Did Brian Williams lie about his Katrina experience, too?

posted at 3:21 pm on February 5, 2015 by Noah Rothman

NBC News anchor Brian Williams is in quite a bit of trouble over his admission that his decade-long claim to have endured heavy fire while flying in a military helicopter over Baghdad in 2003 was a fabrication. Accordingly, journalists are beginning to review other extraordinary claims Williams made over the course of his career, and they are not short on material to parse.

The team over at GotNews flagged an interesting moment from a 2006 interview in which Williams waxed regretful about the devastating flooding in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

“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,” Williams said. “I beat that storm. I was there before it arrived. I rode it out with people who later died in the Superdome.”

It’s a harrowing, traumatic tale, and it might be true. No doubt, bodies did float down the streets of New Orleans. People did die while awaiting help from local, state, and federal authorities in the Superdome.

But did Williams actually see bodies floating down the street from his hotel in the French Quarter? Well, it’s possible, but reports from the period shed some doubt on this claim.

Reporting from The Times-Picayune, Fox News, and The New York Times all state clearly that the French Quarter was not flooded in the same way that other areas of the city, like the Lower Ninth Ward, were inundated.

Even during the height of the crisis, The Times described the French Quarter as an “oasis of wary calm” amid an escalating crisis. “Outside, the Quarter’s elegant 150-year-old buildings look relatively unruffled, except for some loosened bricks, having been spared the worst of Hurricane Katrina’s winds and sitting high enough to have avoided the flooding,” the report read.

“The French Quarter has always had a built-in advantage when a hurricane approaches,” NPR reported in 2005. “It sits on a slightly elevated piece of land beside the Mississippi River.” This portion of the city sustained heavy wind damage from the Hurricane, but the damage from rising flood waters emanating from Lake Pontchartrain was minimal in this part of the city.

French Quarter

This Times-Picayune map compiled with the aid of data provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (click here for greater detail) shows the extent of the devastating flooding from Katrina and indicates that the French Quarter, which extends from the Mississippi River to N. Rampart Street, was spared the worst of the flood waters.

Now, perhaps Williams was thinking of another area of the city that was more heavily flooded when he recalled bodies floating down the streets. Maybe there is no discrepancy here at all, and Williams recalled seeing more flooding than was officially recorded. Who knows? But the fact that these and perhaps more episodes from Williams’ past are now suspect and will be revisited is an indication of the scope of the credibility problem with which NBC and the Nightly News are now contending.

It may be impossible for the network to avoid suspending the anchor while questions about his trustworthiness are investigated thoroughly and transparently.

UPDATE: In a 2006 interview, Williams described his horror at seeing bodies in the streets of New Orleans near the Superdome.

“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.”

It’s possible Williams confused this incident and his earlier accounts of seeing the streets in the French Quarter flooding when the levees broke. Again, this could simply have been a memory lapse on his part with no intent to exaggerate his experience in New Orleans, or it might have been something more unconscionable. That his intentions are in question is a problem of Williams’ own making.

An earlier version of this post failed to credit GotNews with clipping the original 2006 interview.


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Comments

How many drinks did he have?

And who was in the pool beneath his window?

ajacksonian on February 5, 2015 at 3:24 PM

“And that’s the way it is”, heh.

“Mission Accomplished”

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2015 at 3:24 PM

I believe him – he identified 10 of the floaters as the terrorists who brought his copter down.

whatcat on February 5, 2015 at 3:25 PM

The ‘pretty boy’ of lily-white privilege, as any leftist would say, like Cronkite, hasn’t even earned a degree.

Anyone could read the notes that are typed for him. Yet, he took the job of a totally qualified minority, likely.

This can only excused if said primadona is an absolute leftard, and by leftards.

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2015 at 3:25 PM

Well, Ted Kennedy was still alive.

22044 on February 5, 2015 at 3:25 PM

Courage!

Throat Wobbler Mangrove on February 5, 2015 at 3:26 PM

The investigation:

“Did you tell the truth, Brian?”

“Yes, Dan.”

“OK.”

either orr on February 5, 2015 at 3:27 PM

All the news that’s fit to fabricate.

