Brian Williams’ Memories – False or Mandela Effect?

Brian Williams
Brian Williams – photo courtesy of David Shankbone.

Brian Williams’ “false” reports could be important to Mandela Effect discussions.  This is a high-profile case of someone who seems to remember an incident clearly — and have some supporting testimony — but, in this reality, the actual event was slightly different.

In the bigger picture — whether Williams’ helicopter was shot down, or one close to him was — isn’t especially noteworthy. History won’t note this with alacrity. Williams’ experience — as he recounted it — is representative of others’, if not his own.

However, in Mandela Effect terms, it’s interesting that Williams’ report was — and still is — echoed by the helicopter pilot, Rich Krell.

Sure, it’s possible both were mistaken. For Williams, the experience was terrifying. For the pilot, it may have been something he confused with a different time he was shot down. But… maybe neither are confused.

This question was brought to my attention by one of this site’s regular readers and contributors, NDE Survivor. Here’s the initial comment:

For your consideration (borrowing a phrase from The Twilight Zone)….

Brian Williams. Generally, I think news anchors are egotistic narcissists. But, this whole thing feels off to me. From 2003 to 2012? His recollection of his helicopter experience seems fairly consistent. Now, his recollection differs. What really got me thinking about this is when he said this in his apology:

“I spent much of the weekend thinking I’d gone crazy,” Williams wrote. “I feel terrible about making this mistake, especially since I found my OWN WRITING about the incident from back in ’08, and I was indeed on the Chinook behind the bird that took the RPG in the tail housing just above the ramp.”; and “I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams told the newspaper. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”

It reminded me of the Berenstein-ers searching through their attics only to discover that their childhood books now say Berenstain.

And today, the pilot of helicopter, who originally concurred with Williams’ recollections of their helicopter coming under fire, said this: “…the information I gave you was true based on my memories, but at this point I am questioning my memories.”

So Williams and the pilot are now questioning their memories. Other soldiers clearly have a different set of memories. In light of the phenomenon discussed here, I am willing to extend credulity. I think this could be more complicated than what is being portrayed in the media.

Here’s my reply:

I agree, 100%. Brian Williams is a terrible liar. When he’s delivering a story he doesn’t fully agree with (or perhaps doesn’t fully believe), you can read it all over his face. That’s one reason I like him as a newscaster. When he told his helicopter story, I saw zero “tells” to indicate a shaky, embellished, or false story. He said it with certainty. I’m sure he believed it.

His emotions were in high gear when he made his apology, so his expressions are hard to read. He’s not quite himself there — obviously chagrined and unsettled — so I can’t tell what’s going on. (I’m a big fan of Paul Ekman — the real-life “Lie to Me” guy — and have done some of his courses.)

Also, Brian Williams’ “credibility” is getting far too much media attention, and I’m trying to understand why. Maybe it’s just the nature of news. Maybe his competitors are doing their best to oust him.

My family and I watched several interviews on Newsy and other curated news feeds, in which Williams talked about either the helicopter incident or his NOLA/Katrina experiences.

(The latter is no big deal. Having dealt with high-level media in reference to the French Quarter: So far, 100% of the media I’ve talked with, outside Louisiana, don’t understand where the French Quarter ends. Several high-end hotels aren’t in the Quarter; they’re on on the edge of it. TV producers booking hotels have seemed utterly oblivious to that important difference. Obviously, Brian Williams didn’t know, either, and I’m fine with that… or maybe the Ritz in his then-reality was in the French Quarter. It’s hard to tell.)

Seeing a body float down the street in America was far beyond anything Williams ever expected to see. And, Williams believed what he’d said about the helicopter incident, which I’m sure was terrifying at the time.

Were these “Mandela Effect moments”? Maybe. For me, it’s just as easy to believe that the trauma of those incidents was so severe, he’s blocked most memories of them.

My family also wondered (in true tin-foil hat mode)  if Williams has been working on a news story — his own project — and someone higher up the food chain isn’t happy with it, so some pre-emptive discrediting is in progress.

I’ll be watching Williams closely to see what happens next. For now, I don’t doubt his credibility for a second. His stories weren’t 100% accurate in this reality, but I’m sure he was telling each story exactly as he remembered it.

His reports raise an interesting question: Is there a correlation between “sliding” and traumatic or highly emotional experiences? That is, during (or immediately after) an event that we’d like to flee from, do we unconsciously slide to a different reality, hoping it will be better?

