The old saying goes that the problem with telling a lie is that instead of getting smaller, it usually just gets bigger. Quite possibly the poster boy for runaway misremembering would be the now suspended NBC News anchorman Brian Williams. As reported by CNN on Feb. 13, 2015, and also by the News Busters news portal on Feb. 12, 2015, the woes of the disgraced newsman are seemingly growing by the moment.
Williams stated on the air a mere two days after the 2011 U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 attack in Abbottabad, Pakistan that killed al-Qaeda terrorist leader Usama bin Laden, he committed what many consider one of the cardinal sins of journalism, inserting yourself into the story. As he said at the time on his NBC News show, “Now, people might be hearing about SEAL Team 6. I happen to have the great honor of flying into Baghdad with them at the start of the war.”
However, Ken McGraw, spokesman for the Florida based U.S. Special Operations Command has officially rebuked the journalists assertion. “We do not embed journalists with (SEAL Team Six) or any other unit that conducts counter-terrorism missions,” McGraw matter-of-factly said from his MacDill Air Force Base headquarters in Tampa.
Now that many are looking at Williams’ past claims of derring-do with a jaundiced eye, more than a few have taken note of his appearance on the “Late Show With David Letterman” in January 2013. Williams made a point of claiming his personal friendship with the Navy’s Special Ops personnel was to such a degree that “About six weeks after the Bin Laden raid, I got a white envelope and in it was a thank-you note, unsigned. And in it was a piece of the fuselage of the blown-up Black Hawk in that courtyard. Sent to me by one of my [SEAL] friends.”
Possibly much his Williams’ chagrin, McGraw also shot down the newser’s claim about the supposed memento from the aircraft that took the special operators into Pakistan. According to McGraw, the helo destroyed outside bin Laden’s compound “was not blown up until after US forces had left.”
With the 2013 Letterman Show the catalyst to his rapid fall from grace, Williams also made a point of speaking in the plural during his retelling of his “misremembered” chopper flight that never took AK-47 or RPG fire. As Letterman queried, “What happens the minute everyone realizes you’ve just been hit?” Without missing a beat, Williams said, “We figure out how to land.” Williams never gave specifics on his supposed brainstorming on bringing the never damaged copter in for landing.
Perhaps best illustrating Williams’ fibbery has made itself into popular culture, the Minor League Baseball Akron RubberDucks will host “Brian Williams’ Pants-on-Fire Night” on National Tell a Story Day, April 27. The RubberDucks have a slew of promotions to draw fans, to include:
- First 100 fans will receive a pair of suspenders upon entering Canal Park.
- On-field contests, including “To Tell the Truth” and “Two Truths & a Brian Williams,” also known as “Two Truths and a Lie.”
- In honor of National Tell a Story Day, a fan named Brian Williams will read tall tales.
- A between-inning chance for fans to audition to be the next television news anchor on the video board, with the fan-voted winner’s video sent to NBC.
- A pair of pants from Brian Williams will be burned in a “pants on fire” ceremony.
- Any fan in attendance named Brian Williams will have a chance to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.