NBC News executives have finally made a decision on Brian Williams, who will not be returning to the NBC Nightly News anchor chair when his suspension is up in August.
Instead, Williams will move over to MSNBC, where he anchored The News With Brian Williams for eight years. Williams will mainly helm the struggling cable news network's breaking news coverage, as well as special reports. He will also be Holt’s backup on breaking news at NBC. Williams will return in mid-August.
“Brian now has the chance to earn back everyone’s trust. His excellent work over twenty-two years at NBC News has earned him that opportunity,” said Andy Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC.
Lester Holt, who has filled in for Williams at Nightly News, will now be the permanent anchor, making him the first African American solo host of a network evening newscast. "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,” said Holt. “Day-in and day-out under an uncomfortable spotlight they have produced world-class journalism.”
During his four months in the chair, Holt has more or less retained the ratings under Williams, though NBC's five-year streak of winning the total viewers was ended by ABC's World News Tonight. Since then, the two newscasts have jostled back and forth for the lead; ABC has mostly been leading among the adults 25-54 news demo as well (though ABC had been cutting into NBC's lead since before the scandal and even before David Muir took over for Diane Sawyer last fall).
While the prospects of Williams regaining the anchor chair at Nightly News were dim at best ever since he was suspended for exaggerating his field reporting feats, the fact that Williams will remain with NBC can be seen as some sort of victory.
“I’m sorry. I said things that weren’t true. I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust. I will greatly miss working with the team on Nightly News, but I know the broadcast will be in excellent hands with Lester Holt as anchor,” said Williams, who had a sit-down interview with Today’s Matt Lauer. The two-day interview will air onToday on Friday morning and onNBC Nightly News on Friday evening.