Brian Williams

Brian Williams Headshot

Journalist • Anchor • Host

Birth Date: May 5, 1959

Age: 64 years old

Birth Place: Ridgewood, New Jersey

Children: Allison Williams

News journalist Brian Williams covered almost every major breaking news event and traveled around the world, often finding himself in a position to watch history unfold as it happened. With the awards to prove it, Williams also had the distinction of being one of the most honored broadcast journalists, garnering a multitude of Edward R. Murrow awards, Emmys, duPont-Columbia University awards, and the industry's highest honor, the George Foster Peabody award. He was also named "Father of the Year" by the National Father's Day Committee in 1996, "Man of the Year," by GQ magazine in 2001 and was on TIME magazine's list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2007. Williams filled the shoes of NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw after the legendary newsman left "NBC Nightly News" in 2004. In his new role as managing editor and anchor of his own nightly newscast, Williams proved his mettle by bolstering the ratings of the show, surpassing those of Katie Couric on CBS and Charles Gibson on ABC. In September 2015, Williams was named chief anchor for MSNBC and headed the network's coverage of Pope Francis' first papal visit to the United States. "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams," with a focus on developing news stories and current political events, debuted on MSNBC on September 6, 2016.

Brian Williams was born May 5, 1959 to a middle class family in Elmira, NY before moving to Middletown, NJ where he was raised. Even as a child, he seemed destined for a career in news, with the youngster writing a family newsletter, and, in his best Walter Cronkite impersonation, relay the day's stories into a microphone for his family's enjoyment. "I always wanted to be the first person to tell people things," he told Crain's New York Business publication. He graduated from Mater Dei, a Roman Catholic High School and went on to attend Brookdale Community College, followed by George Washington University and then the Catholic University of America. Despite all the academic effort, he never finished college because he took an enticing offer for someone wanting a foot in the political and broadcast worlds - an internship with President Jimmy Carter's administration. Despite such a great opportunity, he later admitted that leaving college was one of his "great regrets."

Besides his presidential internship, Williams scored a number of jobs before landing his first gig in news. He volunteered as a firefighter at the Middletown Township Fire Department in New Jersey, worked at a pancake restaurant, a local Sears department store, and later, served as an assistant administrator of the political action committee of the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington. Although he had the background and charisma to go into politics, Williams resisted, saying, "after seeing what I've seen of politics? No, thank you I can be much happier and effect much more change by covering them." And cover them he soon would, as a veteran of political campaigns and elections and as a moderator for both the Democratic and Republican presidential campaign debates.

Williams started his broadcast journalism career small at KOAM-TV in Pittsburgh, PA. From there, he moved back to Washington, D.C. and became a general assignment correspondent at WTTG-TV. He also hosted a D.C. chat show called "Panorama" in 1985, replacing Maury Povich as host. From there, he moved on to WCAU-TV in Philadelphia and then WCBS-TV in New York, winning his first Emmy for reporting on the October 1987 stock market collapse and covering the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In 1993, Williams joined NBC News, and after only a year, was so impressive he was named NBC News Chief White House correspondent. With this new position, he traveled with President Bill Clinton aboard Air Force One and covered his prolific presidency. On one of the historic trips, Williams was the only television news correspondent to accompany three U.S. presidents - Clinton, Bush, and his former boss, Carter - to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's funeral in Israel.

Needing a change of pace from the White house, he was named anchor and managing editor of "The News with Brian Williams" from 1996 until 2003 on MSNBC and CNBC. For a time, critics believed Williams' decision to leave his job as a White House correspondent for a cable channel was not a smart one. But they quickly changed their minds when, just two days after the launch of MSNBC in 1996, TWA Flight 800 crashed off Long Island under what many thought were suspicious circumstances. Williams was a star in the making during that arduous, but momentous broadcast. As one publication put it, Williams "collects facts on aviation, politics, and the presidency the way some people do baseball cards. That night, as he waited for his reporters to file updates, he filled in the details about 747s from memory." He would go on to successfully helm several other breaking news events, including the 1997 death of Princess Diana, and two years later, the plane crash death of John F. Kennedy, Jr.

All the while, he was also the anchor and managing editor of the Saturday edition of "NBC Nightly News" for six years before stepping into the big shoes left behind by Tom Brokaw in December of 2004. Many critics believed Williams did not have enough field reporting experience, but time after time he proved those critics wrong. After all this was the man who USA Today had named the best anchor of the 2000 presidential election night coverage between Al Gore and George Bush. As well, following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Williams had stayed on the air for days of continuous coverage. And in 2003, while covering the war in Iraq, Williams had become the first NBC News correspondent to reach Baghdad after the U.S. invaded. When the lead helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade in his group, Williams spent three days and two nights in the Iraqi desert, with a mechanized armored tank platoon of the Army's Third Infantry Division providing protection. Taking all of his expert coverage and ability to man a desk and insure trust from viewers, NBC felt they had made the correct decision to replace the seemingly irreplaceable Brokaw. The ratings also reflected their wise selection.

Undeterred by his harrowing experience in Baghdad prior to his "NBC Nightly News" anchor promotion, Williams returned to Iraq during its landmark elections, as well covered Pope John Paul II's funeral and traveled to Indonesia to report on the international recovery and relief efforts following the 2004 tsunami. But it would be his work on an American disaster in which Williams achieved another career milestone. He was the first and only major news anchor to report from New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005. He was the only news anchor to report from the Superdome during the storm and remained in the area to report on the devastation that followed in Katrina's aftermath as well as continued to travel to the region and report on the recovery process long after the headlines had faded. In fact, his work in New Orleans garnered many prestigious awards and in May 2006 he was locally recognized for this coverage with the Tulane President's Medal, awarded by Tulane University President Scott Cowen.

Although the name Brian Williams was synonymous with journalistic endeavors, he was also known among his circle of friends, family, and colleagues as having quite a sense of humor. In fact, he was a frequent guest on "The Daily Show" (Comedy Central, 1996- ), "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (NBC, 1993-2009), "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (NBC, 1993-2014) and "The Late Show with David Letterman" (CBS, 1993-2015). He would also send himself up as a trouble-making buffoon on the hit sitcom, "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006-2013) and hosted "Saturday Night Live" (NBC 1975- ) in 2008. Williams found a particularly simpatico comic partner in Jimmy Fallon, appearing regularly as a guest and in comedy sketches on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (NBC 2009-2014) and "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon" (NBC 2014- ). Williams also hosted his own prime-time newsmagazine on the network, "Rock Center with Brian Williams" (NBC 2011-13). During an "NBC Nightly News" broadcast on January 30, 2015, Williams related a story about his experiences reporting on the 2003 Iraq War, in which he claimed that Chinook helicopter in which he had been riding was forced to make a crash landing after being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. It was revealed that Williams was in a helicopter traveling approximately 30 minutes behind the one that had gotten hit, and that Williams had told varying versions of this anecdote in the intervening years. While Williams was never accused of making up stories out of whole cloth, other incidents he had recalled about his reporting during the fall of the Berlin Wall and Hurricane Katrina were also called into question. In February 2015, NBC suspended Williams for six months and replaced him as host of "NBC Nightly News" with Lester Holt. Williams returned to the screen in September 2015, acting as host of MSNBC's live coverage of the first U.S. papal visit by Pope Francis.

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America Remembers: 20 Years Later

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Georgia Runoffs: Fight for the Senate

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Decision 2020: Republican National Convention

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Decision 2020: Democratic National Convention

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Coronavirus Pandemic on MSNBC

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Decision 2020

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Super Tuesday: Decision 2020

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Iowa Caucus: Decision 2020

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MSNBC Democratic Debate Pre-Show

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MSNBC Post-Debate Analysis

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Impeachment Hearings

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A Nation in Crisis

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Democratic Debate: Post-Debate Analysis

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Democratic Debate Pre-Show

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Unrivaled: Earnhardt vs. Gordon

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The Year's 10 Most...

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The Trump/Putin Power Play

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The Place for Politics

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Election Day 2016

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Election Night 2016

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The 11th Hour With Brian Williams

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The Place for Politics 2016

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NBC News Decision 2014 Election Special

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Brian Williams Reporting: Journey to Normandy

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Inside the Mind of Edward Snowden - An NBC News Exclusive With Brian Williams

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108 Hours: Inside the Hunt for the Boston Marathon Bombers

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Late Night With Seth MeyersStream

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The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy FallonStream

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A Toast to 2013!

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NBC News Special: Devastation in Oklahoma

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Mankind Decoded

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2012 Election Night

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NBC News Special: Sandy's Fury

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Decision 2012

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Rock Center With Brian Williams

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9/11 ... America Remembers

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The Gayle King Show

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Decision 2010

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Education Nation: Teacher Town Hall

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Access Hollywood Live

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Stand Up to Cancer

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Christmas in Rockefeller Center

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The Jay Leno Show

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Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

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Little Spirit: Christmas in New York

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The Bonnie Hunt Show

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Stand Up to Cancer

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30 RockStream

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Rachael Ray ShowStream

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The Martha Stewart Show

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NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams

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The Ellen DeGeneres Show

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Brian Williams Reports

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Last Call With Carson Daly

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Live With Regis and Kelly

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NBC News Special

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Family Guy

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The Daily Show With Jon StewartStream

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Late Night With Conan O'Brien

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Late Show With David Letterman

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The Tonight Show With Jay Leno

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Dateline NBCStream

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Dateline NBCStream

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Charlie RoseStream

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Meet the Press

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News aboutBrian Williams

Brian Williams signs off The 11th Hour

Brian Williams Thanks Viewers As He Exits MSNBC (VIDEO)

Brian Williams MSNBC

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

TV Tattle

Brian Williams Makes a Low-Key Return to TV

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What Lester Holt’s Ascension Means for NBC and Brian Williams

Brian Williams

NBC Can’t Quit Brian Williams, But Perhaps It’s Time to Drop the Anchor Act

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Brian Williams to break his silence in a ‘Today’ interview with Matt Lauer

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Report: Lester Holt wants Brian Williams’ $10 million salary

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10 Ways NBC Can Keep Using Brian Williams

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PBS edits out host Brian Williams from awards ceremony telecast

Unforgettable-Interviews

9 Unforgettable TV Interviews

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Brian Williams Reportedly Told NBC Bosses: ‘Maybe I Had a Brain Tumor’

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Report: Brian Williams Met with CBS in Hopes of Replacing Letterman

NBC Nightly News

Brian Williams, Jon Stewart and the Four Questions TV News Needs to Answer

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Conversation: After a Rough Week, What’s Next for Brian Williams and Network TV News?

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Brian Williams Suspended from NBC Nightly News for Six Months

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Brian Williams Cancels Visit to Letterman

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NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams to Take a Leave of Absence

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Did Brian Williams Forget to be Journalist by Doing so Many Entertainment Shows?

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Tom Brokaw: I didn’t demand Brian Williams’ firing

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Brian Williams to visit Letterman After Admitting Iraq War Story he told on The Late Show was False