Brian Williams lied about at least seven other major stories, apparently


The Brian Williams scandal fully broke in February. That was when Williams went on air on the NBC Nightly News to give a weird half-apology for “mis-remembering” a story about how he came under fire in Iraq in 2003. Except that he never came under fire, and he told like 11 different versions/lies about that one incident. Williams was quickly suspended without pay for six months while NBC underwent an internal audit of Williams’ actions, words, stories and lies. We got a taste of what the internal audit was uncovering a few weeks ago, when Vanity Fair published a fascinating and bitchy piece about the dysfunction within NBC News and the executive mishandling of Williams and crisis in general.

So, what’s new? The NYT published a gossipy, insidery piece this weekend all about the audit/investigation into Williams. Apparently, they’ve already found “a half-dozen instances” in which Williams outright lied or “misremembered” certain stories.

An NBC News internal investigation into Brian Williams has examined a half-dozen instances in which he is thought to have fabricated, misrepresented or embellished his accounts, two people with inside knowledge of the investigation said.

The investigation includes at least one episode that was previously unreported, these people said, involving statements by Mr. Williams about events from Tahrir Square in Cairo during the Arab Spring. The investigation, conducted by at least five NBC journalists, was commissioned early this year. The inquiry is being led by Richard Esposito, the senior executive producer for investigations, for the news division.

The two people with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions, said the episodes under review included details of the incident in Iraq in 2003; statements Mr. Williams made about a missile attack while he was traveling in another helicopter over northern Israel in 2006; and the circumstances under which he received a fragment of a helicopter that crashed during the mission to kill Osama bin Laden in 2011.

It is not clear precisely which parts of Mr. Williams’s reporting from Tahrir Square have been scrutinized by NBC or what the network’s investigation shows. But discrepancies are evident in accounts given by Mr. Williams in February 2011.

In an appearance that month with Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show,” Mr. Williams described his reporting from the square. Speaking of clashes between protesters seeking the overthrow of the Egyptian government, and a pro-government group on horses and camels, he said he had “actually made eye contact with the man on the lead horse.” Mr. Stewart then referred to reports that the pro-government group had used whips. “Yeah,” Mr. Williams replied, “he went around the corner after I saw him, they pulled out whips and started beating human beings on the way.”

The NBC News report on the clash between the protesters that day did not show Mr. Williams in Tahrir Square during the protest. Subsequent reports said that Mr. Williams was reporting “from a balcony overlooking Tahrir Square,” rather than from inside the square itself, a description that matches footage that was broadcast, and that he repeated in an interview with The New York Times last year.

[From The NY Times]

As we hear more stories about Williams’ many lies, a pattern has emerged: the lies are always included to make Williams look more heroic, to make it seem like he was in more danger, that he is always in the thick of it… rather than reporting from a balcony overlooking the real action. The NYT’s sources also say that the investigators are getting information and direction from NBC News employees, many of whom have apparently known about Williams’ penchant for lies and falsehoods all along. I’ve got to wonder… did Williams piss off a lot of NBC underlings? Because the knives are out for him. And yes, he’ll be fired by the end of the year. He’ll probably be fired in the next few months, actually.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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74 Responses to “Brian Williams lied about at least seven other major stories, apparently”

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  1. Tiffany says:

    NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt has a nice ring to it.

    Dateline will survive without him.

  2. PunkyMomma says:

    I’m thinking he’ll be out within the next few weeks. NBC needs to stop the bleeding. And Lester Holt is doing a superb job. It’s over for Brian Williams at NBC.

  3. minx says:

    Yes, he’ll be out.
    There are probably many more instances of lying and exaggerating.

    • Kiki04 says:

      They just need to make it official at this point and say he’s out. Especially if they’re going to release something like this telling about how much he lied. Would just be better for everyone involved.

    • Coco says:

      He said he “misremembered” lol.

