On Tuesday, MSNBC 11th Hour anchor Brian Williams announced he was not renewing his contract with the network at the end of the year as he stated: “This is the end of a chapter and the beginning of another.”
What Williams didn’t say was how this latest chapter began. His move to MSNBC was a demotion following a suspension from his exalted perch as NBC Nightly News anchor after multiple revelations of Williams lying over the years.
It began in February 2015 when Williams was caught lying about his helicopter being under fire while covering Iraq invasion in 2003. At one point he even likened it to “Black Hawk Down meets Saving Private Ryan.” Soldiers complaining on Facebook led to an article in Stars and Stripes newspaper, where those brave men who escorted Williams said all his stories were junk. Williams apologized for it. But then the floodgates opened. The internet started digging up other falsehoods.
During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Williams claimed he worked through a bout with dysentery and claimed he witnessed a dead body floating outside his Ritz-Carlton hotel room. Actually, he told three different versions: there was a body floating, there was a dead body on a street corner, and someone told him he’d seen a body floating. He also claimed he’d seen armed gangs at his hotel.
On an NBC prime time special a year after Katrina in 2006, Williams treated New Orleans as the most dangerous town on Earth, complete with weird boasts like “I carried a case of Vienna sausage...as collateral in case we had a smash-and-grab carjacking. I was going to offer it to someone in exchange for my life.” Williams claimed he was so starving for food that “I remember seeing a box of Slim Jims and thinking, ‘That’s better than any restaurant meal right now. That’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.’” The section of the French Quarter from which Williams was reporting suffered minimal flooding, and in some parts, no flooding. There were no bodies floating. The city’s former health director has declared that no one in the city was treated for dysentery, even a month after the flooding. The manager of the Ritz-Carlton (where he stayed) actually won an award for keeping the place safe from roving gangs with a cadre of police.
Williams’ tall-tales crossed into pop culture. It got so bad, memes started popping up of Williams misremembering himself into historic events of the past, including Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.
It was too much even for NBC to bear. The anchor was suspended six months without pay for something that would have ended most journalists’ careers. But because he was a loyal water-carrier for the leftist agenda, he got a second chance as anchor of MSNBC’s 11th Hour, where he continued his spewing of liberalism. It’s something that’s marked his entire career.
The MRC in 2012 honored him with a montage for the “Worst Reporter in the History of Man Award”:
The following is a look back through the Worst of Williams via the MRC’s archives:
Love at First Sight: Williams Swoons for Then-Senator Obama
“Tonight, the overnight sensation surrounding a Senator with real star power may have changed everything for the Democrats in the run for the White House....Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama wrapped up a weeklong book tour on NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday morning with remarks that rocked the political world.”
— NBC’s Brian Williams introducing an October 23, 2006 Nightly News story on Obama’s hint he may run in 2008.
How Does It Feel to Have So Many ‘Honors,’ Mr. Obama?
“On the bus ride along the snowy road to Lebanon, New Hampshire, I showed him this week’s Newsweek, hot off the presses. [to Obama] How does this feel, of all the honors that have come your way, all the publicity?...Who does it make you think of? Is there, is there a loved one?”
— NBC’s Brian Williams on the January 7, 2008 Nightly News.
Have You Seen this Great Cover Photo of You, Mr. Obama?
Anchor Brian Williams: “Last time we were together, I handed you a copy of Newsweek. It was the first time you’d held it in your hands with you on the cover. Have you yet held this [Time magazine cover declaring Obama the winner of the primaries] in your hands?”
Senator Barack Obama: “No, I don’t want to. Because the last time it was in New Hampshire and I ended up losing. So...I’m not taking any chances.”
Williams: “Last time, you looked at it and you thought instantly of your mom.”
Obama: “She’d like that picture. She always encouraged me to smile more.”
— NBC Nightly News, May 8, 2008.
