Williams takes leave of absence from anchor chair; future in doubt

NBC News anchor Brian Williams announced he will take a leave of absence from the nightly news broadcast while the network appears to be getting ready to fire him.

Brian Williams, acknowledging that the scrutiny and criticism he was attracting was becoming a distraction for his network, said on Saturday that he was stepping aside as anchor of NBC’s “Nightly News” for the next several days.

In a memo to the NBC News staff, Mr. Williams said that Lester Holt, the anchor for “Dateline,” would step in as the network dealt with the crisis caused by Mr. Williams’s admission that he had misled the public with an account of a helicopter incident in Iraq.

“In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions,” Mr. Williams said in the two-paragraph memo.

Mr. Williams is both anchor and managing editor for “NBC Nightly News.”

Mr. Williams did not say exactly when he expected to return to the anchor chair. “Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us,” he said.

Not one single executive at NBC News has come to Williams' defense - a sure sign that this leave of absence will probably become permanent. The media website FTVLive reports that Williams will be gone - possibly as early as this week:

Sources tell FTVLive that NBC News President Deborah Turness is strongly considering having Brian Williams step down, maybe as early as next week.

As FTVLive earlier told you, Turness has launched an internal investigation in the Williams' statement regarding the events in Iraq in 2003 and other stories including what the Anchor said in his Katrina coverage.

Sources say that Turness has not yet decided what to do with Williams but is "leaning in the direction" of having him step down. 

Sources tell FTVLive that Turness has short list of replacements for Williams and the names could raise a few eyebrows. 

They are - Lester Holt, Jose Diaz Balart, and Peter Alexander.

Veteran newscaster Holt will fill in for Williams until the network figures out if there is any way they can salvage the situation. There isn't. Williams' credibility is gone and nothing anyone can do will bring it back. Right now, it is likely the network is negotiating a dignified exit for Williams who may be kept on in some capacity for a few months and then quietly let go.

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