Morning show hosts reacted Thursday to the brewing controversy surrounding NBC “Nightly News” host Brian Williams admitting he was not on a Iraqi helicopter forced down by RPG fire during the initial 2003 invasion in Iraq.
“That’s embarrassing,” Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy said. “So if you hear Brian Williams that he was in the Battle of the Bulge, he’s talking about a diet,” Doocy joked at Williams’ expense.
Williams has told the story of he and his crew being on a helicopter that was shot down by RPG fire in 2003 for years: in books, print, and as recently as 2013 in an appearance on David Letterman‘s show.
CNN’s “New Day” had a more serious discussion about Williams’ apology. Alisyn Camerota noted Williams has evolved over the years: In 2003, he said he was not on a helicopter shot down by RPG fire, but in 2007, the story started to morph, with Williams saying he in the line of fire.
“This just does not pass the smell test,” Brian Stelter told Camerota. “How can anyone conflate being on a helicopter that did not take fire and being on a helicopter that did take fire.” Stelter suggested the big question Williams didn’t address during his on-air apology was how far away he was from the helicopter that was shot down.
“Why was he describing as if it [his helicopter] was in the formation of four helicopters where this RPG crash happened.” Michaela Pereira noted Williams mentioned his memory got confused, which might happen in the “fog of war.”
Chris Cuomo wasn’t having that reasoning. “I don’t know why you guys keep bringing up the fog of war, I don’t think it applies. You got a guy who’s been doing this job for a long time at a high level … you know what’s going to happen, they [the Internet] are starting to eat him alive.”
Howard Kurtz said Williams hurt himself by the amount of times he’s told the erroneous story: “Journalists are in the business of blowing the whistle on politicians when they embellish or exaggerate of fabricate, and this is a very difficult position for the guy who is the anchor of the top-rated network newscast,” he said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”
MSNBC’s José Díaz-Balart reported Williams’ apology on “The Daily Rundown” in the 10amET hour.
Williams renewed his contract in December for five more years. He’s currently the number-one rated evening news anchor in total viewers and the A25-54 demo.
NBC News did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Watch William’s apology below.