Brian Williams has done a fantastic job of making himself look like a jackass. But as many people suspect, he may have had some help with that from empty threats at NBC News.

Oof. Variety’s senior TV editor Brian Steinberg reports:

What makes Williams’ admission worse, according to one person familiar with the situation, is that he had been counseled in the past by senior NBC News executives to stop telling the story in public. The advice, this person said, was not heeded.  One person familiar with current NBC News operations disputes that information.

Williams is more or less the face of NBC’s signature news division. To reprimand him is to cast aspersion on the entire operation. In December, NBC News took time out to celebrate Williams’ ten years as anchor of “Nightly,” releasing a series of archive clips highlighting major moments from his decade behind the desk. A promo narrated by actor Michael Douglas touting Williams has made the rounds of NBC’s air and its various digital properties And NBC News recently signed the anchor to a new contract, reported by the Los Angeles Times to be valued at 10 million dollars a year over five years’ time.

Has this recent episode tainted the network’s newscast, or will it fade as the next trending topic surfaces in the rapid-fire social-media news cycle. NBC – and its rivals – will have to monitor the ratings to find out.

If NBC News really did know that Williams was perpetuating a lie, they’ve got some serious ‘splaining to do.



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