NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has been suspended without pay for six months, effective immediately, as the network conducts an "ongoing" investigation into claims the journalist has embellished recent reporting.
"This has been a painful period for all concerned and we appreciate your patience while we gathered the available facts," NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke said in a staff memo. "By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate."
According to the statement, Lester Holt — who has been substituting for the journalist since he announced he was taking a "brief hiatus" on Feb. 7 — will continue to anchor the program during Brian's extended absence.
Brian on 'Meet the Press' in 2008. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
The controversy surrounding Brian's work first began when the journalist admitted to fabricating portions of a story he told about his reporting experience during the Iraq war in 2003. Days later, online bloggers additionally claimed his 2005 coverage of Hurricane Katrina may have also been exaggerated.
“I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago,” the father-of-two said during the national news broadcast on Wednesday, Feb. 4. “I want to apologize. I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by (rocket propelled grenade) fire. Instead, I was in the following aircraft."
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After revealing the decision to suspend Brian — who took over the 'Nightly News' anchor position from Tom Brokaw in 2004 — Burke acknowledged the journalist's contributions to the network.
"Brian's life's work is delivering the news," he said. "I know Brian loves his country, NBC News, and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone's trust."
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