After months of speculation over Brian Williams’ fate at NBC, the network announced Thursday that the suspended “NBC Nightly News” anchor would return to television -- but to the network’s cable channel, MSNBC, where he would handle breaking news -- and the move catalyzed harsh criticism on social media.
Reports of Williams’ new role surfaced late Wednesday, with NBC making it official in a statement Thursday.
The reassignment is the latest turn in a rough several months for Williams, who was a principal anchor at MSNBC when it launched in 1994. The news anchor was suspended without pay from the broadcast network in early February following controversy over false statements in his reporting on details about an assignment in Iraq. The Internet kept an imaginary tally of his numerous embellishments.
The move by NBC to keep the disgraced veteran on staff was met with disdain on social media, as Twitter users skewered Williams and the network for not sacking him altogether.
Numerous memes landed online and several commenters weighed in on the fractured state of journalism. Williams was called a pathological liar and others eagerly mentioned him in the same breath as civil rights advocate Rachel Dolezal, who made headlines over identifying as African American, coupling them as a loathsome pair. Very few users were actually excited to see his return to television, though many were glad about Lester Holt’s permanent appointment to the “Nightly News” anchor chair following Williams’ departure.
Overall, though, Williams and NBC did not fare well at all.
So #BrianWilliams is coming back in the role of “anchor” I guess the more things change, the more they remain the same. #itscalledlying— Stellazine (@StellaKramer) June 18, 2015
#BrianWilliams Go Away! Do not taint @msnbc ! Find a job at #FauxNews You will right fit in! #NBCNightlyNews #MSNBC #liar— brigitte jay (@jaybrigitte) June 18, 2015
#NBC announced #BrianWilliams as “the new face” of #MSNBC. Relatedly, Brian Williams announced his creation of a new network called MSNBC.— Craig M. Tiede (@craigmtd) June 18, 2015
2/ Williams can’t just re-appear on the air as if nothing happened. Has to be some kind of admission and reflection on his sins. What form?— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) June 18, 2015
.@NBCNews allowing #BrianWilliams to stay employed sends message that as journalists, it’s ok to lie. Not once or twice, but 10 or 12 times.— Jeremy Hubbard (@JeremyHubbard) June 18, 2015
So #BrianWilliams is staying at NBC eh? Kinda shows how hard up journalism is that they keep an outright liar on staff that admitted to it— WTF Magazine (@thewtfmagazine) June 18, 2015
#BrianWilliams STILL at NBC...serious question...have they considered him for Weekend Update on #SNL?— Lady Goodman (@LadyGoodman3) June 18, 2015
#MSNBC... the place the pathological go to die (being ignored) #RachelDolezal #BrianWilliams— USshrugged (@USshrugged) June 18, 2015
#BrianWilliams changes roles @NBCNews? Bet #RachelDolezal thinks he identifies as truthful. https://t.co/WxmIafNQXy pic.twitter.com/Z0ps09Y2zD— Shaughn (@Shaughn_A) June 18, 2015
I’d read the heck out of a Rolling Stone interview with Brian Williams about his cross-country journey with #RachelDolezal.— Will Antonin (@Will_Antonin) June 12, 2015
I’m hearing that #BrianWilliams is in talks with NBC to revamp To Tell The Truth. #TooEasy— Chad Lowe (@ichadlowe) June 18, 2015
I might be the only one, but I’m so excited that #BrianWilliams is returning to @msnbc His prime time newscast was the best!!— Amy J. Greer (@amyjgreer) June 18, 2015
Only good thing about the whole #BrianWilliams mess, NBC finally realizes what a huge asset Lester Holt is.— Thad Ogburn (@thadogburn) June 18, 2015
Excited that @LesterHoltNBC is new anchor of @NBCNightlyNews and that #BrianWilliams is getting to stay with @NBCNews . #secondchance— Chuck Lofton (@ChuckWTHR) June 18, 2015
12:04 p.m.: This post has been updated with NBC’s official announcement about Williams’ new role and several new tweets.
This post was originally published at 9:09 a.m.
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