Brian Williams’ Public Rehabilitation Begins on NBC’s ‘Today’

An appearance on NBC’s “Today” can be worth millions of dollars in free publicity to people who want to tell their story to the world. One of those people, as it turns out, is a longtime NBC employee: Brian Williams.

The news anchor, who NBC announced Thursday will be reassigned to MSNBC following an investigation of false claims he made about past reporting exploits, has taped an interview with “Today” co-host Matt Lauer that is set to air on Friday’s program. NBCUniversal placed that detail at the very end of a press release unveiling details of its new arrangement with the newsman.

The interview, NBCU said, was conducted over the last two days in New York by Lauer, and will also be shown on “NBC Nightly News” on Friday evening.

“Today” has served as a bullhorn for any number of people caught in interesting moments and situations who want to explain themselves further. Just this week,  Rachel Dolezal, a former NAACP chapter president accused of claiming to be African-American, gave Lauer an exclusive live interview, telling him she began seeing herself as black at the age of 5. Celebrities often take to “Today” to hawk new projects or respond to troubling rumors about their personal lives.

Williams will likely have to answer questions about why he made up stories — he has been suspended for six months for embellishing a story about a 2003 reporting trip to Iraq and other falsifications — and explain why he is worthy of viewers’ trust. For NBC, the show will be the first testing ground for Williams post-“NBC Nightly News” image and its first effort to help him enter public life.

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