Breaking: Williams suspended for 6 mos without pay by NBC; Update: “Dossier of apparent Williams lies”

posted at 8:16 pm on February 10, 2015 by Ed Morrissey

The wages of journalistic sin, at least in the case of Brian Williams, are six months without wages — and without an office. Per an e-mail from NBC Universal, Williams will come back in late September, while Lester Holt fills in as anchor:

All,

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.

Our review, which is being led by Richard Esposito working closely with NBCUniversal General Counsel Kim Harris, is ongoing, but I think it is important to take you through our thought process in coming to this decision.

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.

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.

Steve Burke, Pat Fili and I came to this decision together. We felt 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.

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.

Steve Burke asked me to share the following message.

“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.”

Deborah [Turness]

Note well that this announcement came not just from NBC News president Deborah Turness, but also from her boss, NBC Universal president Steve Burke. The Hollywood Reporter heard from multiple sources earlier today that the parent company had, er, exercised its authority in dealing with Turness and her team about Williams:

According to sources at the network, CEO Steve Burke along with NBCUniversal News Group CEOPat Fili-Krushel and NBC News chief Deborah Turness are considering a scenario that would include a lengthy suspension and full-throated apology from Williams. And a decision is likely to come this week, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

Williams was excluded from a meeting over the weekend with NBC executives, but he did meet with Burke at Burke’s Manhattan apartment on Tuesday morning, a meeting initiated by Burke. The two men are known to have a warm relationship; they regularly lunch together in the executive dining room at NBC’s 30 Rock headquarters.

And whether Williams can be saved also will reflect on Fili-Krushel and Turness, who was installed during the summer of 2013 by Fili-Krushel. Meanwhile, CNN has reported that Williams’ representative, Washington lawyer Robert Barnett, was spotted at 30 Rock on Monday.

The question now is this: what happens in six months? Lester Holt is a capable anchor, and will have six months to establish his credibility with the Nightly News audience. When the suspension ends, NBC will have Holt and six months of his efforts to rescue the network’s credibility, and then the guy who lied and got exiled for it. It may not be exactly like benching Lou Gehrig when Wally Pipp got to feeling better, but it’s similar — unless Holt screws up, at which point NBC should just hire Jon Stewart, who will become available roughly when Williams is eligible to come out of the penalty box.

Six months is a long time to leave an audience, especially under these circumstances. And here’s an Allahpundit-esque exit question: What happens when the next Williams false-narrative story emerges?

Update: Note that the review is “ongoing.” That leaves NBC Universal plenty of room to take further action.

Update: Is NBC Universal really planning on bringing Williams back? New York’s Gabriel Sherman reported earlier this evening that they were reviewing not just one story but a whole “dossier of Williams’ apparent lies“:

NBC News execs are currently deciding the fate of Brian Williams: TheNightly News anchor and his agent met with NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke in the last 24 hours, and were presented with a dossier of Williams’s apparent lies, according to sources. One can only imagine that Williams wishes his anchor escape plan had worked out and that he were the host ofThe Tonight Show right now. After NBC decided to move on from Jay Leno again a few years ago, according to two NBC insiders, Williams lobbied NBC executives to give him the host’s chair. “Brian wants to be a late-night comedian,” one former colleague explained. “He traded on being Nightly News anchorman-war-reporter to ingratiate himself with Jimmy, Lorne Michaels, and Jon Stewart.”

Now, of course, he’s become the subject of jokes rather than the one telling them. The meeting with Burke seems to be part of NBC’s effort to resolve the metastasizing crisis, whether that involves cutting him loose, a lengthy suspension, or a detailed on-air mea culpa. One high-placed source told me this afternoon that Williams is likely to face a “severe punishment” but will hang on. A spokeswoman for NBC News declined to comment; Williams’s agent, Bob Barnett, did not return a call or email seeking comment.

While the speed of Williams’s crash has stunned NBC staffers — “the cannibalism that’s going on here is so ferocious,” one told me — many people inside NBC News knew about Williams’s tendency to exaggerate the now-infamous helicopter ride in Iraq. “He was never a field reporter. He was incredibly insecure about it,” one former NBC News staffer said, speculating about why he felt the need to exaggerate.

