NEW YORK – NBC on Thursday announced a permanent replacement for disgraced star news anchor Brian Williams and shifted him to sister cable network MSNBC over his embellishment of an Iraq war story.
The U.S. network suspended Williams in February for six months and investigated his work after he admitted changing a tale about coming under fire and amid accusations that he stretched the truth on other occasions.
The network announced that Lester Holt — who has been filling in for Williams — will permanently take over as anchor of NBC Nightly News.
Williams meanwhile will join MSNBC in mid-August as anchor of breaking news and special reports.
NBC said Williams “made a number of inaccurate statements about his own role and experiences covering events in the field” following an investigation into more than 10 years of his reporting.
“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,” it said in a statement.
Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, said Williams, 56, now had the chance to earn back everyone’s trust.
“His excellent work over 22 years at NBC News has earned him that opportunity,” he said.
Williams, who reportedly earned $10 million a year and drew in an audience of an estimated nine million people as host of NBC Nightly News, apologized in the same statement.
“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,” he said, promising to support his successor “100 percent.”
Holt, 56, has been a television reporter for 34 years, and joined the network in 2000.
“Lester has done outstanding work for NBC News over the last 10 years, and he’s performed remarkably well over the last few months under very tough circumstances,” said Lack.
“In many ways, television news stands at a crossroads, and Lester is the perfect person to meet the moment.”
Holt said he was “very proud and grateful to be part of such an unflappable and dedicated team of professionals as we move forward together.”
Williams admitted that a story about his helicopter coming under fire in Iraq was not true, after criticism from troops there at the time.