NBC News Suspends Brian Williams for 6 Months, Continues Investigation Into His 'Inappropriate' Iraq War Report

Brian Williams Suspended

Brian Williams has been suspended from his post as NBC Nightly News chief anchor and managing editor for six months, without pay.

The decision comes in the wake of recent controversy regarding Williams’ coverage of the Iraq War.

“We have decided today to suspend Brian Williams as Managing Editor and Anchor of NBC Nightly News for six months,” NBC News President Deborah Turness said in a statement. “The suspension will be without pay and is effective immediately. We let Brian know of our decision earlier today. Lester Holt will continue to substitute Anchor the NBC Nightly News.”

Turness’ letter to the press goes on to say that NBC News’ investigation into Williams’ “wrong and completely inappropriate” “misrepresent[ation] of events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003” is “ongoing,” led by investigator Richard Esposito and NBCU’s general counsel.

“As Managing Editor and Anchor of Nightly News,” she continued, “Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high stands of the news division at all times.”

In weighing possible disciplinary actions against Williams, she said, “We felt it would have been wrong to disregard the good work Brian has done and the special relationship he has forged with our viewers over 22 years. Millions of Americans have turned to him every day, and he has been an important and well-respected part of our organization…. Certainly there will be those who disagree [with our decision]. But we believe this suspension is the appropriate and proportionate action.”

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130 Comments
  1. LT says:

    He’s done…

    • John NYC says:

      Many certainly with so. You can practically see the people marching to the network carrying the torches and pitchforks….

      Seems this is about a lot more than which of four helicopters Williams was on 12 years ago…

      • John NYC says:

        “wish”….

      • TV Gord says:

        No pitchforks or torches here. Just a requirement for accountability. He lied. He lied in his apology. He’s a liar. I hate to say it, because I admired him until this happened. You don’t–over the course of a decade–forget that you weren’t in an aircraft that was hit by an RPG. If you had been, you would know, and if you weren’t, you would know that, too. He’s a liar, and if NBC lets him back on the air in six months, it will be a black mark on the credibility of NBC News.

        • John NYC says:

          I sort of doubt that. There’s zero time being given to the hero Williams was commemorating in his recent broadcast where he made that error (which when it was pointed out he was wring, he apologized) which leads me to believe this is less about honor and far more about the gotcha political climate that’s been roiling around for the last two and more decades.

          • Yes. God forbid we hold people accountable for their immoral actions. Or basically NOT doing their job. (To whit: journalists are supposed to report news, not invent/fabricate it.)

            And no, to a point made earlier: this is NOT just about some helicopter story. There are questions about other events and realities he has “misremembered” — including a story he likely invented during Hurricane Katrina, for starters.

        • Julie says:

          I agree – embellishing is one thing (which I also think has no place in journalism) but outright lying destroys any credibility you may have had as a journalist. I think he should be done, and anyone other than Brian Williams would have been fired, not suspended. But I expect that NBC is hoping that our short attention spans will forget or at least have forgiven him by the time six months is up and he’ll be back on air as if it never happened. Of course, that’s after Dateline airs an hour long interview in which he apologizes for getting his facts mixed up and suddenly remembers that he was not, in fact, in a helicopter that got hit by an RPG.

      • Greg Barriere says:

        Agree

  2. Maybe he can take over the Daily Show.

  3. DavidJ says:

    Jeez, kind of a bit much for embellishing some personal anecdotes on a talk show.

    • fiberlicious says:

      Embellish, my behind. I adored Brian Williams. I respected Brian Williams. Brian Williams was my latter-day Walter Kronkite.

      Brian Williams did not “embellish.” He did not ‘misspeak.” He did not “confuse events.” The aircraft he was on landed AN HOUR after the real one in this story. Brian Williams flat out LIED.

      I’m actually a little bit heartbroken.

      • karen Kelly says:

        Agreed! I adore Brian as well. I will switch to ABC for my news resource!!!

        • Boo says:

          ABC is not good or I’d already be watching, geez not even Lester gets your viewings ha ha ha.

        • Gene Cline says:

          I think everyone makes many mistakes in life. I am going to ABC News until Brian returns. NBC Universal needs to ride in a war machine now and then to see what the real world is. Welcome back night for Brian Williams can not come soon enough for me.

      • Boo says:

        Dang girl, harsh. I feel the same about him been watching him for years, maybe he remembered it differently??? Who knows, but I know I sometimes remember things differently, I’m not going to say he lied so adamantly.

        • TV Gord says:

          Don’t you think you would remember if you were on a plane that was hit by enemy fire? Or if you weren’t? Brian was my favorite news anchor until now, but come on. He lied, and he didn’t apologize for lying. He apologized for “misremembering” (not a word, as far as I can tell). His integrity is shot with me.

          I wish it were a couple of weeks ago, but I can’t “misremember” what he did.

          • dj says:

            Agreed. You don’t forget a situation like that. He just enjoyed the “temporary” glory. Sad considering how many men and women have been living that kind of danger for years.

          • John NYC says:

            Show me a quote where he literally states his aircraft was hit? The recent one has him saying of the flight of 4, 2 were hit. Which is accurate from soldiers accounts. Plus, IIRC, his aircraft did take a couple of small arms hits and the Chinook is huge so that’s something that may not have been even noticeable until after the mission. Still some sorting to do it seems.

          • TV Gord says:

            “Two of our four helicopters were hit by ground-fire, including the one I was in, RPG and AK-47.” –on The Late Show with David Letterman, March 2013 (It’s on YouTube, so you can see for yourself.)

            “The helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG.” –on the Nightly News, last month.

        • CBWBDK1 says:

          You must be joking? He remembered it differently? HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! You’re hilarious!!

          • John NYC says:

            On Letterman he said of the flight of 4 helicopters two were hit with an rpg dud round and AK-47 rounds, which is exactly what appears to have happened. And he WAS a passenger on that flight.

          • Julie says:

            He specifically said the one he was in was hit, hence the quote “…including the one I was in.” Since the helicopter he was in was NOT hit, that is a lie. You don’t forget that you were actually not on a helicopter that was hit by an RPG. He lied.

      • TV Gord says:

        This is EXACTLY the way I feel!

      • The suspension of Brian Williams breaks my heart. I understand the need for truth in the news, but my heart is broken. Good vibes for Brian and his family and I certainly will look forward to his return.

    • Julie says:

      And NBC Nightly news is hardly a talk show. It’s supposed to be an newscast on which Journalists / Reporters REPORT the news, not lie, twist, invent or even embellish stories. Any other journalist would have been fired outright. And not only is his recounting of the facts that happened in this situation being called into question, but certain other stories he has reported on as well, including, as an earlier poster mentioned, his reporting on events surrounding Hurricane Katrina.

  4. BrightLight says:

    And the big winner of all of this is Lester Holt. Congrats!

    • Grace Noble says:

      I don’t know about that. I read where the NBC brass says Lester is “not a leading candidate for the job.” I don’t know why not. He works harder than anybody else at NBC and he’s crediblt as far as I know. It makes no sense that he is the go-to guy to fill in for Williams whenever they need him, but then they don’t consider him good enough to to the job permanently. Go figure.

  5. robert bulmer says:

    Does this mean that others who have deliberately lied will be suspended as well………Just asking!

  6. haldrich says:

    Talk about hedging your bets. If Holt does good they keep him, but if ratings slump bring back the LIAR and say all is forgiven.

    • David4 says:

      Exactly. This gives them some time.

    • Julie says:

      Exactly – that’s why he wasn’t outright fired as anyone else would probably have been. They’re thinking that our attention spans are as short as they think they are and all will be forgotten or at least forgiven at the end of six months. He’ll be back.

      • fiberlicious says:

        Shades of Detroit, early 80s. The star news anchor was famously a drunk. He would periodically say or do something unacceptable on the air, station management would send him to dry out. Ratings plummeted while he was off, so they’d bring him back, ad nauseum. Until, after the anchor challenged mayor Coleman Young to meet him on the sidewalk for a fistfight (it was an epic thing to watch him implode on live TV), got yanked and tossed back into the bin….and ratings stayed steady. Buh-bye, old chum – you’re fired.

