News and Analysis

Brian Williams, Anchor Caught Misleading About Iraq, Retires From MSNBC

   DailyWire.com
NBC News Anchor Brian Williams speaks onstage at The New York Comedy Festival and The Bob Woodruff Foundation present the 8th Annual Stand Up For Heroes Event at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 5, 2014 in New York City.
Monica Schipper/Getty Images for New York Comedy Festival

Brian Williams, who anchored the “NBC Nightly News” for more than 10 years before being caught exaggerating the danger he faced while covering Operation Iraqi Freedom, has announced he is stepping down from his current position as a talk show host on MSNBC.

“Following much reflection, and after 28 years with the company, I have decided to leave NBC upon the completion of my current contract in December,” Williams said at the end of his show, “The 11th Hour,” on Tuesday night. “I have been truly blessed. I have been allowed to spend almost half my life with one company. NBC is a part of me and always will be: 28 years, 38 countries, eight Olympic Games, seven presidential elections, half a dozen presidents, a few wars, and one” episode of “SNL.”

Williams first faced national backlash more than a decade after succeeding Tom Brokaw as anchor of NBC’s nightly newscast. NBC News noted in its coverage of Williams’ resignation:

In 2015, when he was the anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” Williams was suspended by the network for six months after he told an inaccurate story about his helicopter’s having been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

He admitted on the air that he had “made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago.”

Williams claimed his helicopter had been “forced down after being hit by an RPG” while covering the second Iraq war on March 24, 2003. In reality, Iraqi forces had attacked a Chinook helicopter that passed over the area earlier in the day, and Williams’ helicopter had been forced down due to inclement weather.

“After the suspension, Williams moved to MSNBC, where he later launched ‘The 11th Hour,’” NBC noted.

NBC officials have portrayed every step of Williams’ professional decline as his own choice. After the 2015 controversy over Williams’ misleading statements, an NBC executive said that Williams chose to “bench himself” by stepping aside as anchor of the “NBC Nightly News.” He was replaced by current anchor Lester Holt.

“My return years later was my choice, as was launching ‘The 11th Hour,’” insisted Williams in his statement. He added that he wanted his show to air on MSNBC outside prime time. “I wanted it to be called ‘The 11th Hour,’ as it was late in the 2016 campaign back then, and I wanted it to air at 11 p.m. Eastern time,” he wrote.

An anonymous “source close to Williams” told CNN that NBC offered Williams a new contract, which the host declined.

Williams continued to stir controversy at MSNBC. On the eve of the 77th anniversary of D-Day, he aired a video produced by the Lincoln Project which equated the U.S. troops who stormed Normandy with the black-clad, often-violent radicals of Antifa.

In April 2019, Williams demanded that President Donald Trump’s legal counsel, Jay Sekulow, tell him how the administration could “get off with that characterization this morning … that there was ‘no collusion’” between President Trump and the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential campaign. As The Daily Wire reported:

Sekulow responded by simply reading directly from the second page of Mueller’s now publicly available report. “Well, page 2 of the document says, ‘the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,’” Sekulow read.

To his credit, Williams admitted last month that the legacy media tend to live in a sequestered bubble of fellow liberals. “The press corps — the people we read and the people we see all day long on cable news — tend to live in blue dots. No fault of their own — it’s where their employers are located. But it helps explain why the press corps largely was shocked at the rise of the Tea Party, shocked at the election of Donald Trump,” he said.

Williams closed his statement by promising to return to the airways at an undisclosed time.

“There are many things I want to do, and I’ll pop up again somewhere,” said Williams. “I will reflect on the kindness people have shown me, and I will pay it forward.”

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