NBC Nightly News host Brian Williams ignited a firestorm Wednesday evening after admitting he “made a mistake in recalling” whether he was on a helicopter shot down by enemy fire during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
But while the backlash was prompted by Williams peddling the false narrative last week, the veteran news anchor lied about the shootdown on at least two other occasions in 2013.
While recounting a veteran’s tribute he participated in during last Friday’s broadcast, Williams claimed a Chinook helicopter he was travelling in during the invasion “was forced down after being hit by an RPG.”
Veterans present at the attack were outraged, telling Stars and Stripes that Williams was on another helicopter that arrived at the crash site an hour later. Williams apologized on Wednesday.
But in March 2013, Williams explained the fake shoot down to NBC host David Letterman in specific detail. “Two of our four helicopters were hit by ground fire, including the one I was in,” he said, later adding that “we landed very quickly and hard.”
That same month, Williams told then-radio host Alec Baldwin about “rounds coming into the airframe” of the helicopter he was riding in.
“Did you think you would die?” Baldwin asked breathlessly.
“Uh, briefly,” Williams replied.