And, having slid like that, once, are we more likely to do so in the future, not necessarily fleeing trauma, but out of sheer curiosity?

What makes the Williams story so interesting is that Williams isn’t the only one with an alternate (and fairly credible) memory of the helicopter incident, and they both remember it the same way.

In Mandela Effect terms, that’s pure gold.

11 thoughts on “Brian Williams’ Memories – False or Mandela Effect?”

  1. [Fiona’s note: NDE Survivor originally posted this comment at “Major Memories.” I’ve moved it here so you can see where this discussion started.]

    For your consideration (borrowing a phrase from The Twilight Zone)….

    Brian Williams. Generally, I think news anchors are egotistic narcissists. But, this whole thing feels off to me. From 2003 to 2012? His recollection of his helicopter experience seems fairly consistent. Now, his recollection differs. What really got me thinking about this is when he said this in his apology:

    “I spent much of the weekend thinking I’d gone crazy,” Williams wrote. “I feel terrible about making this mistake, especially since I found my OWN WRITING about the incident from back in ’08, and I was indeed on the Chinook behind the bird that took the RPG in the tail housing just above the ramp.”; and “I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams told the newspaper. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”

    It reminded me of the Berenstein-ers searching through their attics only to discover that their childhood books now say Berenstain.

    And today, the pilot of helicopter, who originally concurred with Williams’ recollections of their helicopter coming under fire, said this: “…the information I gave you was true based on my memories, but at this point I am questioning my memories.”

    So Williams and the pilot are now questioning their memories. Other soldiers clearly have a different set of memories. In light of the phenomenon discussed here, I am willing to extend credulity. I think this could be more complicated than what is being portrayed in the media.

  2. Taking cue from williams,an argument can be started [related to horrific past events].That it was all a handiwork of bribed reporters,after all in the midst of such big scale war,creating myths is a prerogative of privileged.And for that matter cold war or moon landing need not have happened.False memory and Mandela Effect may as well be smoke screen terms created to acquit trapped offenders.Flying saucers could be holographic projections bes orchestrated by pt barnum type jugglers.deep space probes can easily be literal tin foil projectiles.cern like projects in all probabilty be a very secure bomb shelter for eminent persons.Bluff is the most tempting trait of humans.

    1. I agree, Vivek, and that could take us down the conspiracy route. Or the delusion route. And the politics behind either or both. (Hence, the edit, but I felt the rest of what you said was important to add to the discussion.)

      What I found most compelling was Williams’ initial response, as well as the helicopter pilot’s. Williams seemed genuinely baffled, and — to me — his body language matched. (Of course, he could be very, very good at that.)

      We may never know the truth of what happened, but I felt this was important to note. The media response seemed a little odd and disproportionate, relative to the impact of the error (if it was one).

      (And, having seen some space probes, up close, I’ve been amazed by how flimsy some of them are. Imho, they’re not far removed from tin foil projectiles.)

      Cheerfully,
      Fiona

  3. There is a new Vanity Fair article that ads more insight. (No mention of the pilot who initially corroborated the story.)

    http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/04/nbc-news-brian-williams-scandal-comcast

    Here are some snips from the story:

    …Stunned, Turness was still trying to grasp the gravity of the situation when the Stars and Stripes story went online. At that point her biggest concern was the apology Williams was preparing to read to viewers on his broadcast that evening. He was already taping segments as he and Turness began swapping e-mails on its all-important wording. Turness and the other executives who had gotten involved quickly became frustrated, as they would remain for days, with Williams’s inability to explain himself. “He couldn’t say the words ‘I lied,’ ” recalls one NBC insider. “We could not force his mouth to form the words ‘I lied.’ He couldn’t explain what had happened. [He said,] ‘Did something happen to [my] head? Maybe I had a brain tumor, or something in my head?’ He just didn’t know. We just didn’t know. We had no clear sense what had happened. We got the best [apology] we could get.”
    ….

    “Thursday morning Burke convened a crisis group, including Turness and Fili, that he said would meet twice a day at his Upper West Side apartment. Its first priority was unearthing the truth about what had happened in 2003. Williams himself, they soon realized, would be of little help. He appeared shell-shocked. “He was having a tough enough time coming to grips with the idea that he had gotten it wrong in the first place, slash misrepresented it, slash lied,” recalls one insider. “He wasn’t anywhere in the ballpark of being helpful about what happened 12 years ago.”
    ….

