On February 5th, Brian Williams admitted on his own news program that he had misrepresented the facts around a dramatic story he reported from Iraq in 2003. He had placed himself at the center of an RPG missile attack on a helicopter which he had not been on. The story sent NBC’s news division into a tailspin. On February 3rd, we finished a documentary film on dishonesty, three years in the making, and his scandal had us reeling. In one section of our film, Williams appears as a voice of authority, explaining the downfall of an administrator at a prominent university who had lied on her resume.
The scene suddenly took on a perverse and ironic twist.
Here we had America’s most foremost anchor, talking about a woman who had misrepresented her credentials, and he had just done something similar—and the entire US media became obsessed with the story. We didn’t know what to do: re-open the film, take the scene out, or try to interview Williams and have him be part of the film. In the end, we decided to leave the film exactly as it is and let the irony be there for those who notice it. For NBC News and for Brian Williams, the scandal has had deep repercussions in terms of public and professional trust.