[There was a video here]
How many ways can Brian Williams sidestep admitting he made up a bunch of stories to look cool? Quite a few, it turns out.
Williams’ pre-recorded interview with Matt Lauer aired this morning on Today, in his first television appearance since NBC suspended him in February. And during the 13 minutes that made it to air, Lauer certainly tried to press Williams to admit he knew what he was doing, to no avail.
Calling the lies an unintentional, “sloppy choice of words,” Williams pressed the narrative that he was a hapless prisoner of his mind, twisted around by urges of his subconscious he ultimately had no control over. Which I think is worse? A liar who doesn’t know he’s lying seems more dangerous than an asshole who likes attention, if you ask me. Therapy can only help one of these things.
And in what is supposed to be an honest mea culpa tour—he’s safe, with a job waiting for him at NBC, albeit it in the minors—he’s still curiously evasive. He generously admits he made the statements (which, of course, were televised) but describes it as one might describe an out-of-body experience.
“I was reading these newspaper stories, not liking the person I was reading about. I would have given anything to get to the end of the story and have it be someone else but it was about me,” Williams told Lauer. “These statements I made. I own this, I own up to this. And I had to go through and see and try to figure out how it happened.”
But even when Lauer pressed— “You say, ‘I was not trying to mislead people,’ but I need to make sure we understand each other here. Did you know when you went on Nightly News that you were telling a story that was not true?”—Williams sidestepped again.
Williams: It had to have been ego that made me think I had to be sharper, funnier, quicker than anybody else. I put myself closer to the action—having been at the action in the beginning.”
Lauer: But was it conscious Brian? Because lets go back to January when you went on Nightly News and you recounted a story about a military veteran who played a role in a harrowing chopper ride you took while covering the Iraqi war. And you told this story. You had told some versions of it in the past in other venues. Did you know it was not true?
Williams: I told the story correctly for years before I told it incorrectly. I wasn’t out to mislead people. That, to me, is a huge difference here. After that incident I tried and failed, as others have tried and failed—and why is it when we’re trying to say, “I’m sorry,” that we can’t come out and say, “I’m sorry.”
Lauer: But wait a second. You say, “I was not trying to mislead people,” but I need to make sure we understand each other here. Did you know when you went on Nightly News that you were telling a story that was not true?
Williams: No. It came from a bad place. It came from a sloppy choice of words. I told stories that were not true, over the years. Looking back, it is very clear that I never intended to, it got mixed up, it got turned around in my mind.
“This came from a bad place, a bad urge inside me,” Williams says. “This was clearly ego-driven, a desire to better my role in a story I was already in. That’s what I’ve been tearing apart and unpacking.”
Williams also declined to explain what else he lied about, saying, “I would like to take this opportunity to say that what has happened in the past has been identified and torn apart by me and has been fixed. Has been dealt with. And going forward there are going to be different rules of the road.”
TLDR; Brian Williams is sorry, he won’t do it again, just take his word for it.
[There was a video here]