Nightly News anchor and managing editor Brian Williams was suspended for six months yesterday (February 10), without pay, by NBC over an ongoing investigation into a story that Williams has told several times about being in a helicopter that was hit by enemy fire and subsequently shot down while covering the Iraq war in 2003.
It turned out that this account was false. Instead, Williams was in another helicopter that trailed the original shot-down helicopter by over an hour.
In recent years, Williams has shared this story as a guest on several late night talk shows, including NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Back on January 30 of this year, Williams brought up his account of the story during his number one rated cable evening news show, NBC Nightly News. Hours after the comment was made, a number of veterans that were in Williams' helicopter in 2003 refuted his story online. And as the hours and days passed, more and more people came out refuting the story.
In a statement, NBC News President Deborah Turness said that the ongoing investigation is actually, “wider than the incident that triggered the scandal. While on Nightly News on January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq war in 2003. It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position.”
|Williams covering the Iraq War.|
Photo courtesy of money.cnn.com.
What puts Williams’ future with NBC in question isn’t just the fact he lied to the viewing public about this one particular incident, but that there have been other instances of him changing the accounts of other stories he covered. There are now questions being raised of Williams talking of his experiences while working in the Middle East and while covering Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
There are discrepancies in his accounts of seeing a body floating in the French Quartier, an area which had no flooding, and encounters with gangs at his hotel that are now being challenged. Williams has also previously changed his accounts, during his time covering Israel’s war with Hezbollah in 2006, of having rockets fly right in front of his chopper to then flying directly beneath it.
|Lester Holt will fill in as temporary |
anchor for NBC Nightly News.
Photo courtesy of nbcnews.com.
NBC’s investigation is now focused on finding out if the initial scandal of Brian Williams changing accounts of stories was one isolated incident or of a pattern of activity. With him being suspended from his duties, most visibly as the anchor for NBC Nightly News, longtime NBC News anchor and journalist Lester Holt will be filling in for at least the next six months.
Do you think NBC made the right decision in suspending Brian Williams and should he be given a second chance and be allowed to come back after his suspension?
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