NBC announced on Tuesday that it is suspending Brian Williams from his duties as anchor and managing editor of "Nightly News" for six months without pay for misleading the public about his experiences covering the Iraq War in 2003.
"By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News," NBC Universal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke said in a statement from the network. "His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate." But he said Williams deserved a second chance.
Central to the furor are misleading statements Williams made during several public appearances and on CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" about an incident that took place on a reporting trip to Iraq. A helicopter carrying Williams and his crew never came under fire, but a Chinook copter that was more than an hour ahead of that aircraft did. Williams by his own admission conflated the two air trips and made it seem as if he were under fire.
His suspension comes after Williams voluntarily took himself off the air on Saturday and five days after NBC News launched an inquiry into his story of the event.
NBC News President Deborah Turness said in a memo sent to staff on Tuesday that the inquiry is still ongoing.
Turness said that Williams "misrepresented" events that occurred while he was covering the war.
"It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues," Turness said. "This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian's position."
Turness said Lester Holt would continue to substitute for Williams as anchor.
The uproar began after a Jan. 30 "Nightly News" segment in which Williams retold a version of the story, and the U.S. military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported on a number of soldiers who disputed Williams' claims, saying he was not on or near the helicopter that was hit.
Williams' apology last week, in which he said he misremembered the event, was widely mocked and criticized. Williams, 55, has led "Nightly News" since 2004.