*Brian Williams’ future with NBC is currently up in the air after he admitted lying about being on a helicopter shot down by enemy fire in Iraq.
Prince referenced an African-American Facebook user who posted about disgraced journalists Patricia Smith, Jayson Blair and Janet Cooke as examples of writers who were terminated for lying after being caught.
“I know that my career would have been permanently snuffed, crushed and disfigured had I engaged in ANY fabrication of the news,” another veteran black journalist wrote while predicting how Williams’ situation could turn out. “Not so for Brian Williams, who predictably won’t be severely punished…”
Despite making an apology on air, Williams will have an uphill battle ahead of him to win back the public’s trust. Prince goes on to cite an article in Variety which mentioned that, “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.
As for who will be Williams’ successor, signs could point to Lester Holt, NBC’s veteran black newsman who Prince labeled as “Williams’ chief substitute anchor and the go-to guy at NBC News for nearly every on-air job.”
“Lester Holt has certainly proved himself capable of filling Brian Williams’ shoes,” retired NBC and ABC African-American weekend anchor Carole Simpson told Prince via email. “He does Weekend Today, Weekend Nightly News, Dateline and is the major substitute anchor for Brian. NBC has had him reporting from virtually all the major news events around the world. What’s a guy have to do? Lester is the MAN.
“But, unfortunately, I expect NBC execs will come up with some 40-ish, attractive white male to replace Brian (because he must be replaced.) You know — a Willie Geist, Thomas Roberts, Peter Alexander, Steve Kornacki, etc. Lester by every measure should be a shoo-in, but I fear he will be relegated again to ‘second banana,’” she continued. “Clearly the network news has become more interested in some ‘eye candy’ than a Walter Cronkite. And that candy is rarely chocolate.”
If NBC decided to replace Williams with Holt, he would be the first regular weekday nightly news anchor of color since Max Robinson left the three-person ABC anchor desk in 1983, Prince mentioned while stating how African-Americans such as Bryant Gumbel and Al Roker (“Today”), Oprah Winfrey, Robin Roberts (“Good Morning America”) and Byron Pitts (“Nightline”) “have proved that they deliver the goods.”
For more of Prince’s story on race and Williams’ situation, click here.