Williams issued a humiliating apology earlier this week when he admitted that he lied about being shot at during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
He was called out by servicemen who were in the line of fire. They said Williams was nowhere near the shooting. Even in his apology, the anchor embellished his story, claiming to be part of the three-helicopter flight, if not the helicopter that was hit by ground fire.
But solders who were there said his chopper was a half-hour to 45 minutes behind those that were fired on. The action was over by the time he arrived, the said.
Now new questions have been raised about his reporting from New Orleans during the historic category five hurricane which devastated the Louisiana coast.
Those who were on the ground at the time told the local New Orleans Advocate newspaper that what Williams claimed to have seen was impossible under the circumstances he described. In each case, the fabrications hyped up his personal experience.
By far the biggest anomaly was his claim that he saw a dead body floating by his hotel in the French Quarter during the storm.
“When you look out of your hotel room window in the French Quarter and watch a man float by face down, when you see bodies that you last saw in Banda Aceh in Indonesia and swore to yourself that you would never see in your country. I beat that storm. I was there before it arrived. I rode it out with people who later died in the Superdome.”
Dr. Brobson Lutz, a former city health director who lives in the French Quarter, told the Louisiana newspaper the French Quarter never flooded.
“We were never wet,” he said. “It was never wet [in the French Quarter].” To the contrary, the French Quarter was one of the highest points in the city. But not according to Williams’ reporting.
“I will remember all of the dead for the rest of my life. When you come around the corner and see a body face down within sight of the Superdome on a city street with children and adults walking by it, you know something has come unraveled.”
The Superdome, which is located in the French Quarter, was also never inundated with flood waters, according to the newspaper. That’s why residents were evacuated there.
“We were never wet,” says Dr. Brobson Lutz, a former city health director who lives in the French Quarter, ”It was never wet.” Dr. Lutz is also very
Williams made another claim that in retrospect also seems dubious, according to Lutz. The news anchor claimed he contracted “dysentery” through contact with flood waters. He reported the following while he claimed he was hiding in a stairwell, racked with the illness.
“We had to have men with guns behind me one night because I was the only source of light downtown, was the lights that were illuminating the broadcast. We were told not to drink our bottled water in front of people because we could get killed for it.”
But Lutz countered: “I saw a lot of people with cuts and bruises and such, but I don’t recall a single, solitary case of gastroenteritis during Katrina or in the whole month afterward.”
Since, Williams admission that he made up the story about his war experience, reporters are going over his other reporting with a fine tooth comb.
So far, the news veteran is still in his job. But it remains to be seen how many more fabrications his career can withstand and when, or if, NBC will pull the plug on his career.
Even in this day of Internet news reporting, when so many gossip sites clearly make up the news, major network anchors need to be paragons of journalistic integrity. It’s hard to see how Williams can continue in his job, judging by those standards.
“I saw fear, I saw death, I saw depravity, I saw firearms being brandished, I saw looting,” he told later told The Los Angeles Times.
But did he really?
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