Bryan details not just the Williams debacle and mishandling, but the series of missteps taken post Comcast, a good and recommended long read for you this Sunday. You could read this instead of watching “Meet the Chuck” or something…
It had been a tumultuous period for NBC’s news division, as had the entire four years since the Philadelphia cable/phone/Internet giant, Comcast, took over NBCUniversal, as the company is officially known. There was Ann Curry’s tearful flameout on Today; David Gregory’s long slide to his exit from Meet the Press; the strange firing after less than three months on the job of Jamie Horowitz, an ESPN executive brought in to fix Today; not to mention ratings declines at several of the division’s centerpiece shows, including Today and Meet the Press.
But that afternoon, after a long presentation to 200 NBC advertising salespeople, Turness was feeling better than she had in months. When she had been hired she knew she was stepping onto a troubled ship; finally, she felt, the organizational changes she had made were showing results. Meet the Press’s ratings were edging up; Nightly News seemed to be stabilizing. “Things,” she told Fili, “feel like they’re in a really good place.”
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Her sense of relief, however, lasted mere minutes. As she left Fili’s office around 3:30, Turness learned the startling news: the most important person at the network, the face of NBC News, its anchorman Brian Williams, had apparently been exaggerating an anecdote about coming under fire in a U.S. Army helicopter during the Iraq war in 2003. A reporter from the military newspaper Stars and Stripes had called about it that morning. Williams was supposed to talk to him off the record in an effort to determine what the reporter planned to write. Instead, to the dismay of NBC’s P.R. staff, Williams had gone on the record and admitted he hadn’t been telling the truth, not only on a Nightly News broadcast the previous week but also over the years at public appearances and on talk shows.