By Jordan Chariton, TheWrap.com February 10, 2015 @ 4:51 pm
“Nightly News” host suspended for six months: “Brian has a responsibility to be truthful,” says NBC News president
NBC News has suspended “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams for six months, according to an internal memo sent by NBC News president Deborah Turness on Tuesday.
In the interim, Lester Holt will continue to serve as serve as substitute anchor. Williams is suspended without pay.
The memo noted, “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.”
Williams’ account of being struck by enemy rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fire while in a helicopter during the initial 2003 Iraq invasion came under scrutiny this week after crew members on the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook that were hit by RPG fire told Stars and Stripes newspaper Williams was nowhere near the helicopter shot down.
The memo (reproduced in full below) included a note from NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke, who said that, while the Williams situation has been a “painful period for all concerned” and that Williams “has jeopardized the trust of millions,” Williams also “deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him.”
The anchor acknowledged the same in an interview with the newspaper on Feb. 4: “I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams said. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.” On Wednesday night, Williams apologized on-air.
“I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago … I want to apologize. I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire; I was instead in a following aircraft.”
After anchoring the next two days after his apology, Williams announced he’d be stepping away from the broadcast while NBC News dealt with the situation. Weekend “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt has filled in for Williams.
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