Lester Holt

Image: Murrow Symposium

PULLMAN - NBC News anchor Lester Holt was awarded the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award from Washington State University on Tuesday. "The men and women who are named as Murrow Award winners are those who will be remembered as the pillars of the communication industry. The honor is given for those in the media who show a commitment to excellence," says the university's website.

Holt is facing criticism for comments made during his virtual acceptance of the award, in which he stated that “fairness is over-rated”.

“Before you run with or tweet that headline, let me explain a bit,” Holt said. “The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in. That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention.”

"Decisions to not give unsupported arguments equal time are not a dereliction of journalistic responsibility or some kind of agenda," said Holt. "In fact, it's just the opposite. Providing an open platform for misinformation, for anyone to come say whatever they want, especially when issues of public health and safety are at stake, can be quite dangerous."

Critics say Holt's speech amounts to an admission of censorship of those with opinions that do not align with the left, and when opinions are presented to a news audience it should not be up to the presenter to pick which side of the story is told.

Holt has been with NBC for over 20 years, and has served as the anchor of NBC Nightly News since 2015.