Brian Williams Says He Will Leave NBC News - WSJ

The MSNBC anchor says he plans to ‘pop up again somewhere’ after taking time off

MSNBC anchor Brian Williams said Tuesday he plans to leave the network when his contract expires in December, after a 28-year run at NBC’s news division.

In a memo to employees, Mr. Williams said that he intends to “pop up again somewhere” after spending time with his family and reflecting on his career.

“I have been allowed to spend almost...

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MSNBC anchor Brian Williams said Tuesday he plans to leave the network when his contract expires in December, after a 28-year run at NBC’s news division.

In a memo to employees, Mr. Williams said that he intends to “pop up again somewhere” after spending time with his family and reflecting on his career.

“I have been allowed to spend almost half of my life with one company. NBC is a part of me and always will be,” Mr. Williams wrote in the memo.

Mr. Williams, 62 years old, originated MSNBC’s 11 p.m. news show, “The 11th Hour,” which launched during the dwindling days of the 2016 presidential campaign. In his memo, Mr. Williams said the show would “remain in good hands” but didn’t say who would replace him as anchor.

His departure adds to a period of change for MSNBC. Network star Rachel Maddow is expected to cut down her TV work as she pursues other endeavors. The shuffle in prime time will give Rashida Jones, who took over as MSNBC president earlier this year, a chance to put her stamp on the network.

The cable news business as a whole is dealing with a hangover after a 2020 election season that saw viewers bingeing on coverage. Ratings for MSNBC and other major news channels have declined from their peaks near the end of 2020. All networks are investing heavily in streaming and encouraging their top talent to appear on digital platforms.

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Mr. Williams rose from relative obscurity in local news to one of the highest perches in broadcasting, anchor of “NBC Nightly News.” His sonorous voice and confidence on camera made him a natural fit for the storied newscast, which he anchored for more than a decade.

He stepped down as “Nightly News” anchor in 2015 after recanting an inaccurate story of a helicopter attack. Mr. Williams had said publicly that he was aboard a helicopter over Iraq in 2003 that took fire from a rocket-propelled grenade.

He said on “Nightly News” that he made a mistake in recalling those events and stepped down as host of the broadcast. After an investigation into the incident, NBC decided to keep Mr. Williams on its payroll, but he was moved to the cable network.

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Write to Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com

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