Brian Williams booted from ‘NBC Nightly News,’ given chance to ‘earn back everyone’s trust’
NEW YORK — Suspended “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams “has the chance to earn back everyone’s trust,” his boss at NBC News said Thursday, as the network confirmed that will return to television later this summer but in a reduced role.
NBC also confirmed that Lester Holt, Williams’ fill-in since February, will become the permanent anchor of the “Nightly News.”
In a news release, NBC News chairman Andy Lack credited Holt with performing “remarkably well over the last few months under very tough circumstances.”
As for Williams, Lack said the anchorman’s “excellent work” in the past had earned him a second chance.
The decision caps months of deliberations by network executives.
After Williams’ suspension ends in August, he will have two main jobs: He’ll be an “anchor of breaking news and special reports” on MSNBC, NBC’s ratings-starved cable news channel, and he’ll “serve as a breaking news anchor for NBC News live special reports when Holt is not available.”
Breaking his silence for the first time since February, Williams, 56, began his statement by saying “I’m sorry.”
“I said things that weren’t true,” he said. “I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust.”
NBC confirmed Williams taped a sit-down interview with Matt Lauer, the co-host of the “Today” show, earlier this week.
Parts of the interview will be shown on Friday’s “Today” show and “Nightly News.”
Thursday’s statement and Friday’s interview segments are the start of a comeback attempt by Williams, who was suspended in February amid a controversy over exaggerated stories.
Williams, 56, was suspended after he admitted “misremembering” an incident in which he claimed his helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq. Williams was never in the chopper that was attacked.
NBC launched an internal investigation to fact-check the anchorman and identified other times when Williams exaggerated. However, it remains unclear how serious the other instances were.
NBC has declined to comment about the investigation.