Vast majority do not see him returning to ‘NBC Nightly News’
By Bill Cromwell, MediaLifeMagazine.com
February 13, 2015
While the network has suspended the anchor for six months for exaggerating about coming under fire while covering the Iraq War, media people predict he will be eased out permanently before that suspension ends.
That’s according to a poll on Media Life asking readers to weigh in on the whole Williams mess.
Asked whether Williams will ever anchor “Nightly News” again, the vast majority of readers, 79 percent, said no.
Just 21 percent think he will return.
“Sadly, he threw away his credibility and thus, his career,” wrote one reader.
“They should fire Williams. That sends a clear message to viewers that NBC News stands for journalistic integrity. The network is buying time by suspending him when they should make a break with him and move on,” opined another.
Williams’ newscast has led among total viewers for years, but readers do not think that lead will last with Lester Holt filling in for the next six months.
Asked if “Nightly News” will stay No. 1, 75 percent of readers predicted no. Just 25 percent said yes.
Readers think Williams deserved his punishment. Asked to rate how serious his transgression was, 52 percent said serious, while 29 percent said extremely serious.
Thirteen percent said it was not serious, and 6 percent deemed it “no big deal at all.”
Readers also think NBC made the right call on the suspension, largely because the network does not have a succession plan in place and needed to buy time.
Media Life asked, “Did NBC News make the right call in suspending Williams for six months?” and the largest share, 38 percent, answered, “Yes. The network has no obvious successor to Williams. It needs to buy time to find the right person.”
Another 22 percent said NBC made the right call because Williams should be punished but not fired. Another 21 percent said that NBC messed up. While Williams should have been punished, they said, a long suspension was just silly.
Just 14 percent said Williams’ punishment outweighed the crime.
Readers think Williams’ gaffe has had a huge impact on NBC News’ credibility. Media Life asked which news organization was the best before the debacle began, and 37 percent picked NBC, with CBS in second place at 31 percent.
But post-Williams suspension, readers have changed their view. Now just 20 percent say NBC is best, with CBS and ABC both moving ahead of their rival.
Finally, Media Life asked readers what Williams should do during his suspension. The largest share, 34 percent, advised him to stop making public appearances, while another 25 percent said he should “wait out his suspension and return to the air a quieter, humbler anchor.”
And 16 percent would like to see him take over as host of “The Daily Show” for the soon-to-retire Jon Stewart.