Brian Williams: NBC anchor takes himself off air for 'several days' after admitting Iraq war story was incorrect

Rival television networks have seized on the anchor's error

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A senior US television anchor has taken himself off the air for “several days” after being forced to apologise and admit that a story he told about being in a helicopter that was struck by enemy fire in Iraq was untrue

In a statement issued on Saturday, NBC’s Brian Williams said that it had become clear that rather than reporting on the news, he had become a distracting news story.

“In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions,” Mr Williams said in a memo to colleagues, according to the Associated Press.

He added: “Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.”

Mr Williams, the anchor of NBC Nightly News, has been under after claiming that a helicopter he was travelling in was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in 2003. Several of the soldiers whom Mr Williams was accompanying have come forward to say his claim was not true and that it was other choppers in a formation that had been struck.

Mr Williams and his camera crew were actually aboard a Chinook in a formation that was about an hour behind the three helicopters that came under fire, according to crew member interviews, the Stars and Stripes newspaper reported.

Last week, Mr Williams had issued an apology. “I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago,” he said.

But with rival networks seizing on the story, Mr Williams other reporting is now being investigated by other journalists and members of the public. There have, in particular, been attention paid to some other the claims he broadcast about Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.

NBC News President Deborah Turness said in an internal memo Friday that the network has assigned the head of its own investigative unit to look into Mr Williams’ statements.

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