Breaking: Brian Williams suspended for six months without pay, according to an NBC source.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 11, 2015
Is this true? We’ll know soon enough. It seems like a logical way to push Williams out of NBC while his bosses explore who will ultimately replace him. Even if Williams mounts the ultimate self-promotion campaign, with frequent stops on Oprah and Ellen’s couches crying about how he blew it as a self-promoter (ahh, irony), how does he return to the anchor seat at NBC?
Update: The Blaze has more details:
“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.
Lester Holt, who normally anchors the newscast on the weekends, will continue filling in for Williams.
Joe Flint of the Wall Street Journal adds, “Turness said besides Iraq, Brian Williams misrepresented events while covering other stories as well.”
Oh to have been a fly on the wall and to have heard if anyone uttered the words “SooperMexican” in the Comcast boardroom this past weekend.
As Matt Drudge would say, “Developing.”
And speaking of Drudge, he has the text from Turness’ memo, online here.
More: Ed Morrissey writes, “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.” And as Ed asks, “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.
Ed adds an Allahpundit-style exit question: “What happens when the next Williams false-narrative story emerges?”
Say, I know another guy on the NBC News payroll who should be asked about that. Anybody in old media want to take up the topic of false narratives with Al Sharpton? Anyone…anyone…Bueller?
More: People are joking about Brian Williams swapping places with Jon Stewart, but note this detail in New York magazine today, written before news of the two faux-newsmen broke later this afternoon:
One can only imagine that Williams wishes his anchor escape plan had worked out and that he were the host of The 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.”
Interesting — in the 1970s, Howard Cosell believed he was too big for sports broadcasting and wanted to do straight news (and late night comedy-variety); today Brian Williams would rather be a comedian than a newsman — and hey, he might get his wish. Otherwise, television purgatory could await — late night infomercials…
Update (6:37 PM PST): Well, MSNBC has admitted they’re not the go-to place for breaking news. And management concurs, it seems:
@jayrosen_nyu why would they do that when someone might ask a hard question about why they came down on Williams & employ someone like Al
— Brian Rosenwald (@brianros1) February 11, 2015
Meanwhile, Dylan Byers of the Politico writes, “Brian Williams probably isn’t coming back.”