Immolate on February 5, 2015 at 3:27 PM

This is why he’ll be fired. All of NBC’s claims should be double checked now.

Flange on February 5, 2015 at 3:28 PM

It would be interesting to find out what room he was in, and then snap a photo of the view he would have had.

Its my recollection that the buildings in the FQ are so close together that you can’t see the street below, unless you’re on a low floor.

BobMbx on February 5, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Sarah Palins’ take.

22044 on February 5, 2015 at 3:31 PM

About 6 months after Katrina, I was in New Orleans assessing buildings. We stayed and ate in the French Quarter. The water lines on the buildings were maybe 12-18″ above grade. I suppose someone could float in that shallow of water.

In the 9th ward, houses were lifted from the CMU foundations and moved. I saw one house that rolled and was left “intact” laying on it’s side when the waters receded. A barge from the ship canal floated into the ninth ward and was left grounded once the floods were gone. I don’t recall the water line heights in that part of the city, but they were significantly higher than the French Quarter.

Mallard T. Drake on February 5, 2015 at 3:31 PM

If he’s suspended, will it be WITH PAY…. or WITHOUT?

With pay is the same as VACATION, right?

originalpechanga on February 5, 2015 at 3:33 PM

No, Foxnews is the real evil in this world. /s

Oil Can on February 5, 2015 at 3:33 PM

It’s a shame network TV newsman Brian Williams didn’t have access to a camera to document things like this.

forest on February 5, 2015 at 3:35 PM

Williams help to bring/keep the charlatanic obama.

Hell is sometimes Heaven, right here on Earth.

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2015 at 3:36 PM

Is “misremembering” anything like a “speak-o”. Just wondering.

bruntdog on February 5, 2015 at 3:37 PM

Williams help(ed) to bring/keep the charlatanic obama.

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2015 at 3:37 PM

The world in 2015

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2015 at 3:38 PM

Nothing
But
Crap

rik on February 5, 2015 at 3:38 PM

National
Barack
Channel

22044 on February 5, 2015 at 3:40 PM

Iraq War and Katrina lies?
Well it is obviously BUSH’S fault that lyin’ Brian misunderremembers these traumatic events created by Boooooosh.

Brat on February 5, 2015 at 3:41 PM

Here is a video of another honest reporter:

If you look carefully in front of her canoe, I think that you can just see the top of Brian Williams head in the water as he battles the mighty flood.

Click here.

justltl on February 5, 2015 at 3:43 PM

He also talks about all those who died at the Superdome. 3 people died there, 3!!! 2 were elderly and 1 was a man who committed suicide. Come on, Brian. In the beginning there were reports of many dead, but that was dispelled as false, just as the epidemic of rapes. It is a little late to be trying to pass that falsehood off.

ConservativeMom on February 5, 2015 at 3:45 PM

Gee, that video was of an NBC reporter.
They seem to have a long and proud history of lying.

justltl on February 5, 2015 at 3:45 PM

From a “Frasier” episode:

– This is gruesome! A partly decomposed body just washed up in Puget Sound.
– That’s good news.
– Pardon?
– Bodies don’t rise till the weather gets warmer. You get your first floater, and spring’s just around the corner!

whatcat on February 5, 2015 at 3:47 PM

That his intentions are in question is a problem of Williams’ own making.

That Soldiers began his demise is schadenfreude, pure.

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2015 at 3:49 PM

How many drinks did he have?

And who was in the pool beneath his window?

ajacksonian on February 5, 2015 at 3:24 PM

Geraldo, at least that’s how I see him going out.

RickB on February 5, 2015 at 3:51 PM

Williams: “I beat that storm. I was there before it arrived. I rode it out with people who later died in the Superdome.”

Wikipedia: “While there were also early reports of fatalities amid mayhem at the Superdome, only six deaths were confirmed there, with four of these originating from natural causes, one from a drug overdose, and one a suicide.”

Ursus on February 5, 2015 at 3:52 PM

while questions about his trustworthiness are investigated thoroughly and transparently.

Noah spews BS as easily as does Williams.

GaltBlvnAtty on February 5, 2015 at 3:52 PM

Geraldo, at least that’s how I see him going out.

