Brian Williams was NBC’s news superstar, appearing on programs ranging from 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live, and The Tonight Show. He was a beloved regular on the talk show circuit. Since 2004, he was heir to a line of NBC news chiefs flowing from Chet Huntley and David Brinkley through John Chancellor to Tom Brokaw.
But, next to good looks and a good voice, perhaps an anchor’s most essential job qualification is credibility–being the most trusted news source in America. If people don’t believe you, they’re not going to look to you for the news. So Williams’ world collapsed in early February when questions surfaced about an embellished version of a war story in which he claimed to be riding in a helicopter that was “hit by ground fire.” He made similar comments about surviving “a close call in the skies over Iraq,” “com[ing] under fire,” and “look[ing] down the tube of an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade launcher].”