Embattled NBC anchor Brian Williams will take a leave of absence from his job at the network for “several days,” according to several sources.
Brian Williams said on Saturday that he will step aside as anchor of his nightly NBC News broadcast for “several days” as a result of the controversy generated by his comments about his reporting during the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina.
In a memo to NBC News staff made public by the network, Williams wrote, “As managing editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days, and Lester Holt has kindly agreed to sit in for me to allow us to adequately deal with this issue. Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.”
Meanwhile, NBC President Deborah Turness sent out a staff memo, informing NBC employees of the investigation into Williams’ statements:
This has been a difficult few days for all of us at NBC News.
Yesterday, Brian and I spoke to the Nightly News team. And this morning at the Editorial Exchange, we both addressed the wider group. Brian apologized once again and specifically expressed how sorry he is for the impact this has had on all of you and on this proud organization.
As you would expect, we have a team dedicated to gathering the facts to help us make sense of all that has transpired. We’re working on what the best next steps are — and when we have something to communicate we will of course share it with you.
Since joining NBC News, I’ve seen great strength and resilience. We are a close-knit family, and your response this week has made that even clearer.
As a relentless news agenda marches on, thank you again for continuing to do what we do best — bring the most important stories of the day to our audience.
“Make sense of all that has transpired”? What has transpired is that the face of your news network is on record admitting he made up a story and pushed it as part of his bio for 12 years.
Rumors are running wild that Williams will be out by sometime next week. The leave of absence would seem to confirm that rumor. By letting Williams soften the blow by exiting temporarily, they at least allow the anchor to maintain some dignity, rather than abruptly firing him.