(New York Times) – Hours before Brian Williams took the anchor’s chair for the nightly newscast on Feb. 4, a sense of dread began to spread through the Rockefeller Plaza offices of NBC News.

The military newspaper Stars and Stripes had just published an article in which Mr. Williams acknowledged that he had exaggerated an account of a helicopter journey in Iraq. Worse, Mr. Williams had written a weak apology, reading it first to the newspaper, then posting it on Facebook. None of his superiors knew about it.

Alarmed, the news operation immediately began scrambling to contain the damage, according to people with knowledge of the events of the last week. A team was quickly assembled to draft a statement that Mr. Williams could read during his “NBC Nightly News” show that evening to address the issue. But the Facebook post boxed them in. The explanations had to match.

Mr. Williams went on the air hours later and delivered the statement, including an apology.


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