Brian Williams has been suspended by NBC News amid revelations that he may have lied about taking fire during his time covering the Iraq War, and now insiders are saying the network has known for a long time that Williams has a tendency to lie about his job experiences.
Williams has walked back claims made several times before that he was in a helicopter that was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade and forced to crash-land during the Iraq War, saying he was actually in a different aircraft that remained safe.
Brian Williams apologized for the misstatement, saying it was an honest mistake that was the result of confusion during the fog of war.
Williams wrote an apology on his Facebook page.
“I feel terrible about making this mistake, especially since I found my OWN WRITING about the incident from back in ’08, and I was indeed on the Chinook behind the bird that took the RPG in the tail housing just above the ramp. Because I have no desire to fictionalize my experience (we all saw it happened the first time) and no need to dramatize events as they actually happened, I think the constant viewing of the video showing us inspecting the impact area — and the fog of memory over 12 years — made me conflate the two, and I apologize.”
But now sources are saying the lie was part of a pattern of behavior that NBC News had been warned about. Other claims, including a report in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that he saw dead bodies floating in the French Quarter, have come into question as well.
New York Times columnist Maureen O’Dowd said the situation was “a bomb that had been ticking for a while,” saying that Brian Williams had a tendency to unnecessarily boost his resume and no one at the network willing to stand up to the lies.
“NBC executives were warned a year ago that Brian Williams was constantly inflating his biography. They were flummoxed over why the leading network anchor felt that he needed Hemingwayesque, bullets-whizzing-by flourishes to puff himself up, sometimes to the point where it was a joke in the news division.
“But the caustic media big shots who once roamed the land were gone, and ‘there was no one around to pull his chain when he got too over-the-top,’ as one NBC News reporter put it.”
In the wake of the scandal, a number of people have come forward to demand that NBC News fire Brian Williams. Even the legendary Tom Brokaw, Williams’ predecessor on the news desk, is reportedly pushing for the network to cut ties with Williams amid the scandal.