Politico’s Dylan Byers thinks it looks grim for Williams’ future … and not just his:

Brian Williams probably isn’t coming back. Consider the next six months an audition for Lester Holt, the weekend anchor who will now substitute for Williams in his “absence.” Meanwhile, the execs at Comcast/NBC will be hard at work considering an alternative replacement if Holt can’t sustain the ratings.  …

The Williams’ fiasco hurts everyone at NBC, especially coming in the wake of the Ann Curry fiasco and the David Gregory fiasco. As I reported earlier this week, the knives will now be out for NBC News executives. Attention will turn toward NBC News President Deborah Turness, but the person who truly bears responsibility for NBC’s woes is her boss, NBC News Group Chairman Pat Fili-Krushel.

This does seem like a stop-gap measure, a way for the executives to gain some breathing room. We’ll see if NBC Universal makes even more room at NBC News HQ.


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

Sounds like both NBC News & NBC Universal are lying…can’t help it. Anyway, confessing your love affairs to your wife always works, especially if you wait 6 months before any more confessions. In Williams case, he’s lied to millions of NBC’s viewers for decades, and those viewers will not be waiting with open-arms on his so-called return.

Karmi on February 10, 2015 at 10:13 PM

…since every morning my coffee comes with a nice, special, newsy “how you like this shit?

arnold ziffel on February 10, 2015 at 9:57 PM

.
BWAAAAAAAAA HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH HAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHA LOL…. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAH AHAHAHAHA HAHHAHAHAHAHA…. {whew}…. BWAAAAAAAAA HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH HAHAHAHAHA
.
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yeah, that was good…. thanks O’Bammy….

ExpressoBold on February 10, 2015 at 10:14 PM

Ratso!

OmahaConservative on February 10, 2015 at 10:14 PM

Gasperino on FNC @Hannity has it right. Suspension for six months without pay is usually too long to recover from. It’s usually the kiss of death. Williams will settle for $0.25 on the dollar and not be back to NBC.

MSNBC maybe, but not NBC.

NBC is in deeping doo-doo. So is MSM.

This was a milestone.

Keep the internet free!

petefrt on February 10, 2015 at 10:16 PM

So a good news-bad news-worse news situation

The good news is: Brian Williams is gone
The bad news is: He’ll be back
The worse news is: Lester Holt is filling in

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 10, 2015 at 10:31 PM

Brian made Obama? That news to me. I wasn’t even aware that he was political at all…
 
Ric on February 10, 2015 at 9:02 PM

 
Tonight’s broadcast brought to you by the same Ric who didn’t know that semi-autos weren’t machine guns until other posters on a gun control thread explained it to him.

rogerb on February 10, 2015 at 10:32 PM

The science is settled: Brian Williams will not be back to NBC. Suspension for one month? Maybe. For six months? No way.

petefrt on February 10, 2015 at 10:37 PM

one of my FB “friends” dropped the F-bomb when he heard that Jon Leibowitz was leaving. Heh…

22044 on February 10, 2015 at 10:50 PM

Suspending Williams doesn’t make NBC is trustworthy. Dishonesty is still systemic in the media establishment.

Nephew Sam on February 10, 2015 at 11:01 PM

Six months?
That gives Brian plenty of time to become a soldier in Ukraine, kill Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi while flying missions in an F-16 for Jordan, and perform several dangerous space walks while in charge of the space station.
I can’t wait until he gets back and tells us all about it.

bobthm3 on February 10, 2015 at 11:08 PM

Well that’s that. It was fun while it lasted.

For the NSA record, I predicted 3 weeks before dismissal. It took them a week and a bit. I can’t remember when this Williams thing started. It feels like 3 months ago but I’m pretty sure it was not more than 1 or 2 weeks.

BoxHead1 on February 10, 2015 at 11:10 PM

“Good night, Chet. Good night, David. And good night, for NBC News.”

Final ‘Huntley-Brinkley Report’ on NBC / July 31, 1970

Schadenfreude on February 10, 2015 at 11:22 PM

That whole news division is rotten from the neck down. Time to clean house.

warmairfan on February 10, 2015 at 11:23 PM

Brian made Obama? That news to me. I wasn’t even aware that he was political at all…

Ric on February 10, 2015 at 9:02 PM

Today HA was full of wonder.

This beat you, Ric. See if you can find the irony.

You people are sick. Why does it matter what her politics were?

You know the more I come to the site the more I’m convinced that a lot of people here aren’t really American at all. I think some of you really really hate people on the left and that’s a shame. America is about diversity and differing opinions and freedom to practice different religions and hold different beliefs and believe in different things but reading thru comments of those on hot air it would seem those aren’t traits you all enjoy in America. You would rather all leftist, Atheist, Gays, etc just disappeared that way everyone would look like you, think like you, act like you and practice the same religion. Problem is that sounds nothing like America and everything like North Korea. I have news for you guys. If you can’t stand people having differing opinions and outlooks than you then move! No one needs you here. Us real Americans are all about moving forward. You cry babies can go somewhere else and complain every day and be bitter and blame blacks and Gays and atheist and leftist and the media and who ever else you all blame for your unhappiness.

Politricks on February 10, 2015 at 1:13 PM

Schadenfreude on February 10, 2015 at 11:36 PM

Hume and Kelly were pathetic.

Schadenfreude on February 10, 2015 at 11:39 PM

I don’t know if someone already posted this, but it cracked me up..

Drudge Report right now: http://www.drudgereportarchives.com/data/2015/02/11/20150211_033347.htm

END OF FAKE NEWS: JON STEWART LEAVING ‘DAILY SHOW’…

END OF REAL NEWS: BRIAN WILLIAMS SUSPENDED FOR 6 MONTHS

ITguy on February 10, 2015 at 11:42 PM

Is it too late to return Williams on the warranty?
Past the sell by date?

papertiger on February 10, 2015 at 11:44 PM

Shite, I wanted him to stay and become a laughingstock.

The question now is, will he frequent the same watering holes in Gotham as he did when he was up on the pinnacle?

Sting on February 10, 2015 at 11:49 PM

Politricks on February 10, 2015 at 1:13 PM

Schadenfreude on February 10, 2015 at 11:36 PM

Wow. That’s genuinely almost interesting. Obviously it’s a wall of crap, but it’s a wall of crap in which Politricks really told us a lot about himself.

Gingotts on February 10, 2015 at 11:52 PM

Tweet of the Day

Refresh my memory: how long were Bush, Cheney, Rice & Rumsfeld suspended over Iraq lies?
— @PaulBegala

Ned Pepper on February 11, 2015 at 12:13 AM

Almost fell out of my chair when I read they claim Williams “failed to uphold the high standards” of NBC News.

In fact, he personified those standards. That’s the problem.

Adjoran on February 11, 2015 at 12:20 AM

Tweet of the Day

Refresh my memory: how long were Bush, Cheney, Rice & Rumsfeld suspended over Iraq lies?
— @PaulBegala

Ned Pepper on February 11, 2015 at 12:13 AM

You realize that Begala cut himself off at the knees with his first three words: “Refresh my memory.” What he attempts to recall about Bush, Cheney, Rice & Rumsfeld is precisely the product of his deficient memory. What he remembers as their lies are what Bill Clinton asserted as fact.

As for your Tweet of the Day, you’ve already posted 2 dozen on a single thread.

How boring to be you.

de rigueur on February 11, 2015 at 12:49 AM

Tweet of the Day

I have no memory. I’m a bird.

Ned Pepper on February 11, 2015 at 12:13 AM

Schadenfreude on February 11, 2015 at 1:28 AM

He’s not only a liar but an idiot also. If he was smart he would have checked himself into rehab when all of this happened. He could take on the victim role which libs love. Maybe he should have stolen some smokes from a convenience store and attacked a cop. Hand up!