RickB on February 5, 2015 at 3:51 PM

My thought was the hooker he picked up at the airport…those people he met dying and all that…

It almost sounds like an X-Files episode. With less coherence.

ajacksonian on February 5, 2015 at 3:53 PM

The dude’s a sicko.

Fallon on February 5, 2015 at 3:54 PM

It’s possible Williams confused this incident and his earlier accounts of seeing the streets in the French Quarter flooding when the levees broke. Again, this could simply have been a memory lapse on his part with no intent to exaggerate his experience in New Orleans, or it might have been something more unconscionable. That his intentions are in question is a problem of Williams’ own making.

Ah…the benefit of the doubt, eh?

Um…..he’s a reporter. He’s “trained” to get facts straight. [snort]

Unless you’re suggesting that all of BriBri’s stories must be given some slack, as they may be error prone?

BobMbx on February 5, 2015 at 3:55 PM

OT – obama to fruck you, royally

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2015 at 3:55 PM

The dude’s a sicko.

Fallon on February 5, 2015 at 3:54 PM

Wait till he finds out what anilingus is.

BobMbx on February 5, 2015 at 3:57 PM

The lies the media reported about cannibalism and violent mobs delayed relief efforts by days. Williams was in part responsible for this delay that extended what real suffering there was.

Time to move to MSNBC.

Laurence on February 5, 2015 at 3:58 PM

Elizabeth Warren: I am an Indian dammit! Don’t question me.
Hillary Clinton: Sniper fire everywhere, Don’t question me.
Dan Rather: Bush was a draft dodger. Don’t question me.
Brian Williams: Look, I have a Purple Heart. Don’t question me.

hip shot on February 5, 2015 at 3:58 PM

This story is ridiculous .

Everyone knows Brian Williams was really onboard the Space Shuttle during Katrina, doing a spacewalk. He personally fired a laser at an approaching meteorite which was about to destroy the Earth.

The huge rock nearly took off his head as it flew past his pressurized helmet, but his valiant efforts deflected the killer object from impact and saved the planet.

I remember it well…

profitsbeard on February 5, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Once you are caught in a lie, you are a liar. Nothing he says can be trusted.

Quartermaster on February 5, 2015 at 4:01 PM

OT – held hostage by the charlatans in the WH, aided by fake reporters.

OT = on topic, in this case

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2015 at 4:03 PM

It’s possible Williams confused this incident and his earlier accounts of seeing the streets in the French Quarter flooding when the levees broke. Again, this could simply have been a memory lapse on his part with no intent to exaggerate his experience in New Orleans, or it might have been something more unconscionable. That his intentions are in question is a problem of Williams’ own making.

Was in New Orleans for a week in 1988. Did all of our sightseeing on foot.

The French Quarter is almost 2 miles away from the Superdome.

Del Dolemonte on February 5, 2015 at 4:05 PM

Unmitigated disaster for NBC

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2015 at 4:06 PM

no harm…who in heck watches NBC-ABC-CBS-PBS for news? Ned maybe

DanMan on February 5, 2015 at 4:07 PM

Too funny and how sweet, you turkeys

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2015 at 4:08 PM

On the wall of the Arizona Memorial, you won’t find “Brian Williams” name among the dead. He was one of the last to escape by jumping off one of the port-side 5-inch gun mounts.

BobMbx on February 5, 2015 at 4:16 PM

Little known fact about Brian Williams. He was one the unsung US Embassy hostages in Iran in 1979.

BobMbx on February 5, 2015 at 4:20 PM

The dude’s a sicko.

Fallon on February 5, 2015 at 3:54 PM

Its like they think no one will ever find out.

BobMbx on February 5, 2015 at 4:21 PM

Was Williams in Indonesia after the tsunami? Anywhere near the devastation or is he misremembering that as well?

Deadeye on February 5, 2015 at 4:21 PM

Have been in N.O. often over the years. The reason different areas were flooded was quite simple – the French Quarter averages 2 – 3 feet above sea level. That’s the original part of the city, and that’s the reason the city was founded there. The 9th ward and similar places, on the other hand, average about 9 – 15 feet BELOW sea level, with the sea held back by an extensive system of levees.

