Depending on the whims of various NBC affiliates and stations, Brian Williams returned to deliver the news on NBC Tuesday afternoon for the first time since he was removed as the anchor of “NBC Nightly News” in February.
NBC News said Williams would anchor an “optional special report” being provided to stations on officials from Los Angeles Unified School District delivering an update on the closing of schools in the city Tuesday in the wake of a “credible” threat of violence delivered to authorities. The danger was later revealed to be without foundation.
Williams’ report was to be simulcast on MSNBC, the cable-news network where he is seen most these days.
Williams began anchoring on MSNBC in September after serving a suspension that lasted more than six months. NBC in February removed Williams, who had been the most-watched evening-news anchor in the U.S., from his duties as chief anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” in the wake of a scandal over misleading statements he made about his time covering the Iraq War in 2003. In June, parent company NBCUniversal disclosed that Williams made “exaggerations” about his reporting, largely on late-night programs and during public appearances.
His appearance on NBC may raise eyebrows, but it should not come as a total surprise. When Williams was assigned to MSNBC, NBC News said he was likely to be used as a substitute for breaking-news reports on NBC when Holt was not available to deliver them.
In many ways, NBC left the door open for Williams to resurface on the broadcast network he once called his home. Though NBCUniversal acknowledged in June that Williams “made a number of inaccurate statements about his own role and experiences covering events in the field,” the company has never detailed for its viewers what the statements were and why they were false. The company also shone a very large spotlight on its decision to remove him from “Nightly News,” while keeping him employed. The decision was covered in June with a segment on NBC’s “Today” that featured a lengthy interview between Williams and “Today” anchor Matt Lauer.
It was not lost on observers that Williams, who embellished details about a ride he took aboard a helicopter he at one time claimed came under enemy fire, was anchoring a report about something that developed into a hoax.