Updated, 9:25 am PT, February 6th, 2015:
In a statement to the Huffington Post, Tom Brokaw said: “I have neither demanded nor suggested Brian be fired. His future is up to Brian and NBC News executives.”
NBC News denied reports claiming Tom Brokaw has called for his successor Brian Williams to be fired as “Nightly News” anchor.
“Tom Brokaw has absolutely not called for Brian to be fired,” an NBC News insider told TheWrap Friday in response to reports that “Brokaw wants Williams’ head on a platter.”
According to the New York Post, Brokaw has argued with NBC executives that a lower-level journalist or producer would be fired or reprimanded for a false story like being shot down by RPG fire.
NBC News has not come out with a formal statement regarding the Williams controversy. Williams apologized on-air Thursday for making a “mistake” in conflating being on an Iraqi helicopter shot down by RPG fire as opposed to being in the plane behind that didn’t get struck by the rocket-propelled grenade.
Some are defending Williams, including former evening news anchor Dan Rather, who told Politico: “Brian is an honest, decent man, an excellent reporter and anchor–and a brave one. I can attest that — like his predecessor Tom Brokaw — he is a superb pro and a gutsy one.”
But most of the TV news and media chorus has been sour toward Williams, casting aspersions on his claim of conflating being on a plane shot down by RPG fire vs. one that didn’t.
“But you go on Letterman, I’ve been on there many times, and you want to please, you want to be interesting, you want to be fascinating, you want to be cool — he operates in that world, he operates in the Internet world,” Bill O’Reilly said Thursday regarding Williams’ motives for exaggerating the helicopter story.
“This just does not pass the smell test,” Brian Stelter told Alisyn Camerota Thursday. “How can anyone conflate being on a helicopter that did not take fire and being on a helicopter that did take fire.” Stelter suggested the big question Williams didn’t address during his on-air apology was how far away he was from the helicopter that was shot down.
And Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik — not known for going for the jugular — has called for William’s firing.
Williams anchored “Nightly News” Thursday and is currently scheduled for Friday.