Quit, Comedy, or Comeback: What Next for Brian Williams?

Anchor might have been better off on Tonight Show
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2015 11:48 AM CST
Quit, Comedy, or Comeback: What Next for Brian Williams?
In this Oct. 26, 2010 file photo, Brian Williams speaks at the Women's Conference in Long Beach, Calif.   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

Now that Brian Williams has been suspended for six months from NBC Nightly News, analysts are asking the question: What's next? Will we ever see Williams return to his anchor role? Some are casting doubt on whether he can—and should—come back:

  • In the Washington Post, Ruth Marcus notes that questions have surrounded "whether the network could 'afford' to lose its most recognizable franchise. This is the network version of 'too big to fail'—that Williams is too important to can," she notes. "I see it the opposite way: Williams’s elevated status subjects him to a higher standard of behavior, and more rigorous consequences. The face of NBC News cannot afford to be so scarred."
  • Also in the Post, Erik Wemple wonders how Williams can possibly use a six-month suspension to rehabilitate his image. "Once again, corporate America has shown its staid limitations when handling misconduct among its ranks … doing nothing to address or undo the underlying causes of the problem to begin with." It's all about PR, Wemple notes. Meanwhile, "Williams will disappear for a spell, even as he’s 'committed to winning back everyone’s trust.' Unexplained is how he intends to do that from the beach."

  • Howard Kurtz offers an answer to that question at Fox News: "The betting is that with Lester Holt handling Nightly News for six months, things will cool off—the country will have moved on to some other outrage—and Williams will be able to return to the chair … NBC has so much invested in Williams that it wants to rehabilitate him—but is also buying time to line up a successor in case that proves impossible."
  • Maybe he would have been better off with his dream job. As Gabriel Sherman writes in New York magazine: "One can only imagine that Williams was wishing his anchor escape plan had worked out and that he was the host of The Tonight Show right now." NBC insiders said Williams had lobbied NBC for Jay Leno's chair. "Brian wants to be a late-night comedian," one former colleague said at the time. "Now, of course," writes Sherman, "he’s become the subject of jokes rather than the one telling them."
(More Brian Williams stories.)

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