NBC News suspended Brian Williams for six months without pay.
NBC News president Deborah Turness announced his suspension tonight.
In a Feb. 10 news report, NBC News stated : “NBC News is suspending managing editor and Nightly News anchor Brian Williams for six months, without pay, in the wake of an internal review of comments about his experiences in the early days of the Iraq war.”
The investigation into Williams is “ongoing,” NBC News’ Turness said in her internal memo, as reported by NBC News.
“We have decided today to suspend Brian Williams as Managing Editor and Anchor of NBC Nightly News for six months,” Turness said. “The suspension will be without pay and is effective immediately. We let Brian know of our decision earlier today. Lester Holt will continue to substitute Anchor the NBC Nightly News.”
She said that Williams “misrepresented” what happened in 2003 in Iraq during his 2015 broadcast. “It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues,” Turness said. “This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position.
“In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field,” she added.
The memo, published by NBC News’ press website, states that Lester Holt will take Williams’ place as NBC Nightly News anchor while Williams is off air.
Turness went on,
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“Steve Burke, Pat Fili and I came to this decision together. We felt it would have been wrong to disregard the good work Brian has done and the special relationship he has forged with our viewers over 22 years. Millions of Americans have turned to him every day, and he has been an important and well-respected part of our organization.
“As I’m sure you understand, this was a very hard decision. Certainly there will be those who disagree. But we believe this suspension is the appropriate and proportionate action.
“This has been a difficult time. But NBC News is bigger than this moment. You work so hard and dedicate yourselves each and every day to the important work of bringing trusted, credible news to our audience. Because of you, your loyalty, your dedication, NBC News is an organization we can – and should – all be proud of. We will get through this together.
“This has been a painful period for all concerned and we appreciate your patience while we gathered the available facts. By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate. Brian’s life’s work is delivering the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone’s trust.”
As iMediaEthics has reported, Williams apologized last week after veterans busted him for fabricating a story about being on a helicopter in 2003 in Iraq that was shot down by an RPG. Over the weekend, he announced he was taking “several days” off air because of the controversy.
“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,” he said in a press statement. “Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.”
NBC News said it was running an internal investigation into Williams’ lie and “gathering facts.” One of the veterans there in Iraq in 2003, Don Helus, told CNN Sunday that he contacted MSNBC in 2003 to alert them that Williams’ story about being on the helicopter shot down was false but never heard back.
UPDATED: 8:58 M EST with more information