        It’s all about the money. It’s ALWAYS all about the money.,

  7. Annie says:

    I’m actually pretty sad about this. Week nights at home without hearing Brian Williams’s voice in our living room won’t feel the same.

    • karen Kelly says:

      I am Heartbroken!!! I am switching new stations. Watch out NBC. Your ratings are going down the tubes.

      • Mary says:

        If they kept him on they probably would lose viewers also. Sorry, but I for one would question what he says in regards to something pertinent.

  8. Tran says:

    Lester Holt should be a great fit to take over for Brian Williams. Wish Scott Pelley and David Muir the best of luck.

  9. Meme says:

    He would’ve been promoted at Fox News

    • Drew says:

      Yup. The face of NBC News turns out to be a big fat liar, and we’re still making Fox News jokes. Because that makes sense.

      • Me says:

        Did you really expect any different? I am just surprised it wasn’t the first post. Sad

      • JD says:

        Foxnews just spent a weekend not a month ago apologizing for their exaggerations and lies about no go zones in Europe. So yes, it makes sense.

        • Drew says:

          And you no longer have the high ground to criticize them from. If you wish to hold them accountable but not NBC, you’re just a hypocrite. This story has nothing to do with Fox News. You could say that it’s the sad state of the news media in general, which is fair enough. But turning it into a Fox News bash is more of a reflection on how well you’ve been programmed. How does it feel to know that the brainwashing has taken so well in you? How else does it make sense that you see a story about a lack of journalistic ethics involving someone completely unrelated to Fox News and your first instinct is to grab the pitchforks and torches and head for Fox News?

          • mary says:

            I agree Drew! I watch Fox News to see what is really happening in the world; and not how big Kim Kardashian’s butt is or that Bruce Jenner is really a woman!! However, I also watch BBC America for unvarnished news and did enjoy Brian Williams at 6:30 before Jeopardy started. i am very sad for him, and perhaps he fell under the “big fish story” that most of mankind has succumbed to once in their lives.

          • John NYC says:

            Here’s a hint about that “really happening”? Palm trees do not grow in Wisconsin no matter how many videos FOX show of them allegedly there in the background of people allegedly protesting Walker.

      • John NYC says:

        Doctored, miss-labeled photos of protest events in “Wisconsin” showing PALM TREES ring a bell?

    • Kathy says:

      And given a big, fat raise.

  10. Jacky Hissem says:

    I would not be surprised if the network did not “encourage” Brian Williams to lie for ratings. Paula Deen lost everything for saying the “n” word decades ago. However, no one seems too excited that Sheri Sheppard “created” a baby and now that she is mad at her soon to be ex-husband she is dumping the baby. I haven’t heard anything about preventing her from working. I think we have lost site of what is really important in our society.

    • JD says:

      Exactly what news network is Sherri working for that you feel is inappropriate? She left the view 7 months ago…

      • Jacky Hissem says:

        I realize that Sherri Sheppard did not work for a news network, nor did Paula Deen. I am just making the point that there certainly is not equality in punishment. Everyone should be held to certain standards, not just news persons. Lying to make yourself look better in the news does not compare to abandoning a child that you signed a contract for a surrogate and then once things went messy you are done. Sherri is still being hired for jobs, she has not be boycotted or suspended.

    • Julie says:

      Sherri Shephard is not a journalist and The View is not a news program. It’s a talk show. Should they lie? Of course not. But do they – who cares because they’re not reporting the news? No responsibility not to lie, fake or embellish actual facts.

      • cdhaskell says:

        He told a lie so many times. I wanted to turn on the news and learn the truth and not lie that he need to explain so many time. It is no wonder that some people are stop watching the news.

  11. Johnny West says:

    To bad they don’t hold politicians up to the standard he’s being held up to.

