After a six-month suspension, Brian Williams returned to TV in his new role – with a new set and a new demeanor.
“Brian Williams picks up our special coverage next”, the sparse lead-in to Williams’ segment said, before a special graphic marking the pope’s coverage faded into Williams at MSNBC’s new breaking-news desk.
Dressed in a suit and blue striped tie, Williams made no mention of his absence.
Williams told Lauer he wasn’t happy about not being able stay on the NBC Nightly News, which is now anchored by Lester Holt.
NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack said last week that Williams is one of the best in his generation for covering live, breaking news on television. His first story was a major one, for Pope Francis’ visit to the United States has captured the world’s attention.
Many are the network are hoping that adding Williams to the team will help their fledgling ratings as they began to focus more on news during their daytime programming.
Another user tweeted: ‘The pope told me how impressed he was when I walked on water during Katrina’. An NBC News executive on hand to witness his arrival, but not authorized to discuss it publicly, said Williams introduced himself to producers and technical crew members he had not previously met and was greeted warmly by NBC News political director Chuck Todd and other correspondents. “Looking back, it had to have been ego that made me think I had to be sharper, funnier, quicker than anybody else, [to] put myself closer to the action, having been at the action in the beginning”.
Williams is scheduled to resume MSNBC’s coverage of the pope’s visit today.
MSNBC’s corporate point of view is that Williams is one of the biggest stars of television news and that he’ll strengthen the cable channel’s ratings.
“Brian will be such an important contribution to MSNBC’s page-turn here”, Lack said.
Lack said that Williams spent part of his hiatus driving around the country, alone.
It was as if nothing had happened, as if Williams hadn’t been off the air for almost two-thirds of a year after an episode that led to an embarrassing demotion and a substantial pay cut.
“Brian now has the chance to earn back everyone’s trust”, he said. All but his most strident critics will join the sizable fan base that never left him in the first place in rooting for his comeback. He said Mr. Williams would abide by the normal checks and balances that exist for all of us. In 2002, Williams spoke about being a student at Catholic University when Pope John Paul II visited the Washington, D.C. campus in 1979.
Under Holt, NBC has been in a back-and-forth dogfight for supremacy with ABC’sWorld News Tonight with David Muir.