The iconic newsman is leaving the network at the end of this year, after a lengthy and at times scandal-plagued run
Brian Williams is leaving NBC News after nearly 30 years as one of the network’s most recognisable public faces, where he anchored “NBC Nightly News” for a decade before being temporarily suspended for exaggerating stories.
The well-known anchor told CNN Business he will depart NBC at the end of this year.
“This is the end of a chapter and the beginning of another,” Mr Williams said in a statement. “There are many things I want to do, and I’ll pop up again somewhere.”
The high-profile reporter, known for his long tenure at “NBC Nightly News” and more recent gig anchoring newscast and political talk show “The 11th Hour,” added that the NBC “is a part of me and always will be,” while assuring viewers of his work that “‘11th Hour’ will remain in good hands, produced by the best team in cable news.”Williams is sometimes considered a peer of the great TV news anchors like Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw.
But he saw his reputation suffer after he was suspendedin 2015 for six moths without pay from “NBC Nightly News” after it was revealed he exaggerated details of a trip he took to Iraq in 2003. At times Mr Williams would describe being in a helicopter that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, and in others would describe correctly describe how a separate helicopter was the one struck with an RPG.
He eventually apologised for the mistake, saying the “fog of memory” in the decade since the incident had lead him to conflate which craft came under fire, noting he had correctly described the nature of the attack in his earlier reporting on the subject.
“Because I have no desire to fictionalize my experience (we all saw it happened the first time) and no need to dramatize events as they actually happened, I think the constant viewing of the video showing us inspecting the impact area—and the fog of memory over 12 years—made me conflate the two, and I apologize,” Mr Williams said.
“Nobody’s trying to steal anyone’s valor. Quite the contrary: I was and remain a civilian journalist covering the stories of those who volunteered for duty.”
Veterans expressed outrage at Williams repeated, erroneous public telling of the story in the years before he apologised.
“It was something personal for us that was kind of life-changing for me. I know how lucky I was to survive it,” flight engineer Lance Reynolds, who was on the helicopter, told military news site Stars and Stripes. “It felt like a personal experience that someone else wanted to participate in and didn’t deserve to participate in.”After the scandal, he returned to the network and became a regular host on MSNBC.
Mr Williams contract was set to expire towards the end of 2021.
During his tenure, he reported from 38 countries, 8 Olympic games, 7 presidential election, multiple wars, and interviewed 6 different presidents.