Will NBC ever let Brian Williams return?

Following Brian Williams suspension for embellishing an Iraq War story, the network is putting a familiar face in the anchor chair. Have we seen the last of Brian Williams? 

Matt Sayles/FILE/AP
FILE PHOTO- NBC says it is suspending Brian Williams as "Nightly News" anchor and managing editor for six months without pay for misleading the public about his experiences covering the Iraq War. Lester Holt will fill in for Williams in the meantime.

The news of Brian Williams's suspension and NBC's naming of Lester Holt to be his temporary replacement has made waves across the media world.

Mr. Holt, the longtime weekend anchor on the Today Show and NBC Nightly News is a familiar face to viewers. The network will give him six months to win back the audience who may have turned away following Mr. Williams’s embellishing of a report during the time he was covering the invasion of Iraq for NBC.

The controversy has prompted calls for his firing and criticism from other members of the media, as well as calls for restraint. On Wednesday, another voice from the broadcast news world weighed in on the matter.

Television and radio host Larry King was approached by a TMZ reporter and asked about Williams. Mr. King said that the whole incident was unfortunate, but mentioned he did not think Williams would be welcomed back as lead the anchor at NBC.  

“I like Brian [but] what he did was not excusable, but I hope he comes back though,” Mr. King told TMZ. When asked if he could see Williams returning after six months, King said, “It will be hard [to return] because the whole basis of the news is trust. But America forgives.”

In six months’ time, America may very well have forgiven Williams. But if Lester Holt performs well as the lead anchor, the network would most likely balk at the opportunity to give Williams back his hold job, according to King.

“[Holt] is going to do [the broadcasts] for six months. I think if he gets good ratings and [NBC] like[s] him, they’ll keep him.”

In the broadcasts since the announcement of the suspension, NBC has removed Williams’s name from the Nightly News title, according to the Los Angeles Times. This week Holt had to report on NBC's response to the incident and he said, "Brian is a member of our family but so are you, our viewers, and we will work every night to be worthy of your trust," Mr. Holt said.

However, there may be a growing population inside the walls of 30 Rock who are not in support of Williams returning to the anchor desk, according to CNN. Now NBC executives are left to debate two difficult options for a news organization: Do they stick it out with Williams and let America’s onetime favorite anchor return to his post, or will ratings and profits be higher without him?

However, if the powers that be inside NBC are basing their decision off ratings alone, it could very well spell the end for Mr. Williams who was viewed as the logical, well-established replacement for Tom Brokaw when the veteran anchor retired in 2004.

ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” has reportedly experienced a huge ratings spike since Friday, the only evening network newscast to see a boost in the all-important 25-54 age demographic since Friday. The ratings grab continued for ABC as Mr. Muir’s newscast was the only one to see a ratings boost from the previous week, going from 1.5 million to over 2.3 million viewers, according to the report.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Will NBC ever let Brian Williams return?
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/USA-Update/2015/0212/Will-NBC-ever-let-Brian-Williams-return
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe