As Allahpundit wrote earlier, the scope of the Brian Williams fabulism scandal at NBC News requires an accurate set of data points to truly understand it. More instances of Williams speaking about his up-close-and-personal experiences during an event for which he was not present have emerged, and likely will keep emerging. Here’s another perspective — how did Williams and NBC Nightly News (for which Williams is managing editor) handle other cases of fabulism? Newsbusters reminds us that Williams fronted four different segments on Hillary Clinton’s Tuzla Dash, covering it thoroughly and exposing then-Senator Clinton as dishonestly claiming bravery under fire for her participation on a USO tour event. I found the episode quoted by Kyle Drennen on YouTube:
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.
Williams returned to the story the next day when Bill Clinton tried to rehabilitate his wife’s recollections:
In this instance, Williams and NBC took a pretty tough stand on the Tuzla Dash, dismantling the former president’s excuses and his attempts to minimize the fabulism. Why, the segment points out, Hillary had said this three times over seven days! It wasn’t just a case of selective memory, “conflating” memories, or just fatigue combined with old age.
So … what does it say when Williams has been repeating his fabulism for more than a decade, and plenty more times than just three? Bear in mind too that these aired five years after the events in Iraq took place (and didn’t take place), and that Williams continued to tell the same fabulist tale with increasing embellishment for another seven years. Reporting on Hillary’s fabulism didn’t seem to make Williams feel he should correct the record on his own faux-combat story.
One point Bill Clinton made in 2008 seems especially pertinent now. “There appears to be a double standard about ‘misstatements’,” the former President observed at the time. Indeed there does, although it wasn’t the one Bill thought.
Update: In fact. the year before this (2007), Williams made his fable a part of a tough interview question:
Brian Williams telling Petraeus in Sept. 2007 about helicopter being shot at: pic.twitter.com/f0xrhZiPoi
— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) February 5, 2015