Stars and Stripes on Monday released the full transcript and audio of its Feb. 4 interview with NBC news anchor Brian Williams after he recanted a story that a military helicopter he was in had been shot down during the Iraq War.
Williams, who is facing an internal NBC review into his reporting, admitted in a Facebook comment that "the fog of memory" was to blame for "the mistake."
Before posting the comment on Facebook, Williams spoke with Stars and Stripes, whose reporter, Travis Tritten, had interviewed service members accusing the news anchor of fabricating the story.
Williams admitted to being scared at the start of the 2003 war and says the fear may have contributed to "the mistake."
"It was my first engagement of the war and remember I was — we were all I think scared. I have yet to meet the veteran who doesn't admit to cinching up a little bit when it starts, and it all became a fog of getting down on the ground," Williams said in the interview.
A number of veterans say Williams was traveling in a convoy up to an hour behind the helicopter that was struck by the rocket-propelled grenade. Williams, however, said he "did not think [they] were in trail by that far" and believed they were traveling as one "flotilla."
Williams also maintains that he was traveling in the aircraft behind the helicopter that was struck.
"I knew we had all come under fire," he said. "I guess I had assumed that all of the airframes took some damage because we all went down.
"Also, remember, adding to the fear of the moment was the fact that we unhooked, our load master let loose a huge, our cargo, so you go through this over-torque where you rise in the air before you settle, despite what was some dandy piloting by the crews of all three aircraft."
Admitting his story sounded "outlandish," Williams told Tritten he did not know "what screwed up in [his] mind that caused [him] to conflate one aircraft from the other."
"The fact is, I remember three aircraft going down. I was on one of them. An additional aircraft aside from ours took an RPG through the rear housing above the ramp," he said.
A spokesperson from NBC News had no comment on the Stars and Stripes interview.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
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