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Brian Williams takes leave from NBC anchor desk

Indicative of the turmoil that now engulfs NBC News, Brian Williams told the staff Saturday that he is taking a leave from his nightly anchor duties.

Indicative of the turmoil that now engulfs NBC News, Brian Williams told the staff Saturday that he is taking a leave from his nightly anchor duties.

Williams, who holds the title of managing editor and anchor of the newscast, said he is acting as managing editor to take himself off daily anchor duties for a few days in reaction to the firestrom of criticism that he's faced since "Stars and Stripes" broke a story Wednesday on him lying about the kind of combat he experienced as a reporter in Iraq in 2003.

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Lester Holt will anchor the "NBC Nightly News" while Wiliams is out.

Here's the memo from Williams:

In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions.

As Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days, and Lester Holt has kindly agreed to sit in for me to allow us to adequately deal with this issue. Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.

Talk of benching himself "as managing editor" seems like a strained effort by Williams to sound as if he still controls his fate at NBC.

I have news for Williams: He doesn't.

And the momentum for him to step down permanently has only built since Wednesday despite the fact that financially NBC would like nothing better than for him to survive this nightmare and continue as anchor.

But I think both he and NBC News have so far underestimated the incredible damage to their credibility as a result of his lies about his Iraq coverage.

I'll be on "Media Buzz" at 11 a.m. Sunday on Fox News with Paul Farhi, of the Washington Post, and investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, formerly of CBS News.

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