NBC to investigate anchor Williams' Iraq war reporting

Sat Feb 7, 2015 2:07am EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - NBC launched an internal probe on Friday into top-rated "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams' debunked claim that he was aboard a helicopter that was downed by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

In an internal memo, NBC News President Deborah Turness told staffers that a team would gather the facts about the incident in which Williams, 55, falsely said he was in a U.S. Army helicopter that was hit and forced down by an RPG.

"This has been a difficult few days for all of us at NBC News," she said. "As you would expect, we have a team dedicated to gathering the facts to help us make sense of all that has transpired."

Williams apologized on TV on Wednesday for "making a mistake" after veterans complained about the claim he made during a broadcast last week, saying it was not true.

But the lie threatens his credibility as the anchor and managing editor of NBC's flagship evening news program.

“I was instead in a following aircraft. We all landed after the ground fire incident and spent two harrowing nights in a sandstorm in the Iraq desert,” Williams said in his apology.

He blamed it on repeatedly watching a video of himself looking at the impact damage and "the fog of memory over 12 years" that he said made him misremember.

The probe by the network's investigative unit is being headed by Richard Esposito, who was formerly an editor at the Daily News newspaper of New York, according to media reports.   Continued...

Television personality Brian Williams arrives at the Time 100 Gala in New York, April 24, 2012.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson