Brian Williams Channels Frank Sinatra ('Regrets, I've Had a Few...') in Farewell to NBC News — Watch Goodbye Speech

It’s the end of an era at MSNBC, as Brian Williams ventures into “the great unknown” following a 28-year stint at NBC News.

Williams announced Nov. 9 that he would be leaving NBC News entirely by year’s end — and exactly one month later, the veteran journalist signed off as host of The 11th Hour. As he bid a fond farewell to his audience on Thursday night, Williams reflected on the state of democracy and his three decades with NBC.

“After 28 years of Peacock logos on much of what I own, it is my choice now to jump without a net into the great unknown,” Williams specified. “As I do, for the first time in my 62 years, my biggest worry is for my country.

“The truth is I am not a liberal or a conservative,” he said. “I am 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 the main roads and highways and neighborhoods. It is now at the local bar and the bowling alley, at the school board and the grocery store. And it must be acknowledged and answered for. Grown men and women, who swore an oath to our Constitution — elected by their constituents, possessing the kind of college degrees I could only dream of — have decided to join the mob and become something they are not, while hoping we somehow forget who they were. They’ve decided to burn it all down with us inside. That should scare you to no end.”

After thanking his friends, family and colleagues, the New Jersey native channeled Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. “‘Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention,'” he said. “What a ride it has been. Where else, how else, was a kid like me going to meet presidents and kings and the occasional rockstar? These lovely testimonials that I can never truly repay make me hyper aware that it has been and remains a wonderful life. It’s as if I am going to wake up tomorrow morning in Bedford Falls. The reality is, though, I will wake up tomorrow in the America of the year 2021 — a nation unrecognizable to those who came before us and fought to protect it, which is what you must do now.

“My colleagues will take it from here,” Williams continued, before acknowledging that “I will probably find it impossible to be silent and stay away from you and lights and cameras.” But his potential return to the airwaves would come only “after I experiment with relaxation and find out what I have missed, and what is out there.”

Williams first joined NBC News in 1993. He previously served as chief anchor and managing editor of NBC’s Nightly News, succeeding veteran newsman Tom Brokaw in 2004.

In February 2015, Williams was hit with an unpaid, six-month suspension from Nightly News when it was found that he had falsely claimed that his helicopter was hit by a grenade in March 2003, as he covered the Iraq War. He was subsequently replaced by current anchor Lester Holt, and transitioned to a new role at MSNBC, where he initially anchored breaking news coverage before The 11th Hour bowed in September 2016.

Press PLAY on the video above to watch Williams’ farewell speech in full, then hit the comments with your reactions.

TAGS: , ,
GET MORE: News, Video