Richard Prince’s Journal-isms cites various journalists who have weighed in on NBC’s current dilemma in rebounding after suspending Williams for lying about being on a helicopter shot down in Iraq. With Holt’s experience anchoring “Weekend Today” and the weekend edition of “Nightly News,” many consider him to be the most logical choice, especially since he will be sitting at the anchor chair in Williams’ place for the next six months.
All in all, the main factor determining whether Holt will be Williams permanent replacement will be the “Nightly News” viewers.
“With ‘Nightly News’ atop the ratings for almost all of Williams’ decade-long tenure as its lead anchor — and back into the 1990s with Tom Brokaw — Holt will be watched closely to see if he can maintain that lead,” David Bauder, a media writer for the Associated Press wrote. “If he can, that may lessen NBC’s desire to bring back a more costly anchor with doubts cast on his trustworthiness.”
If Holt does make the cut, it would mark the first time since the late Max Robinson sat as one of three co-anchors at ABC from 1978 to 1983 that an African-American assumed the lead anchor spot permanently on weekdays.
“NBC made a wise decision making Lester Holt the anchor of the nightly news,” National Association of Black Journalists president Bob Butler told Journal-isms via email. “I have known Lester for most of my professional career. He is a solid professional with tremendous skills. I am very pleased that Lester is getting this promotion. I know it may only be temporary but no one is more deserving.”
As for the chance of NBC actually choosing Holt, that’s a mixed bag.
“Lester Holt has played many roles for NBC News this century, but nothing anywhere near as big as the one he tackles Monday night: trying to keep the ‘NBC Nightly News’ competitive and credible until the Brian Williams firestorm and jokes subside,” David Hinckley voiced Monday in an article he wrote for the New York Daily News.
“Holt’s primary task is to reassure viewers that NBC News, the organization, has separated itself from the inconceivably foolish ‘conflation’ blunder that led Williams to say Friday he’s taking himself off the air for a while…
“Based on Holt’s 15 years at NBC and 18 at CBS before that, no one now at NBC is better qualified to accomplish that mission.
“He’s a solid journalist, a proven big leaguer.
“That’s not the same, however, as saying that he’s likely to be the man if NBC or Williams decides to make his temporary absence permanent.
Despite Hinkley’s view, Alex Weprin labeled Holt as the “hardest working person at NBC News” who “remains the most logical choice in the event Williams does not return to the anchor desk.”
“In some respects, Holt is the right anchor at the right time. . . . He has the gravitas, and he isn’t afraid to show personality (or appear on comedy shows), but he is still primarily a news anchor, one with a profile more appropriate for the current media environment, Weprin wrote Tuesday night for capitalnewyork.com.
For more analysis on Holt’s potential to replace Williams, click to Journal-isms.