Majority say he’s through as the ‘NBC Nightly News’ anchor
Brian Williams’ future at NBC News is very much in doubt nearing the midway point of his six-month suspension for exaggerating about coming under fire in the Iraq War a decade ago.
The network has not said definitively that it will bring him back to anchor the “NBC Nightly News,” and there’s talk that top executives are hoping he’ll quit to save them from having to tell him he can’t come back.
Media buyers and planners think he’s done.
That’s according to a recent Media Life poll asking readers to weigh in on the Williams situation more than two months after his suspension.
The big question: Will Williams return to “NBC Nightly News?” The majority of readers, 66 percent, predicted he will not.
Only 34 percent think he will return.
“They need to replace Brian Williams immediately,” wrote one reader. “Journalism first, entertainment second.”
The majority of readers, 56 percent, still think the network made the right call on the suspension.
Just 13 percent say the anchor’s transgressions were not serious enough to warrant his punishment.
Sometimes time can soften people’s perspective on a scandal, but not in this case. Eighty-four percent of readers still say Williams’ claims were an extremely serious or serious transgression.
As for who should replace Williams if he’s booted, most readers, 57 percent, say it should be Lester Holt, the veteran NBC News anchor who has been filling in for Williams the past two months.
Twenty-four percent say the network should look outside NBC News for a replacement.
Holt has received good reviews in Williams’ absence, but over the past month ABC’s newscast has moved ahead of NBC in total viewers, ending the latter’s five-year win streak.
Media Life asked readers whether ABC will stay ahead or NBC will regain the lead. Fifty-two percent predicted ABC will stay ahead, 32 percent thought NBC would grab back the lead, and the rest said NBC will move back ahead only if Williams returns.
Finally, readers are split on whether ABC’s gains are a direct result of NBC’s troubles.
Asked, “How big a factor was Williams’ exit in ABC moving to No. 1?,” the largest share of readers, 42 percent, picked “a large factor.”
But another 39 percent said Williams’ exit was “a factor but not the only one.”