Brian Williams Suspended From NBC Nightly News For Six Months — Statement
Brian Williams has been suspended from “NBC Nightly News” for six months. The announcement was made on Tuesday night, several days after the news anchor admitted he fabricated a story about being hit while in a helicopter in Iraq.
NBC News president Deborah Turness revealed the decision in a memo sent to staffers. “We have decided today to suspend Brian Williams as Managing Editor and Anchor of ‘NBC Nightly News’ for six months. The suspension will be without pay and is effective immediately. We let Brian know of our decision earlier today. Lester Holt will continue to substitute Anchor the NBC Nightly News,” she said.
Turness went on to explain the executives’ thought process in coming to their decision, even though their “review” of the situation is ongoing. “While on ‘Nightly News’ on Friday, January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position,” she said.
Turness continued, “In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field. As Managing Editor and Anchor of ‘Nightly News,’ Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times.” The NBC News president noted that it was a group decision to suspend Williams, and that they understand “it would have been wrong to disregard the good work Brian has done and the special relationship he has forged with our viewers over 22 years. Millions of Americans have turned to him every day, and he has been an important and well-respected part of our organization.”
“As I’m sure you understand, this was a very hard decision. Certainly there will be those who disagree. But we believe this suspension is the appropriate and proportionate action,” said Turness. “This has been a difficult time. But NBC News is bigger than this moment. You work so hard and dedicate yourselves each and every day to the important work of bringing trusted, credible news to our audience. Because of you, your loyalty, your dedication, NBC News is an organization we can – and should – all be proud of. We will get through this together.”
Turness further shared a message from NBC Universal president Steve Burke, who was part of the decision-making process. In it, Burke said, “This has been a painful period for all concerned and we appreciate your patience while we gathered the available facts. By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate. Brian’s life’s work is delivering the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone’s trust.”
Following Williams’ admission, he initially agreed to step away from the anchor desk for several days, with Lester Holt stepping in as a replacement. Now he’ll be gone a lot longer. What do you think of the decision?