It’s a situation we’ve all been in: You see something exciting happen to someone else, but nobody you know is there, so you lie and say the exciting thing happened to you. Your friends won’t know or care, and it makes the story significantly more interesting for you and the people you’re telling it to. However, telling your buddies about a cool thing you didn’t actually do is a bit more tame than, say, telling the world that your helicopter was shot down in Iraq. Also, you’re not just some guy, you’re NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams.
Unfortunately, it turns out that Brian WIlliams did that exact thing. In a story that he has proudly told multiple times, Williams claims that—while reporting on the war in Iraq in 2003—the helicopter he was riding in was brought down by enemy fire. Pinned down and surrounded by gunfire, Williams was forced to sit and wait with some soldiers until help arrived. It’s a great story, mostly because it makes Williams look like a brave newsman who puts his life in danger in the name of the news, and it also highlights the heroics of the American military. They saved Brian Williams!
However, the story is (at least) half-bullshit. As Williams admitted to armed forces newspaper Stars And Stripes (via Deadline), he was actually on a totally different helicopter that nobody shot at. On the NBC Nightly News tonight, he took it further and apologized to the soldiers who were actually on the helicopter that was shot down, saying that he “made a mistake in recalling the incidents of 12 years ago.” Of course, Williams has been telling this story for years, so apparently he made a mistake in recalling it almost immediately. He even regaled a visibly impressed David Letterman with legends of his bravery back in 2013, with Letterman even admitting that he “has to treat [Williams] with a new respect.” Maybe not so much anymore.
Here’s Williams on The Late Show:
And here’s Williams admitting that he lied: