May 20, 2022

Pete Williams, the classy and venerable NBC News correspondent who mostly covered the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice for nearly 30 years, announced he will retire in July.

NBC News president Noah Oppenheim told The Washington Post’s Jeremy Barr, “I think Pete Williams has had one of the greatest careers at NBC News and one of the greatest careers in broadcast journalism in the past several decades. There is no way we can ever fill Pete’s shoes, certainly not with any particular reporter.”

In a statement to NBC staffers, Oppenheim said, “Pete has been one of the nation’s foremost authorities covering the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice for nearly three decades. His career has been defined by his reputation for accuracy, reliability, and unmatched expertise in the subjects he covers. From the most consequential Supreme Court cases of our time — like marriage equality and the legal battles over the Affordable Care Act — to major breaking news events — like 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, and so much more — Pete’s reporting has always been ironclad. His ability to break down the most complex and fast-developing situations is uncanny.”

Williams has been with NBC News since 1993. Before that, he worked on Capitol Hill and in the news business in his home state of Wyoming.

Since joining NBC News, Williams, 70, has been considered one of the network’s most respected journalists. NBC News senior White House correspondent Kelly O’Donnell tweeted, “To our viewers, please join us in thanking Pete for an extraordinary record of excellence, fairness and service to the public through his superb reporting. He is beloved by us for his goodness and admired for his mastery. THANK YOU.”

And NBC News senior Washington correspondent Hallie Jackson tweeted, “It’s legitimately nearly impossible to put into words how much Pete means to our network. The word ‘epic’ hardly begins to describe his legendary career in journalism from someone who teaches a master class every single day.”

In a conference call with fellow staffers, Williams said, “(Supreme Court Justice) Stephen Breyer is leaving, so I think this is a good time for me to go, too.”

According to NBC News’ Daniel Arkin, Williams added, “We’ve got 35 Supreme Court decisions to go through, so there’s still a lot of work to be done and probably some surprises from the Justice Department.”

Psaki looks back

Jen Psaki is only a week removed from being the White House press secretary, but she already is looking back and has some noteworthy comments about Fox News’ Peter Doocy — an occasional foe during press conferences.

Talking at a forum at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, Psaki was asked about her run-ins with Doocy. Despite the often testy back-and-forths, Psaki had kind things to say about Doocy and, more importantly, the job that Doocy was there to do.

Psaki said, “First, let me say that I do like Peter Doocy, and that may not be popular with everybody. That’s OK. But part of the objective when I came into this job was to reestablish civility in the briefing room and make it a place where people could hear information through the media, to the public, not a place where there wasn’t debate and tough questioning. Actually, when that is happening, in my view, that’s when it’s working. And that’s an important part of our democracy, not just in the United States, but it’s also a message we’re sending to the world. This is not a common thing that other countries do, where there’s three briefings nearly every day that happen in the U.S. government.”

Psaki added, “So we made a decision from the beginning that part of restoring civility was treating people with respect in the briefing room, with, to calling on everyone, including Fox, which didn’t always have positive reporting about the president or the vice president, and not making a dispute with Fox the story. And there are times when that may be appropriate, but not when you follow an administration where they were disputing the legitimacy of institutions or the media.”

Psaki continued to say that she believed Doocy often wrote his own questions, but that she also believed he came up with questions with the help of colleagues that represented the talking points on Fox News on that particular day — perhaps topics that Fox News “wanted to make into a controversy.”

Psaki said, “But I will say, at the end of the day, we did not brunch, but we also didn’t hate each other. It was somewhere in between. What I will say is that we had a civil, good relationship, I will say.”

(Hat tip to Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher for reporting on Psaki’s comments.)

Suggestions for your weekend viewing, reading and listening …

Can the world please catch a break here? All I know is that just when things seem like they can’t get any worse, the fabulous writer from The Atlantic, Ed Yong, has a new piece out: “So, Have You Heard About Monkeypox?”

And, in case you missed it, here’s another Ed Yong piece from earlier in the week: “What COVID Hospitalization Numbers Are Missing.”

Also in The Atlantic, Rowan Moore Gerety (with photos from Cassidy Araiza): “The Miraculous Comeback of the Field Trip.”

And one more from The Atlantic, Esau McCaulley with “America Isn’t Ready to Truly Understand the Buffalo Shooting.”

The Washington Post’s Molly Hensley-Clancy with “By Reeling from suicides, college athletes press NCAA: ‘This is a crisis.’”

The New York Times’ Emily Flitter with “At Wells Fargo, a Quest to Increase Diversity Leads to Fake Job Interviews.”

For Vanity Fair, Danny Gold with “‘We will never be the same’: Bullets and blindfolds in a Ukrainian city under siege.”

National Geographic’s Rachel Fobar with “Hundreds of beagles died at this breeding center—but the U.S. government hasn’t acted.”

The New York Times’ Jeré Longman, with fabulous visuals from Erin Schaff: “Snowmobiles in Slush: Sports Are on Thin Ice in the Warming Arctic.”

The Los Angeles Times’ Omid Khazani and Henry Chu with “He had two days to live before his execution in Iran. Then a pop star saved him.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Fidler with “Can Ukraine Win? Five Scenarios for the War’s Next Phase.”

PolitiFact’s Bill McCarthy with “Tucker Carlson feigned ignorance over ‘great replacement theory,’ despite talking about it often.”

Speaking of Tucker Carlson, The Washington Post’s Matt Viser with “A look at the time Tucker Carlson asked Hunter Biden for a favor.”

And, in an opinion piece for The New York Times, Nicole Hemmer with “What Oprah Winfrey Knows About American History That Tucker Carlson Doesn’t.”

For CNN, Christiane Amanpour, Jo Shelley, Ahmet Mengli and Maddie Araujo with “Female Afghan TV journalists describe a ‘psychological prison’ amid Taliban order to cover their faces on air.”

The Washington Post’s Naomi Nix with “The midterms are here. Critics say Facebook is already behind.”

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at

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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…
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