NBC news personality Brian Williams has hit the headlines with a truly astonishing admission. After claiming he was attacked onboard a helicopter in Iraq, the veteran news anchor was forced to issue an apology for the lies. Now it seems NBC are in damage control, hoping to stem the tide of disappointment and anger.
The whole fiasco started last Friday, when Mr. Williams referred to the incident while on the air. Within hours, an engineer who was on the same flight said he did not remember the news personality being present. “Sorry dude, I don’t remember you being on my aircraft,” veteran Lance Reynolds wrote on the Nightly News Facebook page.
A few days later, Mr. Williams was forced to publicly recant and apologise for falsifying the story. “I made a mistake in recalling the events of twelve years ago,” Williams explained to his viewers. “I want to apologise … I said I was travelling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire. I was instead in a following aircraft.”
The NBC News anchor then attempted to ease the situation by claiming that his actions were nothing more than “a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran and by extension our brave military men and women, veterans everywhere, those who have served while I did not.” But in spite of his having simply “misremembered” the event, several media outlets have pointed to numerous occasions in which the event was recounted.
Several promotional scripts (issued by NBC) claim that Mr. Williams was indeed in the aircraft which was fired upon, a lie that dated all the way back to 2003. “NBC’s Brian Williams recounts being shot at by a rocket propelled grenade while riding along in Chinook helicopter on a mission over Iraqi airspace,” the 2003 script reads.”[Williams] was part of a US Army helicopter mission that was forced down by enemy fire south of Najaf,” noted another piece of bald-faced bio-advertising.
Flight Engineer Lance Reynolds spoke with US military paper Stars and Stripes, describing the reasons behind his decision to write that post. “It was something personal for us that was kind of life-changing for me. I know how lucky I was to survive it,” he said. “It felt like a personal experience that someone else wanted to participate in and didn’t deserve to participate in.”
The embarrassing bio-blunder will no doubt affect the career of the news personality, but it may also affect NBC’s reputation as an honest news gathering service. As the American news marketplace becomes more competitive, NBC’s rivals will no doubt seize on the opportunity to gain some momentum and critical ratings points.
Right now, somewhere in the Rockefeller Centre, a group of NBC executives are sitting down to a long night of hard decisions…
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