Emmy Award-winning journalist Sharyl Attkisson, who covered the story of Hillary Clinton's lie about being shot at in Bosnia, says she can't understand how the former secretary of state weathered the scandal while NBC News anchor Brian Williams may not.
"To me, part of the irony is if Brian Williams isn't able to survive it — that we think it's important enough when somebody gives this kind of story that he would lose his career — yet we didn't care enough to have it matter that much with someone who became our secretary of state," Attkisson said Monday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"[A person] we relied on for honest answers and truths in the aftermath of Benghazi and so on."
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Last Wednesday, Williams, one of NBC's biggest stars, recanted his longtime claim of being aboard a helicopter forced down by a rocket-propelled grenade during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Crew members on the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook hit by two rockets and small arms fire told Stars and Stripes that Williams was nowhere near that aircraft — but on another aircraft that took no fire.
Williams, who apologized on his nightly newscast, told Stars and Stripes: "I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another."
"Is it really more important that Brian Williams has a certain type of character and honesty than a presidential candidate or secretary of state?" said Attkisson, a former CBS News reporter.
"I don't know, that's up to the American people to decide, but clearly they got past it in the case of Hillary Clinton, although it was never explained. We'll see if people can get past it in the case of Brian Williams."
Clinton's gaff came during her 2008 run for the White House, when she claimed she and her staff had dodged sniper fire on an airport landing strip in Bosnia. But news video of the event revealed it never happened.
Attkisson, author of "Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington,"
published by Harper, said Williams' lie was on that trip with Clinton and that the Williams case is "strangely" reminiscent.
"In both cases, the attempt at a mea culpa initially kind of almost made things worse," she said.
"With Hillary Clinton, after the video was found that there was no sniper fire, there was no apparent danger on the runway as she claims, she doubled down and said, 'Well, I stopped and you saw pictures of me greeting the young girl, because how could I walk past her and break her little heart? But after that I ran to the car.
"So I was assigned to do a second day story by [the CBS] Evening News … that showed more video that too wasn't true, and when she knew we had the video it is just beyond me that she continued to tell this tale."
Attkisson said the video showed that Clinton "lingered on the runway, took pictures with a group of seventh graders, visited with the troops, [and] took photographs with them.
"There was no apparent danger to us, there was no mention of it, there was no corkscrew landing, there was no sniper fire," she said.
"You kind of wonder in both instances … how they got away for so long with telling the story and how they thought that they would get away with it without somebody coming to them, family members and so on, saying that didn't happen."
Williams, who has temporarily taken himself off the air, is now under an internal investigation at NBC. His fate may weigh on other things besides just journalistic integrity, according to Attkisson.
"There is a pending sale [involving NBC] that could come into play in terms of the value of the company, the reputation of the company and its marketability more than anything else may come into play," she said.
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