  12. Johnny West says:

    Reblogged this on Dark Side Johnny and commented:
    To bad they don’t hold politicians up to the same standards…

  13. Mike R. says:

    Should be fired, if he was anyone else he would have been. Every effective journalist needs credibility, and Williams just lost his.

  14. Kelley says:

    A bit overkill, NBC. Six months suspension?

  15. You all are making a HUGE mistake. Everyone has memory lapses and recalls things inaccurately. I certainly don’t think this was a big enough problem that it warranted a six month suspension.get real. You’ve just sent me overto a different station.

    • Kerri says:

      Linda – if he had told the story once, you might say it was a memory lapse. But he told it over the course of several years and embellished it as it went along. It was like a fish tale. You catch a guppy and by the time the story ends, it is a 500 lb shark. He knew what he was doing which was trying to make himself look better. Now, there are reports that he did the same thing during Katrina. This wasn’t a mistake. This was a blatant misrepresentation of facts over the course of years. He should have been fired. You can no longer trust that when he reports he will be accurate and truthful.

  16. This is freaking pathetic. I’m all for journalistic integrity but given how piss-poor in general the media’s been with that of late, the blood in the water tactics on the guy have just been disgusting. Williams almost certainly deserved punishment, sure, he somehow got details about a story confused over time (embellishing happens we just tend to not expect it by a newsman who then reports the embellished story as news), but the news cycle treatment of this whole thing was just overblown.

  17. DM says:

    You know NBC trying to act “responsible” is kind of over the top.
    Politicians have told more lies & conflated reality far worse than anything Brian Williams did
    or did not do. These various politicians have never ever been called on the carpet and kicked to the curb as NBC as done regarding BW. I think that in one month the investigation would be over. What are going to do in six months-pick their noses? Six months is pulling the rug out from under him similar to what happened to Don Draper in Mad Men. Six months w/o salary? Why again to show how responsible they are? Look at the garbage on the NBC/MNBC schedule-they waste a lot of money .Yes, Brian William’s credibility has taken a hit but NBC bring him back! One month that’s understandable but 6 months?? What they are doing is pushing BW to quit so they do not have to pay him severance pay. .I hope that all will work
    out for him. If various veteran’s groups are upset with BW’s “confusion” over his Iraq reporting
    I would like to remind them that the real problem is not Mr. Williams but various politicians &
    interest groups they are the ones that are their problem.

    • dan says:

      Brian’s current contract is $5 million a year. He’ll lose $2.5 million for the six month non-paid suspension. I’m sure he’ll be fine. He is in year one of a five year contract. The parties can mutually agree to a buyout if they want to end the relationship permanently (just ask Ann Curry). I’m not worried about him. I prefer Scott Pelley on CBS.

  18. starfire2014 says:

    I think that this is BS. We all have made mistakes of memory and this was all that was. Mr. Williams is the reason we have watched NBC News for the last ten years and now we’ll shop for other news.

    • Sharon says:

      Let’s boycott NBC evening news!! Seriouly

    • TV Gord says:

      So, you might “misremember” that an aircraft you were on was shot down when it wasn’t? This wasn’t some run-of-the-mill anecdote that he claims is causing confusion. If you were on a plane that was hit by enemy fire, you know it. If you weren’t, you know that, too!

      • John NYC says:

        He never stated his aircraft was shot down. He said of the flight of 4 helicopters he was riding with 2 were hit by a dud rpg and AK-47 fire. Which they, in fact, were. All four aircraft did also land out in the desert….

        That’s a large part of the problem: other people misstating what he actually said, either because he worded it sloppily or from some other agenda against the man himself. Probably some of both.

        • TV Gord says:

          You are incorrect. Go to YouTube and watch the Letterman segment for yourself. He says, “Two of our four helicopters were hit by ground-fire, including the one I was in, RPG and AK-47.” There was no mention of a “dud”.

  19. cdhaskell says:

    I can’t wait to see how long this mess that Brian Williams cause last. It will also interested to what happened when he return to his job in six months.

