Bolstering several recent reports on how the scandal over Brian Williams’s various exaggerations will play out, on Wednesday night CNN Money reported that Williams has reached a tentative agreement with NBC to remain at the network when his six-month suspension ends in August — though he won’t get his old job back. On Thursday, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack confirmed that Lester Holt, who’s been anchoring NBC Nightly News in Williams’s absence, will take over the broadcast permanently. Williams, meanwhile, will be given “the chance to earn back everyone’s trust” as an “anchor of breaking news and special reports” on MSNBC. Oh, and he’ll “serve as a breaking news anchor for NBC News live special reports when Holt is not available.”
Lack also confirmed that Williams has taped an interview with Matt Lauer, parts of which will air on Friday’s Today and Nightly News. From CNN:
Breaking his silence for the first time since February, Williams began his statement with two simple words: “I’m sorry.”
“I said things that weren’t true,” he said. “I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust.”
Many had expected that NBC would boot Williams rather than inviting further attacks on the credibility of its news division, and a “person close to Mr. Williams” spun the development as a vindication for the former anchor. The source told the New York Times that the decision is a sign that NBC didn’t find Williams’s exaggerations so egregious that they couldn’t keep him. The deal works for the network because MSNBC is reportedly planning to add more hard news to its daytime programming; plus, as Politico noted earlier this year, Williams just signed a five-year contract worth $10 million a year, and stood to make as much as $20 million to $30 million if he was forced out.
Of course, what we really want to know is whether Williams’s new role will allow him to keep slow-jamming the news.