Brian Williams has a troubled relationship with the truth. After all, he made up a story out of thin air that he’d been fired upon by rockets when he was a war correspondent, then lied about it until he finally admitted it was all false. NBC promptly booted the anchor of “The Nightly News” off the air.
But Williams, who has since returned to sister station MSNBC with a late-night show called “11th Hour,” had a sudden burst of honesty on Friday.
“I have always believed we should be more critical of ourselves,” Williams said of the media. “The press corps — the people we read and the people we see all day long on cable news — tend to live in blue dots. No fault of their own — it’s where their employers are located. But it helps explain why the press corps largely was shocked at the rise of the Tea Party, shocked at the election of Donald Trump.”
“Out beyond the last exit for a Whole Foods, people have been listening to Steve Bannon and Trumpers have been running for town and city council and boards of ed, and this is happening in town after town across what is still a very red country,” Williams said, referring to the former Trump aide.
Then guest Baratunde Thurston, noting that Williams hadn’t exactly asked him a question, mused on Republican voters, saying they vote Republican because they feel fear on racial issues.
Williams, the former anchor for NBC News, got caught up in a scandal in 2015. Williams claimed he was in the helicopter that had been hit by a grenade while in Iraq in 2003. As the whole tale unraveled, Williams read a statement on the nightly news apologizing for his characterization of the episode.
“After a ground fire incident in the desert during the Iraq war invasion, I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago,” he said. “It did not take long to hear from some brave men and women in the air crews who were also in that desert. I want to apologize. I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by [rocket-propelled grenade] fire. I was instead in a following aircraft. . . . This was a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran and, by extension, our brave military men and women, veterans everywhere, those who have served while I did not.”
The incident mirrors another with former U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton. In March 2008, giving a foreign policy speech on Iraq about her days as first lady and a trip to Tuzla, Bosnia, she said: “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead, we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”
Right after the speech, she was asked about the sniper fire. “There was no greeting ceremony, and we basically were told to run to our cars. Now, that is what happened,” she said.
But a video of the arrival ceremony showed Clinton walking calmly across the tarmac to meet a little girl who read her a poem.