MSNBC host and former “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams signed off for the last time at NBC on Thursday evening, ending his 28-year career at the network.
Williams, 62, hosted his last episode of his nightly MSNBC Show “The 11th Hour,” giving viewers a piece of his mind about the future of the country, and vowing to return to the public eye in some capacity.
“I’m not a liberal or a conservative. I’m an institutionalist. I believe in this place and in my love of country. I yield to no one. But the darkness on the edge of town has spread to main roads,” Williams said.
“Grown men and women who swore an oath to our Constitution, elected by their constituents … have decided to join the mob and become something they are not,” he continued.
Williams didn’t elaborate, but added, “That should scare you to no end.”
News of Williams’ departure leaked in September, and comes as part of broader changes at MSNBC under new president Rashida Jones. Jones is in the process of reconfiguring the primetime lineup in the wake of Rachel Maddow’s impending departure from her 9 p.m. show, in order to work on bigger projects at the network.
Sources told The Post that Williams’ exit comes as Jones is looking to add more diversity to the lineup.
It’s unclear what’s next for Williams, who, as reported by The Post, has conducted informal talks with various networks, including CNN and ABC, about a comeback. While CBS has been quietly searching for a new evening news anchor to replace Norah O’Donnell, sources told The Post that Williams’ hefty salary, which was in the neighborhood of $7 million to $10 million a year, is too rich for the Tiffany Network.
Sources close to Williams say he is interested in jobs that include TV and streaming and that CNN+, CNN’s soon-to-launch streaming platform, could be a good fit. Either way, Williams made it known on his Thursday show that he is revving up for an eventual return.
“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,” he said.
Williams covered eight Olympic games and seven presidential elections, and he anchored “NBC Nightly News” from 2004 until 2015. His fall from grace began as a temporary suspension in 2015 when it was revealed that he had greatly exaggerated a story about a 2003 mission in Iraq, claiming repeatedly that he was aboard a helicopter hit by rocket-propelled grenade fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
A subsequent NBC investigation found that he had made other inaccurate statements about his experiences covering events, and he lost his job, handing the reins to Lester Holt.
Roughly seven months later, Williams was brought back to host the nightly 11 p.m. show on MSNBC, “The 11th Hour,” where he has remained since 2016.