They should fire him instead.
Brian Williams, the embattled NBC news anchor whose credibility plummeted after he acknowledged exaggerating his role in a helicopter episode in Iraq, has been suspended for six months without pay, the network said on Tuesday night.
“This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position,” Deborah Turness, the president of NBC News, said in a memo. Lester Holt, who stepped in for Mr. Williams this week, will continue as the substitute, the network said.
The suspension culminated a rapid and startling fall for Mr. Williams, who at age 55 was not only the head of the No. 1 evening news show, but also one of NBC’s biggest stars, a frequent celebrity guest on “Saturday Night Live,” “30 Rock” and the late-night talk show circuit.
Mr. Williams has been drawing 9.3 million viewers a night, and his position seemed unassailable. Even as the stature of the nightly newscast faded in the face of real-time digital news, Mr. Williams was one of the most trusted names in America and commanded the respect accorded predecessors like Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings.
But his embellishment of his helicopter journey and questions about his other reporting undermined the trust viewers placed in him. In the six days since he admitted his mistake, he was pilloried relentlessly online, with Twitter feeds mocking him and amateur truth squads investigating his past reporting. Almost none of his peers in the news business came to his support.
Six months is a long time to disappear from the television landscape, and analysts said it would be difficult for him to re-establish himself as a viable nightly presence.
“I don’t know how he can ever read the news with a straight face, or how the public will respond if he does,” said Mark Feldstein, a broadcast journalism professor at the University of Maryland. On the other hand, he added, “Maybe they’re hoping that with a six-month cooling-off period, he’s got a loyal fan base.”
Mr. Williams was informed of his punishment Tuesday morning when he went to the Upper West Side apartment of Stephen P. Burke, the chief executive of NBCUniversal. Only the two men were present, according to a person briefed on the meeting, and Mr. Burke informed Mr. Williams that NBC had decided to suspend him. The “Nightly News” staff learned about it in a meeting after the evening broadcast.
“By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News,” Mr. Burke said in a statement. “His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate.”
Mr. Burke said that Mr. Williams “has shared his deep remorse with me, and he is committed to winning back everyone’s trust.” He added, “He deserves a second chance, and we are rooting for him.”
Read more: NY Times