Tags: brian williams | iraq | helicopter | lie | nbc

Wash Post: NBC Supporting, for Now, Embattled Brian Williams

Image: Wash Post: NBC Supporting, for Now, Embattled Brian Williams
NBC News anchor Brian Williams. (Mireya Acierto/Getty Images)

Friday, 06 Feb 2015 08:39 AM

NBC News executives were quietly standing behind their embattled anchor Brian Williams on Friday as the outrage over his wartime reporting lie continued to escalate.

In the face of an onslaught of attacks on social media, NBC News remained silent publicly about Williams' future after his admission that he had misremembered an incident in 2003 while he was embedded with American troops during the Iraq invasion, The Washington Post reported.

But behind the scenes, the entire news division, including President Deborah Turness, is said to be supporting the 55-year-old anchor, who has been the network’s main newsreader since 2004 and is No. 1 in the evening news ratings.

"You could say it’s business as usual," one NBC executive said. "He has the whole support of NBC."

The executive, who wished to remain anonymous, said that although an informal internal investigation would likely be held, overall it was assumed that Williams had made "an honest mistake, which he’s now apologized for."

NBC may be hoping to "ride out public criticism of Williams" and trusting that it does not affect his long-term standing with viewers and advertisers, according to the Post.

USA Today said that NBC News was "unlikely" to fire Williams for his lie because his popularity and his ratings have brought a financial windfall for the network in the 10 years he has been the network’s lead anchor.

But NBC executives are expected to be keeping a close eye on the ratings for "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" in the next few weeks to calculate viewers’ reaction to the anchor’s confession.

Williams has said several times that he was flying in a U.S. military helicopter when it was hit by Iraqi rocket-propelled grenades, and had been forced to land. And he repeated the story again on air last week, the Post reported.

But on Wednesday night’s broadcast, Williams admitted he was actually in a second helicopter flying in convoy with one that was hit, and that he had "conflated" his memory of the two aircraft.

He was forced to apologize and recant his story after veterans who were on the copter convoy had accused him on Facebook of lying.

USA Today noted that Williams had told the untruth again the same week he had showed up at a New York Rangers game with a soldier who had helped to guard him and his production crew during the incident.

With about 9 million viewers, "NBC Nightly News" is the ratings leader, above ABC and CBS newscasts, while the other areas of its news division lie behind the rival networks.

NBC’s "Today" keeps trailing ABC’s "Good Morning America," while NBC’s "Meet the Press" is struggling to keep pace with CBS’ "Face the Nation."

In December, Williams signed a five-year NBC contract with a salary reportedly of at least $10 million a year, the Post said.

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NBC News executives were quietly standing behind their embattled anchor Brian Williams on Friday as the outrage over his wartime reporting lie continued to escalate.
brian williams, iraq, helicopter, lie, nbc
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2015-39-06
Friday, 06 Feb 2015 08:39 AM
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