NBC has solved the Brian Williams conundrum, the network announced today. Mr. Williams, who was suspended from NBC in February after revelations that he had exaggerated and embellished his stories of derring-do, will be an anchor of breaking news and special reports at MSNBC, the 24-hour cable news network where he was an anchor from 1996 to 2004.
Lester Holt is permanently taking over as anchor of NBC Nightly News, Mr. Williams’ old position that Mr. Holt has been filling on an interim basis since the scandal broke.
“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,” NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack said in a statement. “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.”
As for Mr. Williams, he gets the opportunity to “earn back everyone’s trust” on MSNBC and, if Mr. Holt isn’t available, he will substitute for him as a breaking news anchor for NBC News live special reports, which is better than having to leave TV altogether.
In a statement, Mr. Williams apologized in a way that did not sound totally genuine and not at all like it was a condition of his future employment:
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.
NBC will air an interview with Matt Lauer and Mr. Williams tomorrow morning and evening, where the beleaguered anchor will presumably apologize some more.
The announcement comes after an internal review found that Mr. 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.”
It looks like Mr. Williams won’t be slow-jamming the news for a while.