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A week of negative headlines spurred by Brian Williams‘ false telling of a 2003 Iraq helicopter incident have led to an erosion in his credibility with the public, multiple polls show.
Forty percent of Americans think the NBC News anchor should step down from his role as managing editor at Nightly News, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey of 800 adults on Feb. 7-8. The question posed to telephone respondents was: “Should Williams resign as NBC’s news anchor because of this?”
Responses to Williams’ embellishment of the 2003 war story also appear to be split along party lines. “Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Republicans say they are now less likely to believe the reporting on NBC News, a view shared by only 25% of Democrats and 40% of Americans not affiliated with either major political party,” the Rasmussen Reports write-up of its survey read.
Other surveys also show a decline in the NBC News anchor’s trustworthiness since military publication Stars and Stripes ran a story on Feb. 4 detailing Williams’ admission that a helicopter he had traveled in did not take rocket-propelled grenade fire as he had once stated.
A poll conducted from Feb. 5-9 of 1,000 people in the U.S. by The Marketing Arm, whose findings were first shared with The New York Times but were confirmed to THR, found that Williams’ trustworthiness ranking fell from No. 23 to No. 835.
“Williams dropped almost 10 percent in trust, but remains at #835 with over 66 percent of consumers trusting Williams to some degree,” read a news release from The Marketing Arm.
Williams admitted the mistake in a Facebook post, in an interview with Stars and Stripes and on the air on Feb. 4.
“Because I have no desire to fictionalize my experience (we all saw it happened the first time) and no need to dramatize events as they actually happened, I think the constant viewing of the video showing us inspecting the impact area — and the fog of memory over 12 years — made me conflate the two, and I apologize,” he wrote on Facebook.
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