Brian Williams Facing Backlash over Comments Made About Iraq War Despite Apology
"At this point I am questioning my memories," said a pilot who initially backed Williams's story
After making false claims about his time spent in Iraq in 2003, NBC News anchor Brian Williams has apologized, but the furor over his comments has yet to settle.
While some reports have claimed that fellow NBC anchor Tom Brokaw wants Williams fired, he has denied the claim. “I have neither demanded nor suggested Brian be fired,” Brokaw said in a statement to The Huffington Post. “His future is up to Brian and NBC News executives.”
Still, Williams, 55, is not safe from controversy.
The two pilots from Williams’s helicopter, Christopher Simeone and Allan Kelly, told The New York Times that their chopper was safe from fire. “When he was on the air on the Letterman show, I was going crazy,” said Simeone to the NYT in reference to Williams’s 2013 appearance on the program in which he claimed he had indeed been on a helicopter that got shot down, and that an injured crew member had received a medal.
While yet another pilot, Rich Krell, initially insisted that he had in fact flown Williams and that their helicopter had come under attack, he is now “questioning” his memories of the event, reports CNN.
Brian Williams: Background on the Backlash
On Jan. 30, Williams, 55, claimed in a news segment that his NBC News team helicopter was shot down in 2003 by a rocket-propelled grenade. The story was meant as a tribute to the soldier who allegedly saved their lives – U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major Tim Terpak, with whom he attended a New York Rangers game the night before, on Jan. 29.
However, military newspaper Stars and Stripes conducted an investigation which indicated that Williams’s retelling of the events was untrue.
“No, we never came under direct enemy fire to the aircraft,” said Sgt. Joseph Miller, a flight engineer on the helicopter that was carrying Williams – 30 minutes behind the helicopter that was shot down.
Williams admitted his mistake on Wednesday in an on-air statement: “On this broadcast last week in an effort to honor and thank a veteran who protected me and so many others following a ground-fire incident in the desert during the Iraq War, I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago,” he said. “It didn t take long to hear from some brave men and women in the air crews who were also in the desert.”
[BRIGHTCOVE “20899367” “” “” “no” ]