NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams says he isn’t sure what caused him to misremember his disputed account of having his helicopter shot down while reporting in Iraq in 2003.
Stars and Stripes, a military news site, released the transcript and audio recording of its Feb. 4 interview with Williams, who has temporarily left his show for “several days” while NBC investigates the incident.
The interview, completed five days ago, is purportedly the only time Williams has answered questions about how he came to tell a story that was later debunked as false.
“I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams says. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft from the other.”
Williams apologized last Wednesday for his story—the same day the interview was carried out—after some soldiers who accompanied him on the trip came forward to say his helicopter was behind the one that came under fire. In the interview, he attributes some of the disputed account to his lack of experience on the field.
“I’m going to have a far different recollection than the professionals,” he said. “It was my first engagement of the war and remember I was — we were all I think scared. I have yet to meet the veteran who doesn’t admit to cinching up a little bit when it starts, and it all became a fog of getting down on the ground…All we knew is we had been fired upon.”
You can hear the audio clips from the Stars and Stripes interview here: