LOS ANGELES — Brian Williams is stepping away temporarily from the “NBC Nightly News” amid questions about his memories of war coverage in Iraq, saying it has become “painfully apparent” to him that he has become a distracting news story.
In a memo Saturday to NBC News staff that was released by the network, the anchorman said that as managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” he is taking himself off the broadcast for several days. Lester Holt will fill in, Williams said.
“In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions,” Williams said in his memo.
“Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us,” he wrote.
Williams has apologized for falsely saying on the air that he was in a helicopter hit by a rocket-propelled grenade while in Iraq in 2003.
Questions have also been raised about his claim that he saw a body or bodies in the Hurricane Katrina floodwaters that hit New Orleans.
NBC News President Deborah Turness said in an internal memo Friday that the network has assigned the head of its own investigative unit to look into Williams’ statements.