Brian Williams may have a hard time retaining his popularity with viewers considering the results of a survey commissioned by Variety regarding the news anchor’s false claims to have been on a helicopter shot down by enemy fire in Iraq.
An overwhelming 80% think that Williams should no longer continue as a news anchor for NBC, according to a survey conducted Thursday by celebrity brand expert Jeetendr Sehdev, who polled 1,000 people who either watched or read the anchor’s apology.
If Williams keeps his seat in the anchor chair, he will have to face an uphill climb to regain viewers trust. Seventy percent of respondents surveyed by do not believe that Williams will overcome the mistake.
Eight out of 10 respondents reported that they will now struggle to believe what Williams says following his admission that he “made a mistake in recalling the events 12 years ago,” as he said during his Wednesday night newscast.
Seventy percent did not describe Williams’ apology as sincere, with 60% believing that the anchor attempted to minimize the significance of his fabricated story in his apology.
Sehdev interpreted the result as a reflection that transparency, authenticity and responsiveness are the most critical elements of credibility in this case, even though Williams is still considered an experienced journalist.
“It’s no surprise that super savvy audiences today didn’t believe Williams’ scripted ‘fog of memory’ explanation or his apology. Williams didn’t tell the story to thank a ‘special veteran’ but falsified the story to celebrate himself,” noted Sehdev.
Half of the respondents believed that Williams changed his story in order to present himself as a hero, with slightly more answering that his celebrity status does not help his credibility.
The survey yielded one optimistic note for Williams: six out of 10 respondents indicated they would be willing to forgive him.