Disgraced journalist Brian Williams signed off his little-watched “11th Hour” program on MSNBC Thursday evening with an unusual message for remaining viewers.
In a roughly three-minute final monologue, Williams appeared to issue a warning for the country even as he thanked network bosses for giving him an opportunity to rehab his career over the past five years.
In November, reports noted that Williams, who has been with NBC for decades sans a suspension after he was outed for lying about an experience during the early days of the Iraq war, would leave the network after his contract expired in December. And earlier Thursday, CNN reported that last night’s program would be his last.
“I will probably find it impossible to be silent and stay away from you and lights and cameras after I experiment with relaxation and find out what I’ve missed and what’s out there,” Williams said, indicating that he could return again to some other on-air role.
“Well, look at the time. I’ll try to keep this brief. After 28 years of peacock logos on much of what I own, it is my choice now to jump without a net into the great unknown,” Williams began.
“As I do for the first time in my 62 years, my biggest worry is for my country. The truth is, I’m not a liberal or a conservative. I’m an institutionalist. I believe in this place. And in my love of my country, I yield to no one,” the veteran newsman claimed.
“But the darkness on the edge of town has spread to the main roads and highways and neighborhoods. It’s now at the local bar, and the bowling alley, at the school board, and the grocery store,” he went on. “And it must be acknowledged and answered for. Grown men and women who swore an oath to our Constitution, elected by their constituents possessing the kinds of college degrees I could only dream of having decided to join the mob and become something they are not while hoping we somehow forget who they were.
“They’ve decided to burn it all down – with us inside. That should scare you to no end as much as it scares an aging volunteer fireman,” he added, without elaborating.
“What a ride it’s been. Where else, how else was a kid like me going to meet presidents and kings and the occasional rock star? These lovely testimonials that I can never truly repay make me hyperaware that it has been and remains a wonderful life,” Williams continued.
“It’s as if I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning in Bedford Falls. The reality is though, I will wake up tomorrow in the America of the year 2021, a nation unrecognizable to those who came before us and fought to protect it, which is what you must do now. My colleagues will take it from here,” he said.
Williams added: “I will probably find it impossible to be silent and stay away from you and lights and cameras after I experiment with relaxation and find out what I’ve missed and what’s out there. … I’ll show myself out. Until we meet again, that is our broadcast for this Thursday night.”
In addition to fabricating an Iraq war incident — he said he was in a helicopter that was fired upon, which was not true — Williams also fabricated an incident during coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After initially claiming he saw dead people floating in front of his hotel, he later admitted he “misremembered” details of the disaster.
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