On Tuesday, NBC took action in the Brian Williams scandal by suspending the news anchor for six months following his inaccuracies regarding actions in Iraq in 2003, and fabricated stories about his time in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
NBC News president Deborah Turness announced the suspension on Tuesday. Calling it a hard decision, Williams will be suspended from his Managing Editor duties, as well as his anchor position for six months without pay. According to The Hollywood Reporter:
“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,” NBC News president Deborah Turness said in a memo, adding that “this was a very hard decision. Certainly there will be those who disagree. But we believe this suspension is the appropriate and proportionate action.”
Williams took over the Nightly News position after Tom Brokaw’s departure in 2004. Before the scandal, Williams’ contract was renewed to the tune of $10 million a year.
Leslie Holt, who has taken over for Williams since last week, will remain as the current interim anchor for Nightly during his suspension. Steve Burke, CEO of NBC Universal, spoke out about the suspension and what it means for the viewers.
“By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans put in NBC News,” wrote Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal. “His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him.”
Williams’ fabrications were exposed earlier this month when Lance Reynolds, the flight engineer of the Chinok helicopter Williams said he was in during his time in Iraq, exposed his false tale on Facebook.
“Sorry dude,” wrote Lance Reynolds. “I don’t remember you being on my aircraft. I do remember you walking up about an hour after we had landed to ask me what had happened.” Military publication Stars and Stripes first reported the reaction to the Facebook post, which was intended to honor a military veteran, U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major Tim Terpak, and from there the story snowballed.
From there, more of Williams’ recollections were questioned. Williams apologized on air on Feb. 4.
“I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago,” Williams said on the Feb. 4 Nightly News broadcast. “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. We all landed after the ground fire incident and spent two harrowing nights in a sandstorm in the Iraq desert.”
It subsequently emerged that he was likely in a chopper that was an hour behind, not necessarily in a following aircraft. And his announcement days later that he was taking himself off of his broadcast only made it appear as if no one was in charge at NBC News.
Burke says he hopes Williams will work on getting back the nation’s trust during his suspension.
SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter | VIDEO CREDIT: News Inc.