Brian Williams to return to NBC, but not to anchor chair (UPDATED)

Lester Holt will become the permanent anchor of "NBC Nightly News"

By Joanna Rothkopf
Published June 18, 2015 12:45PM (EDT)
Brian Williams                       (AP/Evan Agostini)
Brian Williams (AP/Evan Agostini)

Update (1:45 p.m.): Brian Williams will join MSNBC as anchor of breaking news and special reports at the end of his six month suspension, according to Deadline. Lester Holt will become permanent anchor of "NBC Nightly News." Williams will also serve as anchor for NBC News live special reports if Holt is unavailable.

"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," read a statement from NBC. 

"Lester has done outstanding work for NBC News over the last ten years, and he's performed remarkably well over the last few months under very tough circumstances," said Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC. "In many ways, television news stands at a crossroads, and Lester is the perfect person to meet the moment."

Earlier: Brian Williams will return to NBC News after his six month suspension is up, but lose his position as anchor of "NBC Nightly News," according to reports. Lester Holt, Williams' replacement, will become the evening show's permanent anchor.

The New York Times' Emily Steel, John Koblin and Ravi Somaiya report:

Exactly what Mr. Williams's new role at NBC entails is not clear. But revitalizing MSNBC, which has suffered sharp ratings declines, is known to be a priority of Andrew Lack, the former president of NBC News who was brought back in March to head the division. With the evening news anchor decision out of the way, Mr. Lack is expected to focus a good portion of his attention on fixing MSNBC, and in the coming months, the cable network is expected to introduce more hard news and more reporting from NBC News talent during daytime hours, according to a person briefed on the plans. That would be something of a break from its more opinion-based programming.

Williams was suspended for six months in February after an internal investigation found that the 56-year-old had repeatedly and significantly embellished stories from his days as a reporter. The most glaring instance took place during the Iraq War, when Williams claimed he was in a military helicopter that came under fire.

An official announcement is expected to be made some time on Thursday.


Joanna Rothkopf

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Brian Williams Cable News Iraq War Lester Holt Msnbc Nbc News Nbc Nightly News Television