NY Post's Page Six: Williams's Copter Got No Ground Fire; Brokaw Wants Him Gone

February 6th, 2015 1:24 AM

If Brian Williams or any of the executives at NBC thought that the controversy over his "fake Iraq story" might start to die down, developments this evening have proven that they were sadly mistaken.

The quoted words in the previous sentence are from a headline at an Associated Press story by David Bauder, the wire service's TV writer. The fact that the nation's self-described "essential global news network" felt comfortable using those words to describe the 12 year-old saga of Williams's fabricated adventure in Iraq is actually among the least of his and his network's troubles tonight. Two major stories at the New York Post's Page Six appear to have made their continuing with the status quo very difficult to imagine.

One of those items comes from the pilot of the helicopter in which Williams rode when he was in Iraq in 2003. Chris Simeone authored the Page Six entry himself, saying that his chopper never received ground fire of any kind, let alone an RPG (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Pilot of Brian Williams flight: All that hit us was dust

I was the pilot in command of the flight that carried Brian Williams into Iraq in March 2003.

... We were a flight of two, and I was the rear aircraft. Our flight to Objective Rams was uneventful, with the exception of a desert dust storm that caused deteriorating conditions not suitable for flight.

We determined that we would not make it back to Kuwait as planned. When we arrived at Objective Rams, we found a US armor unit on the objective. There was also a CH-47 from the “Big Windy” unit out of Germany.

... After landing, we learned that the parked aircraft had received small-arms fire and had been hit with an RPG on their mission.

Brian Williams and crew recorded footage of this parked aircraft. The “Big Windy” aircraft was not part of our unit. It was not part of our flight. We were not flying “behind” them. Our missions were completely separate.

... (Eventually) Brian Williams then began to give account that the aircraft he was traveling on received ... ground fire.

... Brian Williams reported on the David Letterman show that the “captain” of his aircraft had received a Purple Heart for a wound to the ear. I was the pilot in command of the aircraft carrying Brian Williams. I do not have a Purple Heart, and my ears are just fine.

... Brian Williams’ account is not true.

It's hard to imagine anything as damaging to Wiliams's career prospects and NBC's reputation as the pilot of the helicopter involved saying nothing happened. Factually, there probably isn't.

But politically, Williams' predecessor at NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw has allegedly done at least at much damage, according to the Post's other Page Six item, by — again, allegedly — calling for his successor's firing:

Tom Brokaw wants Brian Williams fired

You know you’re in trouble when Tom Brokaw is out for your blood.

NBC’s most revered journalist is furious that Brian Williams is still in the anchor chair after he sheepishly admitted he hadn’t traveled on a helicopter hit by enemy fire.

“Brokaw wants Williams’ head on a platter,” an NBC source said. “He is making a lot of noise at NBC that a lesser journalist or producer would have been immediately fired or suspended for a false report.”

... Brokaw, 74, was still the “Nightly News” anchor when Williams came back from his Iraq expedition — and an insider said he knew the story Williams later spouted was bunk.

“Tom Brokaw and [former NBC News President] Steve Capus knew this was a false story for a long time and have been extremely uncomfortable with it,” the source said.

... Williams still took the anchor’s seat for his “Nightly News” broadcast Thursday evening — and was working at 30 Rock all day despite calls for his dismissal. He didn’t address the issue during the broadcast.

“He is not going to be suspended or reprimanded in any way. He has the full support of NBC News,” a network source said.

If this second Page Six item is true, Brokaw's current stance is very hard to accept. It would mean that NBC's "most revered journalist" was perfectly willing to tolerate "bunk"-spouting fabulist Williams succeeding him in one of TV's most visible and trust-dependent positions — as long as the "bunk" didn't become public knowledge. Now that it has — well, off with his head!

It seems likely that a new name may need to be added to the list of disgraced NBC journalists compiled on Thursday by Kyle Drennen at NewsBusters: Tom Brokaw.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.