"It seems to me we've gone away from gatekeepers in journalism, you know, because social media is like who has it first and who can just make an outrageous statement that gets lots of clicks," Williams said on "The Five." "And this was an outrageous statement."
O’Donnell and fellow MSNBC host Rachel Maddow were discussing how Trump was “able to obtain loans when no one else would loan him any money” when he tossed out the unverified speculation.
"I stress ‘if true,’ because this is a single source who has told me that Deutsche Bank obtained tax returns… this single source close to Deutsche Bank has told me that Donald Trump’s loan documents there show that he has co-signers. That’s how he was able to obtain those loans and that the co-signers are Russian oligarchs."
It seems to me we've gone away from gatekeepers in journalism.
Trump's legal team sent a harshly worded letter to NBC Wednesday demanding an apology and retraction
Williams criticized O'Donnell's reporting and his apology that he tweeted Wednesday.
"I mean by his own admission he really didn't have the story," Williams said. "No journalist in America would say 'a single source' and that you haven't gone to your editors and nobody has vetted this story."
Williams blamed O'Donnell's urgency to report the unverified story on what he called "confirmation bias."
"In other words, they take stories that they want to be true and then they say, 'Oh, you know what? I'm going to believe this story'... 'I'm not going to check it out because that might get in the way of my good feelings,'" Williams said. "And people don't seem to understand this is a mistake. It's not good."