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NBC suspends news anchor Brian Williams; satirical news anchor Jon Stewart signals departure

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    It was uncharted territory this morning for NBC's "Today Show" and the rest of the network news division. Overnight came word that "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams is suspended for six months, without pay.

    In a staff memo, NBC News president Deborah Turness said Williams misrepresented an incident from the Iraq war. The judgment of NBC Universal president Steve Burke was harsher still. "By his actions," said Burke, "Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate."

  • ANNOUNCER:

    From NBC new world headquarters in New York, this is "NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams."

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Williams ascended to the anchor's chair more than a decade ago. His remarkably swift fall began January 30, with a report on his war experiences in Iraq back in 2003.

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, Anchor, "NBC Nightly News": When the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG. Our traveling NBC News team was rescued, surrounded and kept alive by an armored mechanized platoon from the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Then, last week, Williams recanted the story to Stars and Stripes after members of the helicopter crew said he'd arrived on the scene an hour after the attack.

    That sparked criticism from media analysts, mockery on social media and an internal NBC investigation.

    It also prompted on-air apology:

  • BRIAN WILLIAMS:

    I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But it didn't end there. New questions arose about Williams' assertions that, in New Orleans, during Hurricane Katrina, he saw a body floating in the French Quarter and gangs infiltrated his hotel.

    Amid the furor, Williams began a voluntary leave of absence this week, but suggested he'd return. Now it's unclear if he will ever return, but, in the interim, Lester Holt will anchor "Nightly News." Less clear is who will fill another anchor seat.

    JON STEWART, Host, "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart": Seventeen years is the longest I have ever in my life held a job, by 16 years and five months.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Jon Stewart announced last night he's retiring later this year from "The Daily Show," Comedy Central's highly popular faux news program.

  • JON STEWART:

    I'm going to have dinner on a school night with my family, who I have heard, from multiple sources, are lovely people.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The news of his leaving took social media by storm. On Twitter alone, more than 250,000 posts mentioned The Daily Show.

    During his time at the helm, Stewart has mentored the likes of Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Larry Wilmore, all of whom went on to have their own shows. A date for Stewart's final show has not been set.

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