Former NBC News anchor Brian Williams embellished stories about his reporting at least 11 times, according to results from an internal investigation. On Thursday morning, NBC executives including NBC Universal chief executive Steve Burke, NBC News chairman Andrew Lack and NBC News president Deborah Turness met to discuss the report's findings and Williams' future.
The Washington Post's Paul Fehi reports:
NBC undertook the examination of Williams’ statement after he apologized in early February for saying on “NBC Nightly News” that a military helicopter in which he was traveling at the start of the Iraq War had been damaged by rocket fire. His account was challenged by soldiers who were on the flight, leading to a furor that prompted NBC to suspend Williams for six months without pay and to investigate other statements he’s made...
The investigators, led by NBC News senior executive producer Richard Esposito, have also raised doubts about Williams’ comments about his experiences covering Israel’s military action against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006. In an interview with a student-run television station at Fairfield University in Connecticut in 2007, Williams said he saw rockets passing “just beneath” the Israel helicopter in which he was traveling. But Williams gave a less harrowing account of the same trip in an NBC News blog a year earlier.
According to Farhi, Williams may have also exaggerated how close he was to Cairo's Tahrir Square during 2011's Arab Spring protests.
In USA Today, journalist Michael Wolff that the real problem was NBC News -- not Brian Williams, and that the network should bring the anchor back:
"...network news divisions are mere shadows of their former selves, once deep and well-resourced news originations reduced, in effect, to an on-air front man. Is that now the point? Williams must be sacrificed in an effort to maintain the network news fiction about gravitas and journalistic stature and credibility, a fiction far larger than Williams' own tall tales?"
On Sunday's edition of CNN's "Reliable Sources," former "CBS Evening News" anchor admitted that it was very hard to see how Williams could be brought back given the investigation's results.
"This is painful for all of Brian's friends," Rather said, "but objectively, it's very hard to see how NBC brings him back. I hope I'm wrong about this. I said some time ago that I thought his chances were slim to none, and you can make a case that slim just left town with these leaks to the Washington Post and the New York Times -- vicious really in their own way."