General News

Brain Williams: Fair-haired no longer?

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Aug 01, 2001 | 10:04am EDT

Brian Williams' lackluster performance in the ratings since Tom Brokaw began his 10-week summer hiatus may have diminished Williams' status as NBC News' fair-haired boy and designated successor to Brokaw. Wednesday's New York Post speculates that, in order to keep Katie Couric on the Today show for the time being, NBC might promise her the anchor post when Brokaw decides to leave. As noted by Vaughn Ververs, editor of the daily political newsletter The Hotline, not only has NBC Nightly News dipped in the ratings since Williams replaced Brokaw last month (it reclaimed first place last week), but Williams' ratings on MSNBC have also plummeted, dropping 17 percent when his newscast recently moved from 9 p.m. to 8 p.m., while MSNBC Investigates, which replaced Williams at 9 p.m. produced ratings that were 29 percent higher than what Williams drew in that slot. Ververs commented in his newsletter Wednesday: "On the network side, NBC can always point out that ABC has been gaining on them for some time and that a loss here and there is expected. But how do they explain the fact that their network anchor-in-waiting can't even secure an audience on cable?" [In an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, Brokaw said that he had a "notion" about retiring but no timetable. "I'm not preparing to retire," Brokaw remarked. "I don't want you to jump the gun here or anything."]

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