  20. Kay L says:

    I understand completely that his job is to tell the truth, but how many of us can honestly say we’ve never told a bold-faced lie to prove a point, especially at work? The event he referred to actually happened and he used very poor judgement and said it happened to him rather than report the truth, because it hit the point home for viewers. Unless I’m missing something, that doesn’t seem like something that should destroy an otherwise upstanding career.

  21. Sharon says:

    This is ridiculous!!! I won’t be watching the evening news… “he didn’t start a war or kill anyone” I can’t remember what I ate for dinner last Friday!! Just saying I will miss Brian Williams and I for one respect him and loved his journalistic integrity. I’m sure everyone has an oops moment.

  22. Erin Criss says:

    I cannot imagine 6 months without Brian Williams and hopefully this will be reduced.

  23. BarryFlash says:

    I can’t believe so many people are defending Brian Williams as if he was their son. He will get another job maybe giving his opinion. He’s far left. He can lie for the Obama administration when he’s available.

  24. Lysh says:

    I realize what he did was wrong, but I’m going to miss him. Our dinners are always scheduled at 6:30 so we could eat and watch Brain Williams. I’m disappointed. In six months, we’ll probably forget about this and they’ll just quietly tell him to not return ever.

  25. doris says:

    He did it to himself!

  26. Et Al says:

    Does this mean he’ll be back in time to demand Allison gets a role in The Music Man?

  27. Susan Kendzior says:

    Who among us hasn’t embellished a story after 12 years?

  28. schumi8 says:

    I hope he comes back but this doesn’t look good!!

  29. Jimmy says:

    If he comes back at all I’d be surprised. If Lester Holt manages to do good ratings it will only make the decision easier for NBC. I still find myself wondering just what the hell Williams was thinking. As a news reporter he had to know the truth would eventually come out, especially if he kept bringing it up.

  30. karen Kelly says:

    I am boycotting NBC Nightly news. I have look forward to Brian in my home every evening. This course of action was too severe! A will be watching ABC in protest!!!!! No one can replace Brian!

  31. I watch NBC at 6:00 p. to listen to Brian. I’ll be going elsewhere. Hopefully when the show’s ratings plummet the network will bring him back.

    • Sharon says:

      Agreed!! NBC has been on a downward spiral with their executive decisions!! Who knows what happened? All the dangerous assignments some of these journalists are put in for the sake of ratings and this is how he’s treated? I have seen him in all parts of the world covering news stories and doing without the luxuries of everyday living. YOU’RE WELCOME NBC EXECUTIVES as you sit in your cushy offices. I refuse to watch certain programs for various reasons. This one shot into first place!! No Brian Williams no NBC evening news for this lady and I am sure I am not alone!! PTSD

  32. Sandy says:

    Liar liar pants on fire! He’s toast and he can only blame himself. Get him off the Network.

  33. Kris says:

    I’m sorry to see him go because of this. With all that’s going on in the world, this is trival. I know a lot of people disagree with my statement, but so be it. Every politician should be gone for their lies.

    • TV Gord says:

      I doubt that soldiers and war correspondents who really have been injured in wartime think this is trivial. I wonder what Bob Woodruff thinks about this.

      • John NYC says:

        Williams never, ever, stated he was injured in that incident so what’s the point? He said he was on a flight of 4 helicopters, which he was, he said of those 2 of the 4 were hit with AK-47 rounds and a dud rpg, which they were, and that the aircraft landed in the desert, which they did.

        People who “really” were injured are irrelevant to that incident.

        • TV Gord says:

          You seem to have an answer for many of my posts, except the ones (conveniently) where I show you proof that Williams lied. Instead you throw up smokescreens such as this one. You’re not fooling anyone, JohnNYC.

  34. F says:

    It’s sad that one stupid mistake can cost you a whole lot. Will miss Brian Williams though.

  35. Valerie says:

    It is what it is

  36. Valerie says:

    Unfortunatly it is what it is.

  37. that was a fair decision by NBC news,..hang in there Brian!

