As has been extensively reported, Brian Williams admitted yesterday that although he’s been confidently telling the tall tale for years, he was in fact not aboard a military helicopter that was hit and forced down by an RPG on the eve of the Iraq War in 2003. On a visit to the Late Show with David Letterman in 2013, Williams, displaying a cocky élan that now seems to belie some sort of psychosis and certainly deserves an ignominious job dismissal, regaled the cranky sexagenarian host with a story that includes this complete fabrication: “…two of our four helicopters were hit by ground fire including the one I was in.” He was clearly having a ball telling this anecdote and making himself out to be a fearless yet fun, hot-zone-loving, bad-ass journalist. Wiliams’ most recent telling of this story, just last week during a televised tribute to a retired soldier at a New York Rangers hockey game, is what got him in trouble. Soldiers actually involved in the incident saw the broadcast and told Stars and Stripes newspaper that Williams was full of crap, which led to Williams’ weird, vacant 50-second, on-air apology last night. The brief mea culpa is fascinating to watch because everything about the anchorman’s delivery- facial expression, tone of voice, body language- would make you think that he’s blithely talking about a third party or something totally unserious like the Little League World Series. It also makes you think that he might have a borderline personality disorder.
Bud Fox News‘ Silence Bellows was able to have a brief, exclusive conversation with Williams early this morning. He admitted that he thought he could get away with it:
Hillary and I talk all the time. Before she got caught in the lie, she looked like she was having so much fun telling that story about catching sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996. And nothing adds credibility like being able to say you were right there in the thick of things. I just couldn’t resist. She encouraged me but told me to be careful. But I thought to myself, “I won’t get caught. I’m smarter than she is and I can pull it off, nobody’ll ever know.” I mean let’s be honest, as the Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, my job is to sell half-truths every night. I didn’t think this would be too much of a stretch.
If there’s any justice here, Brian Williams will join Hillary Clinton on the professional speaker/has-been circuit sometime next week. Neither deserves any better.