When the storm came through, it broke all the levees, mainly due to decades of mismanagement along with corruption and outright theft of the funds that was supposed to keep them up. So although what happened was technically a “flood”, it was really just the sea going back to where the sea wants to go. Which is why it took months to get rid of all of the water.

Living on land that is 15′ below sea level, right on the coast, in an area subject to huge storms, just isn’t a viable proposition for long.

Tom Servo on February 5, 2015 at 4:22 PM

Wagons circled. CNN just had the pilot of William’s chopper on with Tapper and he says Williams is telling the truth. So why apologize?

rik on February 5, 2015 at 4:24 PM

Then he remembered how he invented Mardi Gras …

doufree on February 5, 2015 at 4:26 PM

I used to live in NO and if there were any bodies actually “floating” around the Quarter, I’ll eat 15 Lucky Dogs in a row.

MikeHu on February 5, 2015 at 4:26 PM

Look! It’s Brian Williams!

whatcat on February 5, 2015 at 4:26 PM

How many drinks did he have?

And who was in the pool beneath his window?

[ajacksonian on February 5, 2015 at 3:24 PM]

LMAO.

Dusty on February 5, 2015 at 4:31 PM

Brain Williams- sole survivor of Little Big Horn.
Helped raise the flag at Iwo Jima. Awarded purple heart by John Kerry for action at the Alamo. Secretly fighting ebola in Norway. Was on the moon to welcome Neil Armstrong.

Deadeye on February 5, 2015 at 4:31 PM

It may be impossible for the network to avoid suspending the anchor while questions about his trustworthiness are investigated thoroughly and transparently.

Come on. This is NBC we are talking about.

cat_owner on February 5, 2015 at 4:33 PM

the only thing unravelled is brian williams….like daughter like father, they like it when people eat their chit….no animals were injured in the making of these klustervuks….thats probably another tall tale

clandestine on February 5, 2015 at 4:33 PM

brian williams is talking and behaving more and more like a faulty japanese-made housebot scullery android in a good suit….has anybody checked his wiring lately?

clandestine on February 5, 2015 at 4:36 PM

Heh. Maybe Brian Williams is a cyborg.

22044 on February 5, 2015 at 4:45 PM

They at CNN find this chopper pilot in one day.

They have found not one person to talk to re Bengizie.

that

APACHEWHOKNOWS on February 5, 2015 at 4:47 PM

Hmmmmm…..”memory lapse”.

As opposed to “just making shit up”.

GarandFan on February 5, 2015 at 4:48 PM

“When you look out of your hotel room window in the French Quarter and watch a man float by face down…”

I’m sorry, but that is straight forward and specific. There is no “wiggle room” in this statement. What? Did he “mistakenly conflate” seeing a dead man float by his window with NOT seeing a dead man float by his window?

Is mistakenly confusing the truth with a bald-faced lie now the fall-back position of the day? “Hey, Ma, I mistakenly conflated the fact that I ate that cookie with the lie that I didn’t eat that cookie… my bad.”

IndieDogg on February 5, 2015 at 4:56 PM

Then he remembered how he invented Mardi Gras …

doufree on February 5, 2015 at 4:26 PM

And jambalaya…and po-boy sandwiches…

Del Dolemonte on February 5, 2015 at 5:00 PM

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.”

Maybe they should have stood up

blammm on February 5, 2015 at 5:06 PM

Commie No News

APACHEWHOKNOWS on February 5, 2015 at 5:12 PM

It’s a shame network TV newsman Brian Williams didn’t have access to a camera to document things like this.

forest on February 5, 2015 at 3:35 PM

There is no way Brian Williams was anywhere without a camera crew, who would have filmed everything he saw.
Put up or shut up, NBC.

AesopFan on February 5, 2015 at 5:14 PM

People did die while awaiting help from local, state, and federal authorities in the Superdome.

No one died because they had to wait for help. A couple of old folks died from natural causes, and one person committed suicide.

xblade on February 5, 2015 at 5:18 PM

YES!

