The revelation that news anchor Brian Williams exaggerated close calls from enemy fire while covering combat in Iraq has cost him the anchor chair.
NBC said Thursday that Williams, 56, will take on a hybrid breaking news role at MSNBC, whose ratings lag behind Fox and CNN, and that news division veteran Lester Holt will succeed him.
The move is historic: Holt, 56, will be the first ever solo black anchor of a network news show.
Holt has been filling in for Williams ever since his suspension in February over findings that Williams lied while covering the war in Iraq and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Williams had said that while in Iraq more than a decade ago that the unit he was traveling with came under heavy fire while he was embedded with them. Two years later, in 2005, he told stories of seeing bodies floating in the streets. Lies.
RELATED: The official NBC announcement.
Holt said of his promotion: “This is an enormous honor. The respect and admiration I have for the Nightly News team has only grown deeper over the last several months that we’ve been together.”
“Day in and day out under an uncomfortable spotlight they have produced world-class journalism,” he continued, according to the NBC announcement.
“I’m very proud and grateful to be part of such an unflappable and dedicated team of professionals as we move forward together.”
A lot of people inside NBC News wanted Williams fired but his employment with NBCUniversal was saved by the same man who has now demoted him,Andrew Lack, Chairman of NBC News and MSNBC.
“Lester has done outstanding work for NBC News over the last 10 years, and he’s performed remarkably well over the last few months under very tough circumstances,” Lack said.
“He’s an exceptional anchor who goes straight to the heart of every story and is always able to find its most direct connection to the everyday lives of our audience. In many ways, television news stands at a crossroads, and Lester is the perfect person to meet the moment.”
The Wall Street Journalsays this of Holt:
“In Mr. Holt, NBC gets an anchor with a different style than Mr. Williams, who parlayed his prominence into late-night appearances, sitcoms and even an appearance as host of NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live.’
“Mr. Holt, by contrast, has kept a much lower profile, although he hasn’t been immune to poking fun at himself in bits on ‘Today’ and other NBC shows.Since Mr. Holt took over on an interim basis, ‘Nightly News’ has held its own in the ratings.”