NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has been an all too frequent presence in entertainment and talk show media -- "slow jamming" the news with Jimmy Fallon, rubbing elbows with Jon Stewart, hosting Saturday Night Live, yukking it up with David Letterman more than a dozen times.
When he appeared on Alec Baldwin's WNYC radio show Here's the Thing in March 2013, Williams called these his "extracurricular activities." And in the wake of his acknowledged whopper of a claim that he was on a military helicopter shot down by enemy fire during the invasion of Iraq, I'm guessing that Williams will be a tad more reticent about schmoozing with his buddies in the media.
Speaking with Baldwin, Williams told of his "unbridled confidence" as an anchor while alluding to that fictitious doomed chopper flight during the hell of war (audio) --
BALDWIN: I think one thing that you and I have in common and that is, it's a decision you make. It's like literally to me, it's always the same image and that is, I'm in a ski chute, I'm in the chute of a ski run, of a black-diamond ski run, of a very, very tough ski run. And I say to myself, there's only one way down. And I get a sense that you're the same way, which is that, you know, as much as we're like pinch me! pinch me! pinch me!, one of the ways we succeeded was, we just jumped out of the plane and we pulled the ripcord and we just took it one step at a time and we turned it around and next thing you know, we're skating.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, there's I got this syndrome ...
WILLIAMS: I guess I do say to myself and others ...
BALDWIN: Yes I can.
WILLIAMS: I've got this. And I don't know where that unbridled confidence came from. And I've done some ridiculously stupid things under that banner, like being in a helicopter I had no business being in in Iraq with rounds coming into the airframe, but I also ...
BALDWIN: Did you think you would die?
WILLIAMS: Uh, briefly, sure. There have been probably ...
BALDWIN: A handful of those?
WILLIAMS: But ...
BALDWIN: Do you tell yourself, that's the job?
WILLIAMS: Oh absolutely.
BALDWIN: You do.
WILLIAMS: You have my job and not go and sense and cover and feel these dual wars that we have asked these millions of terrific Americans to go fight and they've raised their hands and volunteered for the honor of it, would be malpractice. But on an average night, when the red light comes on, two things happen -- our announcer is Michael Douglas, you know, this is NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. And I hear that and a part of me, every night of my life says, wow, that's funny. This broadcast is anchored by someone with my name, because they sure as hell (snaps finger) and the light comes on, I'm on, and then the 'I've got this' gene kicks in.
"Unbridled confidence" -- or chutzpah? A few weeks later, Williams appeared on Letterman's show and described the chopper incident with what Breitbart's John Nolte aptly dubbed as "sociopathic detail."
Don't hold your breath waiting to see Williams talking up war stories with Letterman any time soon, and the NBC promo touting him as epitomizing "trust" in journalism may never run again, at least not on NBC.