Former "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams says he didn't lie about his experiences as a journalist, but rather that his ego clouded his memories of them and made him embellish his retellings of them, he told the "Today" show in an interview that aired Friday.
"What happened is the result of my ego getting the better of me," he told Matt Lauer in a one-on-one interview, a day after the network announced he wouldn't be returning to the "Nightly" anchor desk.
The comments were Williams' first since NBC suspended him as "Nightly" host in February for misrepresenting his experiences as a journalist, after he admitted to erring when he said on-air that he had been in a helicopter hit by enemy fire during the Iraq War. His helicopter had not been hit.
"Looking back, it had to have been ego that made me think I had to be sharp, funnier, quicker than anybody else -- put myself closer to the action, having been at the action in the beginning," he said.
NBC announced Thursday that Williams would not be returning to the anchor desk and that Lester Holt, who has anchored the show since Williams' suspension, will take over that position permanently. Williams will take on a new role anchoring breaking news for MSNBC.
After NBC first suspended Williams for six months on Feb. 10, the network subsequently ordered an internal investigation into his reporting and the way he described his experiences, most often in talk show appearances.
The review found Williams made a number of inaccurate statements about his own role and experiences covering events in the field. The statements did not for the most part occur on NBC News platforms in the immediate aftermath of news events, but usually years later.
This TV station is owned by parent company NBCUniversal.