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Exiled news anchor Brian Williams returning to NBC. Sort of.

Written By | Jun 18, 2015

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2015 – According to an anonymously sourced report on CNN, NBC and its exiled evening news anchor Brian Williams “have come to a tentative agreement that will keep Williams at the network after his six-month suspension ends in August.

“It will likely be announced sometime Thursday.

“Williams will not be returning to the “NBC Nightly News” anchor chair; his fill-in Lester Holt will become the program’s permanent anchor.”

The report continues somewhat vaguely, claiming, “Williams may have other responsibilities as well. Details are still scarce and subject to change.

“‘No one knows anything,’ one anchor at the network complained Wednesday.

“It has yet to be determined when and how Williams will express regret for the storytelling exaggerations that led NBC to suspend him in February.”

That final sentence above, while diplomatic (CNN and NBC are part of the same media circus), is also hilarious. Williams’ now-discredited Middle East war stories detailing his heroic endurance in the face of danger were not “storytelling exaggerations.” They were outright lies that shot a big hole in his journalistic credibility.

Details of Williams’ return may follow later on Thursday, or not, depending on what kind of agreement the network has hashed out with its now former prime time news anchor. He likely has some legal protections embedded in his lucrative network contract that effectively prohibit his outright firing.

On the other hand, since Williams long ago demonstrated he was and is an integral member-in-good-standing of what Rush Limbaugh accurately calls “the state-run media,” it was also a foregone conclusion that he wouldn’t be sacked, publicly reviled or permanently impoverished.

We will likely be treated first to some kind of staged, on-air, public penance by Williams. He’ll then take his seat among the serial liars at MSNBC sometime during or after August in a matter as yet to be determined. Eventually, he’ll probably have a chance to work his way back into the starting rotation once the current scandal is allowed to disappear into the usual American memory hole.

What is unlikely, however, is that Williams’ replacement at the NBC anchor desk, Lester Holt − already being touted by racial hair-splitters as “the first black solo anchor of a weekday network nightly newscast” − will keep his new chair as long as he wants, unless his “Nightly News” ratings take a deep dive to the bottom of the ratings tank.*


* Max Robinson, familiar to older Washington TV viewers for his roughly 10-year stint (1969-1978) co-anchoring the DC evening news on ABC’s WTOP-TV (currently WUSA-TV), long ago became the first black journalist to co-anchor ABC’s national network news telecast in 1978. Robinson worked in tandem with Peter Jennings for a time, until personal issues caused his star to fade, ultimately leading to his early death from AIDS at the age of 49.

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Terry Ponick

Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Senior Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17