NEW YORK – Brian Williams is headed to MSNBC and Lester Holt will take over Williams’ anchor seat at “Nightly News” permanently, the networks announced on Thursday.
“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,” Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, said. “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.”
Meanwhile, Williams, who was suspended from his “Nightly News” role for six months after it surfaced that he lied in stories he told about his coverage of the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina, will be heading to MSNBC as anchor of breaking news and special reports.
Lack said of Williams' new position, “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.”
CEO of NBCU Steve Burke said the network thought long and hard before opting to relegate Williams to MSNBC.
“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," Burke said in a statement. "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.”
Williams took the opportunity to apologize again for his lies.
“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," Williams said in a statement. "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 percent 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.”
Williams was suspended in February for falsely saying that he was in a helicopter hit be enemy fire during an Iraq War reporting trip. Subsequently, NBC began looking into reports of embellishments or misstatements on other stories in which Williams was involved.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.