  4. Angie says:

    Wow Brian Williams’s lying creeps me out. Eww

    I really hope Lester Holt gets the spot permanently. He’s done great. Would he normally be in contention? I love the idea this is a 42nd Street scenario where the underdog unexpectedly steps in and gets the lead. lol. It’s kinda cool! Go Lester!

  5. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    How did he think he would get away with all of these lies? Man is sick.

    • Jegede says:

      Serious question – Is it possible he is??

      Cause all this is baffling to me.

      • FLORC says:

        I’m sure there’s some issues here. That a person just fabricates the truth out of no real need. Just for the sake of it it seems. Yes, his articles and personal accounts would make for better stories and his career, but he’s been found to fib outside of that. Everyday things. Why do that?

        Baffling here too.

      • Bruce says:

        Didn’t Hillary also get caught saying there was live firing at an airport she landed at but later there was news photos showing little kids giving her flowers at on the airport ramp? Didn’t John Kerry get caught inflating his Swift Boat military action? I have a feeling they all add a little something each time the story is told and they truly believe its true and are shocked, like Williams was (claimed he might be having a stroke or something) when its proven the story isn’t true.

    • Kiddo says:

      Well, because he did, for a long time. Power and money eclipses nearly everything else. The peons likely would have lost jobs for speaking up. It has to be someone of equal stature who finally rose to complain, and so Brian either pissed the wrong person off, or was asking for too much, somehow.

    • BengalCat2000 says:

      But do you guys think it’s a Walter Mitty type of situation? I can’t wrap my head around a seemingly logical person acting this way. He must have major psychological issues (understatement, I know), that got out of control? Or am I wasting my time trying to understand an ego-maniac?

      • danielle says:

        I’m thinking ego maniac, with a little fame whore thrown in.

      • qwerty says:

        Have you hear of Stephen Glass? Look him up, that might give you some more insight into this kind of behaviour.

      • qwerty says:


      • Orly says:

        I don’t understand why everyone is so baffled by this. Everyone lies. Everyone’s embellished a story to skew it to their own advantage. Some people are bolder about it. This guy probably does have a big ego to be in the field he’s in, but he was getting money & acclaim for his lies. Not a big mystery why he did it. The real reason this came to light we probably won’t get to hear about. He could easily be fired without being ruined publicly like this. So I wonder what the deal is?

    • mytbean says:

      Nope. He’s in an industry that is full of this and the only people that get ahead tell the best lies to get there. NBC isn’t going to say a word as long as it gets ratings and that whatever is being reported is unlikely to be contested by anyone reputable – who they could pay off to shut up anyway.

      If you want to know the truth, go there and see it with your eyes. Find out what’s really going on instead of risking your reputation by piggy-backing off of these “news” sources who are only interested in ad sales.

      The only reason he’s being axed is because he rubbed someone with more influence the wrong way. Or he insulted or slept with someone’s mistress. Or there’s something really embarrassing about him that is about to come out and the network doesn’t want to be associated with it. The higher you climb the more this industry is cut throat and dishonest. He’s out – but not for any moralistic reason.

    • Trashaddict says:

      What annoys me is that he was in a culture that let him get away with these lies. Fact checking is important in journalism but apparently the drama and the big story is more important. So many stories are just rehashing of wire stories with no background to them, because no one is on the ground looking for the backstory. Meanwhile smaller news outlets have ever-constricting budgets and can’t keep on good investigative journalists who work to make inside connections and leads. We have a governor in office in our state, who won’t even answer questions from the press. To me, this is a danger signal.

  6. cr says:

    Brian tried to ‘be’ the story, instead of just reporting the story.
    NBC will be fine without him.

    • Chrissy says:

      I agree. He certainly likes being a “celebrity” more than being a reporter searching for the truth in a story. He’s gone. Good for Lester Holt. He’s great and not a famewhore.

