Longtime "NBC Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw reportedly wants his successor, Brian Williams, thrown out of the big chair after he admitted fabricating key portions of a story he repeatedly told about his reporting experience during the Iraq War in 2003.
The New York Post, citing sources at the network, reported that Brokaw, 74, has been "making a lot of noise at NBC that a lesser journalist or producer would have been immediately fired or suspended for a false report."
Brokaw was the anchor of NBC's flagship evening newscast when Williams filed his initial report in March 2003. In it, Williams described how he was traveling in a group of helicopters forced down in the Iraq desert. On the ground, Williams said, he learned the Chinook in front of him "had almost been blown out of the sky"; he showed a photo of the aircraft with a gash from a rocket-propelled grenade.
Williams succeeded Brokaw as the "Nightly News" anchor following the 2004 presidential election, and his story evolved over time.
In a 2008 blog post, Williams said that his helicopter had come under fire from what appeared to be Iraqi farmers with rocket-propelled grenade. He said a helicopter in front of his had been hit.
Then, in a 2013 appearance on David Letterman's "Late Show" on CBS, Williams said that two of the four helicopters he was traveling with had been hit by ground fire, "including the one I was in."
On Wednesday, Williams recanted that story, claiming he was that he was flying in a Chinook helicopter behind the formation that took fire. However, on Thursday, the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, which broke the story, reported that Williams was actually flying with a different helicopter company altogether, in a different direction, and linked to the attacked unit only by radio.
Adding to the intrigue, the Post reported that Brokaw and former NBC News president Steve Capus, who left the network in 2013, knew that Williams' updated version of his tale was not true before the anchor's admission Wednesday evening. The paper also says NBC News executives had counseled Williams to stop telling the story.
Despite Brokaw's campaign, the paper says NBC will take no action against Williams, believing that his on-air apology Wednesday will suffice.
"He is not going to be suspended or reprimanded in any way," one source told the paper. "He has the full support of NBC News."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.