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Brian Williams Wouldn’t Air Two Damaging Stories About Obama

Brian Williams / AP
• March 17, 2015 11:32 am

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An excerpt from Gabriel Sherman's New York Magazine article on suspended NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams revealed he tried to suppress two stories that would hurt President Obama.

In February, Williams was suspended six months by the network after revelations that he repeatedly lied about being in a helicopter struck by enemy fire in Iraq in 2003, and other supposed exploits during his career came under scrutiny as well. In the piece entitled "(Actually) True War Stories At NBC News," sources said Williams was often unwilling "to go after hard-hitting stories," including one about an Obama Justice Department memo defending killing Americans with drones and another about the White House knowing back in 2010 that millions would lose their insurance due to Obamacare regulations:

Multiple sources told me that former NBC investigative reporters Michael Isikoff and Lisa Myers battled with Williams over stories. In February 2013, Isikoff failed to interest Williams in a piece about a confidential Justice Department memo that justified killing American citizens with drones. He instead broke the story on Rachel Maddow. That October, Myers couldn’t get Williams to air a segment about how the White House knew as far back as 2010 that some people would lose their insurance policies under Obama­care.

Frustrated, Myers posted the article on NBC’s website,where it immediately went viral. Williams relented and ran it the next night. "He didn’t want to put stories on the air that would be divisive," a senior NBC journalist told me. According to a source, Myers wrote a series of scathing memos to then–NBC senior vice-president Antoine Sanfuentes documenting how Williams suppressed her stories.

Myers and Isikoff have both since left the network, Sherman reported, and declined comment for his article. As pointed out by media watchdog NewsBusters, Williams already has a well-established reputation for being soft on the Democratic Party and President Obama in particular.

Published under: Brian Williams, NBC