In the wake of Bri Willyums' spurious reports of the helicopter in which he was traveling having been shot down by Iraqi soldiers during his reporting of the war in 2003 and his lying about--that is, his "mistaken accounts" of--seeing dead people and drinking dysentery from the flood resulting from Hurricane Katrina's "vicious attack" on New Orleans, NBC News has issued an internal memorandum concerning the "spin" that its reporters can legitimately put on their stories.
"Preferably," the memorandum states, "the stories should be true." However, the memo continues, "if a reporter feels the need to embellish events, care must be taken not to contradict the original story beyond the point of credibility. In short, lie if you must, but stick to the lie; don't change your story."
Willyums said that, after he was shot down in Iraq, he was surrounded by a heavenly host of angels, led, he believes, by Saint Michael himself, who protected him with fiery swords from enemy troops for forty days and forty nights. "It was like a Biblical epic," he gushed. "I expected to see Cecil B. DeMille at any moment or, at the very least, Charlton Heston." (DeMille produced such films as Samson and Delilah and The Ten Commandments, and Heston portrayed such larger-than-life heroes as Moses and Ben-Hur.)
Willyums' reporting of the Iraqi helicopter incident began in 2003, and, in each retelling of the alleged event, his own role in the story expanded, eventually to the point that it made listeners' willing suspension of disbelief impossible, as U. S. service personnel who were on the scene contradicted Willyums' accounts, calling him an "idiot" and a "liar."
"Dude," one complained, in a post to Willyums' Faceoff page, "I don't remember you being on my helicopter!"
When he mentioned seeing God smiling down on him from the clouds, "his story became too far fetched even for me," NBC honcho Deborah Turnpage whined, and it was then that she issued the memorandum curtailing her reporters' "imaginative reporting of events."
William's story concerning his heroism in reporting Hurricane Katrina's aftermath likewise "evolved" with each retelling, with Willyums' courage increasing each time. He said he not only "saw dead people," but almost became one himself after drinking from the flood and becoming infected with dysentery.
Unfortunately, a medical doctor who was present in the same neighborhood as Willyums during the alleged flood said that that entire part of New Orleans remained dry and that there were no reports of dysentery by anyone else. "None," he emphasized. "Nada. Zero."
Willyums later said he suffered from memory losses which he filled in by "conflating" various experiences he may or may not have had. "I mixed the helicopter incident with scenes from Saving Private Ryan," he admitted, "and mixed up the Hurricane Katrina story with that of the The Sixth Sense and the Biblical flood."
NBC plans to take no punitive action concerning William's lies "at this time."
Of course, that, too, could be a lie.