Brian Williams has resurfaced, after apparently hiding out during his suspension as the Nightly News anchor. The TV news personality, who never earned a college degree, came out from seclusion to show his support for his high school, reported CNN.
Located in Middletown, N.J., Mater Dei Prep will have to close for lack of funds unless former students, such as Williams, can help to provide the financial backing needed to keep the school doors open. June is currently scheduled as the final month for the school, which anticipates a $1 million loss.
No jeers came from the crowd of 455 who attended the fundraiser in New Jersey, and Williams gave a donation of $50,000.
But although he appeared to interact happily with the crowd at the school, the awareness that he is in the midst of a very public controversy has hit Williams hard, and NBC News reported that Brian has no scheduled public appearances for the network.
Suspended for six months after revelations emerged that he had lied about what really happened when he was reporting on the Iraq War, Williams also is without pay.
During this period, NBC has revealed its plans to investigate what really happened, not only in Iraq, but in other now-contended reports from Brian, such as his Katrina reporting. Lester Holt has been reporting in Brian’s place, and he has succeeded in keeping the ratings at the same level as Williams.
Brian did not discuss his suspension at the fundraiser, however, reported the Two River Times. Instead, the maligned media figure focused on the high school, and the fact that since he did not graduate from college, the school provided him with his final educational degree.
“This is Mater Dei. It’s been a very, very important part of my life. I had four great years here. I did not know it then, but it was the last degree I’d ever earn. It’s a wonderful school, and it should be open for a long time, for everybody.”
Making his presence known at the event with wife Jane Stoddard, Brian greeted many old friends and found support from the crowd.
“He had a lot of friends he went to school with,” revealed fundraiser co-chair Maria Buzzanco. “He was happy to come back to the Shore Casino because he went to proms there. He was greeted with warm hugs. Everyone was telling him how much they support him as well, and thanked him for coming.”
But while he receive support at the high school, media industry watchers have speculated whether Brian can and should return to that news anchor chair that Holt is successfully fillilng.
But comedian Will Ferrell offered one suggestion, reported the New York Daily News.
Thinking about how his famous fictional Anchorman character Ron Burgundy would respond to Brian’s situation, Ferrell stepped up to the empty chair and offered an unusual spin on what to do.
“I think Ron would tell Brian Williams to have a stiff upper lip, take a couple of months off and then just force himself on the air. Just walk into a live broadcast and take over.”
Although that tip might work for Will’s alter ego, Brian is in a difficult situation. So Will had some more encouraging words.
“Also, (Williams) can take solace in the fact that Ron reported that the Vietnam War was over, that we had won it, about six months in, and then still worked for another 20 years. So there’s still hope.”
However, as the Inquisitr reported, the network has been silent, and Brian’s daughter, actress Allison Williams, has been the main one to offer a public defense of the embattled anchor. He even used his Nightly News spot at one point to publicize the fact that she had been chosen to play Peter Pan.
“One thing the experience has not done is shake my trust and belief in him as a man. He’s a really good man. He’s an honest man. He’s a truthful man. He has so much integrity. He cares so much about journalism. And yes, he’s a really good dad.”
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press]