Brian Williams has gone on some sort of leave. I didn’t predict this. This is bad news for Williams. One of the huge advantages most TV stars have when they face scandal is that they are still on TV every day. So when scandal hits, they can simply drown out coverage of their bad news with whatever they are talking about on a daily basis. We’ve seen this when scandals hit talk show hosts like John McLaughlin, Dr Oz, and Montel Williams.
If millions of people are seeing you daily or weekly, then it’s easy to just drown out increasingly old, bad news.
But now that Williams is off the air, he will be defined by his critics. They will now have the playing field to themselves and will be reviewing every talk show appearance, speech and news report Williams has ever made. More discrepancies may be found. Perhaps just as significant, more charges of falsehoods will be made, anytime Williams is found to have said anything that is debatable. Williams will now receive the opposite of the benefit of the doubt.
Williams has also canceled his next appearance on Letterman. So Williams is basically cut off from his ability to communicate during this crisis to the public. His fate is now in the hands of NBC executives.
Prediction: If Williams is back on the air within a week, this whole event will be seen as a paid vacation, and Williams will be the prime anchor at NBC for years to come. But if he is left hanging for two weeks, with his critics attacking daily, Williams is unlikely to return to the anchor chair.