Brian Williams: “I’m Sorry. I Said Things That Weren’t True”

“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,” Brian Williams said this morning in a stunning apology that accompanied the network’s announcement he is returning to the air but not the NBC Nightly News anchor chair. “I will greatly miss working with the team on Nightly News, but I know the broadcast will be in excellent hands with Lester Holt as anchor. I will support him 100% as he has always supported me. I am grateful for the chance to return to covering the news. My new role will allow me to focus on important issues and events in our country and around the world, and I look forward to it.”

In its press release this morning, NBC said Williams had been reassigned to MSNBC, Nightly News fill-in anchor Holt had been named anchor of Nightly, and Williams also will serve as a “breaking news anchor for NBC News live special reports when Holt is not available.”

The network confirmed Williams, who’d barely been seen in public since stepping away from the anchor chair he’d held since 2004, had taped an interview with Today co-anchor Matt Lauer that would air tomorrow, answering the question as to how Williams would begin performing the stations of the cross before returning to air in mid-August. That interview will air on Today and on Nightly News tomorrow.

This morning’s mea culpa stands in marked contrast to the “apology” Williams made on air back in early February.

In that statement he said he’d “made a mistake in recalling the incidents of 12 years ago” in an “effort to honor and thank a veteran who protected me and so many others after a ground-fire incident in the desert during the Iraq War invasion.” It did not play well with reporters covering the story and other industry observers.

NBCU suspended Williams for six months without pay back in February,  for having falsely claimed in a recent Nightly News broadcast that he was riding in a military helicopter hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq in March 2003 – a claim Williams previously had made on Late Show With David Letterman. NBC News launched an investigation into allegations Williams might have misrepresented other location experiences while on assignment for the division.

NBCUniversal today referenced that review of Williams’ “significant reporting in the field and commentary related to that reporting on NBC News platforms and in other public appearances over a period of more than 10 years.” The review found Williams “made a number of inaccurate statements about his own role and experiences covering events in the field, the company said in the announcement.

”The statements in question did not for the most part occur on NBC News platforms or in the immediate aftermath of the news events, but rather on late-night programs and during public appearances, usually years after the news events in question,” the company said.

“Brian now has the chance to earn back everyone’s trust. His excellent work over twenty-two years at NBC News has earned him that opportunity,” NBC News chairman Andy Lack said this morning while NBCU CEO Steve Burke repeated what he’d said in February about believing in second chances, adding, ” I am hopeful that this new beginning will be good for Brian and the organization.”

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