NBC Nightly News to Issue Correction Over False Paris Manhunt Report

Brian Williams and Pete Williams both reported one suspect was dead and two arrested in Charlie Hebdo attack Wednesday

Brian Williams reports on Paris terror attacks on newspaper Charlie Hebdo for NBC Nightly News
NBC Nightly News

On Thursday evening, Brian Williams will issue a correction for erroneous reports he and two of his colleagues delivered Wednesday in the heat of the Charlie Hebdo manhunt, an insider familiar with the network’s plans told TheWrap.

“Just to repeat, a short time ago we learned from senior U.S. counterterrorism officials: They are telling NBC News, of these three masked men sought all day, one is dead, two in custody,” Williams reported at 6:41 p.m. ET Wednesday night.

Before him, NBC Nightly News’ Twitter account relayed the news, reported by Justice Correspondent Pete Williams.


Pete Williams went on MSNBC’s “Hardball” in the 7 p.m. ET hour and repeated the information, citing two senior U.S counterterrorism officials. An hour later, he appeared on “All In” with Chris Hayes backtracking.

“To be fair here we just don’t know exactly what the situation is in France tonight” he said on MSNBC. “We were told earlier this evening from two U.S. counterterrorism officials that one person was dead and two have been arrested, but there are other U.S. officials that say they haven’t been told that.”

Later Wednesday evening, NBC News issued a statement to TheWrap:

“NBC News issued an earlier report based on intelligence from two consistently reliable U.S. counterterrorism officials in different government agencies. As soon as it became evident that our sources doubted their information, we immediately updated our reporting across all platforms and continue to do so as this fast-moving story unfolds.”

Fox News also falsely reported news of one death and two arrests. Correspondent Greg Palkot reported the news during “On The Record” with Greta Van Susteren in the 7 p.m. ET hour, citing “unconfirmed reports.”

Fox News has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment regarding their reporting. CNN, ABC News and CBS News did not report the false news.