NBC “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams admitted on the air Wednesday that he’d simply made up a story the network has told for more than a decade — that Williams was in a helicopter that was shot down during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
But he admitted it only after the military newspaper Stars & Stripes was working on a story based on information from outraged crew members of a chopper that really was shot down in the same area.
Williams told the made-up story most recently on Friday, when describing a tribute for retired soldier Tim Terpak at a New York Rangers hockey game. Williams dramatically recounted a “memory” of how Terpak and other soldiers provided cover for him and the the other passengers of the downed helicopters.
“The story actually started with a terrible moment a dozen years back during the invasion of Iraq when the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG. Our traveling NBC News team was rescued, surrounded and kept alive by an armor mechanized platoon from the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry,” Williams said before playing a video of himself and Terpak at the game.
While it is true that Terpak was among the soldiers who provided security for the downed Chinook helicopter’s passengers, Williams was not in the chopper that was hit.
Instead, Williams arrived about an hour later.
Stars & Stripes broke the story Wednesday after crew members of the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook informed it that Williams was nowhere near them or two other Chinook helicopters that took rocket fire that day.
“I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams said. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”
Its defies reason to imagine someone, particularly a journalist, not remembering if he was or was not in a helicopter that was actually downed by rocket fire.
Imagine the excoriation a Fox News host would get for spinning a similar tale.
The Twitterverse mocked Williams using the hashtag #BrianWilliamsMisremembers and the charge was led by conservative queen of the one liners, Michelle Malkin.
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) February 4, 2015
— Rusty Shackelford (@rshackelford14) February 5, 2015
— Lizzy Lou Who❄ (@_wintergirl93) February 5, 2015
— More Cowbell! (@scottatal) February 5, 2015
— SalonDotYouMadBro? (@schwingcat) February 5, 2015
— The 57th State ℅EF™ (@EF517_V2) February 5, 2015
— Randy Clemens™ (@bostonrandy) February 5, 2015
— Henry Patrick (@lvfreeordye) February 5, 2015
— Brian Sterling (@BriSterling) February 5, 2015
— SpecialK (@SpecialK7728) February 5, 2015
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