Washington Williams Turmoil…

Over the weekend and going back to last week we had a bunch of “Bring Brian back” type stories trying to force the issue. I mention this because of Paul Farhi’s interestingly timed must read in the Washington Post on major blowback from NBC’s D.C. bureau about Williams coming back. Coincidence? Maybe. But I’ve seen too much in this industry to not wonder if this is pushback to all the “positive” Williams stories recently.

The meeting — details of which haven’t been made public before — was called in the wake of Williams’s six-month suspension from anchoring “NBC Nightly News,” the network’s signature newscast. Turness met with the division’s employees in New York and Washington to answer questions about the suspension and to get their feedback on the crisis enveloping the company.

One person who attended the Washington meeting described the overall tone as a “bloodbath” for Williams. But another news employee tempered that characterization, describing the atmosphere merely as “very raw” and colleagues as “shocked.” The individuals spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

In any case, the bureau staff offered a strong rebuke of Williams, whose troubles were still fresh in the news at the time. Among those who spoke against him were two of the network’s on-air correspondents, attendees said.

And don’t think NBC isn’t aware of how toxic this could be…

NBC sources in New York, however, caution that the meeting took place during a period of peak stress for the division and that some of the more extreme sentiments may have calmed down in the weeks since then.

Ouch. Not even a definitive statement countering what happened in D.C. The best these sources could come up with falls into the category glass half full.

More important: The NBC sources in New York apparently have no idea what the folks in D.C. are feeling right now. How do we know this? Because, again, there’s no definitive statement saying that things have indeed calmed down. Only a theory that they may have. Or a plaintive hope, if you will.

This means one of two things:

1) Either Farhi’s sources aren’t connected enough to what goes on down in D.C.; which if true raises the question of why Farhi’s bothering with them in the first place.

2) Or, Fahri’s sources are indeed that connected but they just don’t know what’s going on down in D.C. which indicates a major rift exists between the New York and Washington bureaus to the point that New York doesn’t know the current mood in Washington.


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