NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has been suspended without pay for six months, effective immediately, NBC News president Deborah Turness announced in an internal memo on Tuesday, Feb. 10.
According to Turness' note, Lester Holt will anchor the program in Williams' absence. Holt has been substituting for the veteran journalist since Williams announced on Saturday, Feb. 7, that he was taking several days off while NBC investigated some false claims he made about his time covering the Iraq War in 2003.
Turness noted on Tuesday that the review of Williams' actions is "ongoing," and that there are "concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field." She added that the longtime anchor "has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times."
The controversy began when Williams, 55, admitted on Feb. 4 that he had "bungled" a story about being hit by rocket-propelled grenade fire while in a helicopter in Iraq. In truth, he had been in a following aircraft.
"This has been a painful period for all concerned and we appreciate your patience while we gathered the available facts," NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said in a note at the end of Turness' staff memo. "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."
That said, both Burke and Turness acknowledged Williams' contributions to the network. "Brian's life's work is delivering the news," Burke said. "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."
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