In Awe of Obama’s Drawing Power in Berlin
Anchor Brian Williams: “Here in Berlin today, not far from where the wall once stood, the man from Chicago, Illinois, the first ever African-American running as presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, brought throngs of people into the center of Berlin, streaming into this city, surging to get close to him, to hear his message....I heard one American reporter tonight say it's hard to come up with a list of others who could draw such a crowd, but then again it's hard to know what we witnessed here today.”
— NBC Nightly News, July 24, 2008.
Which Line Should We Gush Over?
“When an American politician comes to Berlin, we’ve had some iconic utterances in the past. We’ve had ‘Ich bin ein.’ We’ve had, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall’....Is the phraseology that you would like remembered: ‘People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment, this is our time’?”
— Anchor Brian Williams interviewing Obama on the July 24, 2008 NBC Nightly News.
The New and Improved U.S.A.
“This nation woke up this morning changed. As one columnist put it, America matured in 2008 by choosing Barack Obama.”
— Anchor Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News, Nov. 5, 2008.
An End to Generations of “Evil” Presidents
“For a public event, it was absolutely stunning. People with tears in their eyes, Dave, people lining up, and this is something I just can't wrap my arms around, to buy merchandise with any depiction - this is a guy we just elected President. It’s not a rock star or an athlete or an actor. This is our President. To see people, whatever your politics, that excited about our new chief executive after a line of what the ordinary voter would maybe describe as bad choices or choices of evils, for years, generations, it is unbelievable to me.”
— NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on CBS’s Late Show, January 26, 2009.
Brian Bows to Barack Obama
Brian Williams: “About this president. The very idea of this man, this product of Kenya and Kansas by way of Hawaii and Asia, as our 44th president is still so very new. And he is so different from all the men who’ve gone before him. People react strongly to this president. We’ve seen people moved to tears after just the briefest encounter with him...Now it is First Family time and time for us to say goodnight. Mr. President that’s your elevator. Thank you sir, have a good evening. (Bows)
Barack Obama: Appreciate it very much. Thank you very much Brian.
— NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams during a two-hour special which aired over several nights during the first week of June 2009.
Tell Me Everything, My Darling
“Finally, I’m hoping to find you in a reflective mood on a cloudy day. We’re the first to speak to you coming off your summer vacation. How does it re-charge you? What do you think about? What do you see? What do you read about? How are you thinking about your job these days?”
— NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams to President Obama, in an August 29, 2010 interview, complete video of which was posted on MSNBC.com.
Still Inspired by Humble Dreamer Obama?
“In your job you get to listen to all of the psychiatrists analyze your husband. Peter Baker, this morning’s New York Times: He’s ‘a proud yet humbled President, a confident yet scarred President, a dreamer mugged by reality.’ Does that resemble the man you know?”
— Brian Williams to First Lady Michelle Obama, September 6, 2012 NBC Nightly News.
Touting “Power Duo” of Hillary and Michelle
“Leading ladies. A power duo in Washington today teaming up to honor women of courage around the world....President Obama won the presidency promising change. There was more evidence of that in Washington today. His wife, now First Lady, Michelle Obama, and his former rival, now Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, a former First Lady herself, joining arms, joining forces. A study in style, substance and power, really.”
— NBC’s Brian Williams on the March 11, 2009 Nightly News.
Saddened by Hillary’s “Burden”
“Is it any kind of a burden for you, Senator, that so many opinions are pre-formed? Americans know Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
— Anchor Brian Williams interviewing Hillary Clinton on the January 22, 2007 NBC Nightly News.
A Hillary Quote for the Ages
Anchor Brian Williams: “Whatever else is remembered from Hillary Clinton’s trip to Iowa this past weekend to attend a big political steak fry, along with her husband, it’s this soundbite from her speech that may survive for all-time.”
Hillary Clinton: “I’m back!”
— NBC Nightly News, September 15, 2014.
Biden Cleaning Up the Viruses Left By Trump
“He [Joe Biden] gave kind of inaugural address our Presidents used to give, as hopeful as the man delivering it, yet an honest reflection of a great country at its modern-day low point: Beset by two viruses, one a pandemic, the other a sickness that has flowed into our politics....The message has gone out that the United States is back and under new management.”
