NBC's Williams says didn't intentionally misstate Iraq War claims

Mon Feb 9, 2015 4:08pm EST
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(Reuters) - NBC News anchor Brian Williams said he did not intentionally misrepresent a harrowing experience of the Iraq War, speaking to U.S. military newspaper Stars and Stripes in his first published interview since NBC launched an inquiry into his reporting.

Williams, the anchor of top-rated "NBC Nightly News," took himself off the air on Saturday as the Comcast Corp-owned network investigates his claims that he rode in a helicopter that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during the first days of the Iraq War in 2003.

"It's very basic I would not have chosen to make this mistake," Williams told the newspaper on Feb 4. Stars and Stripes first reported on a number of soldiers who disputed the claims, saying Williams was not on or anywhere near the helicopter that was hit.

"Because I knew we had all come under fire, I guess I had assumed that all of the airframes took some damage because we all went down," Williams said in the interview published on Monday.

"I don't know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft from the other," he added.

Williams' apology last week, in which he said he misremembered the event, was widely mocked and derided.

He also on Sunday called off a scheduled Thursday appearance on David Letterman's "Late Show."

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Christian Plumb)

NBC news anchor Brian Williams poses at the "Stand Up To Cancer" television event, aimed at raising funds to accelerate innovative cancer research, at the Sony Studios Lot in Culver City, California September 10, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok