NBC promotes Holt, brings Williams back in demoted role

NBC made it official Thursday naming Lester Holt the new anchor of "NBC Nightly News" while bringing back suspended anchor Brian Williams in a demoted role as the anchor for breaking news and special reports, primarily on cable channel MSNBC.

Williams will begin his new job in mid-August when his six-month suspension for lying about his combat coverage in Iraq in 2003 ends.


"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," NBC News chairman Andy Lack said in statement today. "He's an exceptional anchor who goes straight to the heart of every story and is always able to find its most direct connection to the everyday lives of our audience. In many ways, television news stands at a crossroads, and Lester is the perfect person to meet the moment."

Holt will be network TV's first African-American solo anchor for an evening newscast.

In its statement of the moves, NBC management said it "conducted an extensive review of Brian 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 ten years."

The review, according to NBC's statement, "found that Williams made a number of inaccurate statements about his own role and experiences covering events in the field."

However, the review found, "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.

"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," Lack said.

"As you would imagine this was a difficult decision. Brian Williams has been with NBC News for a very long time and he has covered countless news events with honor and skill," said Steve Burke, the CEO of NBC Universal. "As I said in February, we believe in second chances, and I am hopeful that this new beginning will be good for Brian and the organization. This matter has been extensively analyzed and deliberated on by NBC. We are moving forward."

In the NBC statement, Williams said: "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. 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."

"This is an enormous honor," Holt said in the statement Thursday. "The respect and admiration I have for the Nightly News team has only grown deeper over the last several months that we've been together. Day-in and day-out under an uncomfortable spotlight they have produced world-class journalism. I'm very proud and grateful to be part of such an unflappable and dedicated team of professionals as we move forward together."