How Are Fellow Anchors Reacting To Brian Williams' 'TODAY' Interview? They've Been Split Between Messages Of Support & Anger Towards NBC
In an exclusive interview on the TODAY show Friday, former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams sat down with host Matt Lauer to discuss his self-confessed history of fabricating news stories and correspondent reports. In his first sit-down since being suspended in February, Williams admitted that he had embellished his own reports out of a desire to be "sharper, funnier, and quicker" than his counterparts in the evolving industry, and that his decisions had come from "a bad place." In the hours after the report aired on Friday, Williams' fellow anchors began reacting publicly to the controversial interview.
"I think he’s been shockingly honest about the ego thing," said Meet the Press host Chuck Todd during a visit to SiriusXM's Michael Smerconish Program. "That's not easy for anybody to talk about publicly, so kudos to him — I think he’s dealing with issues he didn’t know he needed to deal with."
Todd added that he believed the network had dealt with the situation appropriately. "[They] took issues of credibility and integrity seriously, and made Brian pay a heavy price," Todd said. Additionally, he told host Michael Smerconish that he was "glad to work for a company that provides an opportunity to earn back trust and earn back a second chance."
NBC officials on Thursday announced that weekend anchor Lester Holt, who has been filling in for Williams since February, would be taking over the coveted nightly chair going forward.
"As you would imagine this was a difficult decision," said NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke in a statement to the press on Thursday. "Brian Williams has been with NBC News for a very long time and he has covered countless news events with honor and skill ... We are moving forward."
Not everyone at the iconic network, however, is as happy about the decision. According to anonymous sources who spoke with The Daily Beast on Thursday, many in the hallowed halls of NBC have been less than enthusiastic over the prospect of Williams returning to work, albeit at MSNBC as a special reports anchor.
"People in the newsroom are furious," the source, an NBC veteran, told The Daily Beast this week of the "standoffish" anchor. "Everyone in the hallways is very, very upset and depressed about it."
After Williams' interview aired on Thursday, Mike Paul, president of New York public relations firm Reputation Doctor, told The New York Times that the conversation between Williams and Lauer came off more as a casual chat between friends and harmed the industry.
"There are no ifs or buts in a true apology," accused Paul, citing Williams insistence that he hadn't meant to lie and had been caught up in retelling his embellished stories. "This was a non-apology apology."
Overall, the social media sphere seemed to agree. Williams' TODAY show interview was largely panned as unconvincing, with many concerned that the network's reaction to the scandal wasn't nearly harsh enough.
"NBC News allowing #BrianWilliams to stay employed sends message that as journalists, it's ok to lie," tweeted Fox affiliate KDVR anchor Jeremy Hubbard. "Not once or twice, but 10 or 12 times."
In all the chaos, at least a few fellow affiliate employees spoke out to thank the network for keeping Williams' on, as well as extending a warm welcome to his replacement. Chuck Lofton, WTHR weather anchor, tweeted:
Holt himself, who has been away on a vacation, is keeping mum on the subject, only speaking up to thank the network for the permanent promotion. On Thursday, he tweeted:
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