UPDATE: Brian Williams has announced that he is pulling himself off the anchor desk for the next “several days.” Lester Holt will sit in for him.
“In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions,” Williams said in a statement issued by NBC News Saturday afternoon.
Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has admitted to fabricating elements of a story involving a helicopter shot down by an RPG over Iraq back in 2003, a story he’s continued to tell over the last 12 years. He’d said, that he and his camera crew were on board this helicopter, when it fact, they were about an hour behind those three helicopters that came under fire.
Williams didn’t exact issue a formal retraction Wednesday night when he admitted the error. In fact, he said he “misremembered” the events that took place that day and called it a “mistake,” while apologizing to the service members who were on board those helicopters. And it wasn’t on his own admission. He was essentially forced to do so amid soldier protests who had been fed up well over a decade. Kudos to Stars and Stripes Capitol Hill reporter Travis Tritten for being on top of this from the get-go.
EXCLUSIVE: NBC’s Brian Williams recants Iraq war story after soldiers protest http://t.co/ykQRDrep0D
— Travis J. Tritten (@Travis_Tritten) February 4, 2015
Now NBC has launched an investigation into Williams, including his accounts of not only his Iraq coverage but also his coverage of Hurricane Katrina. He claimed that he contracted dysentery in New Orleans covering Katrina and that saw a man floating face-down in the water. Horrific things happened in that city, but if his accounts were false or embellished, how dare he take a tragedy like that and sensationalize it for his own personal gain.
Sadly, we have already dealt with lies from with our politicians and have come to accept it as the norm. Hillary Clinton made the claim that her plane was shot at over Bosnia back in 1996 while traveling with her daughter Chelsea. They were headed to a U.S. military base. She set the record straight on her story in 2008. But hey, it didn’t impact her much since she’s a favorite for the Democratic party in the 2016 Presidential election.
But this is a journalist, someone who is responsible for fact-checking of politicians, utilizing resources the average American is not privy to. It’s a moral obligation of journalists are to serve as the watchdog of the government and to expose loose ends of agencies like FEMA that, most would agree, failed the people of New Orleans during Katrina.Certainly Williams’ vivid testimony helped fuel the rage so many felt over this.
If NBC News allows Williams to keep his job, what does this say about our current state of journalism, where headlines continue to trump the actual truth and network anchors and reporters appear far more concerned about integrating themselves into stories rather than reporting the actual truth? What does this say about the American people, if we allow this to slide?
Breaking: Brian Williams is “taking himself off” of @NBCNightlyNews “for the next several days,” 2 NBC sources tell CNN.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 7, 2015
He made a mistake, but he had many, many opportunities to clarify that mistake and for 12 years, he chose not to. He has to go.
“Your Wake Up Call” with Chris Markowski and Jenna Laine airs Monday through Friday from 6-9 a.m. on AM 820 News in Tampa and AM 1190 News in Orlando.