After a ratings bump for NBC’s Nightly News, temporary anchor Lester Holt is quickly emerging as the favorite candidate to replace suspended anchor Brian Williams.
On Friday, CNN reported that Holt received a standing ovation from the newsroom crew during a recent editorial meeting after a bump in the ratings was announced.
Holt has not only held onto the disgraced former anchor’s audience, he has improved upon it, mostly maintaining the news broadcast’s number one ranking among the big three networks.
NBC executives have not officially changed their decision that Williams will be back at the end of the six-month suspension he was given for years of telling tall tales about his personal biography.
The criticism of Williams raised to such a fever pitch that many thought he’d be fired outright. At one point, things got so contentions that NBC news sage Tom Brokaw was said to have been agitating to have Williams fired. Brokaw denied the claims, but insiders insist that he is extremely upset over the whole incident. It was also reported that Brokaw had been warning about Williams for some time.
Still, Williams was suspended and Holt given the temporary anchor duties. But many insiders are now saying that it is getting harder and harder to deny Holt his shot at the chair.
As Holt holds his own in the ratings, one insider told CNN, “This makes it impossible for them not to give it to Lester, if this continues.”
Another insider wondered that with all Holt’s success, “how can you deny this guy.”
Then there is the “race” issue. If Holt takes the chair, he would be the first black permanent solo anchor of a network news cast. But if Williams comes back and retakes his seat, that could also be fraught with racial questions.
Regardless, some insiders think that Williams will return. As new NBC chairman Andy Lack ramps up to take over, many think Williams will return because Lack and Williams are old friends.
Ultimately, insiders hope that Williams will gracefully step aside to let NBC move ahead without him.
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