This is smoke and mirrors.
“NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has been suspended for six months without pay following his false claims about an experience he had during the Iraq war, NBC News president Deborah Turness announced Tuesday night.”
1. An untrustworthy anchorman does not turn into a trustworthy one because he hasn’t worked for 6 months.
2. NBC apparently thinks, or hopes the public will think, that the issue is punishing Williams. Undoubtedly, there are (ethically obtuse, ignorant) people who think this way, but the issue is trust. Williams has shown, by lying to the public for more than a decade about his Iraq experience and probably more, that he cannot be trusted to do what his job requires: truthfully and reliably telling the public what happens in the world.
3. That an organization allegedly dedicated to broadcast journalism doesn’t understand that, or worse, does understand it and will retain an untrustworthy anchor anyway because he might still be profitable—after the heat is off, that is—is an indictment of that organization’s lack of courage, integrity, honesty, professionalism, and respect for its audience.
4. NBC says that its investigation of Williams will continue. I think it is possible, even likely, that he will not return. That means that this half-measure’s main result may be to mark NBC as a cynical, venal organization for which journalism is neither a calling nor a profession, but a sham and a profit center.
5. We will see if NBC’s audience is as gullible, foolish, and easily manipulated as this action suggests the network believes it is. If viewers just return to Williams like sheep, it is difficult to see why any news organization would value honesty and integrity, since its market doesn’t.
From Althouse:“I guess they want to see if we’ll forget why he left and start wondering why he’s gone, so they can bring him back. That’s all very lame and pathetic, and I don’t watch the nightly news, so there’s a limit to my outrage about NBC’s wan interest in the truth.”
From Ruth Marcus (WaPo): “Some discussion of Williams’s fate has involved his central role at NBC and whether the network could “afford” to lose its most recognizable franchise. This is the network version of “too big to fail” — that Williams is too important to can. I see it the opposite way: Williams’s elevated status subjects him to a higher standard of behavior, and more rigorous consequences. The face of NBC News cannot afford to be so scarred.”