A look back at the Brian Williams 'fake war story' controversy
Brian Williams is stepping down from his career as an MSNBC host after 28 years
Brian Williams is stepping down from his career as an MSNBC host after 28 years. Williams had remade his career at MSNBC after losing his job as NBC Nightly News anchor after he allegedly made false claims about a wartime story. In a note to his colleagues, Williams said that "following much reflection", he decided to leave the network. "This is the end of a chapter and the beginning of another," Williams wrote. "There are many things I want to do, and I'll pop up again somewhere." Williams, 62, said he will take some months off now to spend time with his family.
Back in 2004, Williams replaced renowned NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw and held the position until 2015. That year, Williams was suspended for falsely claiming that he had apparently been in a helicopter hit by enemy fire during the Iraq War. He lost his job following an investigation that found that he had made other inaccurate statements around his experiences covering events. He was subsequently given the 11 pm hour at MSNBC.
"For the next few months, I’ll be with my family, the people I love most and the people who enabled my career to happen. I will reflect on the kindness people have shown me, and I will pay it forward," Williams said in the statement.
Williams with NBC News
Williams joined NBC News in 1993 as chief White House correspondent. He also anchored the weekend nightly news. After Tom Brokaw retired in 2004, Williams took over the top job at NBC News. He anchored the weekday national news broadcast. Williams garnered appreciation for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Under the newsman, NBC Nightly News flourished, beating rival broadcasts from ABC and CBS. Williams subsequently won 12 Emmy Awards.
However, as time passed, there were incidents in which Williams was accused of embellishing or fabricating details of some events. In 2008, his claims that he was at the Brandenburg Gate of the Berlin Wall 'the night the wall came down' were questioned. Williams also claimed that he had flown into Baghdad with SEAL Team Six, which a Special Operations official later contradicted, saying that the SEALs do not embed journalists. He further claimed that he was on a military helicopter in Iraq that was 'forced down after being hit by an RPG'.
Subsequently announcing Williams' suspension, then NBCUniversal Chairman Steve Burke had said, "By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate." Lester Holt, who had then taken over for Williams as Nightly News anchor, still remains in the position.