On a snowy evening in December, Brian Williams and his wife, Jane, met with a small group of NBC executives for a celebratory dinner in a private room at Del Posto, Mario Batali’s restaurant in Chelsea. Williams had just notched his tenth anniversary anchoring the top-rated Nightly News, and NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke wanted to commemorate the past—and lock in the network’s future. For months, Williams had been in contract negotiations with Burke, a standoff NBC couldn’t afford to lose. Williams was the face of NBC News, with a nightly audience of more than 8 million people. More important, his program was an island of stability in a news division roiled by a series of self-inflicted crises.
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