  7. taterho says:

    Why did none of them go to a producer or something and say he was stretching the truth? I know they want to keep their jobs, but I doubt Williams was more powerful than the truth. This is not celebrity gossip we’re talking about. It’s world events. Maybe I’m just being too naive. It just says to me that NBC knew and didn’t care.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      Agree. It had to have been a “worst kept secret.” They didn’t care as long as he brought in the audience.

    • Kiddo says:

      I just stole your comment above now.


    • Sugar says:

      People DID tell the powers that be about his lies.

    • Canoki says:

      Honestly, I bet the producers encouraged this and are covering their own asses by throwing him under the bus. There is no way his superiors and bosses didn’t know about this. His camera guys and field producers were with him the entire time he was reporting in these instances. This isn’t an example of a guy going off by himself and making up stories because that’s just not how field reporting it works anymore.

      • taterho says:

        It’s the only logical explanation. This NBC “self audit” is a farce.

      • Sea Dragon says:

        Great point. I absolutely agree with you. A lot of people colluded to keep this under wraps. Integrity means nothing these days.

      • Sea Dragon says:

        I feel compelled to correct myself. Integrity doesn’t *seem* to exist anymore because there are countless instances of corruption reported every minute of the day in seemingly every corner of the world. But that doesn’t mean that plenty of people mean and do what they say they will. Readings about sh*t like this day in and day out has made me a true pessimist.

        I Love Lester and might even begin watching the program because of him. He’s a Chitown man and I grew up watching him every evening.

    • Anony says:

      My boss is a compulsive liar but I don’t go to our director with it. I’d rather just bide my time collecting information for if I ever need it. So it may have been in the underlings best interests to do the same.

  8. Belle Epoch says:

    What will Willuams do next? He painted himself into a corner.

    I still think George Bush told whoppers that were a lot worse than a few self-aggrandizing stories – but Williams seems to have a character flaw/insecurity that now makes him an unreliable witness. If only he did not have this need to make himself larger than life he would have had it all.

  9. smee says:

    Yeah, it looks like he presented NBC with an easy way out to get some new meat in the door. I’m sure they’re leaking info like crazy to discredit him even more. Once he’s officially out at NBC I bet he’ll keep a low profile for a while and come back saying he had a “condition” but he’s better now and get started on some new light news shows (since it doesn’t require too much credibility). Crash.And.Burn.

  10. Cody says:

    Of course , he needed to lie to stay as NBC number 1 news caster ,he needed to pay for Allison’s Yale Drama school’s tuition. .

  11. Stellainnh says:

    I have to say, kudos to NBC for not putting up with lying and newscasters. Too bad other networks don’t hold themselves up to higher standards (yeah, I’m talking about Fox)

  12. FingerBinger says:

    I don’t know that Brian Williams wants to look heroic. He does want to be apart of the story.

  13. Cindy says:

    Wow. I am somehow fascinated with this whole thing. How could he have possibly thought this could go on indefinitely??? He lies like a child, with these ridiculous I am the Hero stories and it blows me away that he was so brazen about it. He is a NEWS reporter FFS?!?

    I would love to know what motivates this because in the end he has thrown everything away and he had it all. Is he ashamed or embarrassed now? I mean, a normal person would be, but with him I wonder if he just rationalizes it in his mind?

    STONE COLD NUTS I tell you.

    • Kiddo says:

      I think pathological liars are so immersed in the lies that they often forget where the truth begins and ends.

      • Cindy says:

        What is so crazy is that if I imagine myself telling everyone I know that, say, ” a burglar broke into my house! I fought him off in single-handed combat! With my hairbrush! I called the police and was awarded with a good citizen medal!”
        Than I would have to worry forever that someone would find out and that I would be a neighborhood joke never mind the sheer humiliation of being caught. And BW is now caught on national television, as a NEWSCASTER! It blows me away. I cannot wrap my mind around this.

