Brian Williams, the NBC News anchor who has come under intense scrutiny over the accuracy of his reporting from Iraq and elsewhere, has given differing accounts of the risks he faced when reporting on the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
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Williams initially described seeing Hezbollah launch Katyusha rockets at Israel that hit the ground shortly before he got there, but later said the Israeli military helicopter in which he was riding passed directly above the rockets, giving the appearance that he was in greater danger.
"In a Blackhawk helicopter at 1,500 feet, we are flying over the northernmost part of Israel," Williams wrote on the NBC News blog in July 2006. "Over the constant air traffic control radio traffic in Hebrew, we learn there is activity on the ground right below us.
"'They're having some shelling right now,' the pilot tells me. 'They landed about 30 seconds ago.'"
In the same post, Williams also reports seeing "trails of smoke and dust visible out the window," a second rocket launch he sees from six miles away, and "a deep but far off concussion" signaling a missile strike in Haifa.
But in a visit to Fairfield University in Connecticut in 2007, Williams told a student interviewer for the university's News64 that the attack came closer than that, saying: "There were Katyusha rockets passing just beneath the helicopter I was riding in."
Williams announced Saturday he was temporarily stepping away from NBC Nightly News, saying, "It has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions."
NBC News is looking into the facts of the accusations after questions arose over Williams' false statements that he was in a helicopter hit by a rocket-propelled grenade while covering the Iraq War in 2003. Williams has apologized for those statements, which he made on the air.