Brian Williams Apologizes For False War Combat Report

Brian Williams is apologizing for his news report claiming he was under gunfire in a war zone. The NBC news anchor now says it wasn’t true. INSIDE EDITION has the scoop.

There's growing backlash directed at NBC anchorman Brian Williams for his remarkable on-air apology.

He declared, “I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago.”

Williams surprised viewers by admitting he was not on board a U.S. Army helicopter that was brought down by enemy fire during the 2003 Iraq war. For years he said he was.   

He admitted, “I want to apologize. I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire. I was instead in a following aircraft.”

Reaction to his apology is brutal.

"Lyin' Brian" says the headline on The Huffington Post website.

Rosie O'Donnell said on The View, "I don't think he didn't remember that, I think he fabricated that story and the apology seemed a little, oddly circuitous."

INSIDE EDITION’s Steven Fabian spoke to Brian Stelter, CNN's senior media correspondent and host of Reliable Sources.

Stelter said, "I think hardly anybody thinks this apology was sufficient. It feels like in some ways he raised more questions than he answered. That is the worst kind of apology."  

Williams' war story began to unravel on Friday when he aired a story about taking one of the soldiers who he said saved him in Iraq to a New York Rangers hockey game. They received a standing ovation at the game.

But other Iraq veterans remembered the incident differently and went on the NBC Nightly News  Facebook page to express their concerns.

One vet wrote,  "Sorry dude, I don't remember you being on my aircraft. I do remember you walking up about an hour after we had landed to ask me what had happened."

Williams admitted Wednesday night that he made a big mistake, saying, "This was a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran."

But he's been telling the story of being shot down for years.

This is what he told David Letterman in 2013, "Two of our four helicopters were hit by ground fire, including the one I was in."

Letterman replied, "No kidding!"

Williams continued and said, "RPG and AK-47."

Mary Murphy of USC Annenberg told INSIDE EDITION, "He is the face of network news, NBC. A very loveable guy, people will rally around him, but this is a bad mistake."

Stelter also told INSIDE EDITION, "I think Brian Williams has built up an incredible amount of good will and an incredible amount of credibility over decades. That is all not going to go away overnight. This does do damage."

So, where was Brian Williams after his on-air apology? He went to a hockey game with actor Tom Hanks.

But the uproar may be far from over.

In that apology, Williams said, "Those who have served, while I did not, I hope they know they have my greatest respect and also now, my apology."