Tags: brian williams | iraq | helicopter | variety | brain tumor

Brian Williams Chalked Iraq Copter Gaffe Up to 'Brain Tumor': Report

Tuesday, 07 April 2015 12:55 PM

Shamed NBC News anchor Brian Williams told network executives that "maybe I had a brain tumor" after an inquiry was launched into the scandal surrounding his exaggerated Iraq war stories, according to a Vanity Fair investigation.

The latest stunner about the suspended newsman comes as it was revealed that ABC's "World News Tonight" was the most-watched evening newscast for five days starting in late March, marking the first time since 2009 that "NBC Nightly News" has not held that honor, Variety reported.

The Vanity Fair report says that as the crisis escalated over Williams' misremembered story about his helicopter being hit by a rocket, network bosses became angry over the anchor's "inability to explain himself."

Williams "appeared shell-shocked" when the revelations emerged, making him unable to respond clearly, and his refusal to deny that he had lied worsened an already dire situation.

"He couldn't say the words 'I lied,' " said one NBC insider. "We could not force his mouth to form the words 'I lied.' He couldn't explain what had happened. [He said,] 'Did something happen to [my] head? Maybe I had a brain tumor, or something in my head?'

"He just didn't know. We just didn't know. We had no clear sense what had happened. We got the best [apology] we could get."

The embellishment centered on an Iraq War mission in 2003, with Williams making his involvement in the story more dramatic over the years. In January, he eventually claimed that an rocket-propelled grenade had struck the helicopter he was aboard, whereas it had hit, in fact, another chopper flying in the convoy he was on.

The report, written by Bryan Burrough, says the chief of investigations for NBC News, Richard Esposito, is continuing to conduct a fact-checking inquiry into whether Williams has lied about his involvement in other events.

"People who have spoken to Esposito say his group has compiled a number of other incidents that, taken as a whole, paint a portrait of Williams as a man who has consistently burnished his stories," Burrough writes.

Williams is serving a six-month suspension from his job, while "NBC Nightly News" is currently being anchored by Lester Holt. Although it is not known whether Williams will return to the NBC news desk, the drop in ratings may be good news for his hope of redeeming himself as an anchorman.

In his absence, ABC's newscast has overtaken "NBC Nightly News" for the first time in more than five years in overall viewers over a five-day period in late March and early April.

Also in the same time period, ABC's "World News Tonight" was the most watched by viewers aged 25-54, the most sought-after demographic by advertisers.

ABC's newscast, anchored by David Muir, has edged out NBC's in that age range for four weeks in a row, according to Variety.

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US
Suspended NBC News anchor Brian Williams told network executives that "maybe I had a brain tumor" after an inquiry was launched into the scandal surrounding his exaggerated Iraq war stories, according to a Vanity Fair investigation.
brian williams, iraq, helicopter, variety, brain tumor
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2015-55-07
Tuesday, 07 April 2015 12:55 PM
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