“Williams to Stay at NBC, but Not as News Anchor,” the New York Times claims tonight:
NBC is planning to announce on Thursday that Brian Williams will not return to his position as the anchor of its “Nightly News” show, four months after the network suspended him for exaggerating his role in a helicopter incident in Iraq, according to two people briefed on the discussions.
Mr. Williams is expected to move to a new role primarily at the cable news network MSNBC, probably in a breaking-news capacity in the beginning, according to one of the people.
Lester Holt, who has been filling in for Mr. Williams as anchor, will take on the position permanently, one person said.
NBC could not be reached for comment. Mr. Williams’s lawyer, Robert Barnett, declined to comment. News of the decision was first reported by CNN.com.
The new role is a humbling comedown for Mr. Williams, who before the controversy was one of the country’s most prominent and respected broadcast journalists.
Prominent? Sure. Respected? Williams’ only real advantage was that he had done or said nothing serious enough to harm NBC’s brand with low information voters; he was simply there to deliver the news with a pleasant voice, decent enough hair, and a Savile Row suit.
Having sullied his reputation, but still under contract with NBC, sending him to their bargain basement outlet brand is the best way to allow both sides to ride out their employment obligations without a messy lawsuit, and give their Animal House* cable network the closest thing to someone who at least looks like a grownup.
On February 11th (around the time I did the above Photoshop), I asked “Where Does Brian Williams Resurface Next?”; among the eight choices I had gamed out, MSNBC was number two on the list:
1. Back to NBC News: Here’s a possible scenario: The ratings of Williams’ successor flat-line. Jon Stewart doesn’t want the gig. Williams does the celebrity talk show as therapy grand tour, and goes over like gangbusters. NBC does polls and focus groups, and decide what the heck, let’s give him another shot. As Dylan Byers writes at Politico, this is unlikely, but far stranger things have happened in network TV.
2. Down to NBC’s bargain basement spin-off, MSNBC: After it was discovered in 2010 that Dave Weigel, who was promoted by the Washington Post as their man reporting from “inside the conservative movement,” rather viscerally loathed those whom he was covering, the Post suspended him for about a month or so, and then simply transferred him down the hall to their openly leftwing spinoff, Slate. As Daniel Foster quipped at the time at NRO, “One wonders if he has to fill out new W-4s.” Perhaps Williams could bring some of his NBC audience to the network’s flailing and failing hard left spin-off. Credibility issues? Imaginary stories? Likely not much of a concern to the network that keeps Al Sharpton on its payroll.
And there you have it, at least according to the New York Times. Only thing that could make this better: Rachel Dolezal joins him as co-anchor — and since she’s shopping for TV gigs (albeit of the reality show variety, not surprisingly) make that powerhouse of a show happen, NBC!
* Yes, comparing MSNBC to the Delta House that’s an insult to to that fictional august fraternity that would give us all the comparatively illustrious future Sen. Blutarsky. But I had already used up the Star Wars cantina analogy earlier today in the post on the New York Times.