February 5, 2015

The Deceptive Apology: Williams in Iraq

Image: Wikipedia

Brian Williams apologized on Wednesday, February 4, for the story that he was aboard an aircraft that was shot down by enemy fire during the 2003 Iraq War invasion. Rhetorically, the Emmy and Peabody Award winning, anchor and managing editor of the 'NBC Nightly News' attempted to correct his falsification of facts without admitting to lying.

Transcript of Williams' apology:
On this broadcast last week, in an effort to honor and thank a veteran who protected me and so many others after a ground-fire incident in the desert during the Iraq War invasion, I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago. (Emphasis mine) It did not take long to hear from some brave men and women in the air crews who were also in that desert. I want to apologize. 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 ground-fire incident and spent two harrowing nights in a sandstorm in the Iraq desert. This was a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran, and by extension: our brave military men and women — veterans everywhere — those who have served while I did not. (Emphasis mine) I hope they know they have my greatest respect. And also now my apology.
The question is whether an apology is an apology if the statement is woven around a lie? Did Williams make a mistake in recalling what happened when he was a passenger on that helicopter? Is it possible for one to mistakenly recall being the direct target of enemy fire and their aircraft forced down in a war zone as Williams claims in his apology?

Williams' faulty memory disclaimer demonstrates a lack of respect not only for journalism but viewers and veterans alike. His rhetorical maneuvering suggests that neither are savvy enough to recognize his strategy to minimize his "recollection" of the facts. 

Was telling the lie about his 2003 experience the "bungled attempt"? Or, was using a veteran and by extension, as Williams states, all veterans, to bask in the reflected glory of the wartime soldiers the "bungle"?  Or both?

Williams on 'David Letterman' telling the RPG Helicopter Story in 2013 (2:46 marker):

Regardless of Williams' motives, the seasoned journalist is guilty of telling and retelling a false story and publishing it on a major news outlet. Would he have apologized if he had not been called out by a war veteran who was there?

Veteran's Post to the 'NBC News' Facebook Fan Page:

We will never know.

What is certain is that Brian Williams should be disciplined by NBC and the journalism profession just like other liars, such as Jayson Blair ("retired"), who deceive the public.

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