Got a pair of must reads on the Brian Williams saga. The first is the New York Times’ Emily Steel…
Control of the situation quickly passed to Stephen B. Burke, chief executive of NBCUniversal. Thursday afternoon, Mr. Burke called the first of a series of secret meetings, this one at the conference room in the executive suites on the 51st floor. Those present included Patricia Fili-Krushel, chairwoman of NBCUniversal News Group, and Deborah Turness, the president of NBC News. Mr. Williams did not attend.
Mr. Burke acted decisively, according to one person, telling his colleagues to gather the facts so that they could make an expeditious but fair decision. He decided to hold meetings at 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. each day until the issue was resolved.
Mr. Burke sought advice from Mr. Williams’s predecessor, Tom Brokaw, who canceled a vacation in the Virgin Islands to offer his feedback. The two shared uncertainties about the best approach, with Mr. Brokaw expressing concerns about how the episode would affect NBC News employees, according to one person with knowledge of the discussions. Mr. Burke also consulted David L. Cohen, an executive vice president at NBCUniversal’s parent company, Comcast, who was busy on an issue with much higher financial stakes — Comcast’s attempt to gain regulatory approval for a $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable.
Also The Washginton Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia, Scott Higham and Paul Farhi…
Senior NBC officials seriously considered firing anchor Brian Williams because he lied to his viewers about riding in a military helicopter hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during the Iraq war, according to a top network official.
The ultimate decision to suspend Williams for six months was made after an internal investigation unearthed other “instances of exaggeration,” according to a person familiar with intense behind-the-scenes discussions between network officials and Williams.
During those talks, Williams failed to secure a promise that he can return to the anchor chair he has occupied for the past decade, according to two network sources, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive personnel issue.
Internally, Williams, 55, was fighting hard to preserve his reputation and his job. He was calling people at all hours, looking for some kind of an escape route, according to a top network official. “They were clinging to the, ‘Gee I just conflated my facts here’ story,” the network official said.
There is also a sense that the newsroom has been adrift since Comcast Cable took over NBC Universal in 2011. NBC journalists said editors who once kept a close watch over the broadcast have departed, leaving Williams to operate with few meaningful checks and balances.
As managing editor of “NBC Nightly News,” Williams held enormous sway over story selection and over which reporters would appear on his broadcasts. Journalists with serious reputations were forced out or left on their own after the Comcast takeover. The newsroom hasn’t been the same since, several NBC reporters and producers said.
“There are few people who talk to Brian in an authoritative way,” a former top NBC news manager said. “There really wasn’t anyone over him to say anything to him or to question his facts. There was no one managing him. There was constant changing to his whims.
There’s a lot more. Read both stories top to bottom…