November 9, 2021

Brian Williams announced he is stepping down as anchor of MSNBC’s “11th Hour” show and will leave NBC News entirely by the end of the year.

It truly is the end of an era.

In a statement, Williams, 62, said, “Following much reflection, and after 28 years with the company, I have decided to leave NBC upon the completion of my current contract in December. I have been truly blessed. I have been allowed to spend almost half of my life with one company. NBC is a part of me and always will be.”

He did not announce what he might do next.

Williams added in his statement, “This is the end of a chapter and the beginning of another. There are many things I want to do, and I’ll pop up again somewhere.”

MSNBC and the “11th Hour” program, which airs weeknights at 11 p.m. Eastern, revitalized Williams’ career after controversy ended his tenure as anchor of the “NBC Nightly News.” In interviews, including one on David Letterman’s show, Williams exaggerated his role in a helicopter episode in Iraq. When the truth came out in 2015, Williams was suspended six months and then was removed permanently as anchor — a job he had held for nearly 11 years.

Williams’ reputation as a journalist took a hit, but he worked his way back as a breaking news anchor for MSNBC and the network created the “11th Hour” for him in September 2016 — just before the presidential election.

CNN had previously reported Williams had grown tired of the late-night schedule and now there’s speculation that Williams could join CNN’s new streaming service, CNN+. But that is just speculation.

In a statement, MSNBC president Rashida Jones said, “Brian’s time at NBC has been marked by breaking countless major stories, attracting leading journalists and guests to his programs, and most especially, great resiliency. He has built a fiercely loyal following for The 11th Hour and we and our viewers will miss his penetrating questions and thoughtful commentary.”

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
Tom Jones

More News

Back to News