NEW YORK (AP) — NBC News said Thursday that Brian Williams will not return to his job as “Nightly News” anchor following his suspension for misrepresenting himself, but will be given a second chance as a breaking news anchor at the cable network MSNBC.
Lester Holt, who has been subbing for Williams since his suspension in February, will take over the job full-time, the network said.
Williams was suspended in February for falsely claiming he had been in a helicopter hit by enemy fire during the Iraq War. He also faced scrutiny over his gripping accounts of Hurricane Katrina, the disaster that burnished his nightly news bona fides almost a decade ago.
NBC launched an internal investigation that found Williams “made a number of inaccurate statements about his own role and experiences covering events in the field.”
“Brian now has the chance to earn back everyone’s trust,” said Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC. “His excellent work over 22 years at NBC News has earned him that opportunity.”
In a statement, Williams said: “I’m sorry. I said things that weren’t true. I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust.”
Williams has filmed an interview with his NBC News colleague, Matt Lauer, that will be aired Friday on the “Today” show and on “Nightly News.”
NBC, which had signed Williams to a new five-year contract last fall, had been negotiating his new role over the past few weeks. Network executives didn’t immediately make themselves available to explain their decision-making process, or why it was deemed Williams should not report the news on the evening newscast but could do so on MSNBC.
“As you would imagine this was a difficult decision,” said Steve Burke, CEO of NBC Universal, in a statement. “Brian Williams has been with NBC News for a very long time and he has covered countless news events with honor and skill. As I said in February, we believe in second chances, and I am hopeful that this new beginning will be good for Brian and the organization.”
There is no indication that NBC plans to release results of its investigation into Williams’ conduct. Burke said that “this matter has been extensively analyzed and deliberated on by NBC. We are moving forward.”
Holt is a veteran who has been with MSNBC and NBC since 2000, and before that worked in local news in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. He will be the first African-American to solely anchor a network evening newscast; Max Robinson was part of a three-person team at ABC News in the late 1970s and early 1980s.