Brian Williams News Leak Wars: What’s the Endgame for Andrew Lack, NBC News?

“I think what NBC needs is air traffic controllers to monitor the trial balloons because they’re colliding over 30 Rock,” media expert Frank Sesno tells TheWrap

As ABC’s “World News Tonight” marked one month straight atop “NBC Nightly News” in total viewers on Tuesday, new claims surfaced that indicated competing views over Brian Williams‘ future between new NBC News Chairman Andy Lack and the network’s top brass.

The Daily News reported Monday that Lack is looking for a way to put Williams back in the anchor chair, feeling the Williams problem seems to be more with journalists and media pundits than actual viewers. The report arrives on the heels of dueling New York Times and Washington Post reports over the weekend saying there are at least 10 more instances found in NBC News’ internal review of Williams exaggerating stories or not being accurate in reporting.

An insider told TheWrap many internal opponents of Williams return are motivated by their concern that the NBC News brand will be hurt if Williams is reinstated. Lack is also not pleased with all the leaks flooding out of NBC.

“I think what NBC needs is air traffic controllers to monitor the traffic balloons, because they are colliding over 30 Rock,” Frank Sesno, Director of the George Washington University’s School of Public Affairs, told TheWrap of the various leaks about NBC News, many from anti-Williams factions.

The Williams decision is obviously a tough one for Lack, and although viewer sentiment is paramount, so is the chatter.

“I’m not sure NBC is going to be helped if they bring Brian Williams back and 90 percent of the audience wants him, but 10 percent doesn’t and then 10 percent plants itself on social media and elsewhere and has an ongoing anti-Williams campaign–that doesn’t help the network.”

Timing is also an issue with 2016 coverage beginning to brew. Sesno noted the awkward situation that would arise if Williams was tasked with interviewing or covering a candidate who’s in the news for exaggerating his or her own record.

Another expert suggests that if Lack leaked pro-Williams information himself, he might be positioning himself for an eventual frank discussion with the suspended anchor.

“It may be that this is also positioning Lack to deliver the bad news to Williams to say, ‘look I tried, I tried to keep you; I’m your buddy from way back, but we just can’t [keep you],” Mark Feldstein, Maryland Professor of Journalism, told TheWrap.

A former investigative reporter, Feinstein said Williams’ return would be “unprecedented,” changing the network news model from the voice of God approach to a more flawed, humble model.

“We’ve had the voice of God since Cronkite, and Williams has masqueraded as an equally authoritative voice. If he comes back, he can’t do that again…I just don’t think he can pass the laugh test.”