Brian Williams Opens Up On Exiting NBC News and MSNBC After 28 Years

Brian Williams MSNBC
Art Streiber/MSNBC

Veteran news anchor Brian Williams is leaving MSNBC and NBC News at the end of the year when his contract expires.

“After nearly three decades as an award-winning journalist and anchor at MSNBC and NBC News, Brian Williams has informed us he would like to take the coming months to spend time with his family. He will be signing off from The 11th Hour at the end of the year,” wrote MSNBC president Rashida Jones in a memo to staff.

Williams, who has hosted The 11th Hour since just before the 2016 presidential election, addressed his exit in the closing segment of Tuesday night’s show. “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,” he stated.

He continued: “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. Twenty-eight years, 38 countries, eight Olympic Games, seven presidential elections, half a dozen presidents, a few wars, and one SNL. Good friends were in great supply at NBC. I was fortunate that everyone I worked with made me better at my job.”

“I ask all those of you who are a part of our loyal viewing audience to remain loyal,” he added. “The 11th Hour will remain in good hands produced by the best team in cable news. Special thanks are due to our guests on The 11th Hour. The journalists who made our broadcast what it was, they are our stars and in this era, stars have Pulitzers.

“This is the end of a chapter and the beginning of another. There are many things I want to do and I’ll pop up again somewhere. For the next few months, I’ll be with my family, the people I love most, the people who enable my career to happen. I will reflect on the kindness people have shown me and I will pay it forward.”

Williams joined NBC News in 1993, becoming a regular correspondent and later anchoring The News with Brian Williams in 1996. In 2004, he took over from Tom Brokaw as the anchor of the network’s flagship NBC Nightly News, where he remained until 2015 when he was suspended without pay for six months due to false claims about his time reporting in Iraq.

The long-serving anchor later apologized, saying, “I’m sorry. I said things that weren’t true. I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust.” Williams was eventually welcomed back to the network, where he re-established himself at the helm of The 11th Hour.

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Williams’ exit comes as news networks look to expand their streaming output. CNN recently hired Kasie Hunt away from NBC News and MSNBC to lead a daily show for its upcoming streaming service, CNN+, while NBC announced yesterday that Hallie Jackson will host a new hour-long program on its NBC News Now service. However, there is no word yet on Williams’ next career move.