The six-month suspension of NBC Nightly News anchor and managing editor Brian Williams is shaking up the television world, but for some in the journalism industry, there is no question the punishment is appropriate. New York Times media columnist David Carr said he couldn't agree more with NBC's decision.
"I think to begin with, everyone including Brian thought he was maybe too big to fail -- number one anchor, almost 10 million viewers. Turns out, he's not the most important thing," Carr said Wednesday on "CBS This Morning." "The credibility of the news division had to be protected under all circumstances, and his path back to that chair is uncertain."
While an internal memo at NBC News stated that Williams' false reports about his experience covering the Iraq War in 2003 were "wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian's position," they stood by the anchor, saying Williams "deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him."
"This is an incredibly likable person. Nobody's rooting against him," Carr said. "He made some very, very dumb decisions, but let's see what he can do with working from here."
It's a redemptive road that has yet to be paved in the industry.
"This is without precedent in American broadcast history. You've never seen a big, hard suspension of an anchor like this. We don't know what a comeback looks like, there's no playbook for what's underway," Carr said. "So they're going to have to make it up as they go along."
Carr said "taking a breath" with reveal the "full expanse" of Williams' actions.
"I think the tragedy here is he was the number one anchor in the nation, everybody loved his work, but he -- somehow that wasn't enough. He had to go and do these other things," Carr said.
In addition to anchoring and reporting, Williams was known for his sense of humor and comedic acts with people like "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon. "CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose even recounted a conversation where David Letterman told him that Williams would have been a great successor for his "Late Show."
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"Yeah, of course, Brian had the same idea and wanted to take over for Jay Leno. That did not sit well with his colleagues in the news division, that he wanted to cross over," Carr said. "His skills in that regard are very, very significant. He's not a sort-of funny guy, he's incredibly gifted."