BRIAN WILLIAMS ON FOOD
“My mother’s goulash was one can Spaghettios and 1/4 pound ground beef. We had Spam. We had what everybody else had.”
“You know, I was a working poor. I’m on television in this market in Kansas, going home and making an art form of slicing, and if you’ve ever done this, you know. You take one can of Spam. If you fry an egg in that pan, you can make a Spam steak in a frying pan, and you can get four or five slices out of one can of Spam. With some toast, it’s a meal at night. To this day, I like Ramen noodles. I do. … I like Ramen noodles … Hebrew National hot dogs and Spaghettios. My big three.”
BRIAN WILLIAMS ON HIS CAREER
“I’m probably the most unremarkable holder of my job ever, and certainly educationally, the least prepared.”
“I pursued this crazy dream that I couldn’t share with anybody because it was outlandish. I mean, I’m a volunteer fireman in Jersey.”
“Washington opened my eyes to prosperous, earnest young people in khakis and blazers walking swiftly with places to go, and discussing government and ideas.”
“I drove back to Washington where I knew I could find work. Again, I bought a copy of The Washington Post. Again, I circled a classified ad. Chyron Operator, 10 pm newscast, WTTG, the Metromedia-owned (now Fox), Channel 5.
“I walked in the door, asked the first woman I found, ‘Is the news director in, and can I see him?’ And she said, ‘You’re meeting with her right now.’ Late, great woman named Betty Endicott. She hired me to type in the letters on the screen. She did this Ed Asner thing with me. I would go into her office as her lowly typer of letters on the screen, and I’d watch the newscast with her every night, and we hit it off. And she said to me, ‘Didn’t you do on-air work in Kansas? Do you have any tapes?’ And I said, ‘Betty, those have been taken to a licensed landfill facility long ago.’ ”
BRIAN WILLIAMS ON HIS EDITORIAL PROCESS
“But you should know, we still select our lead story and our story order like it was the old days, because we have to.”
“Tonight, I was writing one section ahead of where I was. I was writing lead-ins for the second segment while we were in the first segment in real time on the air. So we would go into a reporter piece, and I’m [typing noise] on the keyboard sitting on the set, because I got behind, because of some Rock Center business I had to attend to.
“I don’t like it, but I’m wired for it. It’s what I do, and if I don’t write those words, form those words, edit those words, it won’t sound like me. I won’t own it. There won’t be transparency. There won’t be familiarity, and it’s insincere.”
“I really buckle down at around 4:30 to 5:00, I start writing, and I write from the bottom up usually. I write the, ‘That is NBC Nightly News for this Wednesday night.’ I write that first, and the last thing I write before I go out, is the first thing I say, ‘Good evening.’ … I have to stick that. I have to nail that. It should be a very fresh and genuine thought, so genuine that the teleprompter can be a guide. If other words occur to me on the fly, I’ll do that. I’m not wedded to the words I have just written on that electronic screen.”
BRIAN WILLIAMS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
“I have another theory that the growth of self, all things self, has taken away our spirit of community. … You take a citizen who works in a restaurant. They now have the preoccupation of followers. There is now someone who cares, and this applies to all of us, about our random thoughts, utterances. And that is a growth of self that we haven’t catalogued yet. We haven’t gotten our arms around it. The celebration of what you mean.
“Go back in the black and white movies you love from the ‘40s, ‘50s. Listen to the language. Listen to how first person is never used. And now it’s how we lead, how we begin every sentence. … We have individual press conferences all day long.”
BRIAN WILLIAMS ON HIS OPINION
“No one gives a rat’s patootie about my opinion.”