How can NBC keep Brian Williams?

First Posted: 2/7/2015

NEW YORK — NBC anchorman Brian Williams has admitted he “made a mistake” (read: lied) when he claimed he was in the middle of an exciting Black Hawk Down-esque incident in Iraq in 2003.

What now? He’ll be fired, for sure!

Isn’t that what Williams’ most august predecessor, Tom Brokaw, demands?

Nope. “I have neither demanded nor suggested Brian be fired,” Brokaw said in an e-mail to the Huffington Post. “His future is up to Brian and NBC.”

NBC News president Deborah Turness on Friday told her staff by e-mail that she has discussed the issue with Williams and his Nightly News team. The memo read:

“This has been a difficult few days for all of us at NBC News.

“Yesterday, Brian and I spoke to the Nightly News team. And this morning at the Editorial Exchange, we both addressed the wider group. Brian apologized once again, and specifically expressed how sorry he is for the impact this has had on all of you and on this proud organization.

“As you would expect, we have a team dedicated to gathering the facts to help us make sense of all that has transpired. We’re working on what the best next steps are — and when we have something to communicate we will of course share it with you.

“Since joining NBC News, I’ve seen great strength and resilience. We are a close-knit family, and your response this week has made that even clearer.

“As a relentless news agenda marches on, thank you again for continuing to do what we do best — bring the most important stories of the day to our audience.”

Turness has assigned Richard Esposito, the head of NBC News own investigative unit, to lead an internal investigation.

Questions have also been raised about statements Williams made on coverage of Hurricane Katrina, which was one of his proudest moments at NBC. In a 2006 interview with former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Williams twice referenced seeing a body float down a street in New Orleans.

“When you look out of your hotel room window in the French Quarter and watch a man float by face down, when you see bodies that you last saw in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and swore to yourself that you would never see in your country,” Williams said.

Several minutes later, Williams again talked about seeing the body as he discussed how it felt to cover the storm.

“I felt something get dislodged that changes the usual arm’s length relationship between me and the stories I cover. These are Americans. These are my brothers and sisters. And one of them was floating by.”

The remarks drew suspicion because during Katrina, there was relatively little flooding in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Williams was staying at the Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Williams anchored “Nightly News” from New York on Friday, making no mention of the criticisms of his work.

He has become a subject of mockery, including a New York Post front cover that depicted him with a long Pinocchio’s nose, over the headline “A Nose for News.”

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