Blain on February 11, 2015 at 1:52 AM

Looks like NBC saved themselves $5 million dollars… Still can’t get over certain people such as Megyn Kelly, rushing to Williams’s defense and acting surprised that the public(aside from democrat party members)doesn’t want a known liar delivering the nightly news reports. She does realize one of the cherished descriptions of newsmen and news organizations is “trusted”, right?

fitzsweetpea on February 11, 2015 at 3:20 AM

No big… Williams’ lying history will be interpreted as a resume enhancement if there’s an opening at the White House Press Secretary job or spokesman on Hillary’s election staff.

Folks who are good at lying are highly sought after by Ocrats. Exhibit O lives in the O-House…

drfredc on February 11, 2015 at 3:26 AM

I understand Dan Rather is looking for a co-anchor. Maybe Brian can join up with Dannyboy and they can look for computer-generated letters from the early 1960s while they watch bodies float by on Canal Street and duck RPGs. Seems like they’d work well together.

Bill M on February 11, 2015 at 3:59 AM

Almost fell out of my chair when I read they claim Williams “failed to uphold the high standards” of NBC News.

In fact, he personified those standards. That’s the problem.

Adjoran on February 11, 2015 at 12:20 AM

Yes, I was slightly taken aback/amused by that phrase also.
But then I realized that, when they refer to “high standards”, they’re not talking about the lying. They are hardcore propagandists. Skillful lying and misrepresentation are a job requirement for them.

What they’re talking about is getting caught.

justltl on February 11, 2015 at 4:33 AM

Why are we even giving this lying cheat more publicity? He is a man without character, pride or honor. Unfortunately, he is typifies of the mainstream media.

rplat on February 11, 2015 at 6:05 AM

Refresh my memory: how long were Bush, Cheney, Rice & Rumsfeld suspended over Iraq lies?
— @PaulBegala

Ned Pepper on February 11, 2015 at 12:13 AM

The same amount of time Oliar was suspended for “you can keep your plan”, using public money for campaign, supporting gay marriage, etc., etc., etc.

bobthm3 on February 11, 2015 at 6:49 AM

They found Saddam’s chemical weapons stockpile right around the same time the 4th Infantry was pulling him out of his spider hole.

papertiger on February 11, 2015 at 7:10 AM

The problem for NBC News isn’t Brian Williams.

It is the people who kept him on KNOWING he had severe reality attachment problems.

With Universal stepping in, that may be the death knell for all of the people who are higher up in the food chain and NOT in front of the camera: they screwed up, royally and required adult supervision.

Yeah, the loosening of stories by have been aimed at Williams, but the hole that is opened shows that the infrastructure can’t support the ship.

ajacksonian on February 11, 2015 at 7:20 AM

They found Saddam’s chemical weapons stockpile right around the same time the 4th Infantry was pulling him out of his spider hole.

papertiger on February 11, 2015 at 7:10 AM

They also found precursor chemical caches next to chemical weapons sites where the equipment had recently been taken out.

They found the stashes of toxins that Dr. Germ had kept in freezer along with plans to restart the bioweapons program.

Beyond the Poles finding an actual stash of unitary shells that weren’t supposed to exist, and that due to the desert climate were not only viable but nastier after years of being kept out of sight out of mind.

Then there is the yellowcake in barrels that weren’t supposed to be there…

All of that stuff was supposed to be handed over for the Gulf Cease Fire agreement and he not only didn’t do that, he made sure the programs were ready to re-start the moment sanctions got lifted due to the harping of the quisling press and their Leftist followers. The same followers who, just a decade previously, lambasted Saddam for his attempted genocide of the Kurds and then instantly switched sides when he invaded Kuwait and HW Bush wanted to stop him.

The deceit on the part of the Left is breathtaking. How can you go from wanting a genocidal tyrant toppled to supporting him in just a few weeks? Just add in the EVIL USA to oppose him for other reasons. The Left can go to hell.

ajacksonian on February 11, 2015 at 7:34 AM

The worse news is: Lester Holt is filling in

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 10, 2015 at 10:31 PM

Really?

