Brian Williams Demoted to MSNBC, Lester Holt Taking Over ‘Nightly News’
After lying about an incident in which he was in a helicopter brought down by enemy fire in Iraq, Brian Williams has had his credibility completely compromised. He was promptly suspended for six months from NBC Nightly News, the high-profile nightly news program on which he was the anchor. But those six months are nearly up, so NBC was forced to make a decision about the future for Williams on the network. Now, we know the answer.
Brian Williams has been demoted to MSNBC, the cable news wing of the NBC network. As for the primetime news desk, longtime NBC newsman Lester Holt will permanently take over for Brian Williams as anchor for NBC Nightly News.
“Lester has done outstanding work for NBC News over the last ten years, and he’s performed remarkably well over the last few months under very tough circumstances,” said Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC. “He’s an exceptional anchor who goes straight to the heart of every story and is always able to find its most direct connection to the everyday lives of our audience. In many ways, television news stands at a crossroads, and Lester is the perfect person to meet the moment.”
Meanwhile, Lack addressed the Williams demotion, saying, “Brian now has the chance to earn back everyone’s trust. His excellent work over twenty-two years at NBC News has earned him that opportunity.”
Steve Burke, the CEO of NBCUniversal, said he wrestled with the decision to confine Williams to MSNBC.
“As you would imagine this was a difficult decision. Brian Williams has been with NBC News for a very long time and he has covered countless news events with honor and skill,” Burke said in a statement. “As I said in February, we believe in second chances, and I am hopeful that this new beginning will be good for Brian and the organization. This matter has been extensively analyzed and deliberated on by NBC. We are moving forward.”
For his part, Williams is genuinely remorseful.
“I’m sorry. I said things that weren’t true. I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust,” said Williams in a statement. “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 percent 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.”
Now begins the long road towards regaining the public trust. Still, I think Williams can reclaim his former station if he remains completely transparent with the audience. I would imagine this is a wound to his pride, but if he can gut it out, I think he might actually find journalistic salvation on the other side of all this. At the very least, he’s being given the opportunity to make amends. Here’s hoping he takes it.