MEDIA

Brian Williams Suspended From NBC News For 6 Months

02/10/2015 07:56 pm ET | Updated Feb 11, 2015

Brian Williams has been suspended from NBC for six months, the network announced on Tuesday.

"We have decided today to suspend Brian Williams as Managing Editor and Anchor of NBC Nightly News for six months. The suspension will be without pay and is effective immediately," NBC News President Deborah Turness said in an email to employees. "We let Brian know of our decision earlier today."

Lester Holt, the program's weekend anchor, will serve as a temporary replacement.

NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke released the following statement:

“This has been a painful period for all concerned and we appreciate your patience while we gathered the available facts. By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate. Brian’s life’s work is delivering the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone’s trust.”

Williams took a leave of absence from the show last week after he admitted he fabricated a story about his time covering the war in Iraq. Williams claimed multiple times that he was in a helicopter that was hit by an RPG in 2003. However, after several soldiers expressed doubt about the story's veracity, Williams confessed that he was never in that helicopter.

“I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago,” Williams said Wednesday on "Nightly News." “I want to apologize.”

Since his admission, several other of Williams' tales have come under scrutiny. NBC said last week that, in addition to his Iraq war reporting, they would also be investigating his Peabody Award-winning coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

The Washington Post also pointed out that the NBC News anchor has told varying versions of a story about being in a helicopter over Israel in 2006. In one instance, he said that he narrowly missed rocket fire. In other cases, he described the activity as being farther away.

The Stars And Stripes reporter who revealed that Williams' telling of his experience in Iraq was inaccurate said that he did not get any satisfaction from the anchor's suspension. "Like the vets I spoke with, I just wanted to set the record straight," Travis Tritten tweeted.

Williams joined NBC in 1993. He became anchor of "Nightly News" in 2004.

Read the full memo from NBC News President Deborah Turness below:

All,

We have decided today to suspend Brian Williams as Managing Editor and Anchor of NBC Nightly News for six months. The suspension will be without pay and is effective immediately. We let Brian know of our decision earlier today. Lester Holt will continue to substitute Anchor the NBC Nightly News.

Our review, which is being led by Richard Esposito working closely with NBCUniversal General Counsel Kim Harris, is ongoing, but I think it is important to take you through our thought process in coming to this decision.

While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position.

In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field.

As Managing Editor and Anchor of Nightly News, Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times.

Steve Burke, Pat Fili and I came to this decision together. We felt it would have been wrong to disregard the good work Brian has done and the special relationship he has forged with our viewers over 22 years. Millions of Americans have turned to him every day, and he has been an important and well-respected part of our organization.

As I’m sure you understand, this was a very hard decision. Certainly there will be those who disagree. But we believe this suspension is the appropriate and proportionate action.

This has been a difficult time. But NBC News is bigger than this moment. You work so hard and dedicate yourselves each and every day to the important work of bringing trusted, credible news to our audience. Because of you, your loyalty, your dedication, NBC News is an organization we can – and should - all be proud of. We will get through this together.

Steve Burke asked me to share the following message.

“This has been a painful period for all concerned and we appreciate your patience while we gathered the available facts. By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate. Brian’s life’s work is delivering the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone’s trust.”

Deborah

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