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After more than six months in exile, Brian Williams is set to return to MSNBC on Sept. 22, according to the network. He’ll anchor live breaking news that day, which is expected to include coverage of the U.S. visit of Pope Francis.
Williams’ return comes as MSNBC president Phil Griffin already has made some adjustments to the daytime lineup. Last July, Griffin canceled three afternoon programs — The Cycle, Now With Alex Wagner and The Ed Show — while announcing that Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd would return to MSNBC to host a 5 p.m. show.
It’s unclear if there will be changes to the primetime lineup, though the 6 p.m. time slot remains a work in progress as Al Sharpton‘s PoliticsNation was already moved out of that perch. (Sharpton’s final show there was Sept. 4. He’ll take PoliticsNation to Sundays beginning Oct. 4.)
MSNBC is expected to announce its 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. lineup soon. But Williams will not have a dedicated hour on the schedule, say network executives. Rather, he’ll work on various afternoon programs as news warrants.
Williams, 56, lost his Nightly News job after he was discovered to have repeatedly embellished his experiences reporting from the field. NBC News chairman Andy Lack announced last June that he would stay with company to anchor breaking news and special reports primarily at MSNBC. He’ll also anchor breaking live NBC News special reports when Nightly anchor Lester Holt is unavailable.
Williams told Today‘s Matt Lauer last June that his exile has “been torture.”
“Looking back, it has been absolutely necessary. I have discovered a lot of things. I have been listening to and watching what amounts to the black box recordings from my career. I’ve gone back through everything — basically 20 years of public utterances.”
Williams’ demotion comes with a pay cut: He reportedly signed a five-year deal worth $10 million a year last December, less than two months before the scandal broke. “Obviously I wanted to return to my old job,” he told Lauer back in June. “I thought we’d had a great 10-year run and were on top for most of that time. I pushed back at first,” Williams said. “Enough time has passed, I accept the decision.”
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