Yesterday, NBC News announced the permanent demotion of disgraced Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, who will serve as breaking news manager for MSNBC. Network executives came to this decision after an internal investigation turned up “a number of inaccurate statements” made by Williams “about his own role and experiences.” However, as Michael Calderone at The Huffington Post notes, “NBC opted against transparency and declined to make public its findings.”
Vanity Fair has published a lengthy dissection of NBC’s long-troubled news division and its most visible public persona, the disgraced Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. Any remaining faith in reversing NBC’s death spiral, sources tell the journalist Bryan Burrough, appears to be rapidly evaporating. But Burrough’s piece leaves at least one important question hanging: How on earth can Brian Williams ever return to NBC News?
For more than a decade, NBC News anchor Brian Williams told a grand tale to his viewers, interviewers, and talk-show hosts about riding in an Army helicopter over occupied Baghdad when it was struck and forced to land by a rocket-propelled grenade. Earlier this week, after the helicopter’s crew members told Stars & Stripes that Williams was in a completely different aircraft that was not struck by anything, he admitted his story was a complete fabrication. The anchor framed this particular fuck-up as anomalous, but a barrage of new reports suggest exactly the opposite: That even his apology is tainted with misinformation. You are likely watching the slow implosion of a universally popular newsman’s 34-year career.