Embattled NBC News anchor Brian Williams has decided to step away from his daily broadcast duties.
Word came Saturday that Williams will voluntarily take time off from the anchor desk.
“As managing editor of ‘NBC Nightly News,’ I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days,” he said in a statement posted on NBC’s website.
The move comes one day after NBC launched an investigation into Williams’ prior statements about reporting in Iraq nearly 12 years ago.
“In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions,” the statement said.
Williams’ false statements regarding his accounts of his trip on a military helicopter during the 2003 invasion of Iraq triggered the internal investigation into the anchor’s versions of his story. The tale has come under attack from Iraq war veterans and spurred a growing chorus from media critics who say his job may be on the line.
Williams has said in recent years that he was in a Chinook helicopter that was forced down by grenade and small-arms fire, even though his original 2003 reporting said it was another helicopter in the formation that was hit. Crew members in the 159th Aviation Regiment who were on the mission disputed Williams’ account to Stars and Stripes. Williams apologized earlier this week, and he told Stars and Stripes he did not know what caused him to “conflate one aircraft with another.”
An NBC News executive not authorized to discuss the matter publicly confirmed that Richard Esposito, head of the news division’s investigations unit, is overseeing the inquiry.
The network issued its first statement regarding the matter Friday. “We have a team dedicated to gathering the facts to help us make sense of all that has happened,” said NBC News President Deborah Turness.
Follow the reporter on Twitter: @TrevellAnderson.