US & Canada

NBC news anchor Brian Williams suspended for six months

NBC anchor Brian Williams Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Williams is the most-watched network anchor in the US

US news anchor Brian Williams has been suspended by his employer, NBC, after he admitted giving a misleading account of coming under fire in Iraq.

The broadcaster said Williams would be suspended for six months without pay for his "inexcusable" actions.

Williams, the most-watched network anchor in the US, often spoke of being shot down in a helicopter in Iraq.

However, after veterans disputed his account, he admitted getting the story wrong and blamed the "fog of memory".

Last week, he apologised on air for the lapse.

"I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago," he said. "I want to apologise. I said I was travelling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] fire. I was instead in a following aircraft."

NBC News President Deborah Turness said that Williams had "misrepresented" events from the Iraq war.

"It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues," Turness said.

"This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian's position."

'Severe and appropriate'

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Media captionBrian Williams made an on-screen apology last week

His apology came after veterans who were on the helicopter that was hit challenged his version of events.

One of them, Flight Engineer Lance Reynolds, wrote: "Sorry dude, I don't remember you being on my aircraft. I do remember you walking up about an hour after we had landed to ask me what had happened."

Last week, Williams said he was taking himself off air "for several days", as it had become "painfully apparent" that he was too much a part of the news.

On Tuesday, a statement from Steve Burke, NBC Universal Chief Executive Officer, said Williams had "jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News".

"His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate."

NBC is conducting a review into what happened.

The BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan in Washington says there is already speculation about whether the anchor will ever return to his job, now that his credibility is so badly damaged.

Questions have also been raised about Williams's coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, with one health official challenging a claim he contracted dysentery while reporting on the aftermath.

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