NBC News made it official Thursday afternoon: The network will bring back suspended anchor Brian Williams, but he will no longer be the face of NBC’s Nightly News.
Instead, Williams will become an anchor of news reports at MSNBC, the network’s cable news channel, NBC said.
Williams was suspended by the network for six months in February for a series of exaggerated statements he made in TV appearances over the years, particularly his tale of coming under rocket attack during the early days of the Iraq War in 2003.
Lester Holt, who has substituted for Williams during his suspension, will be his permanent successor, NBC said.
Williams’s continued employment at NBC has been in doubt since numerous instances of embellishment by the anchor came to light in media accounts. In an internal review of his work, NBC found at least 11 instances in which he gave distorted accounts of his reporting exploits, damaging his credibility as a journalist. The network compiled a video of his statements, a damning document that was critical in his removal as anchor of the program he has been the face of for more than a decade.
Williams’s sudden fall brought down the most popular news figure on television; with Williams in the anchor chair, Nightly News led the audience ratings among network newscasts for more than five years.
With Williams on hiatus and Holt as anchor, NBC’s streak ended in late March when ABC’s World News Tonight briefly surged ahead in the Nielsen ratings. However, Holt – the first African-American to anchor a network newscast solo – has kept NBC competitive with ABC, a major factor in NBC’s decision to keep him.