Journalist Brian Williams has become the latest person to slam ‘fake news,’ claiming it influenced the US election. But there’s some irony in his apparent defense of quality journalism, as he was let go from his NBC gig last year for… reporting fake news.
“Fake news played a role in this election and continues to find a wide audience,” Williams said on MSNBC on Wednesday night.
He went on to mention retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn – President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser – for promoting links to fake news stories on his Twitter account.
Those “gems,” as Williams called them, included claims that Hillary Clinton was involved in a child sex ring and that US President Barack Obama laundered money from Muslim terrorists.
But they say those in glass houses should not throw stones – and when it comes to spreading fake news, there is no denying that Williams has done the same.
The former anchor of NBC Nightly News was suspended without pay in 2015, eventually losing his job, after admitting that he had lied about a story in which three Chinook helicopters came under fire in Iraq in 2003.
Although Williams claimed that he was in one of the helicopters, it later emerged that he was actually traveling in a different helicopter, located about an hour behind the other three.
He was caught out after crew members from the helicopters that were actually hit came forward.
“I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another,” Williams told Stars and Stripes newspaper in 2015.
Following Williams’ apology on his Nightly News program, NBC launched an internal investigation to look into other statements made by the journalist.
Although the results of the investigation were never made public, The Washington Post reported at the time that the Iraq claim was one of 11 “suspect statements” made by Williams.
Despite his problems at NBC, another station later gave Williams another chance, awarding him the position of chief breaking news anchor a few months later.
“I am fully aware of the second chance I have been given,” Williams told NBC’s ‘Today Show’ after being hired by MSNBC.
Meanwhile, the notion of ‘fake news’ continues to dominate headlines, with Hillary Clinton – the target of several false stories – calling the situation a “danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly” on Thursday.
“This is not about politics or partisanship,” Clinton said during a tribute to departing Senate minority leader Harry Reid. “Lives are at risk. Lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days to do their jobs, contribute to their communities.”
Clinton’s statements come after a fake news story alleging that she was running a child sex ring from the backrooms of a Washington DC pizzeria led to a dangerous incident inside the restaurant, after a man who believed the story began shooting a rifle in an effort to “self-investigate” the claim. The story, dubbed ‘Pizzagate,’ has led to the pizzeria’s staff and other nearby business owners receiving death threats.
Donald Trump fired the son of his national security adviser choice, Michael T. Flynn, on Tuesday, allegedly for his role in spreading the ‘Pizzagate’ scandal online.