Over the years I’ve found Holt to be much fairer and low-key than any of the other network anchors.

BocaJuniors on February 11, 2015 at 7:58 AM

“All things considered, Brian, while you would undoubtedly do well as host of the Tonight Show, we feel that “Family Feud” would be a much better fit for someone with your unique talents.”

jbspry on February 11, 2015 at 8:14 AM

I’d RATHER they didn’t bring back Williams… /snark

DanielObrien42 on February 11, 2015 at 8:25 AM

Jon Stewart would be the perfect replacement; he already has years of network experience reporting fake news……

mad scientist on February 11, 2015 at 9:20 AM

This can be cured in 6 months? Hillary should get into treatment

Jpalm32 on February 11, 2015 at 9:25 AM

In six months people will be saying “Brian who?”…the job of NBC is to fill in with someone that makes you forget Brian Williams.

If a huge amount sits there and pines about Brian, than they didn’t fill his slot.

So yeah, Brian will be on “special projects” for the rest of his career…pointing out floating bodies and dodging RPG’s…

right2bright on February 11, 2015 at 9:42 AM

Attention will turn toward NBC News President Deborah Turness, but the person who truly bears responsibility for NBC’s woes is her boss, NBC News Group Chairman Pat Fili-Krushel.

Breaking the glass ceiling!

Nomennovum on February 11, 2015 at 10:23 AM

right2bright on February 11, 2015 at 9:42 AM

He’ll be the Geraldo of MSNBC.

Star Bird on February 11, 2015 at 10:37 AM

If he wants to come back, he needs to list his lies in print.

And, if NBC wants to come back, they need to list the producers, cameramen, sound guys and others who knew that Williams but said nothing. With the names of their supervisors who they either feared to report to or so poorly supervised them that they thought it was OK not to speak.

And if hey did say something, all of the supervisors who kept it quiet.

This wasn’t just Williams who lied, but the culture of NBC that allowed it to continue.

barnone on February 11, 2015 at 10:42 AM

This can be cured in 6 months? Hillary should get into treatment

Jpalm32 on February 11, 2015 at 9:25 AM

That should be brought up early and often. “didn’t hillary do the same thing?”……………….

VegasRick on February 11, 2015 at 10:53 AM

Will there even be network news in 6 months?

LashRambo on February 11, 2015 at 11:07 AM

Can’t see how he can come back from this.
Must be a horrible day for him and his family and friends.
He has only himself to blame.
The glee from some in the internet mob is as unseemly as it it unsurprising.
But we live in the age of snark.

So here’s some for ya –
If only he’d been a Fox News host and reported that there are no-go zones in France and England,
you’d all have his back.

verbaluce on February 11, 2015 at 11:18 AM

So here’s some for ya –
If only he’d been a Fox News host and reported that there are no-go zones in France and England,
you’d all have his back.

verbaluce on February 11, 2015 at 11:18 AM

Psst! Meet me at the corner of Greatorex and Chicksand Streets, Tower Hamlets, London E1 1JX, any day (Fridays are special), any time of day. And don’t bring a veil.

de rigueur on February 11, 2015 at 11:44 AM

verbaluce on February 11, 2015 at 11:18 AM

Are you still pretending that no-go zones don’t exist at all?

blink on February 11, 2015 at 12:12 PM

Nope.
Not pretending.

verbaluce on February 11, 2015 at 12:15 PM

“Good night, Chet. Good night, David. And good night, for NBC News.”

Final ‘Huntley-Brinkley Report’ on NBC / July 31, 1970

Schadenfreude on February 10, 2015 at 11:22 PM

Sheesh, that takes me back. I remember when nightly newscasts were only 15 minutes.

SC.Charlie on February 11, 2015 at 3:52 PM

I wonder how Brian’s EXPENSE REPORTS are, since I’m sure they are all being audited…

Khun Joe on February 11, 2015 at 4:32 PM

They’re NBC’s lies. Just keepin’ it real, man.

iosivich on February 11, 2015 at 6:21 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3