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NBC 'Nightly News' Anchor Brian Williams Suspended for Six Months for Iraq War Embellishment

"His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate," says NBC brass.

NBC* has suspended “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams for six months without pay for misrepresenting events while covering the Iraq War in 2003.

NBC News President Deborah Turness issued a statement saying its internal investigation determined Williams had provided an inaccurate first-hand of a wartime incident on the Nightly News broadcast on Jan. 30 and on other occasions. Williams claimed to have been on board a Chinook helicopter that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and was forced to make an emergency landing. The news anchor was in a helicopter traveling behind the aircraft that came under fire.

“This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position,” Turness wrote, adding, “As managing editor and anchor of ‘Nightly News,’ Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times.”

Turness wrote that the decision was reached in consultation with NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Pat Fili and NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Stephen B. Burke. The exaggerated account was weighed against Williams’s long career with the network, and what she described as “the special relationship he has forged with our viewers over 22 years.”

“As I’m sure you understand, this was a very hard decision,” Turness wrote. “Certainly there will be those who disagree. But we believe this suspension is the appropriate and proportionate action.”

Burke issued a statement, criticizing Williams for jeopardizing the trust viewers place in NBC News.

“His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate,” Burke said, but added. “Brian’s life’s work is delivering the news. … He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone’s trust.”

Lester Holt will continue to substitute-anchor “Nightly News.”

*NBCUniversal is a minority investor in Revere Digital, Recode’s parent company.

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