Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi reported on Friday that employees in the Washington bureau of NBC News strongly pushed against the return of Nightly News anchorman Brian Williams in a February meeting with NBC executive Deborah Turness.
They expressed angry embarrassment that “Williams’s embellished statements about his reporting exploits had damaged NBC’s credibility and that he should not be permitted to return to the anchor chair.”
One person who attended the Washington meeting described the overall tone as a “bloodbath” for Williams. But another news employee tempered that characterization, describing the atmosphere merely as “very raw” and colleagues as “shocked.” The individuals spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
In any case, the bureau staff offered a strong rebuke of Williams, whose troubles were still fresh in the news at the time. Among those who spoke against him were two of the network’s on-air correspondents, attendees said....
The bureau’s restive comments suggest that Williams’s working relationships may be severely damaged and that his return to anchoring would be fraught with internal dissent.
NBC employees in New York, however, caution that the meeting took place during a period of peak stress for the division and that some of the more extreme sentiments may have calmed down in the weeks since then.
While NBC’s Washington bureau is presented by the Post as a “powerful” force in making the nightly newscast, Williams had power over selecting which stories made the broadcast and which might end up on the cutting-room floor. The departure of investigative heavyweights like Lisa Myers and Michael Isikoff made it plain that their hard-news talents were not valued in the Williams era.
Williams was suspended for six months on February 10, so he could return in August. Some advertising agency experts expect NBC to leak word of a decision before the network’s annual “upfront” meeting with advertisters (looking ahead to the fall season) on May 11.