Brian Williams, the NBC Nightly News anchor who was suspended from the network for six months after revealing that he had lied about his coverage of the Iraq War, will not return to the “Nightly News” after his suspension ends.
Instead, he will appear on NBC’s sister-network, MSNBC.
Williams admitted that he lied about being on a helicopter that was shot down by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 on Feb. 4, and from there his overall credibility as a journalist was called into question.
NBC launched an internal investigation into the accuracy of Williams’ reporting on Feb. 6. After he revealed that he had lied about his time in Iraq, questions were also raised about Williams’ reporting of other events, such as his claim that he had seen a dead body float by his hotel during Hurricane Katrina and his claim that Katyusha rockets had passed directly underneath his helicopter while he was covering the Israel-Hezbollah war.
NBC News suspended Williams for six months, without pay on Feb. 11. Deborah Turness, the President of NBC News, released a statement saying that Williams’ actions “jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News” and that because “his actions are inexcusable,” his suspension is “severe and appropriate.”
NBC News chairman Andy Lack released a statement confirming that Lester Holt will be the new anchor for NBC Nightly News. Lack also said that Williams’ “excellent work” has earned him a second chance “to earn back everyone’s trust.”
Holt, who has filled in as the temporary anchor on the “Nightly News” while Williams has been suspended, makes history as the first African American to become a solo anchor of a nightly broadcast network evening newscast.
CNN reported that after Williams’ six-month suspension ends in August, he will have two jobs: an “anchor of breaking news and special reports on MSNBC” and a “breaking news anchor for NBC News live special reports when Holt is not available.”
The Los Angeles Times noted that at MSNBC, Williams be paid “significantly less than the $10-million-a-year” he earned at NBC, and he will have a much smaller audience, with approximately 301,000 viewers instead of about 7.5 million.
Following the announcement, Williams began what CNN referred to as an “apology tour,” where he “met with NBC staffers in both New York and Washington D.C.,” and was “deeply apologetic.”
Williams released a statement saying that he was sorry, and he “said things that weren’t true.”
“I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust,” Williams said. “I will greatly miss working with the team on ‘Nightly News,’ but I know the broadcast will be in excellent hands with Lester Holt as anchor. I will support him 100% as he has always supported me. I am grateful for the chance to return to covering the news. My new role will allow me to focus on important issues and events in our country and around the world, and I look forward to it.”