      • Kiddo says:

        I can’t imagine it either. I had a friend in high school and she lied about the most inconsequential things. Just ordinary things which, to the causal observer, would not seem to benefit her in any way. They flowed out like expiration in breath. No one even bothered to call her out on the stuff because it was ridiculous, but EVERYONE knew. No one knew why. The thing is she didn’t tell these tales to get out of trouble and was mostly a decent person, not criminal or anything like that.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I’ve said this before, but I worked with a woman like that, and she got caught several times telling bold faced lies. She was totally unphased, like, “what?” And the odd thing was, people were sort of stumped, embarrassed for her and not sure what to do. There were never any real consequences for her actions, except people in the inner circle knew she was a liar, but she kept on and is still working there as far as I know.

      • Belle Epoch says:

        You know who else was like that? Casey Anthony. There was a chilling story about how she told the police where she worked, took them into the building, walked them all the way down the hall – and THEN finally said she did not work there. WTF?

      • Anony says:

        Yep. I know compulsive liars and this is exactly how they are. If they get caught in a lie they literally ignore any fall out and don’t change their ways at all. They never, ever change. If they feel any embArrasment they certainly hide it well. They are the most frustrating pele to deal with.

  14. louise says:

    He reminds me of the character William Hurt played in the movie Broadcast News. That movie was made years ago and it seems nothing has changed. There are serious news journalists and there are people who want to be famous.

    • Jayna says:

      I loved that movie.

    • Trashaddict says:

      Ha louise, I could never take the nightly news seriously after that. Nor athlete newsbytes after Bull Durham came out….sometimes I think they should be required viewing.

  15. anne_000 says:

    The Forest Gump of news media. He threw away millions of dollars per year and an entire, lucrative career just to pad his ego. Was it worth it?

  16. lowercaselois says:

    I couldn’t decide if Brian Williams was a Pathological liar or Compulsive Liar. I have decided on Compulsive Liar. A compulsive liar is defined as someone who lies out of habit. Lying is their normal and reflexive way of responding to questions. Compulsive liars bend the truth about everything, large and small. Brian Williams did not seem to be a pathological liar. Pathological lying has been defined as “falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end in view, may be extensive and very complicated, and may manifest over a period of years or even a lifetime”. The individual may be aware they are lying, or may believe they are telling the truth, being unaware that they are relating fantasies.

    • meh says:

      I am actually thinking he might be pathological because if you read the vanity fair issue it talks about when his higher-ups called him in to sort out the truth, and he was genuinely confused and didn’t know what the real truth was. That’s why he gave such a terrible initial apology. I think his somewhat unaware of his lying.

      Clearly this makes him unfit for news reporting.

  17. jferber says:

    Wasn’t Tom Brokaw the person of equal or greater status that Williams pissed off? If Brokaw threw a hissy fit, then yes, things would happen. Otherwise, no. As long as he was getting away with it and getting good ratings, who cares? Also, how to prove the people in the know were really in the know after all? Nothing in writing and they can deflect and put it all at Williams’ feet (which they have done). I’m not saying I’m sorry for Williams, I’m not, but he obviously has to take the fall and take it alone.

  18. Maya says:

    “Protestants on camels ans horses” really ?! At Cairo in 2011?!! I mean if that is not a straight out lie that must be inspired from a Aladdin fairy tail. I could not believe a normal human being believes people walking on camels because the city is named Cairo….

    • Bloup says:

      Actually, that part isn’t a lie. There were people on horses whipping protestors (they were paid by the falling government to defuse the protestations). It was reported by the arabic version of AlJazeera if I recall correctly. My father kept the channel on H24 during the revolutions

      • Kristin says:

        Bloup that’s interesting. I watched arabic news after 911 and what we heard on news was WAY more informative and up to date than US news. For one, we heard about the “mistaken identities” of the hijackers days before US news had it on, remember that?? they tried to claim that one guy was a terrorist etc and they had to come on US news and say Oops we made a mistake, that guy is alive and well in Morocco and is a pilot with some saudi airline, lol- that happened what, 5 times? and that fake video they showed on US tv about the “celebrating palestinians” a video which in reality was 3 months old about a local political rally- US news passed it off as them “celebrating the twin towers falling” such liars!! On arabic tv they had the truth, but it took forever for US news to admit it! where are THOSE commenters?? Still working! what they did was way worse than what brian williams did- they lied terribly!

