UPDATE: NBC confirmed that Brian Williams will join MSNBC, and that Lester Holt will take over the Nightly News spot, which he's filled since Williams was suspended earlier this year.
"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," Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, 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."
Holt, for his part, said, "This is an enormous honor. 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."
Brian Williams is out as Nightly News anchor, but will remain at the NBC network following his suspension, and will likely move over to the MSNBC cable news network, according to reports.
CNN was the first to report that NBC is expected to announce later today, Thursday, June 18, that the controversial journalist, who was suspended in February for exaggerating his experiences during a helicopter attack in Iraq, still has a home at the news organization, but will not return to his former anchor role.
Lester Holt, who has been filling in for Williams as anchor, will take that position permanently, becoming the first African-American solo anchor of a broadcast network’s evening newscast.
“Brian still wants to be a part of the NBC family,” a source confirms to Us Weekly. “Staying low, like he had planned, has been working — the public anger that the network is seeing has gone way low. But they know as well as anyone that if he got back in that seat it would start everything back over again.”
Williams' role at MSNBC is expected to be in a “breaking news” capacity, and the hope is that the 56-year-old journalist will be able to rebuild his reputation in this new position.
"This has been a painful period for all concerned," NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said in a note to staff at the time of Williams' suspension. "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."
But even at that time, both Burke and NBC News president Deborah Turness acknowledged Williams' contributions to the network and their hopes of retaining him. "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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