Former NBC “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams will return to NBC Universal in an unspecified role, according to news reports.
Williams was suspended by NBC in February for six months after making false claims in his reports about the Iraq War. He has reportedly been anxious to return to the network, tarnished reputation and all.
Despite the embarrassment that Williams created with his serial war story lies, the network apparently wants to give him another chance since they believe he still has some star power—not to mention a recent $50 million contract extension which they are loath to eat.
Lester Holt, who took over for Williams in the anchor chair, will now get the job on a permanent basis, despite the fact that the ratings have slipped—particularly in the demo. That could be a cause for concern if they don’t rebound in the near future.
The most likely scenario for Williams is that he will join the MSNBC lineup in some capacity. Since virtually no one watches the cable news network, this will give NBCUniversal a low-risk option while Williams tries to restore his reputation.
NBC should have fired Williams from the start, but in the news business courage is in short supply—especially when it involves a liberal media icon.