Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News Anchor, Suspended for Six Months


He lied about one thing.

Brian Williams, anchor host of the NBC Nightly News, was suspended for six months without pay because of his false claims from reporting in the Iraq War. He claimed that the helicopter he was in during a mission in Iraq was shot by an RPG, when it had not.

Williams began as an NBC New Reporter in 1993, then became weekend anchor and finally the main anchor and managing editor from 2004 to the present. He built up trust with the viewers and delivered news for over 20 years.

“Two of our four helicopters were hit, by groundfire, including the one I was in,” he said in an interview on the Letterman Show in 2013. Nevertheless, the “lie” he told on the Letterman Show in 2013 was reported correctly in 2003.

There is controversy on whether Williams’s punishment is too extreme or not. It is possible that he had a slip of memory, because everyone makes mistakes. As a journalist, people depend on him to accurately deliver information to the public, especially as a daily news anchor, and feel that he lost credibility and trust.

Williams recently apologized for stretching the truth on NBC News. “As I said, I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire. I was instead in a following aircraft; we all landed after the groundfire incident and spent two nights in a sandstorm in the Iraq desert. This was a bungled attempt for me to thank one special veteran,”  he explained.

Chatelet, a commenter on a New York Times article, posted a comment: “It seems Brian Williams is the only public figure paying the price for America’s Iraq disaster. Bush, Cheney, Powell and company lied and millions died – where is their punishment?” However, the pilot that was flying the helicopter Williams was in was confirming the details of the story.

The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 made it a criminal act to falsely represent oneself as having received any U.S. military decoration or medal. A video on “boingboing” titled “Watch how Brian Williams’ Accounts of His Time in Iraq Have Changed Since 2003” discusses whether Williams was caught up in Stolen Valor, or wrapping himself up in the love for the military to cover up his mistake.

Jeff Simon, from the Buffalo News, said, “Williams had, all too well, become a creature of television, not news.” Williams could have been overwhelmed with the spotlight and lied to make himself look better but caused headlines to blow out of proportions. This is seen in others, such as former Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Geraldo Rivera, a reporter for Fox News.

Whether or not it was right to suspend Williams from NBC Nightly News Anchor, it is difficult to determine how his future in journalism will continue. Many people are so used to seeing his face every day and want him to return, while others believe he should not.