Brian Williams's Fantasyland

NBC sets up Brian Williams ‘Truth Squad’

NBC News has quietly set up a “Brian Williams truth squad” to investigate his tall tales. The unit consists of a handful of producers and reporters who are initially focusing on his now-much-questioned Hurricane Katrina stories. After there was no mention of the scandal Thursday on NBC’s morning news calls, including the 9:30 a.m. “Nightly News” call, Williams turned up in person Friday morning to apologize to the news division.


  1. It strikes me that Williams' reporting/fiction was a big part of the media frenzy around Katrina that arguably helped give Congress to the Democrats. I don't know that you'll find clear documentation proving a concerted effort, but Williams' apparent lies have done a lot of harm to the nation as a whole.

  2. I should have made a comment about the image - Mary Martin as Peter Pan (60's). Brian William's daughter recently played P/P live on NBC.

  3. NYTimes: Soldiers in Brian Williams’s Group Give Account of 2003 Helicopter Attack:

    Mr. Summerlin and Mr. Pearman said they thought Mr. Williams’s initial 2003 report was disingenuous. He conflated his mission with theirs, they said, and implied — but never said — that their helicopters were close to his.

    “It certainly cannot be a case of fog of war, or that someone is confused from 12 years ago,” Mr. Pearman said. “That is the kind of event that, to this day, I can remember a fair amount of detail.”

    Mr. Summerlin’s wife, watching in Germany, did not see her husband in the NBC report, he said, and worried that perhaps her husband, who slept in the desert for days after the episode, was actually missing in action. “She was pretty upset,” he said.

    In 2003, Mr. Pearman said, soldiers could not send instant messages to their families. Communication was much more sporadic. “So when you start stories that are really untrue, you start muddying the water,” he said. “It’s not only a large problem because of the stories themselves, it’s hard for the families.”

    Mr. Pearman said that in another apology that Mr. Williams published on Facebook, the news anchor still seemed to suggest that his helicopter had been close to the ones that came under fire, stating that he “was indeed on the Chinook behind the bird that took the R.P.G. in the tail housing.” He was “still squirming around what actually happened,” Mr. Pearman said. “It wasn’t all that truthful.”

    For Mr. Summerlin, the reporting by Mr. Williams remains hurtful.

    “For him to diminish what we felt, what for me was a big experience,” Mr. Summerlin said, “is a slap in the face to all of the soldiers who were there.”

  4. Brian Williams to Take Himself Off Nightly News for the 'Next Several Days':

    In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions.

  5. I think my final comment on this:

    I sense that he has disqualified himself from the job. Too bad, because I like him. But reporters need to be truthful and not embellish.

    Years ago, this is a true story, I was confronted by a black bear in woods in N/E PA. The bear was probably 75-100 feet away. I stopped walking towards it and it stopped walking towards me . It's not that exciting of a story and frankly my life has not been that exciting. Were I to embellish the story and add a couple of bears and make the distance shorter and put a knife in my hand, that would be a lie. More interesting? Yes! Truthful? No!

  6. Maureen Dowd: Anchors Aweigh:

    THIS was a bomb that had been ticking for a while.

    NBC executives were warned a year ago that Brian Williams was constantly inflating his biography. They were flummoxed over why the leading network anchor felt that he needed Hemingwayesque, bullets-whizzing-by flourishes to puff himself up, sometimes to the point where it was a joke in the news division.

    But the caustic media big shots who once roamed the land were gone, and “there was no one around to pull his chain when he got too over-the-top,” as one NBC News reporter put it.

    It seemed pathological because Williams already had the premier job, so why engage in résumé inflation? And you don’t get those jobs because of your derring-do.

  7. Brian Williams and the God Complex:

    The networks have a stake in promoting their anchors as God-like figures. By showing them in war zones, with Obama or Putin, buffeted by hurricanes, and comforting victims, they are telling viewers that their anchors are truth-tellers who have been everywhere and seen everything and have experience you can trust.

  8. Why Did Hillary Survive a Brian Williams-like Tale?:

    Clinton's gaff came during her 2008 run for the White House, when she claimed she and her staff had dodged sniper fire on an airport landing strip in Bosnia. But news video of the event revealed it never happened.

  9. Two final links:

    By turning journalists and anchors into celebrities, we’re part of the problem:

    If we really want to encourage reform, let’s seek out those who cover the news and don’t put themselves at the center of it. Let’s reward them with our time and attention. I know Brian Williams. He is a good newsman and a good man. Like so many of our anchors and reporters today, he simply needs to know that we value him for his reporting, not for his “making” the news.

    Brian Williams Suspended from NBC for 6 Months:

    Brian Williams has been suspended from NBC for six months without pay.

    The network released a statement Tuesday saying that the Nightly News anchor has been suspended as managing editor and anchor effective immediately, and Lester Holt will continue to substitute for him.


Any anonymous comments with links will be rejected. Please do not comment off-topic