advancing its personal values-free, anything-goes take on the world.
Clancy goes through a tired, predictable "everybody lies in their relationships" exercise, apparently unable to distinguish between good manners, motivational statements, and flat-out factual falsehoods. After the jump readers will see a list of statements the author treats as "lies" which definitely are not in many if not most circumstances. I have applied some of them to more generalized or current circumstances.
Joe Scarborough's defense of Brian Williams amounts to a warning to people in the media and politics: I know a lot about many of you, too.
On today's Morning Joe, Scarborough ominously said: "in over a decade in this news business, it is fair to say looking straight in the camera, I've seen a lot, I know a lot, and I know that there are very few people in this industry or in politics that could live by the standard of perfection. Cast the first stone? I would be careful."
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.
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."
On Friday's CBS This Morning, substitute co-host Jeff Glor introduced a report on the growing scandal surrounding NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams by proclaiming: "This morning, one of the biggest names in media is fighting for his reputation....On Wednesday, Williams said he was sorry for saying his helicopter in Iraq was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in 2003. That never happened. It's an account that has changed over the years."
Conan O'Brien poked fun of NBC's Brian Williams on the late Thursday/early Friday edition of his TBS program over his false Iraq War claim. O'Brien played a montage of the anchor's own footage from NBC Nightly News, but edited it to insert the journalist into news events from recent years – including having Williams fly the "Miracle on the Hudson" plane landing in 2009 and make the first ascent of the Dawn Wall of Yosemite's El Capitan.
If Brian Williams or any of the executives at NBC thought that the controversy over his "fake Iraq story" might start to die down, developments this evening have proven that they were sadly mistaken.
The quoted words in the previous sentence are from a headline at an Associated Press story by David Bauder, the wire service's TV writer. The fact that the nation's self-described "essential global news network" felt comfortable using those words to describe the 12 year-old saga of Williams's fabricated adventure in Iraq is actually among the least of his and his network's troubles tonight. Two major stories at the New York Post's Page Six appear to have made their continuing with the status quo very difficult to imagine.
As NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams became embroiled in a major controversy on Thursday over his false story of being shot at in Iraq, he joined a growing list of NBC journalists whose credibility has been shredded in recent months in the wake of various scandals.