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Brian Williams announces his departure from MSNBC

The former ‘Nightly News’ anchor had returned to the cable news network and succeeded in a lower-wattage role

Television journalist Brian Williams, seen in 2014 in Asbury Park, N.J., announced Tuesday that he will leave MSNBC after his contract expires next month. (Julio Cortez/AP)

Brian Williams, who has attempted to rehabilitate his career as a late-night host on MSNBC after a stunning downfall as anchor of the highly prestigious “Nightly News” on NBC, announced on Tuesday night that he will leave his corporate home of 28 years at the end of this year.

Williams, 62, has hosted “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” since 2016. He did not give a specific reason for his impending departure, but said in a statement that he is ready to start a new chapter in life after his contract with the company expires next month. He did not announce a new professional opportunity but indicated that he would be open to one.

“There are many things I want to do, and I’ll pop up again somewhere,” he said. “For the next few months, I’ll be with my family, the people I love most and the people who enabled my career to happen.”

Williams’s 11 p.m. show on MSNBC has been a success, establishing itself as a home for cable news viewers who are up late and want to hear its famous host chat with a bevy of prominent reporters and guests about the news of the day.

“He has built a fiercely loyal following for The 11th Hour and we and our viewers will miss his penetrating questions and thoughtful commentary,” MSNBC President Rashida Jones said in a memo to staff on Tuesday night. She conveyed that the decision to depart belonged to Williams, and that he had “informed [the network] he would like to take the coming months to spend time with his family.”

After many years as one of the country’s most well-known and well-respected news anchors, Williams was forced to rebuild his reputation after he admitted in 2015 that he had lied about being attacked by enemy fire during a helicopter ride while covering the Iraq War. The scandal led to his suspension and eventual departure from “NBC Nightly News” after more than a decade as the show’s anchor.

An NBC investigation reportedly found 11 instances in which Williams had fudged details about his reporting. Williams was replaced permanently by his fill-in, Lester Holt, who still anchors “Nightly News.”

Williams apologized to viewers and was given a second chance as a breaking news anchor at MSNBC, the network he had appeared on when it first launched in 1996. (NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast, is the parent company of both NBC News and MSNBC.)

In her memo, Jones praised Williams for having “great resiliency” in his career at the media company, and Williams has earned praise for his successful comeback — albeit in a lower-wattage role. He also helped anchor coverage of major political events for the network, including last year’s presidential election — a sign of the company’s renewed trust in him.

Williams said he’s as proud of his time anchoring the 11 p.m. hour on MSNBC as he is of his time in the “Nightly News” chair and asked for his viewers to remain “loyal” to the show. His show attracted an average of just under 1 million total viewers last month, after achieving several months of massive audience totals in the news-heavy months following the 2020 presidential election.

“I have been truly blessed,” he said on Tuesday. “I have been allowed to spend almost half of my life with one company. NBC is a part of me and always will be.”