Brian Williams — the NBC Nightly News anchor who apologized earlier this week for misremembering that a military helicopter he was in during the 2003 invasion of Iraq had been fired upon — says he has temporarily taken himself off the air over the controversy.
In a statement released today, Williams said that “it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions.
“I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days,” Williams wrote, adding that colleague Lester Holt would be taking over his nightly anchoring duties during his absence.
“Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us,” he said.
The move by Williams comes a day after news organizations reported that NBC had launched an internal investigation of the anchor’s claim, which he backed away from when challenged by veterans. Despite having publicly recounted the false story several times over the years, Williams now acknowledges that he was in fact aboard a helicopter that came in behind the one that was hit by enemy fire.
As NPR’s Krishnadev Calamur reported on Friday:
“Williams and his network, until this week, had said the helicopter had been hit by an RPG and forced down during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Following pushback from soldiers who were there, Williams apologized Wednesday.”
“The story is the latest twist to the scandal that has tarnished the reputation of the NBC news anchor, and it comes the same day The New Orleans Advocate raised doubts about Williams’ claim during his reporting of Hurricane Katrina. Williams had said he saw a body float by in the French Quarter, a part of the city that had remained largely dry during the 2005 storm that devastated the city.”