— MSNBC’s 11th Hour host Brian Williams during MSNBC’s live coverage of Joe Biden’s Inauguration, January 20, 2021.
Trump Culpable for “Fatalities...Every Few Minutes”
“Mr. Vice President, what is President Trump’s level of culpability, what’s his level of responsibility, say, toward the illness and fatalities we’re witnessing every few minutes these days?”
— Host Brian Williams to former Vice President Joe Biden on MSNBC’s The 11th Hour, March 31, 2020
Abbott, DeSantis “Ensconced” in “Trump’s Anatomy”
“If you’re a Trumper Republican, there’s really no limit to what you can say to fire up the base. You can gaslight with the best of them, you can lie with impunity. Generally the rule is: Say or do the most shocking thing imaginable, and that’s how you stay on brand. Which brings us somehow back to the rootin’-tootin’ Trumper governor of Texas, Greg Abbott. His state doesn’t have a dependable power grid, and yet he’s going to build his own wall on the border. And he’s being richly rewarded by a visit from his guy, Trump, next week. If Abbott wants to, say, run for President, he must be more further ensconced in a particular area of Trump’s anatomy than even Ron DeSantis of Florida. And that won’t be easy.”
— Host Brian Williams on MSNBC’s The 11th Hour, June 22, 2021.
Brian Williams Shocked at Brewer’s Finger Pointing, But He Poked Bush
“Finger pointing — that photo everybody was talking about today. Who have you ever seen talking to the President like this?...The governor of Arizona with her finger in the face of the President of the United States. You don’t see that often or maybe ever....”
— Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News, January 26, 2012. Interviewing George W. Bush back in August 2006, Williams jabbed his index finger in the President’s direction.
Bush, Heartless “Patrician” Snob
“You have apologized for the damage, but what about the damage to your presidency?...A lot of Americans are always going to believe that that weekend, that week, you were watching something on television other than what they were seeing, and Professor Dyson from the University of Pennsylvania said on our broadcast last night it was because of your ‘patrician’ upbringing, that it’s a class issue.”
— Williams to President Bush, August 29, 2006 Nightly News.
Can We Blame It All on Bush?
“Mr. President, when did this [global warming] reach, in your view, critical mass, and what does the current administration have to answer for? How much of it, in your view, is their fault?”
— Anchor Brian Williams to former President Bill Clinton in a live interview on the May 16, 2007 NBC Nightly News.
What’s the GOP’s Nastiest Smear?
“What of the attacks has busted through to you? What makes you angriest at John McCain, the Republicans? What’s being said about your husband that you want to shout from the mountain tops is not true?”
— NBC’s Brian Williams to Michelle Obama in a taped interview shown on the August 27, 2008 Nightly News.
Ridiculing Tea Party as Anti-Trilateralist Ignoramuses
“It makes people feel better to say ‘Take our country back.’ If you ask them, they would say from, ‘from the Trilateral Commission, from the big bankers, from the Council on Foreign Relations.’...You see a lot of signs, ‘Federal Government Out of My Social Security,’ ‘Federal Government Out of My Medicare and Medicaid,’ but for the federal government, of course, those programs would not exist.”
— NBC’s Brian Williams talking about the Tea Party on CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman, August 23, 2010.
Castigating Conservatives for Their Conservative Views
“Governor Perry, a question about Texas. Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times — [ audience cheers and applause ] — have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?...What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?”
“Senator Santorum, on another front, you’re a devout Catholic....Having said that, the Catholic faith has, as a part of it, caring for the poor. One in seven people in this country now qualifies as poor. Where do the poor come in, where do they place in this party, on this stage, in a Santorum administration?”
— Moderator Brian Williams to candidates Rick Perry and Rick Santorum during MSNBC’s Republican presidential candidates debate, September 7, 2011.
Williams Lectures Paul Ryan on Abortion
“Are you prepared to leave this gathering and own the fact that the platform of this party allows a woman, who has been raped, no exception but to carry that child to term?...In a business where you and your opponent are trying to attract, especially, suburban women, does it send the right message?”
— NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams to Rep. Paul Ryan, August 30, 2012.
Republican Party “Going After Reproductive Rights”
“Who woke up in the Republican Party one day recently and said, ‘I know what, let’s go after, let’s go after reproductive rights in the United States’? What was that about?”
— Anchor Brian Williams during NBC’s prime time coverage of the Super Tuesday primaries, March 6, 2012.
All Shutdown Blame to GOP
“It’s about the results of the last election. It’s about a standing law for three years. It’s about a small — they’ve been called ‘the suicide caucus’ in the U.S. House, about 80 members....It’s been called a political hostage taking, it’s been called political extortion. You’ve heard the vitriol and the rhetoric this week. But right now, because of this caucus, this cabal, nothing moves.”
— NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman, October 3, 2013.
Lyin’ Brian Williams: “Purveyor of Truth and Justice”
“Don’t believe everything you see and hear tonight. We hopefully will be the purveyors of truth and justice here.”
— Former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, who had to resign over lies, talking about the entrance polls during MSNBC’s live coverage of the Iowa caucuses, February 1, 2016.
Forget Your Fancy New Cars, Cubans Prefer Donkey Carts
“It’s still one of those nations where you see donkey carts alongside cars, trucks and buses in downtown Havana, because that’s exactly what they’d rather have for transportation.”
— Disgraced ex-NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams during MSNBC live coverage of Castro’s death early in the morning of November 26, 2016.
Like Adams, Jefferson or Madison
Andrea Mitchell: “It is an iconic picture: American hostages, hands bound and blindfolded, being paraded outside the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by their captors. But has one of those student radicals now become Iran’s newly elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?...Tonight, U.S. intelligence officials say that they will continue to study this, but may never have definitive proof of what the role was of Iran’s new president, Brian.”
Brian Williams: “Andrea, what would it all matter if proven true? Someone brought up today the first several U.S. presidents were certainly revolutionaries and might have been called terrorists at the time by the British Crown after all.”
Mitchell: “Indeed, Brian.”
— NBC Nightly News, June 30, 2005.
America’s Own Terrorist Team?
Chris Matthews: “Here we have maybe 25, 24 people who’ve lived in London and England and the free world for all these years that become citizens, subjects of the Crown, and yet, after having gotten to know us, they want to kill themselves to hurt us. Isn’t that an even deeper conundrum here than the chemicals being used in these attacks?”
Brian Williams: “And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness to take one’s own life — I always tell people, you know, there are guys on our team like that, too. They’re called Army Rangers and Navy Seals and the Special Forces folks and the first responders on 9/11 who went into those buildings knowing, by the way, they weren’t going to come out. So we have players like that on our team.”
— Exchange on MSNBC’s Hardball, August 10, 2006 after word of the foiled terrorist plot to bomb American passenger jets over the Atlantic Ocean.
“Comments I made during a live interview with Chris Matthews last night have been aggressively misunderstood in the hours since....I was criticizing the view, expressed by some, that as long as we are fighting the ‘suicide bomber mentality’ we can never get the upper hand, because, as this belief goes, ‘we aren’t willing to give our lives the way they are.’ Of course we are. The difference is: the folks willing to die for OUR country do so in the act of protecting and defending it — NOT killing civilians by detonating an explosive and killing innocent people. I hope that clears it up.”
— Williams in a posting to NBC’s Daily Nightly blog the next morning, August 11, 2006.
Feel Bad About Ending WWII?
Brian Williams: “You just told me the story about one photograph from the war that always kind of catches you, the Japanese soldier returning to his city that’s been destroyed. Do you have remorse for what happened? How do you deal with that in your mind?”
Enola Gay navigator “Dutch” Van Kirk: “No, I do not have remorse! I pity the people who were there. I always think of it, Brian, as being, the dropping of the atom bomb was an act of war to end a war.”
— Exchange in a taped segment on the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, NBC Nightly News August 5, 2005.