Brian Williams the anchor of Nightly News on NBC has been suspended for fabricating accounts during the 2003 Iraq War coverage and claiming his life had been endangered during an attack.
NBC News President Deborah Turness recently announced the suspension of the Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. The suspension will last for 6 months and will be without pay.
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The punishment is a result of false retelling by Brian Williams during the 2003 Iraq war coverage. The fabricated account of such a critical coverage event has supposedly destroyed the credibility of Brian Williams as a journalist and anchor.
The controversy had also called into question the credibility of NBC news as to how such a mistake was allowed to happen. So it was no surprise when Deborah Turness issued the suspension of Williams in a statement, and proclaimed that such an act was ‘Wrong’ and ‘Inappropriate’ of someone in Williams position. Turness further explained that the action was ‘Appropriate’ and it was NBC’s responsibility to justly deal with such a situation.
Since 2003 Williams has stated at multiple events that while he was in Iraq the helicopter he was abroad was hit by a grenade. The grenade was rocket propelled and due to the attack he was forced to spend the night during a dust storm in Iraq.
Brian Williams went on to write a book on the incidence called ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ and even appeared on the many talk shows to recount the falsified events. In 2007 the facts of the story simply didn’t seem to add up and people started questioning him.
However it wasn’t until a Facebook thread by Brian Williams himself dishonestly claiming to have been under attack in Iraq, which exposed the complete truth. Lance Reynolds was one of the occupants of the helicopter actually hit by a grenade.
On January 30th Reynolds left a comment stating that he does not recall Williams ever being abroad his helicopter that was hit, on the Facebook thread. Other occupants of the original helicopter hit also commented and it was revealed that Williams came upon the attacked helicopter after half an hour and asked the attendants what happened and then took off again while they were all stuck there.
Brian Williams in a last and desperate attempt apologised on the Facebook thread and claimed that he had ‘Misremembered’ the events because he was out of his mind at the time. However the apology came a little too late and isn’t good enough for redemption.
Read below full memo of NBC News president Deborah Turness.
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.”