Veteran “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams has conceded that a story he told on various occasions about being under fire while on assignment in Iraq in 2003 was not accurate.

Williams corrected the record Wednesday, saying he was not aboard a helicopter that was hit by enemy fire and forced down. He had retold the story as recently as last week, when he participated in a televised tribute to a veteran.

On “NBC Nightly News” Wednesday, Williams devoted 50 seconds to his apology for his characterization of the event. He said:

After a groundfire incident in the desert during the Iraq war invasion, I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago. It did not take long to hear from some brave men and women in the air crews who were also in that desert. I want to apologize. I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by [rocket-propelled grenade] fire. I was instead in a following aircraft…. This was 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.

The Washington Post reported:

The admission is a rare black mark for Williams, a poised, veteran newsman who has anchored NBC’s signature newscast since 2004 and has endeared himself to non-news audiences through appearances on “30 Rock,” “The Tonight Show” and other entertainment programs.

At least in the short term, the false story may damage the anchor’s most valuable asset — his credibility. NBC has not said whether he will face discipline for perpetuating the false story.

Williams’s apology came after the Stars and Stripes newspaper contacted crew members of the Chinook helicopter that Williams had said he was aboard when it was hit by two rockets and small-arms fire. They said that Williams was not aboard the aircraft during the incident at the onset of the war in March 2003. They said Williams arrived on another, undamaged helicopter an hour after the crippled Chinook had landed.

Read more here.

— Posted by Donald Kaufman.  

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