So now NBC and its parent owner Comcast have issued their decision. Brian Williams will be suspended without pay for six months as anchor of the network’s Nightly News, for fabricating a story about being under siege, while covering a news story in Iraq. While I believe Williams has lost all credibility and should not be returned to the anchor’s chair, NBC is betting that American viewers will be forgiving, because the country love’s a good comeback story. The network suits could be right.
While Williams will now be forever linked to the story, he could survive this most egregious of errors, if no other falsehoods attached to his resume are found, like a floating dead body during Katrina. And make no mistake about it, the rival media is digging to find out more dirt on the man whose nightly broadcast was ranked number one and watched by 9.3 million viewers per night. It also produced $200 million in annual advertising sales. Those numbers are not chump change and it is why Williams is being given a second chance.
If there are no more smoking guns out there, look for the Williams’ revival to begin once the frozen tundra melts into green grass and blue skies. Believe me, NBC has already mapped this out. Williams will hide from public view for a while, but then the talk show appearances will come – including several on FOX News – to explain his error. Also count on him to visit troops to apologize and do everything possible to resurrect his soiled reputation. That will have him primed for a return once September arrives.
In other words, Williams’ fate really is in the hands of those still investigating whether he committed some more exaggerations. If he didn’t, he will be back, following the restoration tour. And that is even if for many he will forever remain a laughingstock.