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After meeting with his boss, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, at Burke’s Manhattan home Tuesday, the scandal-rattled “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams was facing a six-month suspension.

The official announcement about the network’s decision regarding the veteran newsman, who had become the subject of unwanted headlines, came six days after Williams’ on-air admission that the version of a story he had told (and retold) about encountering combat while covering the Iraq War in 2003 was not accurate.

Although many media-watchers had forecast his imminent departure from his top news post at the Peacock network, and some had even picked his replacement, Variety reported this afternoon that NBC was disciplining him but not ditching him outright:

The controversy over Williams’ embellishments have engulfed NBC News since the early last week when his account of facing enemy fire while riding in a helicopter was challenged by Iraq veterans. Williams has been off the broadcast since Saturday. Lester Holt will continue as substitute anchor.

NBC News’ internal probe of Williams’ statements about the Iraq helicopter incident and other reporting that has since been challenged is continuing, NBC said.

“We have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field,” NBC News president Deborah Turness said in a memo distributed Tuesday night.

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke in a statement said the suspension was “severe and appropriate” but also asserted that Williams “deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him.”

The likeliest explanation for NBC’s decision is, as usual, money. Before Williams was called out for “misremembering” his Iraq War story, “NBC Nightly News” sat squarely at the top of the ratings heap. Variety pointed out that NBC had shown signs earlier Tuesday of standing by Williams by touting the newscast’s winning numbers in recent years.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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