Brian Williams Breaks Silence on NBC News Controversy: 'I Own This'

Brian Williams Today Interview

In his first interview since stepping down as host of NBC Nightly News amid controversy, Brian Williams said he takes total responsibility for making false claims about his role in various incidents over the course of his career.

“I own this,” Williams told Today host Matt Lauer in a sit-down that Lauer earlier said had no conditions or guidelines. “I own up to this.”

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The anchor elaborated on comments he’d made in an official statement released Thursday, when the network announced that Williams will become an “anchor of breaking news and special reports” at MSNBC when his six-month unpaid suspension is complete.

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A seemingly chastened Williams said he’d been going over the “black box recordings from my career” to figure out why he’d allowed the strict grasp of the facts he employed during news broadcasts to loosen when telling stories on late-night talk shows and in other venues.

“I used a double standard,” he said, blaming his ego for feeling the need to be “sharper, quicker, funnier” than others. “Something changed. I was sloppy, and I said things that were untrue.”

In addition to his new position at the cable news network, Williams also will fill in for breaking news at NBC when Lester Holt, NBC Nightly News‘ new anchor, isn’t available.

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The controversy surrounding Williams began during a Jan. 30 broadcast of Nightly News, when he falsely claimed his helicopter was hit by a grenade in March 2003 as he covered the Iraq War. In the weeks that followed, more of Williams’ anecdotes about reporting in the field were called into question.

Calling his suspension both “torture” and “absolutely necessary,” Williams vowed that he has done the necessary introspection to make him once more worthy of the public’s trust — but he knows it’ll be no easy task.

“What has happened in the past has been identified and torn apart by me and has been fixed, has been dealt with. And going forward, there are going to be different rules of the road,” he said.

He added: “I am sorry for what happened here. I am different as a result, and I expect to be held to a different standard.”

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6 Comments
  1. smartysenior says:

    So, are they going to continue his ten million dollar salary over at MSNBC which has a half million viewers? In his old job they had seven or eight million viewers so you could make a case for that salary I suppose. Shoving him over there where no one will see him is a face saving move on the network’s part, my feeling is they’re probably stuck with his contract and no one wants to own up to that.

    • Dan says:

      He probably keeps the money in his current contract, although they may have negotiated a mutually agreeable reduction in salary. If he had left the network there would’ve been a negotiated buy-out of his contract to avoid litigation on who broke the contract so NBC would’ve been paying something. A clean way to resolve the conflict and move forward for both sides. Now we’ll see what happens at MSNBC and if he is successful there or if he moves on in a few years.

  2. Owning up to mistakes that are public, is very difficult. He lost his dream job. I hope other anchors learn this lesson. There are a couple who have been caught lying, but nothing happened. Let Brian be. There is no punishment worse than the one you give yourself.

  3. Topsy Turvy says:

    Did he apologize for Peter Pan?

  4. hud says:

    Why waste any more time with this mope? Who cares. Spend less time with unimportant stories of those who have fallen from grace, more on current programs. Williams will be fine, like bad weather his type is always right around the next corner.

  5. Larry says:

    Americans should hold their Politicians and Reporters responsible. Politicians should be honest and strive to keep their campaign promises. Reporters should be honest, diligently cover all news and report only the facts. We are on the verge of voting away our freedoms. Vote out bad Politicians at the ballot box and bad Reporters with your pocket book (switch sources).

    Remember the quote “you shall know the truth and the truth shall keep you free”.