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Brian Williams returns to air on MSNBC for Pope coverage

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Brian WilliamsPhotograph by Alex Wong — Getty Images for Meet the Press

Brian Williams returns to the anchor desk Tuesday afternoon after seven months in exile.

The news anchor—who was suspended without pay from his anchor job at NBC News’ flagship show in February—will make his return on MSNBC as a breaking-news anchor. He’s reportedly due to return to air at 3 p.m. ET to anchor coverage of the Pope’s visit to the U.S.

Williams’ placement on the cable network is an attempted rehabilitation of not just Williams, but also the MSNBC channel. Cable executives are hoping to turn around the network’s ratings by focusing more heavily on news during the daytime, The New York Times reported.

Williams drew widespread criticism in February when he recanted a story about being personally inside a helicopter that was hit by RPG fire during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Instead, Williams was in a Chinook flying about an hour behind the helicopters that took fire. The retracted story, which Williams had told numerous times over the past decade, led to an internal investigation at NBC that revealed other “instances of exaggeration,” according to the Washington Post. During Williams’ coverage of Hurricane Katrina, for example, he said he contracted dysentery from ingesting floodwater and witnessed a suicide at the New Orleans Superdome—stories that later drew scrutiny for being improbable.

Williams spent his time off driving across the country alone, catching up on news, and planning the wedding for his daughter, “Girls” actress Allison Williams, the Washington Post reported.