Some conservatives are positively giddy about the prospect of taking down another network news anchor in NBC's Brian Williams.

But while they were understandably anxious to unseat Dan Rather after his erroneous report on George W. Bush's National Guard service a decade ago, Williams is a somewhat more unlikely target.

Back in 2006, after Rather signed off the "CBS Evening News," 48 percent of Republicans had an unfavorable view of him, compared with 42 percent favorable. Just 39 percent said what Rather said was "believable," compared with 61 percent for then-ABC news anchor Peter Jennings.

Williams, though, has never been so reviled by the right -- at least as far as public opinion polling has shown. Gallup numbers in 2007 (the most recent we have) showed Republicans were more likely to have a favorable opinion of Williams (47 percent) than an unfavorable one (31 percent).

Those numbers probably aren't what a newsman would want, but they were better than Rather's -- or his CBS successor, Katie Couric, who had a 36/49 split (this was the year before her famous 2008 interview with Sarah Palin, for what it's worth) among Republicans.

Similarly, a Pew poll in 2006 showed much more negative partisan views of Couric than of Williams or then-ABC anchor Charles Gibson.

We don't have any more recent data, but it's not clear what would have made Williams more unloved on the right in the meantime. While plenty will note that he interned for Jimmy Carter and is a regular on the liberal-leaning "Daily Show" (where Jon Stewart defended him Monday night), he's never been Public Enemy No. 1, or even No. 100, for the conservative media. In addition, as Ed Morrissey notes, Williams's sin wasn't, like Rather's, political in nature.

Williams does appear to be suffering from the general distrust of the mainstream media among conservatives -- something this episode undoubtedly and unfortunately feeds into -- and thus there will be plenty of media-distrusting conservatives anxious to use him to prove a point.

But the fact that his sin wasn't a partisan one -- and that Williams wasn't much of a partisan lightning rod to begin with -- probably increases his odds of weathering the storm.