    “You talked to Brian, and he said, ‘I slept two nights under the wing of that helicopter, looking up through the hole in the wing [from the rocket fire],’ ” one insider recalls. “There was a sandstorm, and somehow, in the process, he said, he must have come to believe he had been on the helicopter. Later, his wife [Jane] tried to explain. She said he put things in boxes [in his mind]. He would only talk about what was in those boxes on-camera.” This insider stops and sighs. “You’re not going to get clarity, because the people who might understand what happened don’t understand.”

  4. i have a interesting theory on this. what if we. all slip every time we are supposed to die in one reality. all my experience line up with a situation that i could have should have died in. so what if u slip every time u could have died of somthing unnatural? untile we all die old age in our reality.until we all die of natural causes in our own timeline which is always the longest possible life span per each person

    1. I’m not sure how this comment doesn’t have any replies yet, but that is a fascinating theory, and worth thinking about. What if the death of a conscious observer is not so much death but the trigger to flip to another reality? Say you live your life in a universe where the peanut butter is called Jiffy, then one day you’re minding your own business, eating a nice piece of fish when you start choking on a bone. You cough up the bone and as far as you’re concerned your life proceeds as it always has, except now the peanut butter is called Jif, and always has been… The original you has died, and your consciousness is now piloting what I’m going to call you2. Maybe you2 always existed, in his own reality and you just weren’t tuned in to what he was doing, you were busy piloting you1, or maybe he’s spontaneously generated, with full backstory in this new reality at the point of you1’s death. Maybe we’re a wave-function of different personalities, and only in our ultimate death does that wave function collapse. Maybe we’re allotted a finite number of lives, spread over the same number of subtly different realities, and we gradually aggregate together as some of our lives die off. It might be interesting to see whether the tendency to experience the Mandela effect increases with age, in order to judge this idea better. At an advanced age, we would be the aggregate of quite a few of our former selves, and should have various Mandela Effect memories.

      I think there are things worth digging into here. It certainly interests me, anyway.

    2. Fascinating! This feels right on so many levels. I’ve had alternate reality moments in my life and have alternate memories as well. I’ve always blamed it on my overactive imagination or the fact that our memories are inherently flawed but something happened when I started to research the Mandela Effect…. My mind expanded and I’m currently researching this phenomena. I’m an artist and I’ve studied color theory… I definitely have the memory of chartreuse being a pink/red grayish hue. I wore a chartreuse dress when my mother remarried so that one is hard to deny. I also remember several celebrities dying (all mentioned in this blog) and Mandela dying in the 80s. Bernstein not Bernstain, Mirror Mirror, not Magic Mirror, and Life IS like a box of chocolates. It certainly is.. isn’t it.

    3. Casey, I can’t tell you how blown away I am by this theory. I’ve had the same thought but brushed it away since it was too incredible! I, too, have had near-misses with death and later wondered if something wasn’t quite, well, WRONG in my life. Like, I didn’t remember something the way it is now . . . it was DIFFERENT before . . . or something. It’s a head scratcher and a mind blower. Thank you for putting it in print!

  5. I too was shocked that someone of William’s status would have felt the need to embellish his story to the point that it was a total lie. I suppose I accepted his guilt knowing that the media, CNN in particular, does fabricate stories. This article has made me reevaluate his possible innocence. My first thought was of “The Manchurian Candidate” and I now wonder if perhaps William’s and the pilot of the helicopter could have possibly had false memories implanted. The reasons for such might include making him vulnerable for a “take-down” at a convenient time, to increase ratings by manipulating him to make his story more grandiose and exciting thus increasing ratings, or even to make him an accessory and witness to a completely false story. Whatever the reason, his new job which will pay him $10 million dollars a year is a pretty good consolation or rather payoff for the cynical minded. Surely he has some culpability at this point.

    1. In my opinion, the memory he related — regardless of its origins — came into the spotlight at an inopportune moment. He remembered it. The pilot did, as well. Williams has done the “mea culpa” routine; now, his career resumes in a different venue. In an era of relatively easy fact-checking, I think most reporters embellish stories only in terms of emotional content, to make their stories more compelling to listen to. If “culpability” is required, I’d say it’s more about backing down from the memory as he originally recalled it, not the original recollection.

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