NBC's Brian Williams suspended for six months over Iraq claims
By Eric Kelsey
(Reuters) - Brian Williams, the anchor of NBC's top-rated "Nightly News" program, has been suspended without pay for six months after admitting last week that a story he told about coming under fire on a helicopter during the Iraq war was not true, the network said on Tuesday.
As one of America's most prominent journalists, Williams' suspension and sudden downfall casts a pall over the Comcast Corp-owned network and its reputation as one of the most authoritative sources for news in the United States.
"By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News," NBC Universal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke said in a statement from the network. "His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate."
Williams, 55, a star anchor who has led "Nightly News" since 2004, has told different versions of a tale in which a U.S. military helicopter he was riding in during the first days of the Iraq war in 2003 was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
His suspension comes after he voluntarily took himself off the air on Saturday and five days after NBC News launched an inquiry into his story of the event.
NBC News President Deborah Turness said in a memo to staff that the inquiry is still ongoing.
Backlash against Williams, who also served as managing editor of the newscast, swiftly gained steam from soldiers on social media after a Jan. 30 "Nightly News" segment in which Williams retold a version of the story.