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MSNBC Host Brian Williams Announces He’s Leaving Network

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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion


It is the end of an era as a longtime MSNBC host has decided to call it quits and leave the network.

Brian Williams, who was demoted after lying about his war stories, has decided to leave the network after two decades with MSNBC, The New York Times reported.

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“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 said. “I have been truly blessed. I have been allowed to spend almost half of my life with one company. NBC is a part of me and always will be.”

He did not say what he would be doing next, if anything.

“This is the end of a chapter and the beginning of another,” the anchor said. “There are many things I want to do, and I’ll pop up again somewhere.”

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MSNBC President Rashida Jones informed staff that Williams “has informed us he would like to take the coming months to spend time with his family.”

“We and our viewers will miss his penetrating questions and thoughtful commentary,” she said.

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For Mr. Williams, 62, the departure from NBC News, the division that houses MSNBC, is another twist in a career that scaled the heights of succeeding Tom Brokaw as the anchor of the “NBC Nightly News” to the lows of a six-month unpaid suspension in 2015, after he acknowledged exaggerating an anecdote about a helicopter ride in Iraq.

His credibility as a journalist tarnished, Mr. Williams returned to television as a breaking news anchor at MSNBC before he and Andrew Lack, then the chairman of NBC News and a close friend, hatched an idea over an Italian dinner for a comeback vehicle. “The 11th Hour” was designed as a late-night show mixing news and conversation about the news, with Mr. Williams as a genial ringleader — part David Brinkley, part Dick Cavett.

It debuted at the height of the 2016 presidential election and quickly found an audience. Left-leaning viewers shocked by the election of Donald J. Trump as president were flocking to MSNBC, and they seemed to forgive Mr. Williams’s past transgressions. In May 2017, “11th Hour” scored bigger ratings than its rivals at CNN and Fox News, giving MSNBC its first outright win in the 11 p.m. time slot since 2001. (The show beat CNN but lost to Fox News in total viewers during the most recent quarter.)

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“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,” the anchor said.

“I ask all those of you who are a part of our loyal viewing audience to remain loyal,” he said. “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.

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“For the next few months, I’ll be with my family, the people I love most and the people who enabled my career to happen. I will reflect on the kindness people have shown me, and I will pay it forward,” he said.

The anchor joined NBC in 1993 as a correspondent and then anchoring “The News with Brian William”s in 1996. He became the anchor of “NBC Nightly News” in 2004 until he was suspended in 2015.

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