  19. belle de jour says:

    Confession: I can’t look this up and verify at the moment, but I think I remember reading that Williams was actually once a firefighter (full-time or volunteer I’m not sure, memory fails) before he was a ‘journalist’ or a ‘reporter.’ And I seem to recall he is still listed as a volunteer firefighter where he lives now.

    With heartfelt thanks to everyday hero firefighters who are in it for all the admirable reasons, in this particular case that fact & possible personality predilection might play into his own continued need to be in the middle of things, to cut an heroic figure, and to have perhaps less training in/respect for the practices and rules of responsible journalism than other professional colleagues…

    • Sea Dragon says:

      From wikipedia: While in high school, he was a volunteer firefighter for three years at the Middletown Township Fire Department.

      A volunteer firefighter during his formative years. Hmm. You may be on to something.

  20. kanyekardashian says:

    I always think it’s hilarious when people get caught in lies, especially ones that are so confirmable. Tell the truth to begin with and you avoid all of these problems.

  21. Jayna says:

    I think it’s more interesting they are leaking this stuff to discredit him. Why not do it privately and out he goeso r have the balls to say it publicly, instead of leaks.

    They were complicit and knew he exaggerated for years to some degree, but they looked the other way because he brought in ratings. Now they need the audience to hate him so no one will care when they don’t bring him back. It reminds me of how they leaked stuff to disparage Ann Curry. Typical NBC. Don’t leak this. Just take care of it instead of playing games with “leaks.”

    • belle de jour says:

      Leaking it is part of a contractual & legal & public perception negotiating strategy; the terms of disengagement and the dollar-figure of his golden parachute go-away money are still on the table.

  22. Irishserra says:

    Oh, NBC… Here we go again.

  23. Lili says:

    First time commentator here. But the issue is important to me.

    I feel journalists like Brian Williams are an insult to journalists who really DO face danger in their jobs, in order to report from forgotten places on earth, either because they’re too poor and no one cares, or they’re too dangerous and no one is willing to go anymore.

    I’m thinking about Steven Sotloff and James Foley and Mika Yamamoto and Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik and countless syrian journalists, who died because they wanted to inform us.

    And then the likes of Brian Williams make me sick. The guy should be ashamed of himself and be fired ASAP.

    • Kristin says:

      in THAT case Lili maybe all commentators should be fired, in your opinion. Plus, who DOEs like liars?? its not like your opinion is so profound or new (no offense).

  24. Mary says:

    Has anyone else noticed when this “investigation” started? When BW said he loved and watched The Bachelor. Besides a supposed heavy news journalist loving such a piece of sh*t drivel, IT’S ON ANOTHER NETWORK. None of the lying mattered before then, like they didn’t know. They knew. They just didn’t care. Liking crap shows on another network and saying it publically, now that matters.

    • Kristin says:

      Ever wonder what the REAL story is? Come ON- who does NOT lie on TV? are you kidding me?? This guy MUST have “said the wrong thing” or piss off someone, or maybe EXPOSED someone or is about to expose some thing. Hmm I will try to pay attention to what Williams says or has said in future- I will bet my last dollar there is something he wants to say, or was going to, that could be very damaging to someone that they will try to claim is “Another one of Brian Williams lies! Don’t believe him!”

      Don’t you think so??

  25. Irip says:

    Gilderoy Lockhart IRL
    Seriously, doesn’t anyone else notice it except me?!

  26. weekenderbedford says:

    Having watched American news coverage versus BBC coverage, I feel US is overdramatised as part of its presentation style.This will lend itself very well to an “over-imaginative” journalist.