According to multiple media reports including the Los Angeles Times, Brian Williams, the managing editor and anchor of the top rated NBC Nightly News, will stay in the air chair at least for now. The man who has led NBC to the top of the nightly news ratings is in trouble, however he seems to be safe.
Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post, NBC News has assigned the head of its own investigative unit to look into statements that anchor Brian Williams made about his reporting in Iraq a dozen years ago, an episode that’s ballooned into a full-blown credibility crisis for the network.
The network is standing behind him and he will face no disciplinary action for falsely saying several times that he had been on a US military helicopter that was shot down in Iraq while he reported from the war zone in 2003. His apology, delivered during the Wednesday edition (Video) of “NBC Nightly News,” was accepted internally.
The anchor claimed during a recent broadcast that, while working as a wartime journalist in 2003, his U.S. military helicopter was hit and forced down by enemy fire. He had been telling a similar version of this story for several years. Clearly, he was not telling the truth and finally he made it clear that he was not shot down during the Wednesday night broadcast.
But Williams may be facing yet another problem as some New Orleans journalists are questioning his gripping stories about the dangers he faced when covering the impact and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The Katrina reporting provided a big boost to Williams image (as it did for many journalists, including CNN competitor Anderson Cooper). In a 2006 interview, Williams recalled watching a dead body float past his French Quarter hotel during post-Katrina flooding and described the hotel as “gang-ridden.” He was rescued from thugs in a stairwell by a New Orleans policeman, he said in 2007.
However, The New Orleans Advocate , newspaper calls into question much of Williams reporting while in The Big Easy. If an apology for the Katrina coverage is needed that could spell the end of the road for the NBC anchorman.
Truth be told, the general public may not care so much. They already have a low opinion of journalists, who routinely rate below, politicians in terms of public approval. And they’re not so sure that the media are credible, anyway. A 2012 Pew Research poll found that 56 percent of respondents gave the media a positive believability rating, and 44 percent gave it a negative one.
Over the past three years CBS and ABC made changes in the evening news anchor chairs and frankly fewer and fewer people watch the network newscasts. With 24 hours cable news, the internet, and countless outlets to get news from sources worldwide one has wonder if the network newscasts even matter anymore.