Brian Williams may have exaggerated or lied about his experiences during the Arab Spring too. The New York Times reports that NBC’s investigation into its former nightly news anchor has been expanded, though no timetable has been set for determining his future at NBC.
In addition to the much-discussed stories Williams has told about experiences he had in Iraq in 2003 and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there is now reason to believe Williams embellished details of a story he told on “The Daily Show” back in 2011 about events that occurred in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring, shortly after the ouster of longtime president Hosni Mubarak.
Many of the accounts Williams is being scrutinized for were given when he was away from his anchor’s desk. He shared a particularly colorful version of his story of being in a helicopter that took enemy fire in Iraq on “The Late Show With David Letterman”; on a separate occasion, he told Letterman that he took a helicopter ride with SEAL Team 6, a story that an ex-SEAL later described as “preposterous.” His story about seeing bodies floating through the French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina came up during a conversation with Michael Eisner, the former CEO of the Walt Disney Company.
Since it suspended Williams in February, NBC has seen the ratings of its nightly newscast slip. With Williams at the helm, NBC Nightly News was the top-rated newscast on television more than five straight years, but after he left, NBC found itself resorting to ratings trickery to hold onto its top ranking, before its advertising partners compelled them to stop.
The network’s internal investigation into Williams is being overseen by Richard Esposito, who heads NBC News’ investigative division. The Times report notes that the investigation is ongoing.