Now is the winter of our discontent. In short order, the New York media world has been rocked by changes and scandals that are churning the landscape.
The biggest is Brian Williams, suspended without pay from NBC for six months. You think you’ll see him again in August? I doubt it. Not on “Nightly News.” There’s no way to re-establish his position of trust. My guess: Lester Holt holds the show for as long as he can. This gives NBC and Comcast a chance to figure out who anchors at the desk starting right after Labor Day.
Here’s NBC News President Deborah Turness’s memo to the staff:
We have decided today to suspend Brian Williams as Managing Editor and Anchor of NBC Nightly News for six months. 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.
Our review, which is being led by Richard Esposito working closely with NBCUniversal General Counsel Kim Harris, is ongoing, but I think it is important to take you through our thought process in coming to this decision.
While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. 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.
As Managing Editor and Anchor of Nightly News, Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times.
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.
Steve Burke asked me to share the following message.
“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.”
Plus: Rosie O’Donnell leaves “The View” on Thursday. Funny, not a peep out of Barbara Walters.
Then there’s Jon Stewart exiting “The Daily Show.” It’s not because his movie did so well. Stewart is obviously pissed that Stephen Colbert, who used to work for him, was chosen to succeed David Letterman. Stewart should have gotten that job. He can write his own ticket, and he will.
And then Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes,” dragged through the tabloids with family problems. He’s the captain of the biggest news show on TV. Who’s next to fall? Stay tuned…