Report: Tom Brokaw wants Brian Williams fired
The gossip-mongering column Page Six reports on the comings and goings at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, home of NBC News, in the aftermath of the Brian Williams fabrications.
Apparently, NBC brass wants to stick with Williams through thick and thin. And why not? This isn't some cub reporter caught making stuff up. This is the face of the company whose credibility has been shot.
Page Six is also reporting that NBC brass knew that Williams's story was a lie but only warned him not to keep retelling it.
You know you’re in trouble when Tom Brokaw is out for your blood.
NBC’s most revered journalist is furious that Brian Williams is still in the anchor chair after he sheepishly admitted he hadn’t traveled on a helicopter hit by enemy fire.
“Brokaw wants Williams’ head on a platter,” an NBC source said. “He is making a lot of noise at NBC that a lesser journalist or producer would have been immediately fired or suspended for a false report.”
On Wednesday, Williams, 55, acknowledged that he had repeatedly said he was aboard a chopper that had been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during a 2003 reporting trip to Iraq, when he was actually safely traveling in a different aircraft.
Brokaw, 74, was still the “Nightly News” anchor when Williams came back from his Iraq expedition — and an insider said he knew the story Williams later spouted was bunk.
“Tom Brokaw and [former NBC News President] Steve Capus knew this was a false story for a long time and have been extremely uncomfortable with it,” the source said.
NBC News execs had counseled him to stop telling the tale.
Williams still took the anchor’s seat for his “Nightly News” broadcast Thursday evening — and was working at 30 Rock all day despite calls for his dismissal. He didn’t address the issue during the broadcast.
“He is not going to be suspended or reprimanded in any way. He has the full support of NBC News,” a network source said.
Many of Williams’ colleagues believe his claim that he simply “conflated” two versions of what happened in 2003.
“There have been meetings about it all day. They are taking it very seriously,” the NBC source said.
“But we believe that Brian’s apology on the air speaks for himself. He admitted over time he conflated the events.”
NBC brass hasn’t been talking to lower-level employees about the situation, leaving people in a panic, the insider said.
“NBC bosses don’t understand how serious this is. Nobody in a leadership position is talking to the troops. Nobody has addressed it,” the source said.
If Williams has lost Brokaw, he is not long for the anchor desk. A public statement by Brokaw that called on Williams to resign – a distinct possibility the longer Williams is in front of the camera – would devastate the network. Brokaw still has input into every major decision made by the news division, and a public break with his former bosses would rattle NBC News to its foundations.
It wouldn't surprise me if NBC wasn't already in negotiations with Williams's people to sever his ties with the network, paying him to ride off into the sunset. The controversy shows no signs of dying down, and the longer Williams is going on with business as usual, the more his – and NBC's – credibility suffers.