February 6, 2015 / 9:39 PM / 4 years ago

NBC to investigate anchor Williams' Iraq War reporting

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

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 rocked-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 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.

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

The apology by Williams did little to quell the uproar and cast in doubt whether he would be able to continue in his role at NBC, a unit of Comcast Corp. The anchor was widely mocked on social media for saying he “misremembered” the incident.

“We’re working on what the best next steps are,” Turness added in the memo.

Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Eric Kelsey and Christian Plumb

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