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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Why Did it Take NBC So Long To Figure Out The Fate of Lester Holt?

If the reports are true, Lester Holt is poised to take over the duties of anchor for the NBC Evening News. My question is: why did it take this long? Why did the suits at NBC News drag their feet so long in an age that moves at digital speed?

Game-theorywise there seem to me to be only three viable options for Comcast: 1) Make Lester permanent; 2) get out of the TV network news business altogether (and don't looks back); or, 3) cue up another replacement anchor to usurp Lester in the Grand Pecking Order, and take his place (which, one cannot fail to note, did not work swellegantly with Anne Curry and Savannah Guthrie)

Options one and two seemed best and of the two, option one, at least for now, seemed the smartest. David Zurawik, on CNN's Reliable Sources, figured this out weeks ago. On May 31st he told Brian Stelter on Reliable Sources, "As a journalist, Brian, I don't think he can return to that anchor desk. He certainly can't return as managing editor and anchor." Bryan Burrough of Vanity Fair, another guest earlier pretty much said the same thing. Further, Zurawik -- a media critic and not a high paid NBC executive -- noted that letting Brian host hugely profitable "specials," like Dateline or even a 48 Hours type show would keep him useful to the network, vaguely in the news division and on-contract, making the network money.

Well put, and I think almost anyone who covers the media media -- Michael Wolff notwithstanding -- thought the chances of Williams returning to the anchor chair were slim. So, again: why did it take NBC so long? Why did they leave Lester Holt -- a well-respected loyalist, a hard worker, in the lurch?

Lester Holt has held onto most of the ratings of Brian Williams with almost none of the promotion. It could be argued that given time and promotion, Lester could probably dominate the evening news ratings and run a ship without scandal, as he is so respected at the network.

So why did it take "the suits" at NBC so long to figure this out? In taking so long to figure out what most media analysts figured out within a week of the whole imbroglio makes me wonder if sometimes TV executives are chosen for reasons other than an understanding of the present media landscape.

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