  38. N says:

    I like Brian, too

  39. dj says:

    He’s been my favorite anchor for years, but there is something very narcissistic about this which has changed my opinion of him. I have to wonder if his family has believed this story for all these years. If so, how sad to scare them that way.

  40. Ethel says:

    Well NBC wants ratings, Brian gave them what they wanted, regardless of how he did it.

  41. Craig Rishel says:

    Disgraceful. Everyone tells a fib or two! What about the lies coming out of Washington and nothing is ever done to stop or even investigate them. Seems our priorities are not where they should be. Brian should be reinstated. You will lose a lot of viewers!!

    • Mary says:

      Your statement proves that priorities are not where they should be. I find it ironic how many people are justifying what he did. “Everyone tells a fib or two”. No when you are suppose to be delivering the news you have to be accurate and factual. He lost all integrity and the mere fact that a majority of you guys saying it’s okay nobody is perfect
      proves that our society has lost all value of right and wrong. Like I always told my kid every action has a reaction can be positive or negative, be prepare to face the consequences.

  42. Jason g says:

    Suspended 6 months from a 10 years ago reporting ? Wtf is wrong with this country ? We are so sensitive , pussified and weak. Al sharpton lies everyday yet he still has a job. What that job is ??? Uhhh oh yea increasing hate relatiknvs.

  43. Diane says:

    I hope they look into the other stories he has lied about.

  44. Mary says:

    I would bet my last dollar he won’t be back. His integrity is in question and will be from this day forward. If by some chance is is back after 6 months, which I highly doubt, NBC will lose many viewers because nobody will believe what he reports. It is sad really that he felt the need to embellish a story and take away from his 22 years of respectability.

    • John NYC says:

      It will likely depend on whether there’s a pattern and whether there’s contemporaneous evidence he knew his original description was misleading, if intact, it was. The parts I’ve heard of that 2003 report were pretty straightforward and in that at least it’s very clear he was NOT on the helicopter that had the rpg dud strike it.

      This smells too much like a witchhunt of those with a personal agenda against Williams and, odds are, the “mainstream media”.

  45. Rose says:

    I think this is a beginning. I expect the news to be just that NEWS and it should be as Joe Friday was wont to say, “Just the facts.”

  46. Glenda Flowers says:

    I think it is wrong to suspend someone for telling the truth finally. What about all the politicians that lie everyday. Lets suspend them without pay, healthcare and all the other perks they get.
    I don’t normally reply about the news, but I think this suspension is totally wrong.

    • John NYC says:

      Suspending him while they work out whether he’s got an ongoing pattern of structuring his stories to be misleading, such as describing that helicopter flight where the listener might assume he was at more risk than was actually the case by leaving out specific details while saying the literal truth is justified.

      They’ve a business to protect and people are human and major entertainment figures make mistakes as they craft their image that can go too far…

  47. Ro says:

    News journalists are not supposed to ‘misremember’ specific incidents or have ‘memory lapses’ and report them as fact. They should have a higher standard and should be held more accountable than you or me. These actions were appropriate by NBC… they’re actually being more lenient than what he deserves.

  48. John NYC says:

    Fromm CNN: “”The story actually started with a terrible moment a dozen years back during the invasion of Iraq when the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an R.P.G,” Williams said on-air. “Our traveling NBC News team was rescued, surrounded and kept alive by an armor mechanized platoon from the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry.””

    Which stands in direct contrast to his original story where he states a different helicopter was the one hit by the dud rpg round.

    On air statements must not be that sloppy. I expect the investigation will determine how often he’s been that sloppy and that will ultimately determine his fate, if he routinely isn;t as careful as he must be he’ll be, rightfully, gone.

  49. mary says:

    Just wondering, why it took so long before someone spoke out? It says several who were there at the time, said it wasn’t true. Did they all see the same clip, or…?
    He’s been telling this story for a long time.

    • John NYC says:

      His original report in 2003 was accurate. It was a commemoration last week where Williams said the helicopter HE was riding in was hit and forced down that was incorrect and rather quickly objected to.

  50. Susan says:

    That is just too extreme…