Alec Baldwin suggests Brian Williams lied to please his audience

Alec Baldwin suggests Brian Williams lied to please his audience
Alec Baldwin hosted Brian Williams on his WNYC podcast in 2013. (Evan Agostini / Associated Press)

While most in the media will only go public with statements of shock and disbelief at Brian Williams' on-air exaggerations that led to his six-month suspension, Alec Baldwin offered up a more psychological reasoning.

Talking to guest George Stephanopoulos on his WNYC podcast, "Here's the Thing," Baldwin said he thought Williams fell unconsciously victim to "wrapping himself in the flag and in the glory of the military to please his audience."


Williams was suspended in February for untruthfully claiming on multiple occasions that a Chinook helicopter he was aboard in Iraq in 2003 came under enemy fire.

One of the places where Williams told his untrue tale was on Baldwin's podcast in 2013.

"What people want is they want us to have a sustained, honest, real, palpable celebration of our fighting men and women at war over there," Baldwin said.

"Because Brian's audience is one that's middle class, conservative, moms and pops who aren't walking around with their devices in their hands all the time.... I see his language and I see the way he plays it out and I try to understand people as an actor, like what they're going through. And I thought, he's trying to communicate to people here. He's trying to tell them something."

And that audience, Baldwin said, was an older, more conservative, pro-military crowd.

Stephanopoulos, who is one of the co-anchors of "Good Morning America" on ABC, didn't offer up any theories of his own to Baldwin. Though he confessed to not being friends with Williams, he said he encountered him socially often.

"A couple things have stunned me," Stephanopoulos said. "One, when you see the various clips, you're surprised at the volume a little bit and the vividness."

"Performance," Baldwin said.

"But also, I got to say, I'm surprised, I didn't quite understand how it got into the broadcast. You know, we all are surrounded by big teams. And that was a little bit surprising."

Baldwin said that it was Williams' perch, from which no one had the power to say no to him, that was part of his undoing.

The entire interview is listenable here.

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