Brian Williams Leaving MSNBC & NBC News At Year’s End; ‘The 11th Hour’ Will Wrap

Brian Williams is leaving MSNBC and NBC News at the end of the year but says “pop up again somewhere.”

The news came in a memo to staff from MSNBC president Rashida Jones. “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.” Read her full memo below.

Said Williams in a statement: “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.”

The news comes two months after MSNBC and NBCUniversal  inked a new multiyear deal with their star 9 p.m. anchor Rachel Maddow.

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Williams was a mainstay at NBC News, joining in 1993 and later anchoring The News with Brian Williams in 1996. He began anchoring NBC Nightly News in late 2004, taking over the desk from Tom Brokaw. He remained in the job until February 2015, when he was suspended for half a year without pay after relaying a false story about his time covering the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

He falsely claimed during a Nightly News broadcast that he was riding in a military helicopter hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq in March 2003 – a claim Williams previously had made on Late Show with David Letterman. NBC News launched an investigation into allegations Williams might have misrepresented other location experiences while on assignment for the division.

“Brian now has the chance to earn back everyone’s trust,” then-new NBC News chairman Andy Lack said at the time. “I am hopeful that this new beginning will be good for Brian and the organization.”

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Williams 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,”

That statement came the day NBC News announced that Williams would be returning to the news organization — but not the NBC Nightly News anchor chair. He returned to NBC News in September 2015, anchoring MSNBC’s coverage of Pope Francis’s visit to the United States.

The 11th Hour premiered in September 2016, with the presidential election mere weeks away. After Donald Trump’s election, among the show’s running bits was counting the number of days elapsed in the Trump administration, which Williams noted at the top of every broadcast, and eventually counting down to the 2020 election. He now does the same for the Joe Biden administration.

Here is Jones’ memo in full:

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.

Brian’s time at NBC has been marked by breaking countless major stories, attracting leading journalists and guests to his programs, and most especially, great resiliency. He has built a fiercely loyal following for The 11th Hour and we and our viewers will miss his penetrating questions and thoughtful commentary.

Please join me in expressing our deep gratitude for 28 years of devoted service to our viewers and wishing him the very best.

Rashida Jones
President, MSNBC

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