The Slatest

Brian Williams to Take Leave of Absence Following Admission of Past Lies

Brian Williams, fabulist.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press

On Saturday, Brian Williams announced that he would take a brief leave of absence from NBC’s Nightly News. The decision follows Williams’ admission that he had lied about being in a helicoptor that was forced down by RPG fire in Iraq in 2003. NBC published his terse statement without comment:

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.

As Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days, and Lester Holt has kindly agreed to sit in for me to allow us to adequately deal with this issue. Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.

Williams’ leave arrives amidst a flurry of criticism, especially from his fellow journalists, about the self-glorifying falsehoods and exaggerations he has repeated over the years. NBC News President Deborah Turness told staff on Friday that the network has created a team “dedicated to gathering the facts to help us make sense of all that has transpired.” The internal investigation will presumably focus on Williams’ other questionable claims, such as witnessing a floating corpse during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and saving puppies as a volunteer firefighter. 

Lester Holt will replace Williams during his leave, and could fill the seat permanently should Williams step down.

Update, Feb. 7, 2015, 7:00 P.M.: Holt made reference to Williams’ absence in his broadcast on Saturday, noting that he was “under scrutiny this past week over his recollection of certain stories he’s covered”: