While NBC anchor Brian Williams admitted on Wednesday that he falsely claimed a helicopter he was riding in was hit by enemy fire over Iraq in 2003, his Nightly News broadcast scolded Hillary Clinton for making similar false war zone claims during the 2008 presidential campaign. On March 24, 2008, Williams opened the show by proclaiming: "Also, war of words, a new eruption among the Democrats and why Hillary Clinton is changing her story about a trip to an overseas war zone."
In the report that followed, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell explained: "Clinton's claim last week that she came under sniper attack in Bosnia in 1996....But those of us on the trip recall it differently. Instead of running for cover, Clinton was greeted by a school girl who read her a poem of welcome." A soundbite ran of Democratic strategist Bob Shrum admonishing her: "What stuns me about this is the explicitness of her recollection....Now we're told she misspoke. Why is she doing this? She doesn't need to. It just hurts her."
One could raise all the same questions about the exaggerations by Williams.
Mitchell noted that "Clinton was awarded four Pinocchios from the Washington Post fact checker."
Nightly News covered Clinton's Bosnia claims for the next two nights, in four separate stories.
On the March 26 broadcast, Williams introduced another story on the controversy, declaring: "Hillary Clinton explaining a mistaken memory of a foreign trip..."
Reporting again on the topic, Mitchell continued to dissect Clinton's fictional account:
Clinton's campaign was also on the defensive again, still trying to explain her exaggerated claims about that trip to Bosnia, today citing the presence of Apache gun ships and security warnings....Clinton was told to go to the plane's cockpit, which was armored, and a diplomat recalls being told to sit on his flak jacket for safety. But the pilot of the C-17 told a radio interviewer no such thing happened....Those of us on the trip know that didn't happen. Instead, she was welcomed by children.
Dismissing Clinton's defense that she simply "misspoke" on the matter, Mitchell noted that "she told the story over and over" and played back-to-back clips of the then-presidential candidate telling the tall tale.
Williams has similarly made his false Iraq claims on multiple occasions, showing a intentional effort to deceive.