It furthered the leftist narrative so YES. I’d bet everything I own on it.

jukin3 on February 5, 2015 at 5:24 PM

propaganda
[ ˌpräpəˈgandə ]
NOUN

information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view:

We can call them lies or propaganda. But it’s not ‘news’ without substantiation as to it’s factual accuracy. As the Society of Professional Journalism defines in their ‘Code of Ethics’

Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.

The Society declares these four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism and encourages their use in its practice by all people in all media.

Seek Truth and Report It

Minimize Harm

Act Independently

Be Accountable and Transparent

It’s pretty clear that not only is Brian Williams not an ethical professional journalist, but his organization NBC News is little better.

They offer propaganda far too often as opposed to ‘news’.

Athos on February 5, 2015 at 5:26 PM

. . . and Brian Williams saw the body of Jimmy Hoffa float by.

TarheelBen on February 5, 2015 at 5:44 PM

Shorter Brian Williams: I see floating dead people!

ajacksonian on February 5, 2015 at 6:00 PM

IT’s true that MSNBC reported that people died in the Superdome while waiting for help. It’s not proven that this happened.

MSNBC camera man Tony ZUMBADO reported, “The sanitation was unbelievable. The stench in there… was unbelievable. Dead people around the walls of the convention center, laying in the middle of the street in their dying chairs. … They were just covered up … Babies, two babies dehydrated and died. I’m telling you, I couldn’t take it. ”

He either witnessed every single one of the 4-6 deaths reported at the Convention Center, or he’s in the same camp as Brian Williams.

One of the dead was almost certainly Booker T. Harris. Mr. Harris was a favorite subject of several news organizations. His body was covered with a blanket and left in a chair on Convention Center Boulevard for several days. Mr. Harris was 91 years old and he died in the back of a truck while being evacuated to the Convention Center. That is itself a very sad and poignant story, but can it be said that he died while waiting help at the Convention Center.

So who are these people that Brian Williams ‘rode out the storm’ with and then they later died at the Convention Center? Isn’t it weird that he and Zumbado both claim personal knowledge of stuff that didn’t happen?

DeputyHeadmistress on February 5, 2015 at 6:04 PM

Go ahead and laugh, but the parents of the man that Williams flew over to Afghanistan and negotiated his release from the Taliban, who had threatened to behead the young soldier, Williams defiantly stood up to the Taliban…”It was the most harrowing moment of my life, as I stepped over the heads of men whose heads had been severed to reach our soldier and his captives. I stood fast telling them that this life is a life that should be saved, explaining to them the love of the mother, and the father whom had just recently died of cancer, they fell into tears and turned the young soldier over to me and we walked out safely. I would not be a man if I didn’t tell you, I was scared, but I will never forget the look of relief on that soldier just saying those simple words “Thank you sir, you saved my life”. I refused any medals because that is what us war correspondents do.”

So you guys go ahead and make fun of real American hero, Brian Williams!! Every one should stand up and salute him when he enters the room, that’s how I feel about this True American Hero.

Now please, I am in tears and must take leave, God Bless you Brian for all you do for America, we are eternally grateful…

right2bright on February 5, 2015 at 6:10 PM

Did Brian Williams lie about his Katrina experience, too?

Of course he did. It’s what he does and as he gets older he is having trouble keeping his lies separated from reality.

earlgrey on February 5, 2015 at 6:34 PM

Williams = d-cRAT extremist = PATHOLOGICAL LIAR (like all the rest of them)

MicahStone on February 5, 2015 at 6:37 PM

Leave Mr Williams alone,he is a Hero,I overheard to democrats in a bar who said they personally saw Mr Williams dive on an Iraqi GRENADE to save Geroldo Rivera life and Thank God it was a dud or we may have lost them Both!!!

IXXINY on February 5, 2015 at 7:59 PM

Fake But Accurate, Part 2

gordo on February 6, 2015 at 12:09 AM

It’s possible Williams confused this incident and his earlier accounts of seeing the streets in the French Quarter flooding when the levees broke.

Yeah, that’s … possible.

On the other hand, Occam’s Razor suggests a simpler explanation.

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 6, 2015 at 1:20 AM