CNN reports that NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams, who was suspended from his anchor role after being found to have fabricated several stories about his own involvement in newsworthy events, will remain with the company once his six-month punishment is over. Williams will not be returning to the anchor desk, which has been manned in his absence by Lester Holt, but will stay on in some capacity with NBCUniversal.
Williams was suspended from his position four months ago, after the revelation that a story he’d repeatedly told about being in helicopter that was shot down during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq had been found to be untrue. NBC later discovered 11 other incidents where Williams had fabricated details of stories, usually in the service of heightening drama or interest.
It’s unknown what role Williams will take going forward; speculation centers around a move to MSNBC, where his wide recognition and affable personality could help shore up the network’s ratings. (The controversy surrounding the scandal probably wouldn’t hurt, either, and a personality-driven show could sidestep issues of Williams’ tarnished credibility.)
Of course, that kind of move seems like a missed opportunity, given Williams’ fine eye for picking out details to embellish for dramatic effect. Would Constantine, for example, have struggled so much if Williams had been on the set as a storytelling consultant, tweaking scripts and coaching Matt Ryan to deliver his lines for maximum gravitas and convincing effect? The anchor-turned-fabulist may have just inadvertently stumbled out of one career, and into his true vocation in life.
In any case, part of the hold-up in the Corporate-Approved Redemption Process seems to be Williams himself, who’s reportedly fought against network urging to issue an on-air apology. When he addressed the issue before the suspension, the anchor categorized the fabrication as “a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago,” framing the issue as one of faulty memory, not deceptive intent. (And who among us hasn’t forgotten something, whether it was the location of a set of car keys, or whether or not we were ever in a helicopter that was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.) Williams will presumably have to give in and say he’s sorry, though, before any forward progress can be made, as only by looking solemnly into a camera and speaking those magic words can the spell of shame be dispelled.