Though NBC has suspended its top anchor, Brian Williams, for six months without pay, there’s no guarantee Williams will be coming back.
NBC took action after its reputation was harmed over revelations Williams lied about a story he covered, and maybe others as well. NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke called it “inexcusable.”
There are two things Williams must do to save his career.
1-Face the Music
He cannot hide from the media forever. At some point soon, he has to explain his actions and convince people he is truly sorry. This must be either at a press conference or during a hard-hitting interview (not at NBC).
2- Follow This Message
Mr. Williams should say something like this:
I began as a good journalist. But, at some point, I fell into the celebrity pit where self promotion becomes so engrained in your psyche you lose sight of the difference between fact and hype. I don’t know how or when it happened. I only know it was wrong and that I deserve my punishment.
I will disappear from public view during my suspension to contemplate where I went wrong and to prove to myself, and others, public adulation is not the principle sustenance of my life.
I regret the harm I have done to NBC and my profession. I know I have let our viewers down.
I hope I get a second chance. I understand there would be zero tolerance for false or misleading statements. And that second chances are final.
The NY Times reports Williams once told NBC executives he was interested in being a late-night talk show host, perhaps even Leno’s replacement. It confirms his love of celebrity. Can he resist this temptress and return to sound journalism once again. Will he get the chance?
The writer is a former TV news anchor who runs a training seminar, speaking coaching and media strategy firm.