Brian Williams, the anchor of NBC’s top-rated Nightly News program, has been suspended without pay for six months, Reuters reported.
Williams admitted last week that a story he told about coming under fire on a helicopter during the US war against Iraq was not true, the network said on Tuesday.
The sudden downfall of one of America’s most prominent journalists casts a pall over the network and its reputation as one of the most authoritative sources for news in the United States.
“By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News,” NBC Universal chief executive Steve Burke said in a statement.
“His actions are inexcusable, and this suspension is severe and appropriate.”
Williams, 55, a star anchor who has led Nightly News since 2004, has told different versions of a tale in which a US military helicopter he was riding in during the first days of the US-Iraq war in 2003 was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
His suspension comes after he voluntarily took himself off the air on Saturday, five days after NBC News launched an inquiry into his story of the event.
NBC News president Deborah Turness told staff the inquiry is still ongoing.
A backlash against Williams, who also served as managing editor of the newscast, quickly gained steam from soldiers on social media after a Jan. 30 segment in which Williams retold a version of the story.
Stars and Stripes, a US military newspaper, first reported that some soldiers disputed Williams’ claims, saying he was not on or near the helicopter that was hit.
His apology last week, in which he said he misremembered the incident, was widely mocked and criticized. He also struggled to explain himself in an interview with Stars and Stripes on how he misrepresented the story.
“Because I knew we had all come under fire, I guess I had assumed that all of the airframes took some damage, because we all went down,” Williams told the newspaper in a Feb. 4 interview published Monday.
Lester Holt, the weekend anchor of Nightly News, will continue to fill in for Williams.
Watch Brian Williams’ apology on YouTube:
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