After a several-months-long suspension, former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams will soon be back on air. He’s scheduled to make his return on Sept. 22 on MSNBC as part of the anchor team covering Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States.
The Pope will kick off his U.S. tour in Washington, D.C., and while MSNBC will have anchors in the nation’s capital, Williams will be based in New York. The two will be in the same city briefly, though; Pope Francis will arrive in New York on Sept. 24 and leave on the morning of Sept. 26. The tour will wrap up on the evening of Sept. 27, when the Pope flies back to Rome.
We can’t help but note the irony of Williams’ chance for redemption coinciding with the leader of the Catholic Church’s visit. The anchor was previously suspended by NBCUniversal after there was an investigation into false claims he made on the job. Ultimately, the television group decided to give Williams a second chance, noting his otherwise impressive 10-plus-year run on NBC Nightly News. His move to MSNBC to anchor breaking news and special reports, however, was considered a demotion.
Williams was very apologetic in the aftermath of the allegations of false claims. In June, he issued a public statement apologizing to NBC. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I said things that weren’t true. I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust.”
Originally, Williams was expected to be back on air in August, given that his six-month suspension started in February. There’s been speculation that his return was postponed because of the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the news events the anchor has been accused of exaggerating.