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If there’s any silver lining in the shameful Brian Williams lying-exaggeration-misrembering saga, it’s this: Lester Holt.

Holt, the 55-year-old newsman who happens to be African-American, is getting his shot on the big stage – the NBC Nightly News anchor desk that Williams has been suspended from – without pay – for six months after revelations that Williams offered false statements about his experience reporting in Iraq in 2003.

NBC News President Deborah Turness said in a memo that Williams “misrepresented” events that occurred while he was covering the 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.”

The military newspaper Stars and Stripes published a story saying Williams was incorrect when he said a helicopter in which he and his team were traveling during the invasion of Iraq was hit by rocket propelled grenades. The story was based on eyewitness accounts.

Williams has since apologized on air for his error in judgment but there is speculation in some media circles that Williams cannot survive this storm and may never return to the anchor desk.

Enter Lester Holt.

In an era where President Barack Obama is the nation’s first Black president, where Eric Holder served as the first African-American U.S. Attorney General, and where some still insist we live in a post-racial society, anchor desks in prime time at the major networks -NBC, CBS and ABC – have been void of black men on a regular basis.

The anchor chair, frankly, has been the one coveted spot that is off limits – on a permanent basis – for a Black man. You have to go all the way back to Max Robinson, who became in 1978, the first Black man to anchor a network television broadcast in prime time.

Holt, a 15-year veteran at NBC, is no stranger to the anchor desk. He has filled in for Williams on numerous occasions in the past but now Holt has been thrown in to relieve Williams for the next six months – a role that  he should inherit permanently. Holt has also been a co-host of the weekend editions of Today since 2003 and a co-host on Dateline.

Holt is battle tested. He deserves his shot as a permanent anchor, not just as a temporary stand-in for the untrustworthy Williams.

Too often Black professionals – and Black men in particular – are given the helm when the ship is sinking, or at the very least when the ship is taking on water. There often seems to be a crisis that catapults a deserving Black man to the national stage and in this case, the crisis is Williams and the savior is Holt.

It doesn’t really matter how Holt arrived at the anchor desk, the fact is he’s sitting in the big chair as the voice of reason and integrity for NBC News, something that’s been lost and tarnished over the past few days.

What Holt brings to NBC News is stability, honor and truthfulness, something that Williams, despite his 22-year career fell short of.

So at a time when CNN, for example, has withdrawn its support from the National Association of Black Journalists’ 2015 Convention and Career Fair after the group criticized the network for the lack of diversity among its staff members, Holt’s rise to the anchor desk is significant.

Racial diversity is an ongoing problem in all forms of mainstream media and its not getting better despite the outcry. NABJ points out that numerous African-American staff members  have either left or been fired from CNN, including anchors like TJ Holmes and Soledad O’Brien.

“Lester Holt has kindly agreed to sit in for me,” Williams said in a statement to his NBC staff.

I hope Holt will be sitting in for good.

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15 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: Lester Holt Deserves To Replace Brian Williams…Permanently

  1. Charline Baker on said:

    I have always loved Lester Holt. I watch the weekend Today shows and the evening news as well. I also watch Dateline and I’D Discovery just to see Lester. He’s smart, driven and widely respected and he is trustworthy. Lester deserves what he is getting and he deserves it permanently.

  2. Exhale Female Vet on said:

    I’ve had enough!! The media always wears a subject into the ground for ratings. I like Brian. He is a funny intelligent guy. I watched him nightly over TMZ. hahaha Lester represents the light skinned black who get these jobs (I’m still mad how Gwen Ifill was treated)! See you in 6 months Brian…..

  3. I really like Lester Holt, but unfortunately, the ratings are going to determine who gets the job..hopefully his 6 months in the position will let those that have not watched him anchor know is is well qualified. I will be watching his broadcast!

  4. Mundus Vol Decipi on said:

    Mr. Williams did not make a mistake, misrepresent his story or misremember– He lied! He should apologize, admit he lied and keep it moving. People are very forgiving, especially towards media types and people in power. If he were an average person it would be a problem, but for someone like him a good PR firm could wash him white as snow via a little rehab, public apology, a few tears, etc. He could also move into politics– Hillary lied about being shot at it in Bosnia and she’s considered a frontrunner for the presidency. Biden plagiarized his speeches and he’s VP and Timothy Geitner failed to pay taxes and he became Sec of the Treasury. So hang in there Brian, all hope is not lost…

    • I like Brian. Everybody is entitled to a mistake, But I get the feeling he won’t be back. Look at Dan Rather. I think Lester Holt deserves his
      chance in the spotlight on a permanent basis.

  5. I don’t get what all the hoopla is about! I like both Brian, and Lester; but they are just two (2) of many anchors that regurgitate the news 24/7. Anyone with a handsome, or pretty face that’s half-way intelligent can read the news. Besides…..there are so many ways (obviously including the net) where we can get our news these days. I’d venture to say that most people that watch the 6, or 7 o’clock news are old peep sitting in front of the tv that don’t have anything else to do.

    • I meant peeps not peep. For the record: I understand the significance of telling the truth, and credibility. But to me the Brian issue wasn’t so much about the a news story but about him interjecting his (so-called) personal experience.

  6. Also for Lester Holt: God works in mysterious ways….blessings comes in many forms, and for him, this is probably his blessing! 🙂

  7. I like Brian Williams, and I also like Lester Holt. However, Brian Williams should have known better. I have a feeling he will not be returning to his job; and may Lester Holt not make the same mistake(s), because it would be like the “end of the world” for him if he does.

  8. What is it with the culture at NBC/MSNBC? Williams follows a laundry list of reporters, hosts, producers fired demoted or shipped off to the corn field for misrepresentation

  9. IanRousseault on said:

    I so agree with this. Mr. Holt is incredible, an extremely classy Man, an excellent journalist who definitely knows what he’s talking about! I have watched him every since I lived in Chicago and he was a News Anchor there. So I’m hoping that he becomes the permanent anchor at NBC, he deserves it!!!!!!!!!

  10. I hope that at the end of Brian Williams’ six month unpaid vacation that the decision is made to kick him to the curb.

    I would love to see Lester Holt as the anchorman on NBC Nightly News-he deserves it!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I support blacks finding success but I think that Brian Williams should serve his time without pay (he gets paid a reported $10 million a year and has been suspended for 6 months without pay) and is able to return. His mistake or mistakes of misrepresentation should not ruin his career.

    To those who think that it should, remember President Bill “I did not have sex with that woman–Ms. Lewinsky” Clinton. He didn’t deserve to lose his job and neither does Brian William. And I understand that this will likely not be a popular opinion on this website.

    Time will tell if the public accepts him after 6 months away in Tahiti. It’s a matter of ratings and Q score and money.

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