California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    New Anchor Falls From Grace in ‘Choppergate’

    Brian Williams has been called out for exaggerating details of his coverage of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and has since provided somewhat ambiguous responses to said accusations.

    Brian Williams has been the face of “NBC Late Night News” for what seems like a lifetime. Any sort of blemish on a career this long and spotless reflects greatly and requires Williams’ skillful maneuvering to see his way out.

    As an anchor and gifted journalist, Williams has shown time and time again that he can be a trusted source of information. Despite these accusations coming to light more than a decade after the fact, it begs the question: Why would such a trusted journalist make false claims?

    In the defense of his accusers and virtually anyone who would be happy to see him step down from his throne, it is difficult to understand the blurry details of this event and how they transpired.

    According to, Williams was traveling in convoy of Chinook, double rotor helicopters. His helicopter was second in line and sustained ground fire. The leading chopper also sustained ground fire and was hit with a rocket propelled grenade. All the helicopters in the convoy landed to assess the damage.

    This differs greatly from the story Williams has referred to on many occasions, one of which was with Letterman stating that he was in the chopper that was shot down.

    “We figured out how to land safely,” Williams said on “Letterman.” “We landed very quickly and hard. We were stuck, four birds in the desert and we were north out ahead of the other Americans.”

    It is hard to believe such an event would escape the memory banks of Williams as this would surely be coming from a place of truth rather than self-evaluation.

    This also brings to light the idea of journalistic integrity. It seems to many Americans that when a public figure is shamed the first report they come across is the one they tend to believe. The accusations came out and steadily filled many news organizations with an extravagant story depicting Williams’ negligence.

    Rich Krell, the pilot of the chopper that Williams was in, seems to be on Williams’ side but is still being cautious about what he tells the mass media.

    “Some of things he’s said are not true, but some of the things they’re saying against him are not true either,” he said in an interview with CNN.

    One may think Krell is one of the best sources of information in this matter, but in a later interview with CNN he confused mass media.

    “I am questioning my memories,” Krell said.

    “Seeing his name in the news for such an unfortunate and boneheaded mistake. He’s single handedly the reason I first got interested in news,” said Sahal Farah, junior communication major.

    Farah also mentioned his profound distaste for the media these days, as well as for the misinterpretation and exaggeration of a story from 12 years ago.

    While NBC has not commented on the matter just yet, loyal fans of Williams have spoken out saying they think everyone is overreacting to the situation, noting the stories sprouting up years after the event when much of the relevancy has faded. It should be noted that many believe he should not walk away scot-free, some even demanding his resignation.

    “It fumes me up when I hear people say he’s lost his journalistic integrity due to a personal story that has nothing to do with the news he actually reads each night,” said Roberto Peña, a communications advisor at Cal Lutheran.

    Peña commented that the relevance of such a story seems rather unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

    It is quite an unfortunate position Brian Williams finds himself in, considering the amount of prestige that comes with delivering the news.

    Most likely the main instigators are the ones who see Williams in such a prime position and want to knock him down over a story that could easily end his career as an anchor.

    Connor McKinney
    Staff Writer
    Published February 18th, 2015