Brian Williams' suspension from NBC Nightly News last month was just the latest development in a long series of crises at the network. And, according to a new report in New York Magazine that explores the behind-the-scenes drama, many of Williams' colleagues would prefer it if he didn't return after his six-month hiatus.
"Very, very few people like him," a source tells New York. "The phrase you hear constantly: 'What goes around comes around.'"
In December, the report says, when it was unclear whether Williams would renew his contract for another five years, NBC News President Deborah Turness gave him a mahogany writing table that was once owned by Edward R. Murrow, which she had purchased from a Los Angeles antiques dealer weeks earlier in an attempt to entice Williams to stay at NBC. (He had reportedly been exploring the possibility of moving to late-night entertainment, even contacting CBS President Les Moonves to float the idea of being David Letterman's successor.) After being presented with the gift, Williams announced on the spot that he was staying at NBC, New York reports.
Two months later, however, NBC was forced to suspend Williams for six months after it was discovered that he lied about being aboard a helicopter that was shot down in Iraq in 2003. Lester Holt has been filling in for Williams in the interim, while additional claims Williams had previously made in relation to Hurricane Katrina and the killing of Osama bin Laden are being investigated. It's unclear whether Williams will return to the anchor desk.
Since becoming NBC News President in 2013, Turness has had to put out fires at Meet the Press (which culminated in David Gregory's dismissal) and Today (where rumors of staffing shifts have abounded for months), in addition to navigating through the Williams debacle.
"The Nightly News crisis exposed deep-rooted anger among many NBC journalists, who felt frustrated that Williams had been allowed to gain so much power," according to the New York Magazine report.
Adds a senior staffer: "We're playing with fire. Lester's more than paid his dues."
Read New York's full report here.