The day after bin Laden’s assassination, Williams told the “NBC Nightly News” audience that “people might be hearing about SEAL Team Six,” adding: “I happen to have the great honor of flying into Baghdad with them at the start of the war.”
He elaborated on that claim during a May 2012 appearance on “Late Show with David Letterman,” saying that he befriended one SEAL by offering him some Wheat Thins and had mentioned that he admired the man’s combat knife.
“Darned if that knife didn’t show up at my office a couple weeks later,” Williams said.
Williams also told Letterman that about six weeks after the bin Laden raid, he got a “white envelope” with an unsigned thank-you note and “a piece of the fuselage of the blown-up Black Hawk in that courtyard.”
“Sent to me by one of my friends,” he added.
US Special Operations Command spokesman Ken McGraw told the Huffington Post: “We do not embed journalists with (SEAL Team Six) or any other unit that conducts counter-terrorism missions.”
McGraw also noted that the chopper destroyed outside bin Laden’s compound “was not blown up until after US forces had left.”
If I was the president of NBC News, I would demand that Brian Williams produce the knife and the piece of fuselage. If he could not, I would fire him on the spot.
As a student at Catholic University, Williams was at the school when Pope John Paul II spoke at the Washington, D.C. campus in 1979. The anchor’s account of the papal visit has varied over the years.
In 2002, Williams was quoted as saying that he chipped in with the school’s preparations as an employee in the campus public relations office.
“I was there during the visit of the pope,” Williams said.
If he had any interaction with the pope, Williams didn’t mention it then. But that changed in 2004, a year before the death of Pope John Paul II. While delivering the commencement address at Catholic University that year, Williams said the “highlight” of his time at the school “was in this very doorway, shaking hands with the Holy Father during his visit to this campus.”
After reporting the news of the pope’s death in 2005, Williams said on-air that he was “thinking back to the first time I met him at Catholic University, I guess it’s 25 years ago now.”
Days later, Williams provided a more colorful version of his meeting.
“I have to begin with a beautiful day in 1979,” Williams said in an interview published by NBC News. “I was a student at Catholic University, and over the course of two hours, chatted up a Secret Service agent who spilled like a cup of coffee and told me that the pope would be coming our way, straight up the steps of a side door at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I positioned myself and held out my hand and said, ‘Welcome to Catholic University, Holy Father.’ And he embraced my hand with both of his, made the sign of the cross, and said a blessing to me.”