NBC News' Brian Williams has been suspended for six months without pay for falsely saying he'd been in an aircraft that was struck by ground fire in Iraq circa 2003, and plenty of TV rivals, including, shockingly enough, the folks at Fox News, have been piling on the embattled anchor. But the average employee at 9News won't be able to join in, at least when it comes to communicating with the press: Exec Patti Dennis, who also has a major role with the station's parent company, Gannett, has sent a memo warning staffers to keep their lips zipped in public regarding Williams's time-out.
The memo, shared on Jim Romenesko's media-news page, is addressed to news directors throughout the Gannett TV system; Dennis is both news director of 9News and Gannett Broadcasting's recruitment director. It reads:
From: Dennis, Patti
Date: February 11, 2015 at 6:01:34 AM PST
To: Gannett Broadcast News Directors
Subject: Brian Williams
Please be aware no one should be talking to the press about NBC’s decision. [Gannett Broadcasting president] Dave Lougee and [corporate communications veep] Jeremy Gaines are the only ones to address this outside of our organizations. Please refer all inquiries to Dave Lougee. Please make sure your staff knows.
Also, be very thoughtful with posts and tweets.
Patti Dennis VP News KUSA
NBC's Nightly News is a staple of 9News, which has been the TV-news ratings leader in Denver for decades. Lester Holt will hold down the anchor chair until Williams's return — or not, depending on what happens down the line.
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Below, see three videos: Williams's on-air apology, delivered prior to his suspension; a 2013 clip from Late Night with David Letterman in which he tells the Iraq story; and the original 2003 report.