Former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams just apologised for repeatedly telling a false story about once being shot down in Iraq.
“I’m sorry. I said things that weren’t true. I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust,” Williams said.
The apology was part of an NBC statement confirming that Williams will be moving to MSNBC and that his interim replacement on Nightly News, Lester Holt, will take the full time job.
“I will greatly miss working with the team on Nightly News, but I know the broadcast will be in excellent hands with Lester Holt as anchor. I will support him 100% as he has always supported me,” said Williams.
“I am grateful for the chance to return to covering the news. My new role will allow me to focus on important issues and events in our country and around the world, and I look forward to it.”
Here’s the full statement from NBC News:
Andrew Lack, Chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, today announced that Lester Holt will be named the permanent anchor of NBC Nightly News.
Holt, 56, has been a television news reporter for thirty-four years. He joined NBC in 2000 and became the full-time anchor of Weekend Nightly News in 2007. He also anchors Dateline and co-anchors Weekend TODAY.
“Lester has done outstanding work for NBC News over the last ten years, and he’s performed remarkably well over the last few months under very tough circumstances,” Lack said. “He’s an exceptional anchor who goes straight to the heart of every story and is always able to find its most direct connection to the everyday lives of our audience. In many ways, television news stands at a crossroads, and Lester is the perfect person to meet the moment.”
Lester Holt said, “This is an enormous honour. The respect and admiration I have for the Nightly News team has only grown deeper over the last several months that we’ve been together. Day-in and day-out under an uncomfortable spotlight they have produced world-class journalism. I’m very proud and grateful to be part of such an unflappable and dedicated team of professionals as we move forward together.”
Lack and Steve Burke, CEO of NBCU, have decided that Williams will not be the anchor of Nightly News. Williams, who was an anchor at MSNBC from 1996 to 2004, will now join MSNBC as anchor of breaking news and special reports. He will work with Mark Lukasiewicz, SVP of Special Reports for NBCU News Group, who will help lead a team to strengthen MSNBC’s daytime coverage by further leveraging NBC News’ expertise in breaking news. In addition, Williams will serve as a breaking news anchor for NBC News live special reports when Holt is not available. He will begin the new role in mid-August.
NBCUniversal conducted a review of Brian Williams’ significant reporting in the field and commentary related to that reporting on NBC News platforms and in other public appearances over a period of more than ten years. The review was overseen by Kim Harris, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of NBCUniversal, who previously served as Deputy White House Counsel and as Senior Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice. It was conducted by Richard Esposito, who leads the investigative unit at NBC News.
The extensive review found that Williams made a number of inaccurate statements about his own role and experiences covering events in the field. The statements in question did not for the most part occur on NBC News platforms or in the immediate aftermath of the news events, but rather on late-night programs and during public appearances, usually years after the news events in question.
Lack said, “Brian now has the chance to earn back everyone’s trust. His excellent work over twenty-two years at NBC News has earned him that opportunity.”
Mr. Burke said, “First of all, I want to thank Lester Holt. Lester stepped into the anchor chair in a trying time and has really come through for us. We are lucky to have him and I know he will continue to do great things at NBC News for years to come.”
Burke continued, “As you would imagine this was a difficult decision. Brian Williams has been with NBC News for a very long time and he has covered countless news events with honour and skill. As I said in February, we believe in second chances, and I am hopeful that this new beginning will be good for Brian and the organisation. This matter has been extensively analysed and deliberated on by NBC. We are moving forward.”
On his return to NBC, Williams said: “I’m sorry. I said things that weren’t true. I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust. I will greatly miss working with the team on Nightly News, but I know the broadcast will be in excellent hands with Lester Holt as anchor. I will support him 100% as he has always supported me. I am grateful for the chance to return to covering the news. My new role will allow me to focus on important issues and events in our country and around the world, and I look forward to it.”
Note: An interview with Brian Williams, conducted over the last two days in New York by Matt Lauer, will air on TODAY on Friday morning and on NBC Nightly News on Friday evening.
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