Longtime NBC News anchor Brian Williams signed off from his final MSNBC broadcast on Thursday night, lamenting “the darkness” that’s engulfed America and saying his “biggest worry is for my country.”
Last month, Williams announced that he would be leaving NBC in December after 28 years with the network, adding that while it is “the end of a chapter” he did not plan to retire. “There are many things I want to do, and I’ll pop up again somewhere,” he said in a statement at the time.
At the end of Thursday evening’s The 11th Hour, the nightly MSNBC news program he’s helmed since 2016, Williams expressed concern about the current direction of the nation.
“As I do for the first time in my 62 years, my biggest worry is for my country,” the veteran newsman intoned. “The truth is, I’m not a liberal or a conservative. I’m an institutionalist. I believe in this place. And in my love of my country, I yield to no one.”
In an apparent nod to election denialism and the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, Williams said “the darkness has spread” to “neighborhoods” and “the school board,” adding that “it must be acknowledged and answered for.”
Then he turned his attention to Congress.
“Grown men and women—who swore an oath to our Constitution, elected by our constituents, possessing the kinds of college degrees I can only dream of—have decided to join the mob and become something they are not, while hoping we somehow forget who they were,” he dramatically proclaimed.
“They’ve decided to burn it all down with us inside,” Williams continued. “That should scare you to no end as much as it scares this aging volunteer fireman.”
After thanking his co-workers and family, the 62-year-old anchor hinted that he would eventually pop back up on the airwaves in some capacity.
“The reality is 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,” he stated. “My colleagues will take it from here. I will probably find it impossible to be silent and stay away from you and the lights and cameras after I experiment with relaxation and find out what I’ve missed and what’s out there.”
While Williams has spent the last five years helming the 11 p.m. ET slot for MSNBC, he was once the face of NBC News. He lost his job anchoring NBC Nightly News in 2015 for repeatedly exaggerating and fabricating stories about his experiences in war-torn Iraq. Rather than fire him outright, the network hit him with a six-month suspension and eventually allowed him back on the air at MSNBC. After spending time in a reduced (and humbling) role as a breaking-news desk host, he was rewarded with The 11th Hour in 2016.