NEW YORK — The visit of Pope Francis to the United States will also mark the return of Brian Williams to the airwaves on Tuesday following his suspension from NBC News and demotion for misleading viewers about his role in news stories.
The former NBC "Nightly News" anchor is to begin his new role Tuesday as an anchor for breaking news stories on MSNBC, covering the arrival of the pope in Washington.
Network news divisions have been gearing up for pope coverage, with Lester Holt, George Stephanopoulos and Scott Pelley set to anchor special reports on Tuesday's arrival on NBC, ABC and CBS.
But Williams' return is attracting the most notice. Except for an interview with Matt Lauer on "Today," he's been off the air since his suspension from "Nightly News" in February. He was caught telling a false story about his coverage of the Iraq War, and lost his "Nightly News" job after an NBC investigation turned up other instances of exaggerating his role.
Although Williams won't have a regular daily show on MSNBC, he's expected to anchor during busy news periods a couple of times a week. The network has ditched its daytime opinion programming in favor of news coverage that emphasizes its ties to NBC News.
NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack said Williams is one of the best in his generation for covering live, breaking news on television.
"I'm confident that he deserves a second chance and I'm confident that Brian is as good at his job as he was last year at this time," Lack said. "I think viewers will engage with good work. It's not going to happen overnight ... We're playing a long game here."