NBC suspends Brian Williams for 6 months
New York — NBC says it is suspending Brian Williams as "Nightly News" anchor and managing editor for six months without pay for misleading the public about his experiences covering the Iraq War.
NBC chief executive Steve Burke said Tuesday that Williams' actions were inexcusable and jeopardized the trust he has built up with viewers during his decade as the network's lead anchor. But he said Williams deserved a second chance.
Williams apologized last week for saying he was in a helicopter that was hit by a grenade while covering the Iraq War in 2003. Instead, he was in a group of helicopters and another was hit, and some veterans involved in the mission called him out on it.
NBC News President Deborah Turness said its probe into Williams' statements is continuing.
Williams's salary is $13 million a year, according to the website Celebrity Net Worth.
Lester Holt, who stepped in as anchor this week after Williams took himself off the air, will continue in that role at the Comcast Corp.-owned network.
Williams, 55, delivered his last broadcast of the top-rated evening news program on Friday, two days after apologizing on-air and blaming his mistakes on the "fog of memory." The newsman, who took over the anchor desk in 2004, said on Saturday he would take a temporary break to "deal with the issues."
"Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003," Turness said in the memo. "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."
Williams' credibility came into question in late January over a story covered on the "Nightly News" in which Williams accompanied Sergeant Major Tim Terpak to a hockey game in New York, where the decorated veteran received a standing ovation. During the piece, Williams said a helicopter he was aboard in 2003 was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and forced down in Iraq. Williams made the same assertion in a 2013 interview on the "Late Show With David Letterman."
"In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field," Turness said.
Bloomberg News contributed.