The news division bears some of the responsibility, having announced on Friday the launch of an internal investigation into to his comments about taking fire in a helicopter in Iraq in 2003 and other claims he’s made over the years. Further fanning the flames, Williams announced Saturday he was stepping down temporarily from NBC Nightly News.
The next night, John Oliver announced, kicking off the highly anticipated second season of his HBO show Last Week Tonight, that his own months-long absence was not, in fact, a scheduled hiatus but, rather, “much like Brian Williams, I voluntarily took myself off the air after it emerged I presented false information to you last year.”
Oliver, on-air, acknowledged he’d falsely reported, with photo, about the size of a hamsters’ penis.
“I would like to truly apologize to you the viewers, to the editorial staff here and, most of all, to the hamster, because you deserve better, Niblicks.”
HBO did a lot to fan the flames over the weekend. In addition to Oliver, Real Time’s Bill Maher told his late-night viewers on Friday, “It happens to all of us … We misplace our keys, have trouble with people’s names, we can’t remember if the helicopter we were in crashed!” And, Saturday, at a screening of her new HBO special Rosie O’Donnell: A Heartfelt Stand Up, the former The View panelist reportedly described Williams as a “f**cking Lance Armstrong liar.”
By Sunday morning, noted former media analyst for CBS News and ABC News Jeff Greenfield, “Everything that can be said about Brian Williams has been said; it’s just that not everyone has said it yet.”
“Everybody” seemed to be making up for lost time this morning.
Katie Couric, for instance, responded to a gossip column report she was angling to replace Williams on the NBC newscast:
And then, there was Tina Brown:
Former CNN primetime show host Piers Morgan came out strongly pro-Williams this morning, in a piece penned for the Daily Mail – though it’s unclear if this does Williams more harm than good. Morgan savaged the “baying mob of journalists currently scavenging [Williams’] professional carcass, gleefully chomping on any scrap they can find that looks even remotely questionable.” Morgan added, “As for the other allegations now pouring in against him, from his reporting in Katrina (How does he or anyone else prove whether he saw a dead body in the water or not?) to his work as a New Jersey fire-fighter (Did he save ONE puppy or TWO??? The public demands to be told the truth!), I’ve seen no hard evidence that he fabricated anything. This morning, he was accused of hyping another helicopter story from Israel’s war with Hezbollah in 2006. But when I read it, the details of the accusation seemed vindictively petty.”
Also this morning, MSNBC’s Morning Joe hosts finally addressed the Williams mess, saying they hoped NBCU’s decision “would be that the decision will be based on the entirety of his career, and not on one or two or three mistakes”: