Before Brian Williams apologized for exaggerating an account of a forced helicopter landing during the Iraq war, he ranked as the 23rd-most-trusted person in the country — on par with Denzel Washington, Warren E. Buffett and Robin Roberts. On Monday, he ranked as No. 835.
That puts him, stated a report in the New York Times, on the same level as Gene Hackman, basketball player Russell Westbrook, and Willie Robertson, who stars in A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” reality series, according to the Marketing Arm, a research firm whose celebrity index is closely watched by advertisers and media and marketing executives.
The new research, continued the Times story, came as NBC tried to decide whether Mr. Williams can continue as anchor and managing editor of its evening news broadcast. The network’s internal investigation into Mr. Williams was underway Monday, with NBC News reporters contacting other staff members who have worked with Mr. Williams as well as soldiers involved in the Iraq helicopter incident, according to people who have been contacted.
The Times also noted that the situation “has reached to the highest level of NBCUniversal. Stephen B. Burke, its chief executive, held a meeting at his house this weekend to discuss the next steps. Among the options the network is likely to consider is whether Mr. Williams should apologize again and return to the air, whether he should be suspended or whether he should be pressured to resign, television industry executives said.”