A new examination of the situation inside NBC News reveals that one source of frustration for network executives was “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams’ “inability to explain himself” after his account of his 2003 coverage of the Iraq war was called into question, Vanity Fair reports.
The Vanity Fair piece is written by award-winning journalist Bryan Burrough, who is best known for writing the 1989 bestseller “Barbarians at the Gate” about the fall of RJR Nabisco.
Williams “appeared shell-shocked” as the crisis unfolded, the piece reports.
The timing of the article, which is also critical of NBC News management, comes packaged with more bad news: Last week, for the first time in more than five years, “ABC’s ‘World News Tonight with David Muir’ beat ‘Nightly News,’ with substitute anchor Lester Holt, by 84,000 viewers … according to Nielsen,” reports the New York Post.
The Vanity Fair article quotes an insider saying about Williams: “He was having a tough enough time coming to grips with the idea that he had gotten it wrong in the first place, slash misrepresented it, slash lied. He wasn’t anywhere in the ballpark of being helpful about what happened 12 years ago.”
The Vanity Fair report has another quote from an inside source who said: “You talked to Brian, and he said, ‘I slept two nights under the wing of that helicopter, looking up through the hole in the wing [from the rocket fire].’ There was a sandstorm, and somehow, in the process, he said, he must have come to believe he had been on the helicopter. Later, his wife [Jane] tried to explain. She said he put things in boxes [in his mind]. He would only talk about what was in those boxes on-camera.”
The Vanity Fair report goes in depth not only into the Brian Williams situation, but also other issues for NBC News since the Comcast acquisition in 2011. Please click on the link near the top of this story to read the full Vanity Fair report.