NBC’s Brian Williams has apologized after a story he repeatedly told about coming under fire in Iraq was revealed to be untrue.
Brian Williams, one of America’s most famous news anchors, said he was on a helicopter forced down in 2003, but veterans have now disputed his account.
Brian Williams, the longest-serving network anchor in the US, has often recounted his experience, but now blames the “fog of memory”.
“I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago,” he said.
“I want to apologize. I said I was travelling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] fire. I was instead in a following aircraft.”
Brian Williams said his account 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”.
He repeated the story as recently as January 30, describing his ordeal on TV while paying tribute to a retired soldier who helped protect the grounded aircraft and crew.
Brian Williams’ apology came after veterans who were on the helicopter that was hit posted comments on the broadcaster’s Facebook page.
One wrote: “Sorry dude, I don’t remember you being on my aircraft.”
Flight engineer Lance Reynolds, who was on the chopper that was hit, told military newspaper Stars and Stripes: “It was something personal for us that was kind of life-changing for me. I know how lucky I was to survive it.”
“It felt like a personal experience that someone else wanted to participate in and didn’t deserve to participate in.”
Some in the US media say the admission by Brian Williams may harm his career.
NBC has not said whether Brian Williams will face disciplinary proceedings, the Washington Post reports.