He will be replaced by Lester Holt following controversy over Williams's claim that he was in a helicopter brought down by enemy fire in 2003

By Michele Corriston
Updated February 10, 2015 08:10 PM
Credit: Monica Schipper/Getty

Brian Williams‘s break from Nightly News just got longer: NBC has suspended the anchor for six months.

Williams, 55, will be replaced by Lester Holt during the suspension, the network announced in a note to staff Tuesday. He won’t be paid during the leave, and NBC’s investigation into his conduct will continue.

The controversy erupted last week, when Williams repeated his 2013 claim that he was in a helicopter brought down by enemy fire while embedded during the war in Iraq in 2003.

“It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian s position,” Deborah Turness, president of NBC News, said in the memo. “In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field.”

“Millions of Americans have turned to him every day, and he has been an important and well-respected part of our organization,” she added. “As I’m sure you understand, this was a very hard decision. Certainly there will be those who disagree. But we believe this suspension is the appropriate and proportionate action.”

The email also included a message from NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke.

“This has been a painful period for all concerned and we appreciate your patience while we gathered the available facts. By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate,” he wrote. “Brian’s life’s work is delivering the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone’s trust.”