June 18, 2015
Williams. (AP)

Williams. (AP)

NBC News made official its decision this afternoon to assign embattled anchor Brian Williams to MSNBC as an anchor for breaking news.

Lester Holt, who anchored “NBC Nightly News” in Williams’ stead, will become the permanent anchor of the network’s flagship news broadcast.

The announcement brings to a close months of questions surrounding the eventual destination of Williams, who was revealed to be embellishing and fabricating tales of his reporting exploits earlier this year after the publication of an exposé from Stars and Stripes. He was given a six-month suspension while NBC News conducted a fact-finding inquiry into claims he made about his own war reportage.

Williams will begin at MSNBC in mid-August, according to a prepared statement from NBC News:

He will work with Mark Lukasiewicz, SVP of Special Reports for NBCU News Group, who will help lead a team to strengthen MSNBC’s daytime coverage by further leveraging NBC News’ expertise in breaking news. In addition, Williams will serve as a breaking news anchor for NBC News live special reports when Holt is not available. He will begin the new role in mid-August.

That fact-checking mission has now concluded and revealed that Williams made “a number of inaccurate statements” about his journalistic exploits that primarily occurred while he was not on NBC News air, according to the release. Although the statement says that the majority of those statements were made during late-night shows and public appearances it does not provide a full accounting of his dissembling.

The MSNBC assignment represents an enormous step down for Williams. The network has battled low ratings as of late and is reportedly facing a shakeup.

In a statement, Lester Holt thanked his colleagues at “Nightly” for rallying amid the harsh glare of public attention:

Day-in and day-out under an uncomfortable spotlight they have produced world-class journalism. I’m very proud and grateful to be part of such an unflappable and dedicated team of professionals as we move forward together.

In a separate statement, Brian Williams apologized for the ordeal and acknowledged he “said things that weren’t true.”

I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust. I will greatly miss working with the team on Nightly News, but I know the broadcast will be in excellent hands with Lester Holt as anchor. I will support him 100% as he has always supported me. I am grateful for the chance to return to covering the news. My new role will allow me to focus on important issues and events in our country and around the world, and I look forward to it.

According to the statement, Williams has taped an interview with “Today” show co-host Matt Lauer, which will be broadcast on Friday morning and Friday evening.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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